Brief thoughts of an American living in Kraków Poland.
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Summer in Kraków
Summer is starting up in Kraków again and all that I can say is that I think I am living in Disney world sometimes. For real, it's great. Now I know this sounds strange but trust me. This town really is like a theme park this time of year.
First of all the tourists are back meaning that the market square is again filled, to the point that walking is difficult, with all manner of folks from Boston to Bejing. They amble around blind folded by maps speaking one hundred different languages all discussing where they should have lunch. Lunch is a popular pastime here in the summer, as we have about fifty outdoor cafes per square block. So on a brisk walk to get cigarettes it isn't unusual to see hundreds of badly dressed camera toting folks greedily shoving all sorts of edibles into their faces, while wearing novelty hats and t-shirts depicting cartoon dragons.
That's all well and good you say but what about fun characters? You can't possibly have a theme park without fun characters. Surprise, we got them! Yes sir we do, they're everywhere. All the favorites are out; there's our beloved dragon, the mythic King Krak, the Lajkonik, the legendary leader of the boatman's guild dressed as a tarter demanding tribute from the back of his hobby horse while giving people good luck by smacking them with a stick. The wizard Pan Twardowski who lives on the moon and sends his friend the spider to Earth for news, and of course lets not forget the giant beers. All these characters walk the streets along with hardy Tatra and Carpathian mountain folk and Kraków burghers from the sixteenth century hugging kids shaking hands with tourists and posing for pictures, all of this accompanied by the hourly song of the Kraków trumpeter.
You want more? We got more. Street vendors selling; kazoos emblazoned with the official Kraków dragon, invisible dogs to walk, wooden sword and shield sets bearing the colors of King Krak, whatever you want. Street performers of all types; living statues, breakdance troups, and traveling outdoor theater troups performing medieval plays occupy any remaining space left after the tourists. Hell, the city even has a gift shop right in the center just in case you need a twelve inch wooden statue of a rabbi to bring fortune to your home, or the home of a semi-loved one for whom you almost forgot to buy a souvenir and promised yourself that there would not be a repeat of last years awkward situation. Any of this starting to sound familiar?
This is how I live my life. How I go about my day. Really, tell me the last time that you were on your way to a doctor appointment and were accosted by a mime. It's truly wonderful. Now if you'll excuse me I need to run and get some smokes, I think on my way I'll get my picture taken with the giant beer while I am deciding where to have lunch.