Though I like being an expatriate, I’m not sure I love the term “trailing spouse” since I’m self-sufficient and not just a human hanging out in our apartment at all hours of the day.
Strange title or not, being a trailing spouse has its benefits. One of those was an incredibly short, all-expenses paid, whirlwind trip to Kraków, Poland, to turn in my residency application papers.
Is it just me, or does it seem a bit odd that I had to leave Ukraine to become a Ukrainian resident? Regardless, it meant that I got a quick sneak peek of one small neighborhood of one city in one of our neighboring countries.
I made the trip with two other trailing spouses and one long-term substitute teacher, all of whom needed to turn in the same paperwork. Though our morning was consumed with bureaucratic red tape, we did have a few hours in the afternoon to wander around the old town of Kraków.
I left the “good” camera at home, hopeful that one day I would return to take “proper” photos of the city, so for the day I had to be content with snapping shots on my iPhone.
And snap away I did. Aware of the hours that quickly faded into minutes, I took photos like a maniac, angling to get the perfect shot of buildings, people and action.
I dislike that this is how I travel now, always trying to take photos. It’s become so hard to put my camera away and just be completely in the moment when I’m in a foreign place.
But Kraków is a very photogenic city, and I wanted to share my brief glimpse of the city.
Though cars can drive down some of the streets in the old town, for the most part, the roads are clear and available for pedestrians. The buildings have character and the sidewalks are clean. I’d love to see it lit up at night.
The vine-growing, exposed-brick look is something that Americans seem to love. They spend lots of money making exteriors look as picturesque as the buildings in Kraków (and, I imagine, much of Eastern Europe). This is a look that only time, history and natural weathering can truly achieve.
The main marketplace square in Kraków is called Rynek Glowny, and it reminded me a bit of the one in Vienna, Austria. It is punctuated by a cathedral tower, and a web of narrow streets sprawls outward from this busy hub of activity.
The architecture and energy made Kraków’s old town feel alive without being overwhelming. I remember being in Copenhagen many years ago and thinking how incredible it was that so many of the buildings I walked by were standing before the United States was actually a country. I felt that same sense of awe walking around Kraków.
Our stay in Kraków was short, and we only had a few hours in the old town before having to head back to our hotel, which was on the outskirts of the city. But, who can say good-bye with a view like this? I have no doubt I’ll be back before too long to spend more time in this lovely city.