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|
|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!|
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.|
|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.