River Vistula

Jo’s Monday walk : Same river, different city

You might remember, a few weeks ago, I had the bubbly and delicious company of Gilly on the banks of the River Wisła (Vistula) in Warsaw.  Fast forward a mere 5 days and there I was, beside that same river but many miles further south, in Poland’s second city, Kraków.  A mighty river, this one, it begins its journey on the Baltic Coast and flows south for 1,022 kilometres (635 miles).  How I got there is another story, but my mission today is simply to take you for a wander and, as luck would have it, a boat ride.

Earlier that morning I’d been in Kraków’s green and leafy suburbs, assisting with toddlers aged 3 and 18 months on an outing to the park.  Wilting in the heat, the little family had been glad to return home.  A cooling drink, then I hopped a bus into a city that never fails to delight me.

With no particular aim in mind, as I approached the river it was almost automatic to jump off.  If cooling breezes were to be found anywhere in Kraków, this would be the place.  Truth be told, I didn’t get very far before the notion of a glass of wine and an icecream became very appealing indeed.  What could be finer than sitting on the deck of a restaurant boat, facing lovely Na Skalce (the Church on the Rock)?  The steady hum of traffic crossing Most Grunwaldzki became a soothing murmur.  Hooray!  Here comes the paddle steamer, big wheels churning.  And a burst of speedboat cleaves the water in front of Wawel Castle.

I couldn’t sit there enjoying myself all day.  Time to cross over the river.  But scarcely was I on the other side than temptation struck again.  No, not cake!  The first time I ever came to Kraków I walked my husband’s legs off.  He was more than happy to agree to a boat ride, just to sit down.  Unfortunately on that occasion the ride was accompanied by a light drizzle, whereas this was the perfect day to be afloat.  One of those lovely little wooden boats was about to leave the jetty.  It was meant to be, and 30zł (about £6) for an hour wasn’t going to break the bank.

The boat sailed in one direction along the river, as far as the Salwator Church, then returned to the jetty.  This half hour trip cost 15zł, but if you stayed on board it then sailed in the opposite direction, passing Na Skalce and a sequence of bridges before returning to the jetty.  This second leg I found fascinating as the area was less familiar to me.  An idea was germinating that I might return the following day to explore on foot.

Trams and trains passed overhead, but it was the bridge Kładka Ojca Bernatka that particularly captured my imagination, and I resolved to come back for a closer look at the figures suspended over the river.  A building with an industrial chimney and appearing to be clad in corten steel also caught my eye.  On the river bank, the footpath stretches grandly into the distance, stylish riverboat restaurants just calling out to be visited.

Disembarking, I look wistfully up at Wawel Castle.  No time today.  I am being summoned to ‘obiad’, late afternoon lunch with my Polish family.  Walking back to the bus stop I mingle with school trips, and the riverside coach park bustling with vendors.  Billboards shout holiday destinations, demanding my attention, but who would willingly leave this fair city?

Come with me next week and we’ll explore the world beyond that beautiful bridge.  Meanwhile there are many stories to tell.  Thanks for bearing with me as I flit from here to there.  I’m grounded now, for a little while, and looking forward to my English summer.  I hope you’ve got the kettle on as there are some wonderful walks to share.  I’ll go easy on the cake as I over-indulged at an Open Garden event yesterday.

From high in the Alps to the lovely capital of Malta, with my good friend Drake :

Last morning in the Alps

Little pearl in the sun

You can always rely on Debbie to make life colourful and interesting :

Industry and art come together in Seoul

And for Susan to write beautifully, whatever the weather :

Walking Hurricane Ridge, Olympic National Park

32 years together!  Lady Lee shares a special celebration :

Many thanks!

Share an extravaganza of food with Jackie, and then…

Coffee to go

Jesh takes a look at life, always in her own unique way :

Background Jumps

While Jaspa takes us back in history for a closer look at these ruins :

The Step Pyramid of Djoser – Part of the Saqqara Necropolis, Egypt

Persistence rewarded for Eunice and ruins of an entirely different nature at the end of her walk :

Part 2 – Llanlleiana, Porth Wen, and a long walk

Emma treats us to one of Wales’ great beauty spots, lovely paintings, and even a hang glider ride!

Gower Coastal Walk : Rhossili Bay

Who IS that mysterious lady on the beach?  Walking with Meg always makes me smile :

Eurobodalla beaches : around Tuross

It’s a while since Jude took a walk.  She’s usually too busy in the garden.  Wild orchids and butterflies, a lovely reward :

A Walk to the Lighthouse

Another orchid, I think, from my lovely Gilly, enfolded in lushness with a dramatic dragonfly :

Walking to the mill

And in complete contrast, Cathy finds spellbinding beauty in the desert :

Upper Ute Canyon & the Coke Ovens Trail at Colorado National Monument

A magnificent collection and many thanks to one and all.  Join me any time on Jo’s Monday walk and I’ll try to make you welcome.  The sun is still shining here in the north east and it’s time I rejoined my English walking group.  Wishing you all a lovely week!

