I love visiting new places, but there is one problem: I almost always get lost.

A sense of direction has never been one of my strengths, a curious shortcoming for a travel writer. And yet, there is one advantage: I’m forced to seek help. And sometimes this leads to happy consequences.

We were strolling in Krakow, Poland’s jewel of a city and home of the Chopin University of Music, named for Poland’s brilliant pianist and composer Frederic Chopin.

After carefully consulting a bus schedule, I insisted we get on the right bus, and so we did. But it wasn’t going in the direction we intended to go. Instead, it headed ever deeper into the suburbs. Finally, John persuaded me it was time to get off the bus, cross the street, and head back to our starting point.

I had flunked navigation once again. John’s a little better at this than I am, but putting our “two heads together” at this particular task doesn’t always work.

We stood under the hot sun, waiting for the bus back to town. As we waited, we pulled out the map once again and debated which stop would get us closest to our destination.

An attractive old woman joined us and said, in an American accent, “May I help you?” She was probably close to 80, and traveling alone. “I’m rediscovering my roots,” she said. “I spent my childhood here, but my family left Poland at the start of World War II. I’ve lived in San Diego all my adult life.”

We were happy to follow her back to the tourist trail. We got off the bus when she did, and then we walked. And walked. She didn’t know Krakow as well as we had assumed. But after several blocks, we did come upon her old school, and it was enjoyable to imagine how it had been all those decades ago.

And then we were in “Kazimierz,” the Jewish Quarter, and understood how much it meant to her to be here. The Jewish life had been all but wiped out, and yet now, 65 years later, not only was it thriving, it was celebrated — with museums, art galleries, synagogues, shops and statues and little parks with benches under ancient shade trees.

“I found my cousin,” our impromptu guide said. “I never knew him, but now we have discovered each other. He has a restaurant, the Klezmer-Hois, the best Jewish restaurant in Krakow.”

We had dinner there that very night. Not only was the traditional Jewish food beautifully prepared and served in an elegant setting, there was absolutely beautiful Klezmer music. It was a Monday night, but the place was full. A woman with a rich alto voice who also played the violin, and her partners, a bass player and an accordionist, entertained us with music from the centuries — love songs, lullabies and ballads to die for. It was a highlight of our stay.

And the next night, at Polonia House, a small concert hall in Krakow’s Old Town, we listened to the music of Chopin.