Eastern Europe: On the Vistula...

Krakow_PuddleCastleReflection

I wish I could tell you that the rain let up and we have sunshine in Krakow but that didn't happen. If anything, the rain got a little more persistant. I don't think we ever saw an inch of blue sky in this city. No worries - by now we had gotten some umbrellas and were more mentally prepared to see the sights a little damp.

Krakow_StefinTownCenter

I confess that I expected to like this city the least. It is certainly the least popular in terms of tourist write ups so I expected a little more of a low key place. And while that was true in some ways - the city is certainly smaller than Budapest or Prague - its no less interesting. The medievil wall still stands in certain parts of the city and the central part of town is mostly off limits to cars. LOVE THAT! I can't really say why Krakow was my favorite. Maybe because it was smaller, it was easier to get a lay of the land and feel a little more like a home away from home? Who knows? But I definitely recommend a trip there to anyone considering it.


On the negative side, the hotel we called home during this part of the trip, Andels, was my least favorite. There was nothing really WRONG with it but it was the little things that were lacking. Zero counter or drawer space to put clothing so the room always felt like a mess; no hair dryer or conditioner; a weird tv speaker in the bathroom that was EXTREMELY loud and we couldn't turn off; eerie neon blue and orange lights that made it feel like a nightclub all day long. So I can't really recommend it. In fairness, Im very much of a hotel snob so my bar is pretty high when it comes to this.
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Krakow_AndelsBathroom

Much like Budapest, the food we had nearly everywhere was delicious. I was shocked at some of the portion sizes...I thought Americans had the monopoly on ridiculous helpings!
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I didn' t do much buying but window shopping is my addiction :)
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I think Prague is more famous for their music study but I have to say that everywhere we went in Krakow, street performers were amazing. Certainly better than I have heard anywhere else. Like this woman playing her violin...
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and this man who had such an incredibly powerful voice, I couldn't believe he didn't have a microphone
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or this woman who juggled flames
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And aside from enjoying the free entertainment on the streets and eating ourselves stuffed, we booked a couple of excursions outside of the city. The first was to the Salt Mines.
Krakow_TourSign
They are no longer operational but still a pretty amazing site. At first you walk down an endless set of stairways
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and through a series of salt covered tunnels
Krakow_SalkMineWalkway
with various interesting stops along the way featuring carvings made of salt, small chapels miners created to pray during their work days, etc. And then out of no where, the tunnels open into this huge chapel complete with salt crystal chandeliers!
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Stunning! Evidently people can get married and have grand parties there. What an amazing location.

The following day we took a detour from the frivolity of vacation to visit the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial. Ive done a bit of reading about the Holocaust so I wouldn't say the experience was informative as much as emotionally powerful to see in person what I've only read about. The gentleman that escorted us through the tour of the memorial was also excellent. Im sure he's given the same tour a million times but made us feel as if we were the first ones. I imagine working there must be very difficult so I was really impressed.
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The next day was our final day in Krakow so we tried to soak up as much of this beautiful city as we could in the short period we had.
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And then it was time to say goodbye and head to the airport for our final stop, Prague...

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17 comments:

  1. Those pictures are fabulous! May I ask what type of camera you use?

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  2. Mrs.L, you have such a fantastic "eye". Loved all of your photos. What a great trip. Thanks for sharing it with us.

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  3. Beautiful shots of Eastern Europe! The rain added to the moodiness!

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  4. You are so good at the Photography thing!

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  5. Thanks everyone. Im not that great of a photographer, I just only post the best photos. Its easier to pull off the illusion when I get to dump most of the bad photos I take. haha

    I use a Nikon D50.

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  6. Er...correction: I use a Nikon D50 but I also use my husbands point and shoot Panasonic Lumix. At least half of the photos were taken with his little camera b/c its easier to throw into my pocket.

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  7. What a wonderful retelling of your time in Krakow! Your descriptions and pictures really bring your experience to life. I'm adding Krakow to my list of places I'd like to visit.

    I toured the concentration camp at Dachau with my family back in 1980, and I still remember what a powerful and emotional visit that was. I think it's important for people to recognize the reality of that horrible episode in history. I was also very moved by the church in the Jewish Quarter in Prague with all the names of the people from there who were interred.

    Looking forward to your report on Prague.

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  8. So much history and such culture. You captured it beautifully.

    P.S. Remember those damask ottomans from Target? They're down to $35 now. I seriously want to buy them for the foot of our bed. Anyway, thought of you =)

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  9. Thanks for the post. We'll avoid the Andels hotel when we go--the neon alone has me a little concerned. Everyone we've spoken to has recommended the salt mine, but yours are the first pictures I've seen. Our ex-pat friend is a vegetarian in Poland, so her dining reports haven't been exactly complete. I'm glad you endorse the food because it's certainly an important factor for us when we travel. I like the different moods you catch with your photos. I think I've seen the square with the colourful buildings and sleeping stone lions in photographs our friend has taken.

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  10. Great, GREAT photos...I love the flame juggler one. So relieved to see we're not the only country that can pack away food like it's nobody's business, too ;-) I agree with Linda...it's like your photos excelled in the rain! I can't believe you used a point and shoot. Fabulous!

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  11. Hi! I just found your blog, to my delight! I am from Poland (living in the US) and am always so thrilled to see people visiting my country! I am so glad you enjoyed Krakow. I live in Gdansk whenever I go back but I've been to Krakow several times and just went back a few months ago for a little visit. It is so lovely!

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  12. I know this is an older post, but I just discovered your blog and was thrilled to see that you had been to Krakow. I spent last summer there studying as an exchange student at Jagiellonian University and fell in love with the city. It's always wonderful to meet others who've experienced the beauty of Krakow.

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  13. There is actually a time limit to how long guides are allowed to work at Auschwitz, lest they become depressed or desensitized. I think it's something like 4 months, but maybe it's longer.

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  14. Mamuniaagunia3:17 PM

    Hello :o) I am from Poland - Gdansk is a city on the Baltic coast in northern Poland. I'm living in the US now. I am so glad you enjoyed Krakow. Amazing pictures! Have a nice day. Big hugs from Buffalo,NY.

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  15. Dinesh8:21 AM

    I
    loved the way to narrate the post ….. thank you…!


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