Friday, January 4, 2008

Christmas Eve in Krakow

Nick and Alison in front of our Christmas Eve dinner restaurant - which opened in 1364!
On Christmas Eve Day, Alison and I did some shopping first at Krakow's very modern mall and then at the traditional downtown Christmas market. (Actually, we just looked at the mall and then did our real shopping at the market square. )

Alison says the big red heart lollipop from this stand is one of the best she's had! She was disappointed when it wasn't there after Christmas.

Since most places close down on Christmas Eve (this time is traditionally spent at home with a 12-course meatless dinner followed by opening gifts and then midnight mass), we made reservations for an early dinner at a very old restaurant on the square, Wierzynek. (According to legend, its opening in 1364 was attended by 5 kings and 9 princes. Since then, DeGaulle, Bush and Castro have also supposedly eaten here.) We then walked home through the lovely square all lit up for Christmas, exchanged our gifts, and shared our "oplatek" Christmas wafers and Merry Christmas wishes. (Traditionally this is done before dinner: each person breaks off a piece of the very thin wafer and shares it with other family members, then exchanges kisses on both cheeks, and offers a Christmas blessing.) Nick's gift to me was a Polish cookbook that includes the menu for the Wigilia (Christmas Eve) feast, so I guess I'll have to try it next year. (Though I doubt I'll see big tubs of fresh carp in the grocery stores at home!)

Our "Wigilia" - Christmas Eve dinner

These Christmas Angels have been set up in parks all over town - there's even one at the airport. Though I couldn't get a very good picture of it, this is the one we pass every night on our way home.

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