Excerpt of my text in Diários de Viagem 2 (Travelling journals 2) freely translated from the original Portuguese:
“I like to focus in people, in their facial features – a legacy from Hugo Pratt, who used to study the features of the different peoples in his stories. The opera-singing lady in a street corner in front of the Church of St. Andrew in the Old Town of Kraków abused her features in a lofty exaggeration.
Whereas Sofia, a portuguese girl we stumbled upon rehearsing for a mini fado show a few minutes later, expressed herself subtely with proud postures and slight movements, traits of a proper fado singer.”
Kraków is definitively more touristy than Warszawa. The medieval town’s survival during WWII made it possible for the city to skip the soviet-style modernist renovation and helped preserve the atmosphere of a historical European city, with all the layers of the preceding epochs in plain view. The historical center is peaceful, if a tad busy with mostly Russian and other European tourists going about. It was at a time, the capital city of Poland, until Sigismund III Vasa, part of a Swedish dynasty of kings moved the capital to Warszawa, to be closer to all the territories that the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth ruled over.
Kraków’s historic center (the Old Town, Kazimierz and Wawel) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site since ’78 and was one of the first of its kind. The cultural DNA of the city feels very different from that of Warszawa, partly because while Warszawa was closer to Russia, Sweden and Germany, and prey to their invading armies, Kraków was closer to the Habsburg Empire’s ambitions.