...the stunning architecture bathed in warm lamplight.

Have you ever done SO MUCH research on a place before visiting that you literally feel like you've already been there once you arrive? My first impression of Krakow, first seen from a bus window and later while meandering along the atmospheric, Old World cobblestone streets, felt that way. I was staring in awe at everything in sight because of the sheer beauty and noble presence of it all, but also because it seemed rather like how I'd imagined it to be. I was happy about that too, since I don't think I heard one bad thing (thankfully) about the city I'd never visited before that would now be my new home.

Lamplight, birds and various steeples, including those of St. Mary's, at dusk:

The walk through Old Town the next day to my apartment was the perfect introduction to some of the city's best assets. I found a peaceful little park to rest in since I was lugging all of my heavy junk (those cute cobblestones aren't so good for wheeling suitcases over...but I still love them)! Eventually I found a nice, smooth sidewalk though, and in the beautiful Planty park no less, which wraps around Old Town. Less people to dodge and no cobblestones to get the wheels stuck in made things much easier. ;-) I could see the famous towers of St. Mary's Basilica rising above all the other buildings for most of the way, which I soon found out makes for a great navigational tool. The numerous pretzel vendors that I saw and the clip-clopping horses pulling their grand Cinderella-esque carriages that kept passing me along the way put a smile on my face as I slowly got acquainted with my new European world. Add to that the sounds of a cheery accordion played by a street musician and tempting aromas from nearby cafes, and I was getting quite the well-rounded welcome!

The relaxing park/garden where I took a break, called Ogród Strzelecki:

Then, I finally arrived at my lovely apartment at the foot of Wawel Hill - home of Wawel Royal Castle and Cathedral, and the whole scene is very royal looking indeed. From inside the apartment, I can hear the cathedral's booming bells that remind me of the time every quarter hour. There's something comforting about that sound - or maybe its just the regularity and reliability...I think that thing must be hooked up to a satellite it's so accurate! :-)

The weather has been gorgeous for autumn, with clear blue skies most every day so far and temps that are warm enough to still do one of my favorite activities, picnicking. :-) The river bank (below, with Wawel Hill) of the Vistula, right near my place, is perfect for it. Lucky me!

In the center of old Krakow is the largest medieval square in all of Europe, and that also happens to be where my school is. Once again, lucky me! :-) More on the big ol' square and school/classes in my next posts! And lots more photos! It was hard to take many on the walk in with all that I was carrying, haha!

To sum up my first impressions, I'll say this: I think I'm going to like living here. I think I'm going to like it a lot.

Until next time,

Sara :-)