Historic Kraków - 2002+2000
Unlike other historic places, where the history are just some insusceptible artefacts on an otherwise a noisy and busy modern city, you can feel and breath the relaxing quietness of the Krakow as you might imagine t centuries ago. Poland's second larges city is one of the oldest places of the country with a wealth of rich historical, cultural and intellectual inheritance. Famous for its priceless historical monuments of culture and art, it is also Poland's former royal capital. It is incredible relaxing to walk through the old city of Krakow with it's 140 church and old buildings on a sunny day in March. Nothing like the usual tourist hassle and pollution, a special atmosphere, the sound of singing birds and older tourist couples strolling through the city . It is my favourite town. Polish people were very friendly, and the bad reputation concerning criminality have not been experienced by us. Most don't speak any English, so you are left with some words and sign language. Also Poland is not endlessly cheap, restaurants and general prices are affordable although servings in restaurants are rather small to tiny. 3.6 (new) Poland Zloty PLZ are about one EUR or 4 PLZ one USD in March 2002. In hotels you pay regular prices. I have been twice here in March 2000 and 2002. Making telephone calls is cheap on public phones where you have to get a phone card starting from 25 units for 8.80 PLZ which gives you a lot of minutes to Europe. Best place to change money are Kantors where you can change money during business hours with no bureaucracy. Stay away from people that contact you and offer you things. A postcard to Europe is 1.10 PLZ. At most hotels, restaurants and stops you can pay with a common credit card today.
Sunday, 2000-03-05At the airport I changed the money I need for the ride to Krakow at Orbis. You get a terrible rate there about 11% worse then in a Kantor: 3.60 PLZ/EUR. I also board the train ticket to Krakow there 50 PLZ + 17 PLZ for Reservation which appeared to be more expensive as at the station. If you miss the train you have to buy the reservation again but the ticket stays valid I was told. To get to the central station you have the choice of using the bus or a Taxi. The shuttle service was canceled. Numerous of taxi drivers sneak around trying to offer there overpriced service. A telephone which was out of order eat my 37 PLZ telephone card and refused to return it. The Intercity train is nice and relatively comfortable and does just one stop at the terminal station in Krakow. It looks that in Poland they like the idea to have things included. Like with air-trips you get a free snack on the train. Arriving at Krakow station there are two handy things to get you a hotel: There is a online information board at the end of the main under-path of the new part of the train station, showing online availability of each class of rooms. And there is a 3d image in the other under-path of hotels around the station/center. At the hotel reception people speak little English but in general only view people speak English so communication is limited to sign language and some words. We stayed in the Hotel Justiana which is 3 km away from the down town. We got there hotel by tram line 15. A ticket is 2 PLZ.
Monday, 2000-03-06We move to hotel Polonia near the station. Rates with 113 PLZ for single room without bath, 195 PLZ for a double room are more affordable. I changed some money in a Kantor for 201PLZ/DEM (411 PLZ/USD,199 PLZ/DM at the station). The historic city center is very impressive, and we can reach every thing by foot. On Market Square (Rynek Glownyi) there is the Cloth Hall (Sukiennice) first built in the 14th century and rebuilt in the 16th century after a fire. Inside it there are many souvenir shops. There are small carts which sell a delicious bread formed as a ring and called Obwarzanki for 0.60PLZ. It appeared that all museums are closed on Monday even those on Wawel. The cafe Paparazi is cosy and offers a cup of coffee for 4 PLZ. We discover the restaurant Lapis in the evening. It's avavgart design and it cosiness makes it a special and great experience. The soup is delivered in bread as dish. You can eat there for 25 PLZ per person including desert.
Tuesday, 2000-03-07We have breakfast in a cafe called Camelot which also serves as gallery. Then we went to Wawel a limestone hill near the river Wista which served as residence for Polish Royal family in the history an now serves as museums and galleries. Legends are told about Wawel earliest history: A dreadful dragon has resided here, it is told, which favourite meal were humans - especially virgins. The cave is situated at the Wista river side of Wawel where a dragon figure has been placed. Finally he was defeated by a poor shoemaker who gave him a sheep filled sulphur which made the dragon so thirsty that it bursts from drinking all the water. All the coffins of Poland's kings reside in the coronation cathedral. As a curiosity on it left side of the gate there is a mammoth bone which where placed there already in the Middle Ages. The Sigismund Chapel is the most perfect achievement of Renaissance architecture. The Cathedral Treasury includes, among other items, monstrances and liturgical vessels, reliquaries, regalia, and insignia of royalty. The crypts of the Cathedral contain the tombs of the kings and their families and also of great poets and national heroes.
Wedensday, 2000-03-08I had a coffee and desert for breakfast in this extraordinary restaurant called Rosowny Slon. It is impressively decorated with comic art and rather suited for lunch but very affordable (2 PLZ for a coffee). The Museum of History of Polish Photography in Jozefitow 16 street holds a collection of photos one for each year starting from 1900 as well as polish and German cameras. Next to the Museum is the Krakowski park with all kind of art figures. Walking further down leads us to the national museum where also the university is located. The zoological museum which is in the university was closed although it supposed to be open. In the national museum, due communication problems - nobody speaks English, we where told that only the exhibition of Jozef Mehoffer is open which is 7 PLZ. He did glass painting last century. There was also a promotional ticket for 15 PLZ which you could see a lot of museums around the town.
Thursday, 2000-03-09It appears that all museums we where are closed on this rainy day. March is not the season for museums. Movies are shown in there original language with subtitles, hence mostly in English. So I wonder why not more people speak English? We watched all kind of movies during the week e.g. bone collector for 14 PLZ each.
Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 2000-03-10In the Luosia is a Internet cafe you can use Netscape, ICQ. One hour is 5 PLZ but often you have to wait for a computer to be free. The cafe is as cosy as the Internet room it self which is located in a old style basement (see photos). You meet all kind of people for everywhere of the world. On Saturday it was free and you had to wait even longer - about one hour. To Warszawa we choose the train with a sleeping couch. Beside a regular ticket of 33 PLZ (compare with the beginning of the story) you have to pay for the bed 41 PLZ in a room with six beds or 115 for a Single/Double compartment. I did not understand if the later price was per person or not. It was snowing like crazy when we arrived but all went well.
Greetings from Poland