Jo’s Monday walk : An adventure with Gilly

The raw energy of a city is compelling, even if a little intimidating.  Riding into Warsaw on the airport bus, my eyes were on stalks, collecting impressions on every side.  Such a bustling, modern city, the buildings twisting and turning to point to the blue sky overhead.  Anxiety was swept away by excitement.  I was here!  And I stepped from the bus into the warmth of Meg’s arms, those lovely eyes twinkling at me.  All angst was neatly deposited in Meg’s backpack- my tour guide for a day, found!

Turning from her momentarily, the beaming smile of Gilly reached me from across the square, as she descended the steps of the Palace of Culture and Science, arm in arm with her friend Lindy.  Gaggling like geese, we blindly followed Meg as she led us from the centre to a restaurant.  Puzzling over the menu, we laughed when the wicker basket of knifes and forks arrived, bearing chopsticks in an elegant green wrapper.  My efforts to eat my noodle laden broth produced more smiles, along with the slurps.  Two thirds of the way through our meal, a mighty crash of thunder and coin drops of rain pounded our table.  The wide, creamy umbrellas over the tables were scarcely adequate.  More merriment and we scrambled indoors.

In no time, the sun was blazing through the open windows again.  Meg was recovering from a heavy cold, and starting to wilt a little, having been tour guiding all day and shown the ladies lovely Stare Miasto in the morning.  Lindy was struggling too, which left me and Gilly to get up to mischief.  Arrangements were made for early next morning, and Meg deposited us at our hotel.  A swift cuppa, and it was time to hit the streets.  Already it was 6.30 on a warm Warsaw evening.  Fortunately, Gilly was not at all critical of my reckless tour guiding style.  Of course the bus would take us to the river!  And so it did, with just a little walking involved.

The road stretched ahead, seemingly endless, the traffic buzzing past, the architecture varied and interesting.  On the horizon we could see a stadium, which we knew to be on the other side of the river.  Praga was not advisable after dusk, I was informed, but reaching the river the greater challenge was to get down to the riverside.  With the agility of a monkey, Gilly swung around the barrier and scrambled along the bank, hand over hand along the railings.  I followed, more sedately, concerned for my pretty, navy city shoes.

Nobody seemed to notice, and I was immediately at home, with a young crowd blithely enjoying the throng of beach bars, deck chairs and food stalls.  Boats bobbed serenely, while overhead trams clanged past and bikes dominated the footpath.

Appetising smells beguiled my nose, but a drink seemed more pressingly urgent, in the sultry evening air.  Dusk was beginning to fall, the warmth felt heavy with insects and an awareness that we were far from home.  How to get back on the bridge presented something of a challenge, but I dared a few words of Polish and waved my arms at the bridge.  The two young men politely gestured to where the steps were hidden.  Gilly and I agreed that we would not have chanced it after dark.

What else?  Hop another bus to take us nearer to the centre, a little judicious food purchasing and a bit of naughty jay walking.  Subways can get tedious, can’t they?  But please don’t tell.  I’d hate to be in trouble with the authorities.  The bottle top on my cider didn’t look promising, but it did unscrew.  I had no spoon for the delicious yogurt though.  Collapsed in my room with just my diary for company, I really didn’t care.

I hope you enjoyed our adventure.  I really didn’t intend to post today, but realising that next Monday I will be on my way to the Algarve, and that I have a fine collection of your walks ready to share, I thought it best.  Meantime, I’ll be off to see my daughter in Nottingham on Thursday.  And yes, I did manage to get those tickets reprinted.  Thank you all for your concern.

Where will we find Lady Lee this week?

In the country

A treat or two in store, from lovely Sherri.  Anyone else get to the Bash?

Surprises, Diana’s Dresses and the Annual Blogger’s Bash 2018

A bargain ‘two for one’ from Anabel, and both just a short walk apart :

The Kelpies to the Falkirk Wheel

A glimpse of ‘that’ wedding and lots more food, from Jackie :

Beer Money

When Sue shows willing, you simply have to sit up and take notice :

A stroll around Chartwell

‘Join the fun!’ says Jesh.  You know you want to :

Rounding up May

Suzanne delights me with fossils, shells and a little Autumn gold :

A walk to Shelly Beach

The end of Autumn

Calvi and Honfleur- two of the most scenic of places, shared by Drake :

Backdrop but scene too

The sunny side

Remember my lovely rhododendrons?  Eunice has found me some more :

A quarry walk with a difference

And Carol turns up some interesting treasure of her own :

From Trash to Treasure

How do you think of New York?  Jane’s wonderful photos show us it’s calmer side :

Hudson River Ramble

And a wonderfully scenic hike with Cathy ends in tears, but don’t worry- she’s ok!

