Krakow, Wieliczka and Dracula

Until recently, I never fully grasped the phrase “I need a vacation to get over the vacation”.

After four days in Krakow I shudder to recall the events and accordingly this post shall be but brief, lest I descend into foam-mouthed furious ramblings.

It was, in short, shambolic.

But as another saying runs, when you are given lemons, make lemonade – and in Krakow, it is a pretty easy thing to do.

The food – pierogi – is a lasting favourite and all the more delicious after a day spent shopping [above].

For shopping is wonderful in Krakow; ironically, my favourite spots are a clutch of stores specialising in Middle Eastern and Asian ornaments, jewellery and clothes.

Of particular note is Oh, Calcutta, Shiva and Orient Express, all of which can be found in the meandering streets off Rynek Główny, or, Rennaissance Square.

Also much used and adored are the cafés and once more I must name-drop: Szara, on Rynek Główny (easily spotted by the mural of a chef on the exterior wall) does excellent espresso and the combination of a smokey haze, Cuban music and the banter of two Italian men on the next table lent the whole experience a languidly European feel.

On Saturday the salt mines of Wieliczka yielded a veritable warren of chapels, lakes, banquet halls and sculptures 327 metres below the town and carved from rock salt by the picks of unapprenticed miners.

For this reason alone they are sublime, though I fear my lingering pique at the crapulosity of the previous day’s shenanigans marred any remaining enthusiasm.

If the trip emerged with one positive it is that I can at last add a new book to my list of favourites – Dracula (1897) by Bram Stoker.

Forget the hype.

Forget the movies.

The book is so ahead of its time in terms of gripping plot, ingenious narrative and general evocation that I could not relinquish it from my grasp for the eight-hour journey back.

It is incredible and even as I type now I find it hard to resist its allure…

2 comments on “Krakow, Wieliczka and Dracula

  1. Tololy
    November 23, 2009

    Dracula is one of my all-time favourite reads. I discovered it years ago by chance and, thinking I already knew the story, I was mesmerized by the sheer depth, style, and mystery of the novel. It is a shame how the story was maimed by popular culture.

    • Layla
      November 24, 2009

      Exactly – I truly figured I would be overly familiar with the plot, but no.

      Although lesser known, I can’t wait to try The Lair of the White Worm and The Mystery of the Sea.

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This entry was posted on November 23, 2009 by in Books books books, Culture, Europe, Layla and tagged , , , .
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