Bruce Warner On Kracow And The Dangers Of Generosity
For those of you that have visited Prague, Krakow is quite similar. For those of you that plan to visit Prague, Krakow is not too far away. Both cities have an old town with a picturesque castle on a hill They both claim that their town square is the largest in Eastern Europe if not all of Europe. The Rynek Glowny, the square in Krakow is 200 meters by 200 meters, which I think is around 400,000 square feet.
In the square, there is a beautiful old church, St. Mary's. There are two interesting stories tied to this church. It has two towers, one taller and more elaborate than the other. Two brothers were the architects of the church in the 14th century. The older brother seeing that his younger brother had the capability of building the highest tower, in a rage of jealousy murdered him, so that his tower would be the best. But later, torn by the guilt of what he had done, threw himself from the larger tower, that he had constructed.
Today, every hour a fireman climbs up the tallest tower and plays a tune on the bugle. The tune is the same and is always cut off in mid note. This is to commemorate another fireman, who were also night watchman in the middle ages, who seeing the approach of the marauding Tater hordes blew his bugle as a warning, but was hit in the throat by an arrow before he completed. He was like the Gunga Din of Poland. Looking at the positioning of the tower and the old city walls, this shot would have had to go through an open window, 200 feet from the ground, shot from outside those walls which are at least 500 meters away from the tower. This shot could not have been made by Robin Hood with a laser guided arrow. So, I tend to subscribe to the belief that this story was made up by a drunken American journalist in 1929.
Most people will agree that it is always good to be the king. So, why did Wladaslaw allow people to refer to him as "the short" or "the elbow high" ? It will remain one of the mysteries of history. If I were Wladaslaw, I would of required everyone to "duck walk" in my presence.
One of the first Universities of Europe is located in Krakow, along with nine others. With a population of around 750,000, the city has 150,000 college students. Most of them on break prior to exams. If you combine this with the many Brits that go to Krakow for weekends or pre-wedding parties because of cheap flights and cheaper beer. It is a place of great mirth and frivolity.
The other night, while eating al fresco on the Rynek Glowny, a very short, but stout woman appeared as if from nowhere on my left side. The woman was not much taller standing than I was seated. She said something forcefully, but incomprehensibly to me. Of course, all Polish is incomprehensible to me. I guessed that she was asking for some spare change. Since she had pierced my defenses and launched a surprise attack, I felt compelled to cooperate. I reached into my pocket and pulled out a coin. Without looking at it, I gave it to her. Polish coins come in denominations of 1, 2 and 5 zlotys, as well as, a variety of groschen, which are 1/100th of a zloty.A zloty is about 30 cents.
Apparently, I gave her a 5 zloty coin. She must have felt like she hit the jackpot because she hollered something like, CANCUN YEA! , grabbed both of my ears in each of her ham like hands, turned my head, and laid a big wet kiss right in the middle of my face. The kiss was so fervent that she actually engulfed my entire nose in her mouth. She then waddled off continuing to turn and shout, "CANCUN YEA!", every few feet. While this incident was cause of much amusement for the other patrons of the restaurant, it ended my enjoyment of dinner. Every bite after that tasted like the smell of her fetid, alcoholic breath. As soon as I got home, I swabbed out my nose with Purell with the hope of killing 99.8% of the germs that cause nosemonia, noseitosis, noselio and God nose what else.