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Old 03-15-2010, 02:00 AM
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Default The Rough Guide to Krakow T2K style

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Rainbow Six

The Rough Guide to Krakow T2K style

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So, have just spent the weekend in Krakow. Took somewhere in the ivicnity of about seventy - eighty photos, so will post a link to those as soon as I get them uploaded, which is likely to be later on this week. I'll most likely upload them to a photobucket account in the first instance, but if anyone that has a website wants to host them on their site, that's cool with me - I seem to recall someone mentioned that when I first said that I was going...

So, I thought I'd post up a few observations based on my trip. (And before I do so, let me say that I haven't seen my copy of the Free City fo Krakow for years)

Firstly, a (very) broad overview of what I did, (and what I didn't do) in the 44 or so hours that I was there.

Firstly, pronunciation is definitely KrakOV, not KrakOW (accurate Polish pronunciation would appear to be KrakOOV)

I arrived at around 1200 local time saturday at the airport, Balice, also known as John Paul II (I think it would be safe to assume that the airport would still be called Balice in the T2K World). The airport is about 20 minutes by car west of the city, and is a relatively small airport (two levels, covering five departure gates, one duty free shop, one snack bar; no jetways - you're bussed from the plane). On landing and taking off I did see approx nine military transports parked on the apron - they looked like ATR 42 type aircraft, and were a mixture of low vis grays and brown / green camouflage. Also saw one transport helicopter (Mi17 I think - definitely Sov Manufacture) and what looked like a Hind Type, although I could be wrong about that as I was looking at it straight on.

Was downtown by around 1300 (current security restrictions in place meant that I had to wait for checked baggage, hence delay - had originally planned to be carry on only)

Went immediately to Wawel (pronounced Vavel) Castle. Unfortunately was too late to get any tickets to view the inside of the Castle on that day (only a limited number of tickets are available per day), so spent a pleasant hour wandering about the outside. Did get ticket to enter the Cathedral, so saw Tombs of Polish Kings, and Sigmund's Bell (and view from belltower)

The Castle is on the southern edge of the old town. The road up is probably about a 45 degree angle (approx) and about 100 metres, so would definitely be difficult to assault the Castle I'd say. From the Castle excellent views over the Old Town, and, from the South side, the Vistula River. I have photos of the view over the River and also the old Town (as taken from Sigmund's Bell Tower)

Being unable to see any of the Castle interiors, I then made my way down in to the Old Town. It's around a ten - fifteen minute stroll from the Castle to the Main Square (Rynek Glowny); streets are closed to traffic and aren't that wide - two cars could probably just about pass, but anything larger than that would be struggling. Basically, PC's with heavy armoured vehicles are going to have difficulty anywhere in the centre of Krakow.

Rynek Glowny is huge. Approx 200 metres by 200 metres. Local guides claim it is the largest town square in Europe. That may or may not be true, but it is big! In the centre is the Cloth Hall, large two story building about 100 metres long (North to South). East side of the cloth hall is currently closed for building work, west side has a busy market and stage where different performances can take place. All around the four sides of the square are mostly restaurants.

I ate in one of the Rynek Glowny restaurants, back to Hotel to freshen up, then a few beers....

Sunday I have an earlyish start as I have arranged a trip to Auschwitz / Birkenau Concentration Camp. I wont go in to too much detail about the camps, except to say that in my opinion it's the sort of thing that everyone should see once in their lifetime...straying slightly off topic, my visit to Auschwitz was exactly one year ago to the day since I visited the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC...

I did the trip by private car arranged through the Hotel, so this gave me a bit of a chance to have a talk with the driver and experience Polish roads...so let me give you a picture of the area to the west of Krakow...

We drove out in the direction of the airport. It is virtually all single lane highway (to clarify what I mean by that, there are two lanes, going in opposite directions). Only a very small part of the journey was on dual carrigeway (ie four lanes, two in each direction). The roads are very well maintained, but again that is something that according to the taxi driver has improved in the last few years (thanks to European Union funding) Therefore, I think we can likely assume that in a T2K World, the roads would be in pretty bad shape by the year 2000. Again, something to bear in mind when using vehicles...

The terrain immediately outside is pretty flat and seems to be mostly agricultural. I did see one structure on a forested hill which appears to be very isolated. The taxi driver said that it was a monastery. I'm afraid I don't know it's name, but it looked as though it would make quite a useful stronghold type position. The further out of Krakow we got, the more foresty the terrain became. We passed through quite a few villages, but nowhere that I would particularly describe as a town....lots of people out and about and well dressed...this was sunday morning so I'd imagine they were going to Mass. Catholic images are heavy in the area...every village has its own Church...lots of nuns and priests out and about in the streets of Krakow. And of course, lots of images of John Paul II (who would, presumably, still be Pope in our T2K World...)

The drive out took about 45 mins, back 60 mins. 99% of the cars are Western / Japanese...BMW, Mercedes, Nissan, Toyota, Renault, VW, etc, etc.

Upon returning to the Hotel, I freshened up and then took a stroll through Kazimierz, the old Jewish district. Whilst this area contains some remnants of those times, notably a synagogue, it is now primarily a bar / restaurant area. Narrow streets, two - three story old buildings...

