I love travelling. I believe it opens my world to new experiences, new learnings and gives a new outlook to my life. It gives me an inspiration to be me and to love all different cultures. It’s that essence of me that completes this journey called LIFE.
I always wanted to visit Poland. No specific reasons, but maybe some pictures on Instagram or Facebook encouraged me to visit the place. Krakow was an obvious choice in Poland.
DAY 1: From Krakow Airport to the city
I landed at Krakow Airport at around 10:45 am, with little turbulence in my flight and vivid hopes in my heart. I took bus number 208 to reach the central Krakow train station which was actually close to my hotel. The ticket was 4 PLN per adult and can be bought from the vending machine at the bus stop. There is also a shop inside the airport called Relay that also sells the ticket at the same price. After check-in to my hotel and a quick bite, I was ready to attend the first walking tour of the city.
DAY 1: Free Walking Tour
I strongly follow and recommend free walking tours across Europe. They are a great way to understand the history and existence of the city with some unfamiliar stories of that place. Plus an added advantage is that you can always ask your guide about local eats, hidden gems to visit and some transportation tips. These trips are not free; they are actually tip based and it is ideal to pay your guide generously.
Well, so I had referred to this website here and showed up at the specified location to catch the tour at 2 pm. The tour started from the Florian Gate and ended at the Wawel Castle. We also visited the Main Square, Cloth Hall, St. Mary’s Basilica, Town Hall Tower, Saints Peter and Paul Church and Wawel Cathedral in the course of the tour. The tour was quite engaging and involving as our guide narrated us some true and fake popular legendary stories of Krakow. We were exposed to the history of the city in a more connective way and could understand the existence of various sites.
One of the stories that I still remember was that of their tradition of trumpeter who plays the music every hour from all four sides of the cathedral. The story was that there lived a trumpeter at the highest level of the Cathedral whose job was to blow his trumpet to inform the city of any uninvited danger. One night when he sensed the Mongols approaching, he blew the trumpet at his highest pitch, waking everyone in the city. The leader of the Mongol Army heard him and steered his arrow that aimed at shooting his throat, leading to his death and unfinished song. But..the story is actually FAKE..! The cathedral was finished decades after the invasion of Mongols.
Such exciting anecdotes added a tangy flavour to the whole tour.
They have this tour multiple times during the day and they also have more free and paid tours that one can attend. I also attended their paid food tour which again I highly recommend. I am soon going to share the details of that tour in my next blog.
DAY 1: The End
It was November and by 4 pm the sky was already dark. I really wanted to spend more time at the castle and click few pictures, alas the day was really short for me and I had to call it off. Nonetheless, on my way back to the hotel, I found an amazing place and had relishing authentic dumplings along with their special flavoured vodkas! Have to say this inspired me for the food tour that I eventually joined.
DAY 2: Auschwitz
Next day, it was an early start as I had planned this day for Auschwitz. More details of this tour is going to be a part of my next blog.
DAY 2: Schindler’s Factory
This day I also visited an exhibition hosted by ‘The Historical Museum of the City of Krakow’. This specific exhibition also narrates the story of Schindler and his enamel factory during the Second World War. The exhibition recites the story of Poland right from the early 20th century to the present day in 21st century. From the pages of the First World War to its divide by USSR and Germany during Second World War to the holocaust of innocent Jews to finally the achievement of independence, the museum explicitly describes each phase with a lot of conviction and narration. Every phase is personalized and personified to an extent that it feels living that ear and be in that time.
The entry ticket for this museum is 24 PLN per adult. The exhibition closes by 6 pm in November.
DAY 3: Major sites again
I dedicated this day in Krakow to revisit the Main Square, Wawel Hill, Wawel Cathedral and the Wawel Castle. The Wawel Castle is one of the largest in Poland and represents nearly all European architectural styles of medieval, renaissance and baroque periods. It is also UNESCO World Heritage Site as part of the Historic Centre of Krakow. The Cathedral was remarkable and so were the other parts of the Castle. I enjoyed the Dragon most who actually emits fire every 5-7 minutes.
DAY 3: Kazimierz
I further visited this area called Kazimierz, which is the old Jewish Quarter of Krakow. It has an array of cafes and restaurants, all promising a memorable experience. Corpus Christi Basilica and Old Synagogue were also very close to this area.
DAY 3: Food Tour
I also did the Krakow food tour this day which was very satisfying, considering the fact that Polish food, vodkas and hospitality is so incredible. We covered few local spots including restaurants and vegetable market to relish authentic Polish cuisine with few shots of vodkas to end the tour, the day and the trip on a perfect note. More details will be discussed in my next blog.
DAY 3: From city to airport
While returning back, I had an evening flight from Krakow and preferred this time taking a train rather than a bus. Because of the peak traffic hour, our hotel suggested us to take the train that departs every 30-45 minutes from the Krakow central train station and is a quicker mode to reach the Krakow airport. The ticket was 9 PLN per adult.
- There are also a number of day tours available from Krakow to Wieliczka Salt Mine, Ojców National Park and Zakopane and Tatras Mountains. Please compare between different tourist offices before you decide on one. If you wish to visit on a budget, try using the app JAKDOJADE that will give you all information on local transportation.
- For currency exchange, try this shop called GROSZ. It is a very small currency exchange shop but offers the best rates. When I made the purchase, according to xe.com 100 euros were 423 PLN and I got 422 PLN from this shop.
- Try Bagels- they are a speciality of this place and scores maximum consumption by locals per day.
- At Wawel Castle, they celebrate ‘Free November’. More details here.
Please feel free to connect with me if you need any more assistance when you are planning to visit Krakow. If you think I have missed something, please comment and share your views so that I can include it in my blog post.