Sunday, April 23, 2017

Slovakian Ramblings

I took a flight from Salt Lake City on Thursday night. A flight to another flight to another flight to another flight to maybe a portal of some kind and then I think to a horse and buggy followed by that one car from Back to the Future, and after eleven hundred hours of being on moving things and not sleeping and being coughed on by strangers, I ended up in Krakow Poland.

My friends, Anna and Emily, joined me on the journey. They had never seen Krakow before and I would be lying if I told you that 78% of the reason we went was not so I could take them to this underground restaurant I found several years ago called Babci Malina's where this old lady screams at you and then gives you more comfort food than any human should ever try to consume.

We were eating said comfort food a few minutes after arriving in the city. And then we were off to go church-exploring, because every time I end up in Eastern Europe I think I'm catholic or Russian Orthodox.

There's this very old and very massive church in the middle of Old Town in Krakow. I had been in it before. The place has always confused me because it has a very large chapel, and then a series of long stone-walled corridors that lead to nowhere. But the corridors are usually blocked by various black gates.

We walked into the place sometime around 9:00 or 10:00 PM. Or maybe it was 2:00. Or maybe it was eleventy o'clock on a Monday. We haven't been really sure of the time in the last four days. All I know is that it was dark outside when we walked into this church. And, for the first time probably ever, one of the black gates that is usually shut was open.

I don't know why I thought it was a good idea to introduce Anna and Emily to eastern Europe by leading them down a dark stone-walled corridor in a 14th century church at eleventy o'clock on a dark Monday, but that's what I did.

We walked down the corridor for a minute or two before we heard the sound of a locking door.

We knew this sound came from the door we had come through to get to this corridor.

But we didn't think this would be a big deal because surely there would be another door at the end of this thing for us to get out.

Spoiler alert: there wasn't.

The corridor led to another which led to another and it just got darker and darker and more haunted with every tortured ghost that is stuck on earth with unfinished business and I'm pretty sure I heard actual whispered words at different points but I couldn't make them out because they didn't say "hello" or "thank you" or "I'm sorry about the bathroom," which are the only things I learned how to say in Polish before going on this trip.

We panicked. Like, legit panicking. Linking arms and briskly walking, we retraced our steps to verify that we were, in fact, locked in. All of the lights had been turned off by this point.

I immediately suggested that we call someone. But this was a bad plan for many reasons: 1) We had no working phone; 2) who would we have even tried to reach anyway? 911 in Salt Lake City isn't taking my calls anymore; 3) many other reasons.

We eventually started making our plan to just sleep in the very old very haunted did I mention that it was definitely very haunted church for the night and hope that we didn't freeze to death.

Moments later, Anna discovered a small door, hidden in a corner of one of the corridors, leading through what was most definitely the priest's personal residence.

There's a decent chance we offended God, but we tip-toed through this place until we eventually found a door leading to the outside. Now I'm not sure if we stayed long enough that I'm supposed to leave them a review on Airbnb.

We got a rental car this morning from a man who tried to sell us so much insurance that I think it would have technically back-covered the Titanic if we had agreed. Emily has to drive the vehicle because she practices that old black magic called "stick shift" and a manual car is all we could get.

Although, I don't know how good she actually is. For the first half of the day none of us could figure out how to reverse the vehicle, so we ended up driving two loops around a city to park in one spot we accidentally passed on the first round.

We ended up in Eastern Slovakia and in a town called Bardejov, which I think may be having something of an I Am Legend situation because this picture was taken at high noon in the town square:

Tonight we are staying in a little village near a majestic city called Kosice (pronounced Ko-si-che). I talked Anna and Emily into trying a rustic-looking Airbnb in the countryside. We are staying in what I think might be the Weasley house from Harry Potter. You have to go up or down several stairs to get to or from any room. I think our area is technically spread out on 12 different floors. And there are two sets of stairs from opposite ends leading down into the bathroom. It looks like a Mormon baptismal font. And there's a window from the kitchen looking down into the bathroom, so that's confusing, but we don't really have the energy to think very hard about it because it is negative 12,000 degrees in Slovakia right now so we're just trying to deal with that.

