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1999 Photographs from Krakow | Panoramic Photographs 1 2 | 1997 Photographs and Text from Krakow | Poland Site Index | Home
Monday morning was hectic as I tried to check out of the hotel. Since I was one of the few guests staying at the hotel (possibly even the only one), the staff was minimal and no one was available to complete my paperwork. I would have simply left the building and completed payment by mail but my passport was locked at the hotel desk. After about 20 minutes circling the building and trying all possible doors, the desk clerk finally returned. After completing my checkout, I threw my bag into the car and sped to the bus station, just catching the bus before departure.
The anxiety of missing the bus would be the last real excitement for the 8+ hour bus ride to Kraków. After about an hour of driving, we passed a large, ad-hoc market on the roadside selling fruits and other merchandise. No towns or villages were nearby. After the bus passed, the road became clogged with bicyclists returning to their farms or to the town farther ahead. Baskets and knapsacks overflowed with goods bought at the market. Their bikes were not lightweight touring cycles. These were heavy-weight, steel-framed, single speed, communist era bicycles. As Tomek described to me, this was once the only model available. The riders pedaled along the edge of the narrow country road, often riding 2 or 3 abreast of one another. Except for the bus attempting to get past each of the cyclists, it was a pastoral scene. No one else seemed to notice. Passing the decades-old farm equipment often encountered on roads later in the journey proved more challenging.
I arrived in Kraków late in the afternoon, around 4:30pm. I had been to the city before so I knew my way around and could find my hotel relatively quickly. I rushed to check in and drop of my bags, giving me time to find Romuald Loegler's office in Kraków. His letterhead listed two locations, one in the center of the city, another in a surrounding suburb. I headed off to the central location. Starved from the long bus journey, I bought a round pretzel on the street to satisfy my appetite. Three blocks later, I bought another.
When I arrived, Mr. Loegler's office was empty. I spoke with one of the remaining architects in a mix of Polish, English and German trying to describe who I was and why I wanted to speak with Mr. Loegler. The architect explained that Mr. Loegler would be back in a hour or so and I should come back then. I left the office and tried to find an internet cafe to check my email. I couldn't find anything at the first address I knew, the second was open for business. When I returned to the office, Mr. Loegler had not yet come back. I went out for another hour and returned, still no luck. Finally, after 8:00pm, we were able to meet.
I had sent Mr. Loegler a letter earlier in the summer after reading an article referencing his work in the American magazine Architectural Record. He sent a very kind reply in return. We tried to meet in New York about a month before my travel to Poland but were unsuccessful; this was our first true conversation. We only spoke for a brief time since he was preparing for a trip to Sweden the next morning. He would be out of the country the next two days but suggested that I call tomorrow to set-up a time and meet with another architect in his office to review recent projects. Mr. Loegler would meet with me again on Thursday evening after his trip.
Though I was glad and fortunate to have arranged a meeting with Mr. Loegler, it threw all my plans for the upcoming week into disarray. I had to be in Kraków on Tuesday (or possibly even Wednesday) to meet with Loegler's architect and Thursday evening to meet Mr. Loegler himself. I had to be in Warsaw for a presentation Friday afternoon. The squeeze: how to get to Wroclaw to meet with Mr. Loegler's magazine correspondent, Roman Rutkowski, for a tour of that city's architecture. I called Mr. Rutkowski to find out that he was only available on Thursday morning. Eventually, I developed a plan: I would stay in Kraków for the week and take a 4:00am train to Wroclaw on Thursday morning, arrive at 8:30am, tour the city, then return on a 1:00pm train arriving in Kraków 5:30pm, just in time for my meeting with Mr. Loegler. Finally, I would travel on a 9:00am train from Kraków to Warsaw Friday morning. Great idea with one problem, there were no hotel rooms available in Kraków for my extended stay. I walked the city for several hours that evening, inquiring at every place I passed. I finally did manage to link together a series of accommodations for the week, though every night would be in a different room and I would have to change hotels mid-week. Not ideal, but it worked. At 1:00am, I went to sleep.
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