What’s the first thing you do when you arrive in Krakow?
That’s right. You end up in an Irish pub, surrounded by a hundred over-excited Paddies of both stripes and you watch the replay of the All-Ireland hurling final while swilling back delicious local beer at €2 a pint. Strong, delicious local beer. You end up seeing perhaps the best game of hurling ever played. You laugh a little at Davy Fitz, but part of you is delighted for him while another part weeps for Jimmy Barry Murphy. It’s a slightly surreal experience to find yourself in a bubble of Irishness here in one of the most quintessentially central-European cities imaginable, but it’s also a nice inversion of the Polish stereotype in Ireland. Nice.
Finely-attuned to the surreal though my senses are, I did not expect to walk into a bar in Krakow and meet a first cousin I hadn’t seen in years. What the fuck is that?
The morning did not start auspiciously, and for that I have to take some of the blame. Why did I decide we had to leave Limerick at four in the morning to be in Dublin Airport for a 9:10 flight? I’m an idiot sometimes. As Wrinkly Joe remarked when we presented ourselves in the restaurant for breakfast at 6:45 am, You really are a fucking idiot.
He’s right. I am, but at least we had plenty of time to wander around the place admiring the snappy new designer stuff they’ve done to it. Snappy. Cool. Sharp. Challenging. Edgy. And all that shit.
The theme of the morning becomes, We could have left at five. Half past would have done us. Jesus we could have left it till seven.
And then Michael’s Ryanair proves us right, as we sit on his plane for a sweltering two hours, on the tarmac, with tech-guys in yellow hi-viz jackets coming and going and little Polish babies screaming their lungs off — and who could blame them? I wanted to scream my lungs off but I was too tired after crawling out of bed at 3:30 and driving 120 miles, so instead, I just leaned against the seat in front and sweated quietly until eventually the highly apologetic captain explained that a temperature gauge had malfunctioned and they’d have to move us all to another aircraft. He was very sorry. Very, very sorry for the inconvenience, but we still sat for another thirty minutes in the boiling heat until they allowed us to re-embark.
I’d say they’ll offer us a complimentary drink, I suggested to Wrinkly Joe.
They will in their arse, he replied through gritted teeth, and so it proved. Michael might have decided to be less abusive to his customers, but common courtesy is still a little way off for Ryanair. That’s ok. I don’t mind. They’re cheap.
What do I mind? Well, the ankle is torn off of me by a new pair of boots that cut a horrible suppurating groove into my achilles, and that’s not good. If I’m not careful, I’ll end up with septic foot syndrome and then I’ll have something other than First-World problems to complain about, but anyway, here we are in Krakow, shattered from the early start, which is my fault.
More tomorrow when we manage to get ourselves properly settled in. I suspect much of it will involve Polish hostelries, though there is a darker side coming up as you probably know already, if you happen to be a regular here.
Goodnight. We’ll talk again tomorrow.