Saturday, January 27, 2018

Krakow, Poland

A friend of mine and I visited Krakow, Poland over the long Martin Luther King Jr. Weekend. We picked Krakow because she has never been to Poland and she wanted to go and I really wanted to take a day trip to visit the Auschwitz Concentration Camp. We had a great long weekend. We stayed in the Blue Aparthotel which is just on the outskirts of Old Town. The location is amazing and you can't beat the price. Below is all the stuff we did, ate, saw, etc! 
Cloth Hall: A hall in the middle of town square with so many booths selling souvenirs, goods, textiles, nesting dolls, etc.

St. Mary's Basilica: One of the most beautiful churches I have ever seen. The outside does not do the inside justice. You can visit through the main doors for worship or prayer but please we respectful in this area and follow the signs to not take photos. If you want to take photos pay the extra 10 PLN and go through the tourist entrance. You get to see the alter really close and walk around and see all the areas.

St. Florian's Gate + Artwork: I visited in January and it was cold so there wasn't a ton of artists out with their artwork lined up by St. Florian's Gate on the walls of the old city. But there was a couple and it was still beautiful. In the summer it looks like the entire wall is covered in art.

Jewish Quarter: Beautiful area. They have a second hand market on Sundays and I wish I would have had more cash on me because I would have definitely bought something. There is beautiful churches, synagogues, and cute coffee shops. You can also cross the bride and see the original ghetto of the town.

Free Walking Tours: There are many free walking tours available and I totally recommend doing them when visiting any new city. We did the free walking tour of the Jewish Quarter because it was one area of Krakow we hadn't visited yet. We learned so much about the history of the area especially how it was effected by WWII.

Schindlers facotry: Have you seen the Steven Spielberg movie Schindler's List? Well it is based on a true story from WWII and this is the first Schindler factory in Krakow. There is a museum now at the factory that you can tour.

Wawel Castle + the dragon: The castle is located up on a hill and is beautiful. Walk up the side road to the castle and see the dragon statue. There is a great myth surrounding the town which includes the dragon. You will notice that a lot of the souvenirs for sale in Krakow include the dragon.

Rynke Underground: It is underneath the town square located in Old Town. You get tickets at the visitors center in cloth hall and enter the exhibit in cloth hall as well. 
Day Tours from Krakow:
Auschwitz: One thing I knew I wanted to do when visiting Krakow was take a day trip to Auschwitz Concentration Camp. I did the tour through and would definitely recommend this company. They even pick you up at your hotel. It was a full day tour we also did the Salt Mines in the afternoon. It took about an 1.5 hours to get to Auschwitz from Krakow. We had a wonderful tour guide that lead us all around Auschwitz and explained things in great detail. We even got to do inside a gas chamber. I think that visiting with a tour guide is a must but I saw people doing it on their own as well. We then got shuttled over to Auschwitz II (the main death camp most people think of when they think of Auschwitz.) We got to see the entire camp from on top of the rail station. We entered the wooden barracks and even walked to the back of the camp were the gas chambers used to be. It was a very surreal and numbing experience.

Wieliczka Salt Minesthe salt mines were spectacular. When you do the tourist route you get to see so much but it still it’s only one percent of the whole mine. There are multiple chapels and salt sculptures. We even got to see the stairs that the miners climbed up when going in and out everyday. The most beautiful room was a huge chapel with salt chandiliers! The floor and walls and everything was made from salt. I even got some salt as a souvenir to bring home. We did this tour after the Auschwitz tour with the same company and we had a tour guide the whole time. It is totally doable on your own but learning more information with the guides it always nice.
Food & Drinks:
Morse Oko: Located in Old Town just a block or two outside of the main square. This was the first place I ate when arriving in Krakow and the food was so good. It has traditional polish cuisine. We ate the pork neck and potatoes, dumping, and hunters stew. I heard the place can get really busy so either go during lunch time (when we went) or be sure to make a reservation.

Chlopskie Jadlo: Also located in Old Town. We ate at this place for dinner. It is a little bit secluded. Enter the building and go all the way to the back to reach the little rustic casual restaurant. We had potato pancakes, goulash, potatoes with gzik, and pickled everything. Traditional polish food.

Alchemy of Kitchen or Alchemia: Located in the Jewish Quarter which next to the New Market Square. Really yummy food. They has more causal universal food like fish and chips, hummus, pulled pork, potatoes, etc. I had the pulled pork sandwich with fries and a gooseberry hard cider. The place was very cute and the food tasted great. We ate here for lunch.

Dobra Kasza Nasza: Polish food. Known for it's groats or kasza which is a seed dish. I had the chicken both noodle soup and some hot wine. We also had a baked apple dessert with ice cream. We ate here for dinner. The place was more casual and cozy. Located in Old Town.

Przystanek Pierogarnia: Wonderful dumpling or pierogi place. Located just outside of old town. This place is literally a hole in the wall. Got dumplings to go on our last day before heading to the airport.

Placki Ziemniaczane: This place had sort of a buffet style food selection on one side, tons of deserts and chocolates on the other and a full bar in the back. We got dessert here. I ordered the carrot cake and hot cocoa and my friend had the donut and a spiked tea. Located in old town.

Wodka Cafe Bar: A vodka bar. Really touristy place that is on a quiet street in old town. Known for their shot trays of flavored vodka. Flavors include cranberry, salted caramel, cherry, honey, lavender, lime, mint, chocolate, etc. They also have beer and some other drinks but go for the vodka.

Lody Ice Cream: Located in Old Town. Great ice cream, also makes crepes and waffles. Not much sitting room but we went in January and not many people are eating ice cream in January when its 25 degrees out haha.

Chimney Cake Bakery: These are hugely popular in Prague but if you are not going there you must have one here. There are two shops one located in Old Town and one in the Jewish Quarter. They serve the chimney cake donutish pastries either alone or with ice cream, fruit, chocolate, etc. on the inside!

So there is my weekend guide to Krakow, Poland. Full posts on both Auschwitz and the Salt Mines to follow. Let me know if you are visiting and if you have any questions or other recommendations that I missed leave them in the comments!
love, Carlee
Hat: American Eagle
Scarf: gift
Jacket: H&M

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Thanks for the wonderful comment. I read and enjoy every single one. Have a question for me, I will reply as soon as I can. Love , Carlee