One submits to the elements when eating out doors. Ants, yellow jackets, mosquitos can all disrupt a most elegant picnic. Krakow Square, Rynek Główny, is lined with cafes that project patios onto square. This time of year, the cafes also stage large gas heaters among the outdoor tables and provide blankets for additional warmth. The tactics work since the cafes are lively well into the night.
We tried one last evening since the weather was so mild and enjoyed a pleasant dinner, featuring Polish soured rye soup. The soup was excellent, the strolling crowds unobtrusive. In the distance, a local entrepreneur was demonstrating toy helicopters featuring lighted propellers. He’d launch them into the dark sky and they’d slowly drift back to the square with their rotors spinning. All through dinner, the carriages added the rhythmic clopping of iron hooves on cobble stones. For a brief moment, a guitarist paused outside the cafe and sang what I could only assume were Polish folk songs, slow and sad.
So far, a romantic evening. But–somewhere across the square a rather insistent busker set up an amplifier, plugged in his guitar, and started singing. All I can say in his favor is that he knew a lot of songs, beginning with a wretched version of Leonard Cohen’s Alleluia, a song that will never need anyone else to sing it but Cohen himself, and I think even he is tired of that song. The busker performed throughout the entire course of our meal. As he announced his final thanks, I gave thanks for the quiet. I don’t begrudge him what he earned, but I hated the schlocky pop music with which he filled the square.
The old town of Krakow is circled by a walkable part, and hazy sun offered glimpses of fall.
On a quick trip to the castle, Wawel, we climbed to the top of the basilica tower, to the Sigimund bell, for an overview of the city. (We passed several bells on the way up and down, through dark, narrow, and steep stairways. This is just one of them).