I finished up back in the Rynek, back to the Hotel to freshen up and then back to Kaziemierz (as best as I can recall pronounced Kashimiersh) for a few beers. Then a few more beers.

Then home this morning.

So...a few observations...

Firstly, I regret not staying one more night so that I could have got a chance to be at the Wawel early and got tickets for the interior. I also regret that had I planned my trip better, I could have went to Chestocowa (sp!) as well - it would have been feasible to go there from Auschwitz...although I have to leave something for next time!

The old City is surrounded by parks...or rather a park, called the Planty...the bits I saw were maybe thirty - forty metres wide...again I have some photos...presumably in the T2K World these would be prime food growing sites...(as far as I can tell, the Planty covers the site of the original middle ages City fortifications, only a small part of which still stand at the northern end of the old town).

Of course, as I said, when it comes to food growing, there seems to be a lot of farmland beyond the City...provided the Ormo could keep the area secure...

The Jagielonian University has several buildings within the old town area, with the rest of the campus spread through Krakow. Local guide books state that this is the third oldest University in Europe, so could provide various scenario possibilities.

As mentioned previously, characters with any vehicle larger than a humvee would struggle in the city centre. There simply isn't the room. And outside the City, I'd reckon the conditions of the roads after five years of fighting would be terrible. The City does have a tram system that according to my taxi driver is very efficient. Also a lot of bicycles and horsedrawn carriages (the latter are there for the tourist sector, so possibly less likely to have been present in a T2K World where the Warsaw Pact still exists)

Most of the buildings in the old town are two - three storys, and are old. I realise that sounds like I'm stating the obvious. but I was in Warsaw three years ago, and Krakow is nothing like Warsaw. It suffered very little material damage or destruction during the Second World War, unlike Warsaw. One Warsovian told me that it was bad enough that the Germans destroyed the City - but then it was rebuilt by the Soviets. Warsaw, in my opinion, lacks soul and character - Krakow has both. It reminds me of Prague in many ways. They're both lovely Cities to visit, and I only wish I'd spent at least another day in Krakow.

Finally, I did get in to conversation with the taxi driver about apartments, and he described a typical apartment to me, so I'll post it here to give an idea of where characters might live...

A typical apartment would have one long hallway, with three to four rooms coming off at either side. Within each room, there is a door in to the hallway, and also doors in to the other rooms on that side...so for example, you could enter the middle room on the left side from the hallway, and in that middle room you would find three doors...the one you came through, and one to each of the end rooms...Those inner doors can be opened, so that if you are standing in one end room with all the doors open, you can look right through to the other end room...I hope that made sense...

OK, enough rambling...I hope you find this info to be helpful...I've tried to write it whilst it was fresh in my mind, but inevitably I've likely forgotten something so will add to it if anything else comes to mind...photos to come asap...

Cheers


Rainbow Six


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DeaconR


Very nicely described actually. It's kind of how I pictured it really but I like the details like the ones about the room and the inner streets. It makes me think of those parts of Prague where there are streets with steps for instance. It sounds very beautiful and I'm glad you had a good time. I'll have to put that on my list for cities to visit.


DeaconR

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Rainbow Six

Deacon, if you've been to Prague, you'd find Krakow very similar...they're both lovely Cities...

Although there's just a slightly wierd feeling walking about the streets of Krakow and imagining it in a T2K World...

If you do ever go, based on location, I'd recommend either the Sheraton, Radisson, or Copernicus Hotels...all five minutes walk from the Wawel and the Rynek...


Rainbow Six


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DeaconR


I know it's weird...I went out with this girl from Bratislava and it was odd listening to her talk about casually visiting all these places that were described in TW2000. I did mention to her that I ran the game and she was both horrified and fascinated.

Thank you for the recommendations on accomodations btw. The Copernicus sounds cool...I mean how many hotels are named for famous astronomers?


DeaconR



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Rainbow Six

Forgot to mention the weather...

The temperature was in the mid 20's all weekend...high 70s' for our fahernheit friends...again following a taxi conversation this seems to be about normal for this time of year...maybe slightly warmer...

Winters normally peak at about minus 10 celsius...although my driver said that last year it did get as low as minus 30...ironically he called that a gift from Russia...


Rainbow Six


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chico20854

Check out my Krakow trip report and the tie-in to Free City of Krakow I did after my trip in June. I too wish that I'd spent moer time in Krakow. As it was, I thought I had a full day and a half to look around. Good thing I checked my plane ticket and discovered I had one less day than I thought!

And to all your observations re: roads, terrain, etc. I can testify you're right on.

My illustrated guide to the Free City of Krakow is at:
http://mysite.verizon.net/vzeedox4/id13.html

And let me know if you want me to add your pictures to the page to fill in some of the details I missed!


chico20854



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kcdusk

That is one great Intel report Rainbow.

Krakow must be expecting an invasion sometime soon considering the detail you were able to pick up while over there undercover.

Also, big tick for chicos work on Krakow pictures and linkiing it back to real photos. Looking forward to Rainbows if they end up on the web.
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