april in krakow - any thoughts?

Jan 2nd, 2009, 04:00 PM
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april in krakow - any thoughts?

hi y'all,

Dh will be 60 [really? surely not] this year and top of his wish list is Krakow, so I'm thinking of taking him there for about 4 nights at the beginning of April '09, and I'd be grateful for any tips/suggestions you may have - things to prioritise seeing in that amount of time, hotels to consider [or not], best meals - etc. etc.

so far I've narrowed it down to the following:

staying in/near the old town, spending no more than £100 per night on a hotel room [after all it is his birthday]

going to the opera one night [if I can work out the web-site which is in polish]

"doing " the town, [castle, cathedral, ??]

taking a trip to the salt-mines [and hopefully coming back!]

? auschwitz

suggestions, anyone?

regards, ann
annhig is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2009, 08:08 AM
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I was just about to suggest our favorite, The Francuski, town center, just outside the Barbican...BUT we last stayed there in '96 and paid less than $100...I thought I'd better check on today's rates...Yikes...$400 for a standard double...

Never mind...I guess Krakow's recent popularity has caused the big hike...you'd be hard pressed to find many tourists in town back then.

Hope you can fnd smethng in your budget range. Good luck..

Auschwitz (Oswiecim) is a must, IMO...about 30 miles..many busses or private cars with driver and guide. We drove through Poland on a few of our visits. The salt mines are quite amazing, too.

Stu T.

tower is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2009, 08:22 AM
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Hi ann - I loved Krakow in '04 (August), but when I went back in '06 (June) it reminded me a little of Prague - too many tourists for the size of the town. Maybe April will be better. (My trip report for the first visit is at www.wilhelmswords.com/rtw2004 - North by Northeast and the second at www.wilhelmswords.com/eur2006 - Popular Poland).

If this is a birthday trip I might skip Auschwitz - although it is an impressive sight, and they do count the visitors, it took me several days to recover from my visit. Krakow itself has several worthwhile sights - don't miss the beautiful Art Nouveau St. Francis'.
thursdaysd is offline  
Jan 4th, 2009, 06:34 AM
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hi, tower and thursdaysd,

thanks so much for your repsonses.

Tower - the Francuski is on offer at the moment on expedia and hotels.com for £42 per night! [that's per room, not per person]. pretty good deal! would that persuade you to book?

my other option is the crackowdays apartments [not bad at £70 per night] recommended by Maitaitom who was there only last year - they are not really apartments but rooms just outside the centre. my only reservation is that for a birthday treat, i might go for something more "special" like the francuski.

and at £28 per nigh cheaper, that probably pays for dinner!

thursdaysd - thanks for the links to your trip reports - I think I remember the 2007 one forst time round. thanks for the tip about the St. Francis art nouveau - i loved seeing this type of art [and buildings] in Prague too.

thanks againto you both,

I let you know what I decide,

regards, ann
annhig is offline  
Jan 5th, 2009, 10:31 AM
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Hi, ann -

What a lovely birthday gift!

If you enjoy art, you should consider seeing the Czartoryskich Museum - among other things, Leonardo da Vinci's Lady with an Ermine is quite lovely!

Also, I'd recommend seeing the Stoss altarpiece at St. Mary's. The last I heard, the altar itself is only open on occasion, so do check on the hours first.

As for Auschwitz, I'm very, very glad I saw it. It was, however, a decidedly sobering experience. If this is a birthday trip, you might want to leave that choice up to DH.

Hope that helps!
kja is offline  
Jan 5th, 2009, 11:11 AM
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Hi annhig; As some folks have said, Auschwitz is a must see. Everyone should remember. The 'salt mines' are also incredibly interesting. You might also consider a bus tour to see the Black Madonna. The first time in Krakow, we stayed at the Hotel Grand. The last time the Grand Hotel had a 'grand' price increase and we stayed at the pollera.com.pl and had a very nice room. ENJOY Iris
iris1745 is offline  
Jan 5th, 2009, 11:25 AM
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Hi annhig; Going to the site I gave you, the last two letters [pl] did not respond and did not lead to the hotel site. Just keypunch into yahoo or google hotel pollera, Krakow and the site will appear. You will also find trip advisor and you can read peoples comments. Sorry Iris
iris1745 is offline  
Jan 5th, 2009, 01:53 PM
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Krakow really is lovely; I happened to be there in June of 2006, also. (hi, thursdaysd!) I stayed at the Hotel Trecius for not very much money, and really loved it; it's an old, old place with mod cons and atmosphere to spare, plus it's the cleanest hotel I've ever been in.

