Tuesday, 22 May 2007

Museums and soup

This weekend brought a particular sort of Krakow quirkiness, even by my standards. On Friday night, a mysterious free tram appeared, like the St Andrews phantom ice-cream van, to rattle its ghostly way between Huta and Wawel, carrying cultural pioneers in search of enlightenment (read "drunk students in search of free entertainment").

This was the Night of the Museums, a rare opportunity for people who don't get out of bed before lunchtime to visit cultural exhibitions in the middle of the night.
Although Friday night these days normally sees me curled up with a cup of tea (or at least beer in a tea cup) and a good book by 10pm, I decided to venture out and see if I could improve my mind at an exhibition or two.
The special tram proved to be more spectral than I thought, and after twenty minutes of waiting I realised I would have to plot my own route around Krakow's exhibitions. I started by wandering across the Rynek to Bunkier Stzuki, where I immediately bumped into the only friend of my flatmates who speaks French rather than English. With (slightly self-concious) glee we embarked upon the singularly pretentious pursuit of Talking about Art in French.

By far the most bizarre exhibit was a film of a bust of the artist's own head and shoulders in some pinky-brown, marbled stone. Only with the arrival of her cat, who set about licking the nose of the statue with a vigour enhanced by an uncomfortably loud soundtrack did the actual nature of the 'stone' become evident.

Leaving the Art Bunker behind us, we moved round to Collegium Maius, one of the ancient buildings of the Jagellionian University. The former professors' apartments, containing exhibits, but otherwise unchanged for centuries, were open to meanderers. As ancient university accommodation goes (and believe me, I know) it looked pretty cushy.

On Saturday afternoon I went to Plac Nowy for a taste of Eastern bloc life in the soup queues at the Kazimierz soup festival. The soup stands themselves were hidden by the crowds, so I (rather foolishly) went with mob rule and planted myself at the end of the longest queue. As I had already discovered at the pharmacy, queueing here is an entirely different sport. One person usually equals five plus a pushchair, and any amount of that indignant humphing- which characterises the stereotypical British single-file version- will go unnoticed.
After about half an hour, I managed to procure myself a bowl of (actually delicious) thick, yellow soup.
Queuing was an easy game compared to the task of finding an empty space at a trestle table without slopping any soup out of the flimsy plastic dish it was served in.

An interesting weekend altogether. I may not have achieved total cultural enlightenment, but I got free food, which is the second quest the eternal student.

Now where did I hear that ice-cream van?

1 comment:

Becca said...

They had the museum night here in Warsaw too - it was fab! I didn't get soup though :(