Tuesday, August 21, 2012

krakow, poland - 5 months later

For those of you who have been following for a while, you know that this past April, the husband and I packed our bags and took a whirlwind European adventure.  We began our adventure on April 6th,  and despite a bumpy start to the trip (between RVA and Newark), I was able to recoup with some vino and actually enjoy our uneventful flight to Frankfurt (well, uneventful except for a slight medical emergency. The flight attendant actually got on the loudspeaker and asked if their was a doctor of the plane! Luckily there was and the patient was, thankfully, only suffering from panic on a crowded plane). We landed on time and barely had time to yawn in Frankfurt before we were off on our Luftansa (SO NICE) flight to Krakow.

Let me just start this by saying that I, with all my heart, absolutely LOVE Krakow.  It is such beautiful city, with fantastic history, and great eats--plus it was quite affordable compared to the other European cities we visited.  Also, it has that whole iron curtain, cold war vibe going on, making it super edgy with communist era architecture. Visiting Krakow was also a homecoming of sorts for me, as my grandfather was born and lived in Poland till he was in his 20's when he,  my grandmother, and mom moved to the US. My grandmother is Italian and though I've visited Italy twice, I never felt home, the way I did in Poland.

We arrived early, and checked into the phenomenal Hotel Royal. Our room was giant! 

The hotel was right along the Planty, a garden/park that loops around the whole medieval and historic city center. We arrived the day before Easter, and since Poland is predominantly Catholic, families were out bringing their easter baskets to churches for blessings. Because everything was open, our first day spent wandering around historic Krakow, visiting churches, the market square, tasting food, and drinking tons of coffee (due to the fact that we had been awake for 24 hours at this point).

spring shadows in planty park

spring wreaths



cobblestones and fryes

Post coffee, or kawa, we headed up to Wawel Hill. Wawel Hill is a castle or fortress, of sorts, situated along the Vistula river - it has quite a history and is made up of a number of beautiful architectural styles.  It is also home to one of seven of the words chakra stones.  There is a particular wall were visitors can touch to feel the chakras. You'll see a photo of me touching the chakra wall below.

Husband = the Best Guide

Chakras! (I blinked!)

Polish easter baskets!

Beer, or pivo, with a straw! I'm actually drinking beer with rasberry syrup!
Day two of Krakow was Easter Sunday.  We woke up and had a delicious brunch and then headed to Kazimierez, an incredibly beautiful neighborhood filled with beautiful synagogs and rich in Jewish history. 

As we were climbing Krak hill, it began to snow. I have to admit, I should have packed warmer for this trip. I had my rain jacket to protect me from the wind and wet, but few other layers -- I remember wishing I had packed tights to wear under my jeans!  We kept walking to keep ourselves warm, and eventually made it to the Museum of Modern Art - Krakow and Schindler's Factory.

Krak hill is that mound in the back ground


View from Krak hill

Visiting the Museum of Modern Art- Krakow and Schindlers Factory.
 Eventually we made our way back to the Historic Center and got lunch at a bar mleczny, which translates literally to mean "milk kitchen." It is a polish staple, harkening back to the wwII and  communist era - essentially bar mlecznys were created to provide workers with quick, cheap, nourishing food. Quite delicious, and a great way to try out different polish foods.  We shared a plate so that post lunch, we could sample foods  from the market square. 

I spy perogis

No idea what this was called, but it was cheese inside fried dough, with strawberry preserves. I ate five.

After wandering and shopping some more, we got dinner at our hotel and headed to bed. If you are heading to eastern europe anytime soon, I'd highly recommend visiting Krakow. It is such a fun city to explore by foot and stomach. While most of this post is pictures, see below for a few recommendations we have for traveling to one of our new favorite cities.

- Rick Steve's guide to Eastern Europe. Throughout the trip we kept saying "WWRSD?" (what would Rick Steve's do?) whenever we hit a snag. Most of the time his suggestions guided us to a positive outcome.
- The NYT did a great 36 hours in Krakow


- Restauracja Pod Baranem - Probably my favorite meal of the entire trip. Traditional polish fare. Get their beet soup. Do it.
- Kwandras Lunch Bar - bar mleczny
Miod Malina - traditional polish fare with an italian and eastern europe modern twist. Best hungarian chicken soup of my life, and delicious spinach perogies, we ate here just before we got on the overnight train to Budapest (more on that later;)).

Things to do, eat, see
- Do walk along the Vistula river (plenty of paths and safe for walkers and bikers), wander across the river and visit Kazimierz, climb Krak hill, take a day to visit Auschwitz (we weren't so sure at first, but I'm glad we did - it was incredibly sad, but also informational).
- Eat perogies, (drink) pivo with syrup, beet soup.
- See Planty park, old town square, and Wawel Hill. 


Mrs. Bama said...

gah this made me want to pack my bags now and take the 11 hour trip. I will get to Poland before we move (and I'll use your guide) Miss you!

Allie said...

Beautiful! Glad you finally got to write all that down. So glad you guys took that trip. xoxo