Flying into Krakow Balice at night was something of a surreal experience. There was quite a lot of snow on the runway, and only a small part of the airport was lit up. It was very cold and a bus was provided to take us the relatively short distance from the plane to the terminal. A combination of black night, white snow, and limited lighting made everything claustrophobic, as if we were on a small but sophisticated movie set.
We took a taxi to our hotel in the city. The taxi driver (like all the cabbies in Krakow) was a middle-aged man with a black moustache, and he drove aggressively at high speed through the snow-slick streets, zipping wildly around other cars and taking liberties with both man-made and natural laws.
The Polish are a fortunate race in that their women are so attractive, and we encountered the first of these on duty at the hotel desk: a very pretty young woman with long blonde hair. V. filled out the register while I picked up a little complimentary street map from the counter. The blonde woman took a different map from out of a cupboard and gave it to me with a smile, saying it was a much better one.
We went to our room then down to the bar where I ordered a double scotch. The woman behind the bar poured me two measures but the drink was actually a quadruple, so now I've learned that a Polish single is equivalent in volume to our double. We didn't feel like going out anywhere that night so we had dinner in the hotel's restaurant, and it's the first time I recall seeing a dumbwaiter (food elevator). On the way back to our room we heard "Don't Dream It's Over" by Crowded House being piped through little speakers set into the hallway ceilings. Playing on the telly was an American film called City Slickers 2 but it wasn't dubbed in the usual fashion; the original soundtrack in English was audible, with one man's voice speaking in Polish over the top of it, describing what each character was saying (as far as I could tell).
Early the next morning we were scheduled to visit Auschwitz and Auschwitz II - Birkenau.