Go Back  Fodor's Forum > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page > Five Polish Towns Plus Frankfurt - September, 2011 - A Trip Report
Notices

Five Polish Towns Plus Frankfurt - September, 2011 - A Trip Report

Reply

Apr 23rd, 2012, 04:24 PM
  #1
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 11,190
Five Polish Towns Plus Frankfurt - September, 2011 - A Trip Report

After talking about going to Poland for several years, my friend Nancy and I finally got our act together and booked a trip. Over the years we had looked at several tours but I was never happy with the amount of time the tours spent in Krakow and after seeing Krakow for a few days last year I knew I wanted to spend a good amount of time there when I returned.

We used frequent flyer miles for our airfare to Warsaw, making an affordable country even more affordable. On the way home I wanted to spend a few days in the Frankfurt area and since we connected in Frankfurt on our way home from Warsaw this stopover was ideal. From my one day stay in Frankfurt last year I knew how easy it was to get from the airport to town and stayed near the train station (Hbf) for easy access to towns surrounding Frankfurt.


Photos:

http://modigliani.shutterfly.com/poland2011

Books:

In addition to Poland guide books, I read the following fiction/non-fiction on Poland:

The Kommandant’s Girl by Pam Jenoff
Mila 18 by Leon Uris
Schindler’s List by Thomas Keneally (Booker prize winner under the name Schindler’s Ark)
The Zookeeper’s Wife by Diane Ackerman
The Boy in Striped Pajamas by John Boyne (Young Adult fiction)
Child of the Warsaw Ghetto by David Adler (Juvenile fiction)
Here by Wislawa Szymborska (Noble Prize for Literature 1996)
In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson (for an understanding of Hitler’s rise to power in 1933 and 1934)
adrienne is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 23rd, 2012, 05:06 PM
  #2
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 11,190
Hotels:
All Poland hotels were twins for 2 people; the Frankfurt hotel was a single:

Warsaw – Hotel Hetman, Klopotowskiego Street 36 - $110 per night – booked through Expedia. About 1KM across the river from Old Town. Business type hotel; breakfast ok but not wonderful. A big drawback to this hotel is that there are almost no restaurants in the area. We went to old town square for dinner but the cab ride back was expensive as the rates double after 9:00pm – that’s when night rates start.


Poznan – Hotel Brovaria, Stary Rynek 73-74 – 490PLN per night. The rate is normally less but there was a trade fair the week we were in Poznan so the hotel prices are higher. It was difficult to find a central hotel that was affordable, even though I booked in early March for late September, and this is probably because of the fair. This hotel was right on the main square – the side with lots of restaurants and had a tented café/dining area on the square (as did many restaurants). Staff was wonderful and the room came with a good breakfast buffet (the ham was exceptional). Room was large and had double windows to shut out noise from the square. No elevator.
http://www.brovaria.pl/EN-H28.html


Wroclaw – Qubus Hotel, ul. Sw. Marii Magdaleny 2 – booked through StayPoland.com. 516PLN for 2 nights (w/o breakfast). Located a short block from the market square. The hotel is handicap accessible with a ramp to reception and an elevator. Our room had an open shower head and a shower seat. There were double glass doors between the corridor and the room and I can’t remember if they opened automatically. Breakfast was not included and was very expensive at E17 per person. There are small cafes in the square where you can get a good cooked breakfast, reasonably. The one I went to had the best ham and scrambled eggs I’ve ever had. Just down the street at the entrance to the market square is a supermarket.
http://www.qubushotel.com/hotele.php...&dzial=kontakt


Zakopane – Hotel Sabala, , ul. Krupowki 11 – 460PLN per night. Zakopane hotels are pretty expensive. The Sabala is in the heart of the town and has a large restaurant and outdoor patio overlooking the main street. Good buffet breakfast included with the room. The front-desk staff was wonderful – very helpful and pleasant (as were the wait staff in the restaurant). No elevator. My main complaint with the room was that it was all paneled in knotty pine with small windows and it was dark and I felt claustrophobic.
http://www.hotelsabala.com/


Krakow – Hotel Trecius, ul. sw.Tomasza 18 – 216PLN per night w/o breakfast for the large double. Breakfast is offered (either a continental or breakfast with ham and cheese, cucumber and tomato) for a small amount. The hotel is a short block from Rynek Glowny in the pedestrian area; the entrance is on Tomasza where it intersects Florianska. There is a 10% discount for stays of more than three days and an extra discount for paying cash. It’s on the 1st floor and there is no traditional reception area. You let them know your arrival time and they are there to greet you. After that you have a key for the locked front door to the building.
http://www.trecius.krakow.pl/

Note: The Trecius is closed until autumn 2012 for renovation. They are adding a restaurant and traditional reception area on the ground floor and an elevator.


