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July 28, 2002

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This morning we entered Poland on an overnight train. The conductors did their best to ignore us and we had to make a train change at 1:00 AM in a deserted station near the border. It's hard to be confident about anything at that hour, and we kept the tent ready in case we needed to spend a night on the platform. Lucky for us Polish trains run on-time and the train arrived and carried us to Krakow. Bleary eyed, we found a hostel that's so big it feels like a university dormitory. The unisex bathrooms reminded us of the show Ally McBeal, and though we're experienced travelers we don't like sitting in bathroom stalls next to the opposite sex. In the morning we explored Krakow. It's a touristy place but local people aren't an endangered species here, so tourism hasn't taken over and ruined the place. Don't ride the tram without a ticket (you're likely to be caught) and eat in 'Milk Bars,' state subsidised cafeterias leftover from the Communist days. You can fill up for under 3 dollars. Our favorite Polish food is miesen pierogi (meat filled ravioli), bigos (sauerkraut and sausage) and barszcz (red beetroot soup).
For over 4 centuries this church served as the coronation and burial ground for Polish nobility. For a few zloty you can go inside and walk around the graves of famous Poles. The tower holds the largest bell in Poland.
Wawel hill, topped by coronation cathedral and castle, is Poland's main national symbol.
Krakow has the largest medieval town square in Europe.
Prince Krak founded Krakow in the 7th century.
Copernicus studied here at the Collegium Maius and though not many people know it, he captained their football team until a knee injury forced him to study astronomy.