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A [Princess] Called Wanda: Instructions on how to slay dragons, bagels and vampires

Through the gates, an ancient city awaits. Step by step, moving forward back through time. Cobblestones, buildings, alleys and churches. Rich in history. The spirit of ancient citizens, merchants, armies. Alchemists, witches and vampires.

I came in search of Princess Wanda. To visit her burial mound. She was the daughter of king Krakus. Founder of the legendary city of Krakow. It was here, where the country of Poland laid its foundations. As the sun rose, so did I. Climbing up the legendary tomb, slowly so as to not slip through the snow covering the trail. In this remote park, far away from the main city center. I was all alone. A beautiful, serene beginning to my first weekend adventure in a long time.

At the top of the small hill. I asked her resting spirit a couple of questions. As you do when visiting fabled ceremonial grounds; of those believed to have done great things for others. Hoping for some wisdom. Bathing in the morning light, she whispered back (Shh.. it’s a secret). Taking one more big inhale before making my way back down. Following the footprints I left on the way up. Singing to myself: slow and steady wins the race, slow and steady wins the race. Slow and steady the tram moved back into the old town, city center. Surrounded by enchanting architecture. You can imagine being occupied by high society through the ages . All buildings facing the oldest (and still functioning) market in Europe. What a wonderful surprise to find, that underground is where all it’s secrets lie.

Great discoveries were made in the early 2000’s. A whole timeline of what this place was, hidden in plain sight. Structures that paint the picture of a medieval Europe longing to be recognized. People we often forget about. Their buildings (homes, shops, stalls) were built for them to survive. Not to be remembered by those who now pass by. No elaborate façade, gilded detailed railings or high ceilings. Just huts of simple wood, mud and hay.

Does progress always mean forgetting the simple things? As I look around the gorgeous room I’m lucky enough to be spending time in. Can I enjoy opulence, whilst remaining balanced and grounded? Connected and respecting Mother Nature? Can I desire abundance, finer things. Together with sinking my feet in the mud that made me? Maybe princess Wanda asked herself the same things. Before she refused to marry the German invader king. How could she help her people, protect her pagan ways? Yet still wield her power and inheritance (and I am sure, amazing wardrobe and fabulous jewels). Facing the physical manifestation of expansion and forceful domination. Dressed in patriarchal royal gear.

An eternal conundrum it seems. Embracing and expressing our duality.

For now I will take note. That a dragon much like Wawel’s can be slain with a sheep full of sulfur. A bagel can mean “Welcome” (slay and eat with pleasure). And be careful with vampire slayers if you are a lefty like me. They can stake, behead you and bury you way down deep.

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