Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Krakow, Poland

The rest of our experience in Poland was less gloomy. The city of Krakow is a delight, with a big beautiful square and hearty food. Also, a castle which is always good in my book.

First off, I congratulate anyone who can pronounce anything in Polish. Bravo.

The center of Krakow (Old Town) is surrounded by a wall and a beautiful green space called Planty. As you walk through the ancient gate, feeling all old timey, you are greeted by the dreaded Golden Arches. More on them later.

The best sight in Krakow is the Main Market Square. Bustling with people and school groups, horse drawn carriages. On one end (the main building in the photo above) is the Cloth Hall which is a popular souvenir market.
On the other side is St Mary's Church which has overlooked the square for more than 800 years. We skipped the interior and climbed to the top of the tower (15 PLN). We arrived just in time to hear the bugler who plays from each window in the tower every hour on the hour. The bugler is paying tribute to a watchman who was killed while sounding the alarm of an enemy. While he played, he was shot in the throat, cutting the song mid note. So today, the bugler plays and ends the song abruptly, mid note.
After playing the song, he leans out of each window and waves to the crowd below. It was a little exciting (and loud) to be in the tower while he played. They did not allow anyone else to come up while he played, but we were allowed to stay since we were already there.

The best view!

It was worth the 239 narrow steps to the top of the tower for these views.

And then we visited McDonald's which is something we never do at home. But we heard that the McDonald's hear was built into a Gothic cellar that was discovered during renovations. So they excavated it and incorporated it into the design. That was worth buying a Mickey D's hot cocoa.

We then wandered over to Wawel Castle and explored the grounds. And I salute the Polish for incorporating fire-breathing (literally) dragons into their castle design. It was a fun area to explore but lots of rain so no pics.

We ate heartily in Poland. Mushroom soup, pierogi, and meat sandwiched in pretzel and drenched in gravy. For how chilly it was, it was nice to have stick to your ribs food.

Our apartment in Krakow was a little random, complete with an enormous mirror above the bed. The neighborhood was kind of sketch and a bit far from town. I would recommend staying as close to the center of town as you can which is fairly close to the train station as well.

And just like that, our time in Poland came to an end. We took in dusk at Main Market Square which is hopping all times of the day. Picked up our luggage and hopped aboard an overnight train to Prague.


  • Transportation: your feet! Krakow is incredibly walkable. But if you want to get fancy, you can take a horse carriage ride around Old Town (we didn't but it looked fun). For train tickets, if you book more than two days ahead of time, you can get a significant discount. Book ahead if you can. 
  • Accommodations: stay close to Old Town if possible. But staying in a studio with an enormous mirror on the ceiling, we stayed here
  • Costs: Krakow was very affordable. Food and sites were cheap. Poland is a part of the European Union but they use their own currency which is the Polish złoty. Get your money at the ATM instead of those rotten currency exchange places.
  • Itinerary: I was feeling under the weather the last day so we took it slow. I really wish we would have visited the salt mines or Schindler's home.  
Traveled May 2015.

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