Frankfurt – Hotel Excelsior, Mannheimer Straße 7-9 – south side of the Hbf. Rates Friday through Sunday – E56; Thursday E61. Includes large buffet breakfast. This is one of the hotels I stayed in last year and thought the good price and location were ideal. There is free wifi in reception and in the business center; also a couple of Ethernet connections with desks in the business center.
http://www.hotelexcelsior-frankfurt.de/en/
adrienne is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 23rd, 2012, 06:36 PM
  #3
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,279
Your pictures are beautiful- looking forward to the report!
HappyCheesehead is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 23rd, 2012, 06:48 PM
  #4
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 11,190
Thanks Happy! Poland is lovely and the weather was good. That certainly helps picture taking.
adrienne is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 23rd, 2012, 06:49 PM
  #5
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 11,190
Wednesday September 21, 2011 - Warsaw

Upon arriving in Warsaw and checking into our hotel, we immediately went to the train station and booked all our trains for the trip. There were long lines to buy tickets but there were enough windows open so that the line moved fairly quickly. I had written down all the train information and handed it to the woman. She didn’t speak English but made sure that we were getting what we wanted and showed me the monitor with the train information. After the first couple of tickets she understood the format I had given her and quickly printed out the tickets. Before we left the window, she ensured that we had the correct tickets and understood that there was a ticket for 2 people and a seat reservation for 2 people for each trip. Buying the tickets was a good and easy experience, proving that you can get what you need without speaking the language.

Once we got that out of the way we took a taxi to Old Town Square, walked around a bit and ate dinner at Literatka, one of the outdoor cafes near the palace. Our dinner was good but not inexpensive. We were tired and jet lagged and failed to look at the wine prices before ordering. Wine turned out to be quite expensive in Poland, compared to food prices.
adrienne is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 24th, 2012, 01:04 AM
  #6
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 1,135
Enjoying your trip report and information.

Looking forward to more.
aussie_10 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 24th, 2012, 06:02 AM
  #7
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 4,108
Thanks for sharing so much great information. I am eagerly waiting for more.
irishface is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 24th, 2012, 11:48 AM
  #8
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 11,190
Thursday September 22, 2011 - Poznan

The next morning our hotel called a cab to take us to the train station for our trip to Poznan. With each cab ride in Warsaw we passed the new sports stadium, being built for the 2012 Euro Cup which Poland is co-hosting with the Ukraine. It’s very close to the main road from both the airport and train station (and you can even see it from Old Town Square) which is convenient for ticket holders but it’s definitely an eye-sore. It’s too bad it doesn’t blend in more with the landscape rather than have panels of red and white which are highly visible and don’t do much for the landscape. Where is Frank Lloyd Wright when Poland needs him? LOL

The main train stations in Poland were under renovation in preparation for the Euro Cup and there were few services available in most of the stations although the Warsaw station had some shops, rest rooms, and a convenience store where I bought water. But I’m sure the stations will be nice when finished. The train (like all the others we took in Poland) was a compartment train and I think we had the compartment to ourselves (there didn’t seem to be very many people on this train). I hoisted our bags onto the luggage rack over the seats and we settled in for our 3 hour ride. Before leaving home I told Nancy that I could only lift 30 lbs above my head so if she wanted me to stow her luggage it could weigh no more than 30 lbs. Actually I think her suitcase was a bit lighter than mine. There was a delay while we waited at one town for the track to clear but otherwise arrived according to our new schedule.