The Mt. Sanitas hike in Boulder, Colorado

Not too very sure when I’ll be posting again.  Life does seem a little hectic.  Meanwhile, enjoy the sunshine, thanks for your company, and I’ll visit you all as soon as I can.

Jo’s Monday walk : Beside the Wisła

Balon Widokowy and na Skalce

Balon Widokowy and na Skalce

Isn’t this just a strange sight?  The hot air balloon, hunkered down on the banks of the river, dwarfing one of Kraków’s biggest churches!

I think this might have to be my last Polish Monday walk.  I’ve been home for a couple of weeks now, and already have English walks that I want to share.  So let’s take a city stroll, beside the River Wisła (Vistula).  I think you’ll enjoy it.

It's quite an idyllic scene on a sunny day, isn't it?

It’s quite an idyllic scene on a sunny day, isn’t it?

The swans are more than happy!

The swans seem happy enough

And there are riverboat restaurants to keep the people happy too

And there are riverboat restaurants to keep the people happy too

Though you couldn't tell from this face, could you?

Though you’d never guess from this face, would you?

The Vistula is quite an amazing river, which flows the entire length of Poland, 651 miles in total. In doing so, it passes through many of Poland’s finest cities.  From Silesia in the south it meanders through Kraków, then via Sandomierz to the nation’s capital, Warsaw.  Continuing north it sweeps past Płock and Torun, finally emptying out into the delta beside Gdansk, on the Baltic.

All kinds of craft use the waterway

All kinds of craft use the waterway

In Krakow the tourist gondolas are numerous

In Krakow, there are numerous gondolas for the tourists

You can stroll through the centre on either river bank, and both will afford you fine views of Wawel Castle.  If you’ve never been, my K is for Krakow will take you on a tour of the heart of the city, Stare Miasto.  It is a beautiful place.  Or you could sit on the terrace of the Japanese Cultural Centre, gazing across the river, and sip your wine in style.  But for now we’ll keep walking, under bridges and over bridges, in the delicious sunshine.

Underneath the arches

Underneath the arches, Wawel ever present in the background

Always, boats have me reaching for the camera

Gazing down into a tethered boat

Just beyond Most Grunwaldskiego, with its rattling trams, you can see the spires of Na Skalce, the Pauline Church- a special place. Let’s take a little diversion there before we return to the river.

The Pauline Church and Monastery

The Pauline Church and Monastery

The grounds of the church are very beautiful

The grounds of the church are very beautiful

With a fountain and statue at its centre

With a fountain and statue at the centre

Long columns and statues

Tall columns and statues of bishops

And majestic heraldry

Majestic heraldry

Combining modern and ancient

Combining modern and ancient

While Pope John Paul II looks tenderly on

While Pope John Paul II looks gently on

Named for the rocky hill, Skalka, on which it was built, this is Kraków’s oldest shrine and Poland’s second holiest sanctuary after the Jasna Gora monastery at Czestochowa.  King Boleslaw II, the Bold, had Kraków bishop Stanisław put to death here in 1079, creating another martyr in the battle between Church and State.  Stanisław was canonised and throughout the Middle Ages his cult was pivotal in forming the Polish nation, with an emphasis on the accountability of those in power. Following their coronation, Polish kings made a point of doing ritual penance at this sanctuary.

Beneath the church is a crypt, cut into the rock of the hill, now a mausoleum to famous Poles, including Stanisław Wyspianski, locally born painter and writer.

Back on the river bank it's time to board one of those restaurants

Back on the river bank, it’s time to board one of those restaurants

And sample a little szarlotka? (apple tart)

And sample a little szarlotka? (apple tart)

I’m going to leave you sitting in the sunshine while I amble a little further.  I can’t sit still for too long and you won’t get lost if you stay by the river.  See you soon!

Ending as I began, with the hot air balloon

I’ll end as I began, with the hot air balloon

For anyone not familiar with my Monday walks, I host this feature every Monday and anyone is welcome to join in.  All you need to do is send me a link to your walk in the Comments below, or include a link to my walks in your post.  It’s up to you which you prefer to do, and you can join in on any day of the week.  I will include your link at the end of next week’s walk, to give everyone a chance to see it, and share on social media when I read it.  Happy walking!

I had a terrific response to my walk last week so there are some wonderful shares below.  I’m going to start you off though with a Memorial Day posting from Yvette.  Such is her charisma that she even got President Obama to join my walks!  :










Please spend some time with my friends.  These are all terrific reads!