St Mary’s Basilica | Kraków

And then there was one.

My two breakfast companions had to leave for their flight back home to Switzerland and as I still had the luxury of a few hours decided that St Mary’s Basilica in the medieval main square would no longer be undiscovered.

The most imposing structure in the area, in Catholic Poland it’s still very much in use, and interesting that visitors are allowed in only after 11:30 am and a 10 zloty (€2,50) ticket purchase, where incidentally I was mistaken for Chinese when clumsily asked what language I spoke.

The irregular opening hours unfortunately didn’t allow much visiting opportunity for most of our group over the last few days so it was with some sense of accomplishment that I could make the journey. Given the summer heat, relative distance, and my decision to wear slim-fit trousers, it did feel like a rather long one.

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Looks can be deceiving as, once inside, the church was smaller than it seemed, actually cozier. The famous triptych by the altar was being renovated so it couldn’t really be fully appreciated but there was so much going on everywhere else it was almost dizzying where to look first.

What stood out however during my full hour there was a shameless incident, of which I was front and center, of a family, egged on by the father – clearly a model of integrity – who thought it was an okay decision to jump the velvet rope to get in free. Thankfully they were quickly caught and given a lecture on how to read signs. Such a horrid example for their pre-teen son who, of course, could only follow his misguided parents.

As for St Mary’s, it was my last outing in Krakow before flying back to Amsterdam, and it couldn’t have ended in holier fashion. Despite my preconceptions of the Polish economy it looked like Krakow has a lot going for it and the potential to go even further. I just hope it does so without having to give up too much – good people are hard to find as it is.

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