In four days I visited the salt mines, did a lot of wandering, and went to Auschwitz as well; it's a nice amount of time. Auschwitz did indeed leave me pretty much unable to do much after--it's a lot to process--but I'd say that if you have the opportunity, do go.

Here's my trip report if you'd like a bit more info:
Amy is offline  
Jan 5th, 2009, 02:57 PM
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If the Francuski is $70 it's a *guesthouse* like the Trecius, which has uninteresting views if that matters. The Pod Roza and Copernicus are beautiful; so is Andels if you like modern *design* hotels.

I would walk through Kazmierez, there is a Jewish Museum there. I did go to Auschwitz with a tour that used the Museum's guide who was fantastic. To me, you cannot separate Krakow and Auschwitz. If you like galleries, the International Cultural Center on the Market Square has nice things, as does the National Museum which is a moderate hike past the University. I didn't go to the Castle but walked down to the river and all around. It's a walking place.

And the coffee, my priority: the famous Blikle Cafe (pastries) on Wilsna; Coffee Republic (cappuccino and fresh OJ) on Bracka; and TriBeCa (all kind espresso and food) in the Museum and also in the mall next to the train station. That mall has a full grocery store, fresh juice stand plus a separate butcher, in the basement.

I loved Krakow and was not plagued by tourists on my November visits, so hope you are not.
Fidel is offline  
Jan 7th, 2009, 09:44 AM
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I visited Krakow last January and was completely blown away by its beauty.

I was not so impressed with the Salt Mines (but then again, I've done mines and caves in other parts of the world so perhaps this is why), but if you go, be prepared for lots of stairs.

To me, Aushwitz is a necessity. A horrible place, and at times I felt nausea plague me, but in the end, I feel if you have the chance to visit, you should.

Morskie Oko and Zakopane to be charming, but not necessary.

I would go back to Krakow in an instant. If nothing for the dumplings! I found the food TO DIE FOR.
BostonGal is offline  
Jan 8th, 2009, 02:06 PM
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hi fidel and bostongal,

thanks for your feedback.

where did you stay?

regards, ann
annhig is offline  
Jan 11th, 2009, 03:13 AM
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hi again,

well, the deed is done - a superior room at whttp://www.cracowdays.com/ [as highly recommended by maitaitom, thanks Tom] for €88 per night, and airport transfer for 70 plz. with flights costing £132 return [that's for both of us, not each] that's pretty good.

The decision about the Francuski was made for me - obviously other people had spotted the £42 /night bargain and not been as put off as I was by the mixed reports on trip advisor.

they are even going to make DH a typical polish birthday cake. now the only decision is whether I pay them in euros, £s, or PZL. thoughts anyone.

regards, ann

annhig is offline  
Jan 11th, 2009, 06:54 AM
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I have to say, I differ with many of your Auschwitz comments. I love to read history and I've seen Schindler's List and other WWII movies. Frankly, I don't care to go see a place where men, women and children were exterminated as if they were insects. My heart breaks just thinking about it. I don't think it's something I "need" to see to appreciate what happened. I have the utmost respect for those people who's family members were killed there, I just don't want to go out of my way to be reminded... Is that wrong?
jumbonav is offline  
Jan 11th, 2009, 07:06 AM
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hi jumbo,

I don't know if we'll "do" Auschwitz; my instinct is not.

i think it's a personal decision for everyone - no right or wrong.

from what I've seen, there's loads to see in the 3 and a half days we'll have.

regards, ann
annhig is offline  
Jan 11th, 2009, 07:38 AM
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We were there in 2005 and I predicted that it would become the next Prague. Sounds like it has, at least a little. Hope the April timeframe makes it a bit less touristy for you. we spent 2 and 1/2 days there and felt like we saw a lot. I will admit that I was glad that with so little time we weren't able to make time for either the salt mines (which would have been difficult for my klutsy, arthritic knees anyway) or Auschwitz (I know it all happened, I just can't bear the thought of reliving it on a tour but as you say, it's a personal decision.)

