Long weekend in Krakow

St. Mary's Basilica
St. Mary’s Basilica

I have acquaintances and friends from on all continents and this is why sometimes I pay them a visit or at least visit their country. It happened that after a kind of weird situation I decided to go to Poland to visit a girl that at that time was almost on my black list.

It was a situation that required some further clarifications and that’s why I needed to go to Katowice.

You might think that I’m telling a bit too much and this is actually my private life and you’ll be right, but the reason I want to share with you this story is to let other people know that there are moments when people need a second chance and all kind of misunderstandings should be clarified and not let hanging in the air.

I have told this girl that I’m coming to Poland and she immediately offered asked me to stay at her place. It was nice and unexpected, if you think that we weren’t exactly friends. She knew why I came there and after some talks everything was clear and today she is one of my best friends! And few days later a person that was always saying that is my friend prooved the opposite! Yeah, lesson learnt – do not easily trust people, mostly those who’re telling out loud that they your their (best) friends 🙂

The airport
The airport

From Bologna to Katowice I took Ryanair. I don’t know if the bus between Katowice and Krakow is the fastest option, but at that time was the cheapest and easiest to reach connection (15 Euros – one way).

I arrived on a Friday afternoon and my friend was at her work, this is why my other friends (Polish) joined me and walked with me around.

I have been to a kind of local bistro where you can choose what you want to eat. That place was very popular among locals and students, but I can’t recall the name of it, sorry.

Then, we went to have a warm drink and it happens that in Krakow they have an old chocolaterie where you can buy chocolate cakes, chocolates – pralines and chocolate powder or have a seat at a table in the café and choose one of the many warm or cold chocolate drinks that they serve there.

@the main market square
@the main market square

This place is in the main market square in Krakow, so you cannot miss it. The name of this café is Wedel Chocolate Lounge and you can find it on the following address: Rynek Glowny 46,Krakow.

On the same market square you’ll find other interesting places that you can visit, such as : St. Mary’s Basilica or Kosciol Mariacki, Cloth Hall or Sukiennice, Town Hall Tower, the Rynek Underground Exhibition and the Adam Mickiewicz Monument.

My friends told me that in Krakow are more churches than bars and they are more than 100! If you like visiting churches…you know where to go now 🙂

One of the churches in Krakow
One of the churches in Krakow

St. Mary’s Basilica is one of the largest and most important churches in Krakow after the Wawel Cathedral. It is one of the most well-known buildings in Kraków and Poland situated in the north east corner of the Main Square.

The church was founded by Iwon Odrowąży, bishop of Kraków between 1221-1222, when a new church was partly built on the site in the early Gothic style  between the years 1290 -1300  and consecrated in 1320. From 14th century to the end of the 19th century this church was rebuild, renovated many times and only towards the end of the 19th century after a complex renovation of the church and the interior the whole building was returned to its Gothic style and beauty.

More about this church you can read here.

After walking around in the main square you should start discovering the old town. It is definitely worth your time! This part of the city will take you at least 3 hours (but it depends a lot on your travel style and if you take many pictures…believe it or not, but taking pictures is a time consuming work). In the old town you can see and visit some of the 13th century houses, palaces and churches as well as the merchants’ town, which is home to Europe’s largest market square. As you move forward you’ll discover fortifications, ancient synagogues, Jagiellonian University and the Wawel Cathedral (kings of Poland were buried here) all dating from 14th century.

Jagiellonian University
Jagiellonian University

Some other places that you must see are:

Ulica Kanonicza – one of the oldest streets in Krakow. Here you’ll see some of the old houses build and decorated in Renaissance style. On this street there’s a house where the Pope John Paul II lived.

A bit outside downtown and close to Wisla river you can find the Wawel Royal Castle. As you walk to the main gate stop and look around, the view (especially on sunset) is something not to be missed! This castle served as a royal residence and the site where the country’s rulers governed Poland for five centuries, between 1038-1596. This castle is important for locals and all Polish because it symbolizes the independence of Poland. For those who want to visit this castle or simply want to read more about it, go here.

On the way to Wawel Royal Castle
On the way to Wawel Royal Castle

If you’re in Krakow during your spring break, summer holidays or autumn, then you should have your coffee, rest your feet or eat your sandwich in a park that encircles the Old Town – the Planty Park. The buildings that face this park reminded me of Vienna (Wien) a lot.

Ulica Florianska and the Saint Florian’s Gate in Polish Brama Florianska. It’s an impressive tower and gate ruins from 14th century. If the Florianska street is shopping street with expensive bars and restaurants, Saint Florian’s Gate can be one of the places to meet or leave it for an afternoon short visit, before your dinner or shopping time.

Ulica Florianska
Ulica Florianska

Note: those travelers that are visiting mostly UNESCO World Heritage Sites should visit this page.

 Where or what to eat?

Krakow is still an affordable and not a very expensive destination in Europe, therefore you can choose one form many restaurants in the city – but NOT in the downtown! Ask your host or at your hotel where they usually eat out.

Some of the dishes that you probably will like to try are:

  • Chłodnik – cold soup made of soured milk, young beet leaves, beets, cucumbers and chopped fresh dill
  • Kapuśniak – cabbage soup
  • Rosół – clear chicken soup
  • Zupa buraczkowa – red beetroot soup with potatoes
  • Baranina – roasted or grilled lamb
  • Gołąbki – cabbage leaves stuffed with spiced minced meat and rice or with mushrooms and rice served with sour cream or tomato sauce
  • Kaczka z jabłkami – roast duck with apples
  • Kaszanka – Polish blood sausage, made of pork blood, liver, lungs and fat with kasza, spiced with onion, pepper and marjoram
  • Kiełbasa – sausage is a staple of Polish cuisine and comes in dozens of varieties, smoked or fresh, made with pork, beef, turkey, lamb, or veal with every region having its own specialty.
  • Pyzy – potato dumplings served by themselves or stuffed with minced meat or cottage cheese
  • Kopytka – Hoof-shaped potato dumplings.
  • Ogórek Kiszony – Polish pickled cucumber.
  • Budyń – a kind of custard pudding (made with a starch instead of egg yolk) – usually comes in many different flavors, such as vanilla, chocolate, banana or even cherry
  • Chałka – sweet white wheat bread from Jewish cuisine
  • Sernik – Sernik (cheesecake) is one of the most popular desserts in Poland.
Krakow theatre
Krakow theatre

Other sites where you can read more about this city are:

I will write more about my travel in Poland in the following days!

Travel safe and wise!

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