How much?!?

Verification yesterday that the times, they are ‘a changin’ …. and not necessarily for the better. When I arrived in Kraków seven years ago, it was still a relatively quiet place in terms of tourism. Parts of town were still in a state of neglect, the main market square still had uneven pavement, and you could sit at an outdoor café, have a reasonably priced meal with a beer and recognise the familiar faces of locals as they walked past. Those days are long gone, I must say. I am all for renovation and improvement to the general décor of the city … it deserves to be beautiful again in every aspect and should show off it’s elegance and architectural achievements … but what you must pay to live here is becoming a hefty price indeed. Yes, the influx of tourism brings in the funding to improve the city, but it takes away the charm of being a home and a place to reside in by making the area become a theme park instead of a functional, residential city. The cafés are now overpriced for those who live here, and the restaurants have definitely moved on from the idea of cost equals quantity and quality. Case in point: I took my wife out to a restaurant (a converted barge that moors here during the summer season) on the Wisła River yesterday, and for the amount we forked out for two main dishes and two glasses of wine, we could have placed a down payment upon a small country. The problem was the quantity of food. Mine was a miserable sliver of chicken with one bacon rasher placed on top accompanied by a teaspoon sized portion of cucumber salad and two tiny new potatoes that would have had an Irishman recall the days of famine. The taste was not so bad, but nothing to write home about. nothing that had your taste-buds dancing a jig and screaming for more. All of this evenly dispersed around an overly large white plate that gave it the appearance of an artistic design rather than an edible dish. The waitress, who looked bored to the point of suicide, even tried to convince us that the house wine, costly enough as it was, was nothing too special, and that she recommend we try one of the others that, of course, were about 50% more expensive. I have worked the bar and restaurant scene before, so I do understand the idea of ‘selling up’, but you never really do this by utilising the phrase “Are you sure?” whist at the same time putting a look of complete disgust on your face after a customer makes his choice. Either the wine is really that bad (which it wasn’t, though I am no expert), or they went to the school of ‘How-Not-To-Sell-A-Meal’ (which is in Scotland, by the way). A shame, too, since the location was rather nice (as I said before, right on the river), though we were relegated to the lower deck of the barge as the upper deck with the prime view was taken up by what seemed to be some sort of office gathering for a company. We also seemed to be the only ones there actually trying to have a regular meal, except for the staff, who all seemed to be on their meal break at the exact same time and in the same area as us. And their portions appeared much larger as well! Hmmm … now I am beginning to see why no one else was dining there.