My spot at the cafe was so ideal I decided to linger a while and read. I pulled out The Modern Library Writer’s Workshop by Stephen Koch and was settling in when a trio of musicians stopped nearby to play guitar, upright bass, and accordian. They appeared to be a father and his two sons, and they were excellent. What an inspiring environment to read about the craft of fiction! Art and life happening all around me.
I strolled back toward the hotel to await George’s return from his first full day at ISEE8. On my way I meandered in and out of shops, enamored with the funky European style. All this free time on my hands. Everything so inexpensive. Maybe if I just buy a small duffle bag to supplement my suitcase . . .
Many of the restaurants and shops play popular English-language hits. In one boutique Avril Lavigne informed me it was a “damn cold night” (but it wasn’t I wanted to argue–it was a beautiful day). And the abundance of 80s music cracks me up. I guess the people who don’t know English are just digging on the beats. If that’s possible.
I haven’t yet mentioned the cars. Lots of Fiats and other tiny models. They zip around pedestrians and park on sidewalks. It’s a free for all, with no one seeming to have the right-of-way. I’d like to put one of the adorable little autos in my pocket and take it home, but it might make my Mini feel fat. 🙂
Wednesday, September 6, 2006. Krakow. George returned last night around 7:30 PM and we decided to eat at a resturant just down the block and across the street. The Restauricja Florinska is located on the second floor of a building, so hostesses stand outside on the sidewalk with menus, luring patrons to come in. Two had accosted us the previous day, and one of them saw us approaching. She smiled her recognition and pointed out some favorites from the menu.
I’d say this place ranks right up there with the finest gourmet restaurants anywhere (at least in my experience). Lovely, candlelit atmosphere. Waitstaff all in black. White tablecloths. The chef was as much an artist as a cook, and he was a fabulous cook. I ordered a salad with marinated salmon and vegetable dumplings. We both ordered a bowl of traditional Polish sourdough buckwheat soup, and George requested an entree of Sole. Everything was wonderful. For dessert we shared a tiramisu, which came with cherries and strawberries, flanked by paper-thin wedges of dark chocolate. All this, plus two glasses of wine came to 122 zl, or $40. Insane. No wonder Europeans flock to Krakow on the weekends.
After George, Coenrad, and Frana left for ISEE8 this morning I went for a jog on the shaded path around Old Town. People were out walking their dogs or strolling to work. I jogged to Wawel Castle and back in about 25 min., then returned to the room, did some abs, stretched, and showered. Around 10:30 I crossed the street, went down the block, and did a little happy-birthday-to-me shopping at Orsay. (Yes, temptation won out. I guess I’m evil.) For around $80 I bought a pair of designer jeans, two cute shirts, and a black, fringed shawl. The jeans alone would have cost more than that in the US. I took my loot back to the hotel and headed for the Market Square where I snagged my same perfect table from yesterday at a cafe called Restauracja Redolfi. I ordered grilled vegetables and couscous for lunch. The waitress served my water in a crystal wine glass. I must admit I was feeling very spoiled and pampered, and it wasn’t an entirely unpleasant feeling. 🙂
After savoring my delicious lunch (I took a picture of it, too, as it was very photogenic), I ordered a latte machiato and read Koch for a while. Then I cut across the Market Square and climbed the stairs to the 24-hr internet cafe to check e-mails and update my lj. Luke and I swapped several real-time e-mails during my session, which was nice. We even blew each other cyber kisses across the ocean.
I returned to the hotel where George would meet me and we’d catch a bus to the ISEE banquet for dinner. I sat beside the open window writing in my journal while the sounds of a string quarted wafted in. The young, talented musicians’ classical pieces competed with techno coming from a nearby shop, not to mention the incessant buzz of voices as pedestrians stream by in search of bargains. I’d call this mix Theme Song from Krakow. I kind of like it. It’s lively, hopeful, and it’s got a beat you can dance to.