Today I headed for the Vistula River.  I wanted to see Poland’s most important River and the lifeline of Krakow.  The temperature plummeted on the bridges high above the frozen waters.  Down below were boats that had little hope of leaving their place in the thick ice before the coming of spring.

I walked along the trail that followed the riverside.  A man ambled ahead of me and then stopped.  He turned around and began speaking to me in Polish.  I exhausted my knowledge of the language by saying “nie Polski,” meaning “I don’t know Polish.”  He outstretched his hand towards the river and smiled.  I didn’t need to speak his language to understand what he meant.  I returned the smile and nodded.  We stood for a minute and enjoyed the Vistula.  Then we waved to each other and we were off our separate ways.

I took the stairs up from the path and crossed one of the bridges.  As I was walking I noticed something very strange.  The fence that ran the length of the bridge was filled with padlocks.  On each padlock was a name, or pair of names, and a date.  Many of them were adorned with hearts.  I still don’t know exactly what the story is but it seems that couples put locks on the bridge as part of a wedding celebration.  As for the locks with only one name I suspect that it could be to honor a loved one who has passed.  I would like to know more about this tradition and I hope that I can find someone to ask before I leave Krakow.

I only saw a small portion of the river today.  I was drawn from the water’s edge to the high walls that surrounded part of the Kazimierz district.  I followed the graffitied walls back around to the many shops of southern Krakow.

Eventually I crossed a street that I recognized.  It was getting dark and the temperature was dropping so I decided that would be a good time to head back to my hostel.  I am expanding my knowledge of the city every day and the more I know the more I like it.  Next on my to-see list is a visit to the Royal Wawel Castle on Sunday.   Well, until then…

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