Friday, 26 September 2008

Kraków


Earlier this year we visited the delightful Kraków for five days. Today we were thinking back on just how great it was there, so I thought I'd share a few pictures and memories.

We arrived on a (very) early morning flight from Bristol Airport. After spending a good 45 minutes trying to find a cashpoint, and then change for the ticket machine, we boarded the bus into the town centre. Despite all of the faffing over the money, we still managed to get it wrong, and could only afford children singles tickets. I spent the entire journey convinced that we would be arrested by scary Polish Ticket Inspectors. To avoid incarceration we hopped off the bus as soon as we felt we were close to the City Centre. Thankfully we manage to stumble across the apartment bl0ck that was to be our home for the next five days pretty soon.

We rented a lovely studio flat, which was delightfully Ikea's inside, but up 5 flights of stairs. It was great value for money, and very pleasant, despite the obscenely loud tram outside our window, which would wake us up at 5am without fail.


The Wawel was without doubts one of the highlights. It is home to the Royal Castle, The Wawel Cathedral (see first picture) and 'Smok Wawelski' (Wawel Dragon), who lives in a cave beneath the hill. (And who apparently breathes fire. We didn't visit him as droves of school children on their school trips blocked the stairs.) Below is a picture of the Royal Castle. The sunshine in this square was really spectacular. I failed to capture it in the photo, despite numerous attempts.


We also wondered around the Botanical Gardens, which were really beautiful and peaceful. (Surprisingly, we didn't encounter a single Stag Party at the Botanical Gardens! They seemed to crop up everywhere else, usually accompanied by something inflatable).


Browsing through the holiday photos, I noticed that I was eating or drinking in most of them... The food in Krakow was really varied, and in most cases affordable. However, if you're looking for really authentic Polish food, I recommend researching it beforehand, as there are many chain restaurants, and menus inspired by foreign cuisine.

The weather was absolutely perfect while we were there (May). Krakow sits in a valley, at the foot of the Carpathian Mountains, which helps to create the temperate climate.


My family visited Krakow last winter, and their weather conditions were slightly different!


A few thoughts on Krakow:

  • The airport is a bit disorganised, so if you are flying with a budget airline, be prepared for a bit of discomfort.
  • Make sure you pack some comfortable shoes - I only packed flip flops and paid the price. The city is a great size for walking about, and that way you get to see more!
  • Definitely visit 'Kazimierz', the Jewish Quarter. You can really sense the culture and history, and there is an awful lot to see.
  • The beer is very affordable, and very strong! The wine on the other hand is more expensive.
  • Self catering is an excellent option if you are on a budget. There are small and sensibly priced supermarkets on every corner. Don't be put off by the grumpy sales assistants.
  • If you have time on your hands, visit the National Museum, which houses many exhibits. Most notably an absolutely massive collection of contemporary Polish art. We were completely unprepared and blown away and didn't manage to take much in, so set some time aside.
Happy travels!

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