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!

'coruscate' (Word of the Day)

Photo by B Tal

coruscate verb

  1. to give off light; to reflect in flashes; to sparkle or to exhibit brilliant technique or style. (Definition by Wiktionary.org)

Thursday, 25 September 2008

brobdingnagian

Photo by Brent and MariLynn

brobdingnagian verb

  1. enourmous, huge. (Definition by Wiktionary.org)

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Hay-on-Wye Antique Market

Y Gelli Gandryll is the welsh name for the famous book town Hay-on-Wye which is home to over 30 book stores, a castle, the Guardian Hay Festival, and Hay Antique Market. Whilst the variety of bookstores are an attraction in themselves, the Antique Market is not without. It's a small indoor complex, housing over 20 stalls selling an 'eclectic mix of antiques and collectables, including oak and pine furniture, vintage clothing, china and glassware jewellry, clocks, linen and much more'.

I really enjoy browsing in around the various stalls, and always see a few things worth taking home. (Everything is very sensible priced!) Below are a few things that took my fancy when I visited last week.

Set of Coffee Mugs.

Set of placemats. I love the soft bronze colour.


A yellow and white bucket shaped chair. The contrast between the plastic of the chair and the needlework cushion is really interesting.

If you ever visit Hay-on-Wye, be sure not to miss the Antique Market!

'defenestrate' (Word of the Day)

Photo by d.i.o.d.e.

defenestrate verb

  1. To throw out of a window. (definition by Wiktionary.org)

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

'peregrinate' (Word of the Day)

Photo by scottwills

peregrinate verb

  1. To travel towards, to journey with a destination or goal in mind. (Definition by Wikitionary.org)

Monday, 22 September 2008

How do you say 'Doh!' in Japanese?


I was so pleased with myself when I found this book in Hay-on-Wye. I've wanted to try some Japanese cooking for a while and this book seemed to promise success. However, on closer inspection at home, I found the book is published by The Japan Times 'to introduce foreign residents in Japan to the pleasures of Japanese home cooking'. While this is all very nice, it means that the ingredient lists contain a lot of things not available here in the UK. Doh!

This of course led to some frantic googling (or 'google whacking' as we call it). I found several online Japanese Food stores. Most notably Mount Fuji. As well as Japanese cooking ingredients, the stores sell cooking utensils, sushi dishes, bento boxes, and much more. Here's a selection:



1. Mini Japanese Tea House £1.99,
2.
Bento Box in lacquer wear £22.62,
3.
Japanese Women Don't Get Old or Fat £12.00,
4.
Hello Kitty Face Towel £4.99,
5.
Chopsticks £1.49 for one pair.

'gimrack' (Word of the Day)

Photo by jessamyn

gimrack noun

  1. showy but of poor quality; worthless. (Definition by Wiktionary.org)