Yesterday was a day of minor irritations and more great food. From the old guy who rode his bike into the back of my foot, to the grumpy woman who charged me for 2 baguette pizza thingys but only supplied one, but it was a gorgeous sunny day and we have ticked a few more items off our Polish must-eat food list.
We decided to go to Old Town, to look at Rynek Glowny, the largest medieval town square in Europe, and maybe visit St Mary’s Basilica & Wawel Castle. As we crossed the first main road between Kazimierz and Old Town, it felt like something had changed … we were hitting tourist-ville. Lots more signs in English, lots more currency exchanges, and lots more people! Part of Old Town was blocked off because there was a corporate fun run happening, & we couldn’t get to the castle entrance, so we headed to the main square. A new Polish friend who lives in Sydney recommened that I try a papieska kremowka Papal cream cake – a vanilla slice-type pastry that Pope John Paul II liked to eat. He grew up in Wadowice, west of Krakow. We found a lovely cake shop that sold kremowka and bought one for me, and a sort of chocolate-filled iced berliner for Greg. Delicious!
The main square was full of cafes with large umbrellas for shade, and loads of people. We went to have a look at the Basilica, but there was a mass in progress, so we might go back another day. Then walking up one of the main streets in Old Town, an old guy rammed his pushbike into the back of my foot and let forth with a string of abuse in Polish. It must be hard for locals to have their space invaded by tourists, but really, riding down a busy street on a Sunday seems like a dumb idea to me. We got out of the touristy part fairly quickly and walked around the Planty, a green belt around the outside of the city walls. Much nicer.
We tried to get a table at Cafe Zazie, the Michelin-starred cafe just a couple of blocks down the street we’re staying on, but they were full so we made a booking for dinner there tonight. Then went to a traditional Polish restaurant a few blocks from here – we found it when we first got here and I’d liked the look of their menu, then our host recommended it. We got a table, then got menus, but after 30 minutes of being ignored by the busy waitstaff, we decided to try somewhere else. Found a little place that sells pierogi dumplings that were delicious – much better than any we’d eaten in Russia.
And then dinner – it just had to be zapiekanka ‘Polish pizza’ – half a baguette topped with melted cheese and other fillings – from one of the dozen or so sellers at Plac Nowy, with a side order of Belgian fries. Greg went to order the fries and I ordered and paid for 2 zapiekanka but only got one . The very grumpy woman serving refused to admit she’d made an error, so we had quite the bi-lingual argument, Greg came and we refused to budge from their ordering area ( so no more orders could be placed), Mrs Grumpy got someone to come and translate for us and then finally agreed to make us another one. Being mindful of what cooks can do to food when they are annoyed with customers, we decided to leave before we got the 2nd ‘pizza’, and in fact one pizza between the 2 of us was plenty. I wonder if Mrs Grumpy thinks nostalgically of the good old days when concepts like ‘customer service’ and ‘consumer rights’ only happened in other places.