Saturday: Krakow, Poland

We left Eger this morning and made our way to Poland. Krakow was five-and-a-half hours away.

Along the way we drove through some small, very interesting Hungarian towns. In one, cabbage was grown on a long stretch of land very close to the side of the road (there was a car right behind us so I couldn’t get a picture). We did stop at a pekseg (a bakery) and got some apple strudel since I doubted we would be eating anything until the afternoon. The two women in the bakery seemed thrilled to meet someone who spoke English (and of course baked goods know no language – I could just point).

We neared the border from Hungary to Slovakia and needed a vignette (toll permit) to drive in Slovakia. Getting one was was a bit of a puzzle. The truck stop we walked into smelled of old frying oil and the guy at the counter was annoyed before we even approached him. He demanded to know our car’s weight and class as though we would know it. We went back out to the car to try to figure out that information, but I just suggested we leave. Not far away I could see another small store that probably sold the permits.

The woman there was kind but said that no, the Slovakia vignettes were only sold in the “blue container,” a trailer – and she described how to get to it. The unmarked blue camper looked abandoned at first, but after a few minutes we had our permit. We learned later that this can be done online now. That is not as exciting though.

We arrived in Krakow at about 4:30pm and it was already dark. We are staying by the city square so we walked around there and found a restaurant for a late lunch/early dinner. By the time we left the restaurant, the weather had gotten much colder than we have experienced since being away. Tomorrow looks to be a sunny Sunday and I’m looking forward to seeing the city in the daylight.


photos: Krakow city square wrebath vendor this evening; Poland countryside; Crazy Hungarian money. 1,000 forints = about $3.30 U.S. dollars

Sunday: Pecs

Our plan had been to go to the Pecs flea market this morning, so after breakfast we headed there – about a 15 minute drive. Although the tourist office assured us the market was held every Sunday, as it turned out the webpage I read was more accurate. Markets are the first Sunday of the month. I guess it really didn’t matter since we were able to see a part of the city we would not have otherwise visited.

Fortunately, some restaurants and cafes are open here on Sunday and after lunch we walked to the giant Mosque of Pasha Gazi Kassim – a church that dates back to the 13th century. In 1766, the mosque was converted to a Catholic church.

The artwork is what makes the building so interesting. Frescos were painted in the late 1880s and are fantastic huge paintings.

We had coffee and dessert at our favorite coffee shop then enjoyed the rest of the sunny afternoon.


photos: Me seriously enjoying an Apertol spritzer; the ceiling in the mosque; our favorite coffee shop/bakery

Tuesday: Viareggio

Today we explored the seaport city and found that it is wonderful. It was a nicer day that yesterday, with the sun occasionally peeking through the clouds.

We went to the yacht building area alongside the Tyrrhenian Sea and checked out some of the huge boats in progress, getting as close as we could near the off-limits work area. The nearby marina was chock-full of fantastic-looking boats. I cannot imagine what summer must be like here, since even with few tourists around (well, we saw none aside from ourselves) the city seems bursting at the seams.

We walked along the beach and the sea was sure acting like the ocean today, with waves one right after the other. The temperature seemed to be about 60 degrees F, and it would’ve been fun to take a dip if I had thought to toss my suit in the car.

We had lunch at Trattoria Giorgio, a charming restaurant that was on a side street from the beach. My spaghetti with squid was excellent, as was my traveling partner’s spaghetti with clams. In talking with the owner, we learned that his father started the restaurant fifty years ago. He got sad talking about his dad, who must have worked so hard to get the small restaurant going.

Yesterday, our Airbnb host suggested a patisserie in town, so we stopped there before going back to our rental house. Well, I jumped out of the car since there was nowhere to park and tons of traffic at 5pm.


photos: Viareggio looks a little llike parts of Florida. The bike lane is as busy as the road at some times of day; a part of the marina; a hangar for mbvaking huge yachts. There’s one in progress on the right.

Tuesday: Lyon

It poured all last night and a good part of today – the best reason to take a tour of the city via the hop-on, hop-off tour bus. We enjoyed seeing and hearing about an overview of many parts of Lyon and never hopped off the bus until the last stop.

It was a good day to check out Pralus Lyon, a bakery known for its praline and chocolate breads and it is mainly what they sell. I walked there in a downpour (why not) and was happy to leave the store with a small loaf of praline. It is delicious.

We finished the day meeting our daughter’s friend for dinner. She lives in Lyon and had lots of interesting insights about life there. It sounds grand.


photos: top – praline loaves

bottom – short, squat variety of zucchini that seems common to this area

L’epicerie, a nice place for dinner tonight