Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Krakow, Poland

Actual date of this event: 2-5 May

Poland had been on my bucket list for a long while. You see, I am half Polish. Well, at least my blood is. Also, Poland has cheap beer and cheap food. Score! Who better to ask to join in on the trip than the person who taught me to scope out the cheap beer and cheap food? My dad, the man whose blood is 100% Polish! Him and my mom joined Luke and I in London on Thursday, May 1st, and then we all made the journey to Krakow on Friday for three nights. The plan was for us to spend one day visiting Auschwitz-Birkenau and another day visiting Wieliczka Salt Mine. In the late afternoons and evenings, we wandered around Krakow, taking in the beautiful architecture.
On Friday, the trip didn't start off super well when our two hour stop in Warsaw was cut down to 30 minutes due to us having non-EU passports. I won't go into specifics, but it was the.most.ridiculous. passport control line I have ever encountered. We were all very very irritated. Luke kept his cool though, and I am so very proud of him for it! Anyway, we arrived in Krakow, were whisked away by our driver that we pre-arranged with our AirBnB, and taken to our apartment we booked.
We expected the weather to be cooler over the weekend, but it was much cooler than we expected. We were all forced to wear jackets and the baldies needed hats. Anyway, our first order of business was go to the grocery store to get some things for a few days. Second business was a pre-sightseeing beer. Then it was time to hit the town starting in the main areas of the Old Town. 
{Planty - a large park that encloses the Old Town}

{St. Mary's Basilica}
{Town Hall Tower}
{Sukiennice - a market hall}
For dinner we went to Chimera Restaurant, which was really expensive for Poland, but still much cheaper than the UK. After dinner, we walked around a bit more. We stumbled upon on a performance by the main square, which was a really neat experience! We attempted to walk with some beers, but a police officer told us we would get fined for drinking on the streets. Thankfully, he decided to just give us a warning :-)

We had a big day on Saturday as we visited Auschwitz-Birkenau, which I will talk about in another post.
After the tour of the concentration camp, we explored the southern part of Old Town around Wawel Castle.

Then we walked north on Grodzka back toward Old Town. We saw several churches along the way. Krakow has some b-e-a-utiful churches, but you gotta go inside to see it.

After walking through the market hall, since it was closed the night before, we wandered to Barbakan, but the weather was turning for the worst. We snapped some quick pictures, then were in search for a place to stop for drinks.

{above: St. Florian's Gate}
{above: Barbakan}
{above: other side of St. Florian's Gate}
We chose a cute little restaurant for dinner, Chłopskie Jadło, which had some yummy golabki, but I especially enjoyed my żurek (sour rye) soup.
We had another big day on Sunday (BTW, when I say "big day", I mean that we had to wake up early) since we scheduled a tour of the Wieliczka Salt Mine. It was a really neat experience, much better than I was expecting. I'll talk about that in another post :-)
After our tour, we were pretty hungry, so we had our taxi drop us at our lunch spot of Pod Baranem. It was good, but dad wasn't a big fan of the mushroom sauce on the golabki. Surprisingly, I liked it! Since the sun was shining, Luke, dad and I decided to go back into the Old Town for better pictures while mom went back to the apartment to rest. Krakow isn't that big, but somehow the three of us managed to walk another 5 miles! Our legs were feeling it though since we had been standing/walking underground at the salt mine all morning. We got some nice pictures though!

{Luke likes to take pictures of me blowing dandelions... or at least I like to think he does}

{slightly disturbing}

{interior of St. Mary's Basilica}

{Wawel Castle}
After sitting for a few minutes back at the apartment, all four of us ventured south (but still north of the river) to the Jewish quarter for dinner and drinks. The area is much less touristy, and not as nice, but it was still a great area.

We chose to eat dinner at Nova Restaurant which was recommended by our apartment. It wasn't traditional Polish unfortunately, but still very good. Afterward, we found a very casual bar to have liters of beer, wine for Judy, but she was trooper and pretended to have a liter.
On Monday morning, we got to sleep in a bit since our flight wasn't until noon. We were all very pleased with the trip, and really enjoyed Krakow. It is a beautiful city with friendly people, but nothing beats the cheap food and cheap beer! I would love to make my way to Warsaw someday, but man-oh-man, I can't get over that passport control. Anyway, ending on a positive note, it was a great weekend, and I am glad we all got to explore Krakow together!

Find out what else we did in Krakow here.

Pope John Paul II was from a town near Krakow, Wadowice. He moved to the city to study in 1938, and during his time as Pope, he kept a home in Krakow.

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