Saturday, September 29, 2012

Never Mind the Bigos

JoeIt's raining in Kraków.

I've been in the dwarven city of Wrocław this week, about which I promise to say more later. Right now, though, I've had a long day, what with the getting to Kraków and all, and the being too cheap to spring for a cab. The Wrocław train station was only 3 km from my hotel, and the same in Kraków — a nice walk through the city! So I checked out of my hotel at noon, hiked to the train station, figured out what train ticket to buy — a non-trivial task in Poland, as there are several companies offering wildly different levels of service (e.g., "reserved seat in an air conditioned car," versus "standing room only for five hours because we responded to the financial crisis by selling most of our rolling stock") — bought a crappy sandwich in a bar in order to have enough coinage to get a luggage locker, then spent the next two hours dwarf hunting (that would be the more, for the later). Five hours later: Kraków! The walk to my hotel was blessedly sans the rain from the morning's forecast; nevertheless, it was already 9 pm when I got to my room. Deciding that the half of the aforementioned sandwich which I had ingested instead of throwing away was no longer cutting it, I took a quick shower, then went for food.

The rain had arrived in the meantime, but it was jut a steady sprinkle, so I set off anyway. Turns out that my hotel, which I selected in a hurry based solely on tripadvisor reviews, is a scant two blocks from a restaurant filled square in the Jewish quarter. My quick glance at the map hadn't left me expecting to be spoiled for choice, so it took me a while to choose a place; the rain had rather made up its mind to stay, unfortunately, so by the time I took a seat I was a little bit damp, a little bit cold, and bordering on more than a little bit grumpy. I ordered a plate of peirogis and a glass of beer, and spent the next several minutes bemused at the incongruity of the Swedish Christmas goat sitting atop the shelf in front of me. Then my food came, and I forgot to take a picture of it. (The goat, or the food, take your pick, because I didn't. Take a pic. Of either.)

Best. Food. Ever. I am not even kidding. Just simple dumplings with a sauerkraut and mushroom filling, topped with a smattering of caramelized onions, but it was without a doubt one of the finest things I have ever eaten (not excepting my first ever plate of Bigos — again, with the later — whence cometh the title of this post).

On the walk back, belly full of cabbage and onion and beer, I realized that Sweden, despite its best efforts, has not yet succeeded in destroying my love of cities in the rain. Its something about the sound of tires on wet pavement, the way the stop lights glint off shining sidewalks… I can't put my finger on the quality of it, but I'd always loved it. In recent years, I've started to worry that my love of rain has been deadened by moving to a truly rainy place, but tonight I think maybe its just been dented a little. Or maybe I've just had a long day, and a good beer, and some yummy onions.

Either way: it's raining in Kraków.