As with most places, the market was my favorite. The square is fantastic and the market is a worthy centerpiece. Other recommended sights: Opera house, Barbican Gate with student paintings, St. Mary's Church, Castle Hill with Wawel Castle whose staterooms though pretty bare are covered in handtooled and painted leather--very unique, Dominiker Church, Franciscan Church with walls and windows designed by Stanislaw Wyspianski, Poland's big time Art Nouveau master, Church of St. Peter and Paul, Kazamier Jewish area.

We took a carriage ride of about a half hour for 100 zlotys, or about 35 dollars at the time, and enjoyed it. The carriages assemble around the perimeter of the market square. It might be a nice special romantic birthday treat and a good way to get "the lay of the land" when you first get to town.

Places we ate and were satisfied with include: Restauracja Szara on the market square, Cherubino--an Italian cafe with interesting decor including 2 carriages and an ancient stove, and the restaurant at the Pod Raza hotel (pricey but nice.)

Have a wonderful time. Enjoy.
JulieVikmanis is offline  
Jan 14th, 2009, 06:28 AM
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hi julie,

thanks for your reply. i too hope that Krakow hasn't become another prague - but we loved prague, so that's a bit of a contradiction. I think we both know what we both mean.

DH has wanted to go to Krakow for a long time, so i suspect he'll be happy whatever we do. April will be noce too as we went to prague and budapest between Xmas and New Year so those experiences were very different.

thanks for the restaurant tips,

regards, ann

annhig is offline  
Jan 14th, 2009, 08:15 AM
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Hello Ann:

It looks like you're on your way to making memories in Krakow. I was there this August for the first time, staying at the Fortuna Bis Hotel on Ul. Pilsudskiego....a cute little hotel with charm. Included breakfast. It's an easy walk to the Old Square. The Planty is the circular park around the Rynek, joined by little avenues from the Rynek to the Planty like spokes of a wheel. You'll walk by the famous Jagiellonian U. You must take that walk in the park with statues & historical plaques, up & down each street until you acquaint yourself with all the shops, restaurants, museums, etc. you want to visit. (Make note of the streets though or you'll get confused). The main entrance (Florianska) welcomes you like royalty. The gates into the square were built by students centuries ago....only a couple remain, Florianska being one of them. You will love the Square with the Sukiennice in the middle, live music, horse & carriages, St. Mary's Basillica. Please try a little Polish restaurant on one of the side streets off the Rynek....it's called Polakowski (you will love it). Would I go back to Krakow? In a flash. I visited the Wawel Castle, danced with musicians, walked through the Jewish cemetery in Kazmierez (ask about the pieces of headstones which Hitler used for road construction), took a cruise along the Wisla, & to appease my brother, went to Auschwitz. Would I do that again? No. Krakow is Krakow, with all is medieval beauty. Auschwitz represents a horrible time in Poland.....my advice is to separate these two very different times. Wishing you a wonderful trip. Make memories! Wanda
Wanderwood is offline  
Jan 14th, 2009, 09:59 AM
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hi wanda,

thanks for joining in with your ideas. my DH loves walking so I'm sure we'll be exploring the planty, plus all of the smallest side-streets that Krakow has to offer.

i'l make a note of the restaurants you mention.

regards, ann
annhig is offline  
Jan 14th, 2009, 10:14 AM
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Speaking of the Planty, one afternoon we "Plantyed" our butts down at the Bunkier Café. There were Planty of refreshing cocktails and delicious-looking coffee drinks.

maitaitom is offline  
Jan 14th, 2009, 01:25 PM
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Yes, I would take the Francuski...but since you've decided, I suggest you stop in and behold the elegant staircase which hearkens back to pre-war Poland. Worth a look-see...and another feel of Old Poland would be the Wierzynek classic restaurant in the Rynek...hope it's still open...a dining experience. Had dinner there in '93, with a young filmmaker friend who was "shooting" Schindler's List at the time.

You will have an enchanting time in Krakow...happy 60th to DH...it's the new 40. I guess getting to be 80 is the new 60! Hope so.

Stu T.

tower is offline  

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