Pleasant(ly Plump) in Poland

Cinnamon oatmeal muffin. Not Polish cuisine. Just turning sleeping through hostel breakfast yesterday into a fantastic mistake.

I’m not even going to bother asking what the local cuisine is in Prague. I don’t want to know. If it’s anything like Poland, I won’t fit in my clothes five days from now. I took out money from the ATM today, not to eat but to eat more. It’s 8p.m. I just walked 3km to a street I’d only been once, during the daytime on a guided tour, to find zapiekanki. French bread pizza on steroids. I’d have taken a picture, but forgot to charge last night. Tonight’s zapiekanki: half a loaf of French bread, sliced lengthwise. Garlic basil sauce. Cheese. Ham. Mushrooms. Baked. Then tomatoes. Chopped lettuce. Green onion. Fried onion. And more garlic sauce.

So worth it.

Also great, this salad bar. There you see a stuffed pepper, spinach and cabbage crepe, broccoli tart, brussels sprouts with bacon, broccoli salad with egg and olives, and spinach with peanuts.

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I’m enjoying eating out once a day while I can still afford it. The zapiekanki cost less an $3. The salad bar $6.

I’ve been allowing myself such treats because I’ve been avoiding the massive amounts of drinking so many backpackers seem bent on doing each night. The other day, everyone woke up in a haze, one looking for his shirt, another her money, another wondering why he’d slept on the floor. People woke up for “breakfast” at dinner. One told me “ugh, yeah this one night I blew like 200 euro.”

I’ll let myself eat my $2 ice cream.

I’ve gotten into a routine. Make plans with friends at the hostel during the day if the opportunity presents itself. If not, walk and see and be just fine alone. Read during lunch. Write during the afternoon.

The last few nights though, I’d had a hard time being social. I’m tiring quickly of making new friends over beers as they are on their way to being hammered. Drinking games are fun, in moderation. I’m not the biggest club person. Call me lame, call me a loner, it’s alright.

I slipped out the door of the hostel last night while everyone was mingling pre-hostel organized pub crawl. I didn’t want to put money down for shots and beers before going out for shots and beers, I just wanted to see Krakow. I slipped out to avoid questions and why nots.

I questioned it. Am I missing out? Am I lame? Will I regret this? Will I be in bed in an hour?

A few nights ago, I’d been on the main square alone and heard a group clapping and singing American Pie. No more songs came after, so I hadn’t wandered closer.

Last night, gelato in hand, I heard familiar music and wandered over. A decent-sized crowd, a guy singing and playing guitar in the middle. Entertaining the crowd, taking requests, it was a good place to be – alone, but not alone. When no one reacted to two songs he offered as suggestions, I called out I knew them.

“Well that’s an American accent. Where are you from?”

He’s from Michigan.

And the music continues, Crazy Thing Called Love, I’ve Just Seen a Face, Wild World… A Polish girl with massive breasts danced up against him, stealing his hat, giving him a dance that would distract anyone from anything, let alone guitar playing and singing. The crowd goes wild. Two men are suddenly in the circle, one shirtless, vying for her attention. It’s almost chaotic. She’s taken Charles’ hat and is dancing provocatively in the crowd for change. She’s singing along as he breaks into Lady Gaga’s Alejandro per her request.

Insanity. Unforgettable.

And then it was over, it seemed. The crowd sang Stand By Me.

But the night wasn’t over. We all ended up at a local pub for a round of shots bought by Charles and Yvonne. And I’d made a whole crew of new friends, from Ireland, Germany, Egypt. I even had a drunk old man trying to teach me. His go-to line, always with a lot of spit: “You know the Navy Seals?”

It came to an epic peak when he heard I was from California, looked at Charles and said, “She’s had so many opportunities to learn, and she knows nothing!

Unforgettable. Way, way better than any pub crawl.

And today, a meeting for coffee led to the best crepe place in Krakow by Charles. I know how to say apples and cinnamon in Polish now. Up to Wawel Castle once more, and then across town to “the best ice cream” in Krakow. I believe it was.

What a way to end my too-short visit to Krakow, my favorite city yet.

Music plug time! Episode one of “Janae’s Musical Friends,” new friends, was Karma’s Army.

Check out my new friend Charles, here.

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