Some time has passed since we made a short trip to Krakow. Saturday to Monday is not a long time. But firstly, it’s better than not going at all; secondly, it was still enough time to see a lot and thirdly, it was cheaper than taking a flight from Friday to Sunday, at least with Ryanair.
The Second Advent weekend was perfect for this trip. Europe‘s Old Towns are the prettiest during Christmas time. Accordingly, we totally loved the beautiful decoration in the Old Town, the Christmas Market and the beautiful Christmas tree and of course, the many delicious treats.
Many don’t believe it, but one weekend is even enough to do some field research and learn about locals’ customs. Note: In order to avoid a hangover, always order pickles while drinking vodka. Or, on a cosy Sunday evening, it’s not unusual to sit in a bar and enjoy some vodka shots in Poland.
We’re not talking about creepy guys in shady bars but mothers together with their daughters, your friendly neighbour next door or just any nice granny. Vodka is normal here. And in my opinion, they make their vodka really good.
Generally speaking, it’s always interesting what kind of impressions people get from their travels. What caught our attention was the friendliness of the people in Krakow. They seem a little bit distant and arrogant at first. But everytime we were surprised when it turned out how helping and nice they were (and how biased we are, no matter how much we try to not to be).
Furthermore, we learned how to pronounce the district Kazimierz and are much smarter now. For the interested and uninformed: It’s ‘Kashmiersh’, but the ‘sh’ is spoken softly.
The disturbing part of this weekend was our Auschwitz visit, including Birkenau. Yes, we even had time for that. But there will be an extra post for that soon.
The only annoying thing was lack of daylight which makes you feel like it’s already time to go to bed. Sunset was at 3:30 pm. You shouldn’t allow yourself to get affected by this.
Krakow – Poland’s prettier capital
Warsaw may be the Poland’s capital city but Krakow is said to be the one worth seeing. Jan was in Warsaw a few years ago and can totally confirm what you can read all around in the internet.
During the Middle Ages, Krakow was Poland’s capital city. The honour passed to Warsaw which helped Krakow to survive all wars without any harm. All the gorgeous buildings are still in great condition. I think I don’t have to mention all the beautiful side alleys of the Old Town.
Krakow’s Old Town with its huge Market Place was our favourite. It’s Europe’s oldest and most of the city’s sights are here.
The Town Hall Tower
At first, we were really looking forward climbing up the Town Hall Tower. We thought the view up there must be amazing. This was more or less true, but, arriving on the top, it’s forbidden to go out on the balconies and you have look through small window glasses. We hate that!
The worst thing about it was the horribly narrow stairway of the tower. Two people passing each other was almost impossible. It was driving me crazy.
Entry is quite cheap; it was just two Euros or something like that. If you don’t suffer from claustrophobia, it’s nice to see.
The Cloth Hall
An European Bazaar! It looks great and it’s really crowded.
St. Mary’s Basilica
St. Mary’s Basilica is impressive from the in- and outside. We actually just wanted to see the Veit Stoß Altar but it wasn’t possible during our trip due to restoration works. But it won’t take long until all tourists can look at it again.
The Collegium Maius
The Collegium Maius is one of Europe’s oldest universities. It was founded in 1364 and is calling Kopernikus its most famous student.
The inner court is really beautiful. The access there is free. Everytime we see a college somewhere else, we’re more convinced that our university (Regensburg) stays on top of the list of the most ugliest unis in the world.
A beautiful street, that leads to Wawel Castle starting from the Old Town. It’s nice but a little bit overrated.
The Wawel Castle is on top of the Wawel Hill and looks really mighty from the outside. The access to the inner court is free during opening hours.
You can visit here the Katedra Wawelska, the Wawel Cathedral. Unfortunately, we didn’t have the time to see it from the inside.
The Wawel Dragon
The Wawel Hill has more to offer than just the castle. Beneath the castle is the famous dragon statue. You have to know that Krakow is the city of sagas and myths and the dragon plays a huge role in many of the city’s stories.
Kazimierz – Krakow’s Jewish Quarter
This is a really popular quarter of Krakow and we really like it. Thanks to that time of the year, we could only see it at dark. Still, it was worth strolling around in this quarter. The old Synagogue built in the 15th century was really impressive.
At the end of the 15th century after pogroms, the king back then gave Kazimierz to the Jewish people to live there in peace. Until the 18th century it was surrounded by walls.
There are many synagogues, cafés and restaurants here. Jewish life becomes obvious by all the Hebrew scriptures and signs in the quarter. A café called Cheder for example offered wine from Hebron. Wine from Israel? Another gap in education was closed.
As said before, Kazimierz is really the place to be in Krakow and attracts all kinds of hipsters. It didn’t bother us at all. But it was funny to watch. We wished Frankfurt had a quarter like that. It really has its own flair and offers a larger variety.
Restaurants in Krakow
When in Krakow you HAVE TO EAT Pierogi in all varieties. We loved it and ate them until we were stuffed. As a starter, order a traditional Polish beetroot soup called Barshtsh. And of course, there was also the famous vodka.
There are many restaurants in Krakow. We can recommend two of them. One is called Restaurant Morskie Oko which is a bit fancier than the Pierogarie Krakowiacy. But both did their job very well and the food were delicious.