|We arrived in Krakow around 10ish, exhausted and cranky. We had our first experience with Polish drinking (the entire overnight bus ride in the seats behind us). Once at the bus station, we couldn't figure out how to get out (yes I actually mean out of the station). Then we couldn't find the tourist information within the train station (which was next to the bus station and also next to the huge mall). We had some assistance with a finding a hostel and even got a free ride to it. Free rides with all of our bags makes for 2 very happy girls.
We did make it out to the Salt Mines that afternoon, which was fantastic. Who knew salt mines could be so interesting (Thanks for the recommendation Heather). We were not able to get any pictures because there was a photography charge and we were just too cheap. We headed back into Krakow about 8ish to find everything from the bus stop to the mall closing up. We hadn't explored much yet and if we would have known where the square was, we wouldn't have done what we were about to do. We went into the mall and had KFC (I was starving). It was actually tasty, but I guess they don't have biscuits in Poland :(
The next day I discovered the castle, the market area, and of course many churches. My favorite was one with a finger bone relic in a little glass box. Not really sure who's it was, but it was a finger.
We then headed down to Zacopane, a small mountain resort town at the border of Slovakia. We really enjoyed it, other than the 3-hour bus ride in a bus with no a/c, no windows that could be opened, and sitting on the sunny side. We were also a little disappointed because the cable car that takes you up the mountain so that you can put one foot in Poland and the other in Slovakia was under repair. We opted for the another lift on the other side of town, where we got to luge for $1 and then walk a paved path, that was lined with booths selling food and tourist knickknacks, all the way to the other ski lift that took us back down.
The next day, we opted for the guide book recommended hike in the National Forrest to an emerald lake. It was an uphill 8km paved road with swarms of people on it. Not exactly our expected quiet walk in the woods, but we had a fantastic lunch with our feet in the water. (Unfortunately, Sharon realized that our 5-day-old tuna fish salad was no longer good, but I think she really enjoyed her cheetohs.) We hurried down the path to catch the bus back to Krakow to take our first overnight train to Prague. I really liked the overnight train. we chose the 6-sleeper car. I got to sleep on the middle bunk by the window and Sharon got the top bunk. We would've been ok but one of the other girls shut the window half way through the journey which cut off the air circulation (there is no a/c in the cars.) Sharon had it the worst; all the hot air rose along with everyone's b.o. :(