I’m sitting here on a park bench in Krakow looking down a cobbled path lined with tall mossy trees that are just beginning to sprout leaves with the coming of spring. There are a surprising number of both churches and bars in this old Polish town. The churches are large stone things like craggy peaks outlined against the sky and the bars are dark caves hidden in back alleys and down small streets. These two form a certain symmetry with day and night, as so far I have spent the days wandering Krakow admiring it’s architecture, and the nights in the caves enjoying it’s nightlife.
These cobbled streets and statuesque buildings form an area known as Old Town. This area is surrounded by a ring of parks which is where I am sitting at this very moment. Right behind me are hundreds of yellow flowers that are so numerous that the ground is a living carpet of yellow and green. The birds in the trees above me are intent on making their voices heard over the dull roar of traffic from neighboring streets.
In front of me stands an ornate brick and stone cathedral which after I get up to go look I find is called “Arcybiskopie Seminarium Duchowne”. At least that’s what the sign on the front says, I’m always a bit confused in countries where I don’t know a word of the language. For all I know it could mean “the brothel is closed until further notice”. Now that I think of it, it’s probably not a cathedral. I have a tendency to call any of these huge beautiful buildings cathedrals because anything so pretty and also adorned with crosses must be one.
The most impressive thing that I can see from this bench is the fortifications of Castle Wawel, an impressive series of structures perched high on a hill between Old Town and the river Vistula. Visitors to this city in centuries past must have been in awe of this collection of buildings surrounded by tall brick walls. Even now, living in an age with tanks, planes, and bombs, I can still feel the power and security such a castle offers. Walking along it’s ramparts and looking down on the river and town below gives me a sense of dominion over the outlying lands.
I’ve said enough about the old buildings that form a background for the scene around me. Spring has arrived and you can feel it in the air and see it in the steps of everyone who walks by. A few benches away two young lovers nuzzle each other while one bench closer an old man sits and, like me, watches people as they walk by. “Where would I rather be?” I ask myself as I sit here writing in my little black notebook. At the moment my imagination fails me and thus I sit rooted here watching the world go by.
I think now I’m going to put my pen away and enjoy these last few hours before the sun begins to set. I only have a few days until I return home to Sweden and I will then be forced to fill my head with the inner workings of machines that, despite all my efforts, still fail to live, breath, walk, and love on this beautiful spring day.