Krakow Travel Blog› entry 13 of 16 › view all entries
We had booked the overnight train from Berlin to Krakow and paid a little bit extra for the luxury of being in a four berth cabin over sharing a six berth one. Our luck was in as everyone else was crammed into six berth but we had ours all to ourselves and the train journey was a total dream trip. We'd stocked up a couple of beers for the trip and had a nice evening watching the world roll by and planning our time in Krakow. We actually managed to get a decent nights sleep and arrived bang on time.
We had no Polish currency and realised that we couldn't take the tram to our hostel so ended up having an early morning stroll through town to get to Deco Hostel on the far side of town from the train station.
Our first priority was to find a cashpoint as for the fifth or sixth time on this trip our bank had cancelled one of our cashpoint cards in the name of security. Luckily the other one was still working and money in hand we set of to search for beer and pierogies. For those not familiar with Polish cuisine pierogies are similar to ravioli but contain various fillings such as cheese and potato, cabbage and mushroom, brocolli and sweetcorn as well as several flesh varieties.
Our grumbling stomachs couldn't be placated with booze for long though and we headed for the pierogie restaurant where with some pointing and bad attempts at the impossible Polish pronunciation we ended up with a plateful of fantastic pierogie morsels. The restaurant was very busy and full of locals which is always the rule of thumb to rate the standard of a place and we have to say they were superb.
The old town is surrounded by a strip of park called the Planty which literally circles round the town and is a perfect place for people watching as the locals stroll around. If you are in Krakow keep an eye out for a little fella dressed up as a glass of beer who hands out vouchers for a free beer at one of the more touristy restaurants called Podwawelem near the Castle. It just so happened that our stroll around the Planty took us there and it seemed rude to ignore the invitation of a free beer!!!
The Wawel Castle is a hugely important cultural icon of Poland and we strolled up and walked around the courtyard taking in the cathedral and the views out across the city. At the base of the castle is a statue of a dragon which every so often spouts a fiery flame of gas to the delight of the watching children.
Another opportunity for amazing views is the Kosciuszki Mound which is a lengthy stroll away from the city but totally worth it for the views (there is a bus that goes there but it's not as rewarding). There seems to be a thing for mounds in this part of the world as there are several of them including a small one dedicated to the last pope John Paul II who was born near Krakow and used to ply his priestly trade in these parts.
There are many nice areas to wander in Krakow and we found some lovely places to sit and soak up the atmosphere especially around the old Jewish quarter of Kazimierz where we ended up sitting and discussing the parallels of the Nazi's rounding up the Polish jews into walled ghettos and denying them food and fresh water supplies with the current situation in Palestine with the Israeli's occupying Palestinian territory and forcing them into ghettos. If ever there was a case of the lessons of history not being learned what sadder and more ironic example can there be.