Oh! And, the kitchen smelled really weird and so we opened the freezer and found this:

And I really hope this isn't the last person who stayed here.

These are the end of my ramblings, most of which are here so Cathie doesn't think I'm dead.

In Krakow main square.

In Krakow.

With Emily in Kosice, Slovakia.


This giant stained-glass window looked down upon us in the church we were stuck in. 

~It Just Gets Stranger


  1. Yep, haunted. And by "so Cathie won't the n I am dead" I read between the lines and knew you meant "so Cathie and all my strangers don't think I am dead." Thanks for the update, now get back to taking gorgeous pictures. Mmmkay, thanks.

  2. I love adventuring vicariously through you.

    And being locked in that church would have been terrifying.

  3. I may have had some heart palpitations while reading about being locked in the church. This may also lead to nightmares that cause me to punch my husband and break his nose in the middle of the night. I'm not telling him why though - the last time I did that I was banned from ever watching scary movies.

  4. I've been wondering since I found out about this trip how on earth you managed to leave sweet little Mr.DD. Clearly you are a true monster. Glad you're alive though!

  5. And just who is watching Mr. Duncan Doodle??
    Do you not fear him forgetting you??? I worry every time I go on a business trip that my Kiba may forget me when I am gone...

    1. Trust me. It's my biggest fear. I keep texting matt and asking if Duncan misses me and Matt responds, "no. He's having to much fun." Because I guess matt doesn't know you are supposed to comfort in this situation.

    2. Because of all the comforting responses I am sure you modeled for
      him every time you watched Ollie, I am stunned he hasn't learned this yet. Amiright?

  6. This reminds me of the time I tried to find the town my grandmother was born in and the church she was christened in. She was born in Konstadt, Silesia, Prussia. Turns out that is now Wołczyn, Poland...where exactly nobody spoke English or even my poor smattering of German 17 years ago. I need to go back with someone who actually speaks Polish. I stayed in a creepy hotel I'd found online that looked like either a former convent or some sort of Catholic jail, I swear I heard people in my bathroom but every time I checked it was empty. In the morning I drove back to Wroclaw and never returned.

  7. Also, the freezer photo reminded me of my last trip to Amsterdam about a year ago. We were staying in a home I found on VRBO and the host seemed a bit "off". As soon as he left the room we checked out the kitchen and the first thing I did was open both the fridge and the freezer. My friend asked when I was looking for and I said "Body parts of the last tenants". There weren't any so we decided to stay. The host left us alone and he liked to get stoned and then karaoke the greatest hits of American Top 40 charts of the 60's until 3am.

  8. I wish I could remember the name if the hotel my ex boss used to stay at in Slovakia! He always stayed there. It was near Bosaca

  9. i heart the rynek in krakow! :)

  10. I'm pretty sure you need to host stranger getaways abroad.

  11. Kosice is pronounced Ko-She-Tse. The S has a little hat-type accent that makes it sound like sh.

    I think what you found in the freezer is actually goose, and I can say that the Slovaks know how to roast a goose. I'm talking crispy skin to die for and tender meat and these fabulous little potato pancakes that you should really, REALLY only have one of because they sit in your stomach like lead especially if you decline the pickles and schnaps that are designed to help you digest them. I ate 3 once, and I seriously considered a trip to the hospital except . . . well, if you've ever seen a Slovak hospital you'll understand why I was willing to just bloat/explode/die quietly in my home. But if you are ever in Slovakia and someone offers to take you out for roast goose you must GO! And even if you don't like organ meats, try the liver. It's A-MAZE-ING!

    (I lived in Bratislava from 2001-2007. I don't really speak Slovak, but I can read a menu and I might have been more help with the bus ticket thing . . . If nothing else, I remember how to shout "IT'S NOT MY FAULT!" in Slovak.)

    1. New goal: Learn how to say, "It's not my fault!" in every language ever.

  12. Your pictures are stunning. What camera do you use?

    1. It's super fancy and you can only get it at some stores. It's called iPhone 7.