The train’s arrival in Warsaw was delayed at least 30 minutes and we arrived in Poznan close to noon and took a taxi to our hotel. The hotel is on the main square (Stary Rynek) so the taxi let us off a short block from the square and we walked the rest of the way. The Brovaria is a lovely hotel and the staff was very pleasant. We hiked up the 54 steps to our room (the staff helped with luggage), unpacked, and freshened up.
adrienne is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 24th, 2012, 12:50 PM
  #9
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 11,190
Poznan is located half way between Warsaw and Berlin and has been a trading center for over 1,000 years. International trade fairs have been held here since 1922 (there’s an exhibition ground west of the train station) and it’s Poland’s second largest financial center after Warsaw. It’s the fifth largest city in Poland. We stayed in the historic center so I never saw the modern city.

The TI is on the square on the side to the right of the Brovaria Hotel. It’s a bit hidden by all the cafes in front of the buildings, particularly as so many cafes were enclosed with vinyl, probably because it was off season and the evenings were cool.

Poznan’s square is so pretty with painted buildings, flower boxes, lots of embellishments, and that crazy boat on the rooftop. What is that about I wonder – I never did remember to ask at the TI and couldn’t find anything on the internet about why there was a boat on a roof. And then there’s the town hall with the head-butting billy goats, but that’s for tomorrow. This afternoon we walked around the square looking at the buildings, stopped for some lunch and wine, and then walked to the beautiful Parish Church with its rose and white facade, just off the square.

I’m a church fanatic – I love them all from the plainest Cistercian to the over-the-top Baroque. And here is another over-the-top Baroque from the mid 17th century complete with high altar, trompe-l’œil, and a late 19th century organ and is one of the most impressive Baroque churches in Poland. Interestingly, the columns are faux marble but look real enough from a distance.

After the Parish Church I walked to the Franciscan Church, just behind the Brovaria Hotel. The façade is a lovely warm yellow and rather plain, belying the ornate Baroque interior. The church is well known for the painting of Our Lady of Poznan which has been in the church for 300 years.

Dinner was at one of the restaurants on the square – Ratuszowa. Nancy said the pork medallions with cranberry sauce looked interesting on the menu and it was one of the restaurants on my list to try. The food was quite good and our dinner was 200PLN for 2 entrees and a bottle of wine, including tip.
adrienne is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 25th, 2012, 04:25 AM
  #10
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 1,565
Beautiful Photos!
My mother is half polish, but before your lovely pics, I hadn't given much thought to travelling there--hmmmm!
mokka4 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 25th, 2012, 08:03 AM
  #11
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 1,574
Your photos are beautiful. You have a good eye for composition & detail. I'm enjoying reading your report. We were in Krakow in 2003, but haven't had a chance to return yet, but I hope to someday. I'd definitely like to see more of Poland. Do you have a favorite Polish city?
Kwoo is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 25th, 2012, 08:52 AM
  #12
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 11,190
Thanks mokka & Kwoo!

mokka - you should go to Poland - it's a wonderful place and the Poles are so warm and welcoming to tourists.

Kwoo - My favorite town is definitely Krakow. I was there May 2010 with the rain and floods and that didn't damper my admiration for the city. I returned last fall to see things I missed and I still think there is more to see. I loved the ambiance of the market square, the new museums, the medieval streets and the cosy feel of old town. I can't wait to return.

More on the trip to come later today.
adrienne is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 25th, 2012, 03:56 PM
  #13
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 11,190
Friday September 23, 2011 - Poznan

Had a delicious breakfast at the hotel, especially the sliced ham – so wonderful I had seconds. I love to see vegetables on the breakfast buffet as I never seem to eat enough veg on vacation. Poland offers tomatoes and cucumbers, just as hotels in the Czech Republic and Germany do and I find them to be a refreshing start to the day.

Poznan Bill Goats

We got a late start which didn’t seem to matter as all the museums only open at noon on Fridays. So we walked around the square again and looked at the buildings until noon then watched the billy goats on the clock tower on the Town Hall building. They only come out once a day so this was our only opportunity to see them and I eagerly awaited the spectacle and was not disappointed. There are clocks on two sides of the tower but a stop into the TI (with the ever-helpful staff) and we learned that the billy goats appear from the clock facing the opposite side from our hotel (over the Town Hall main entrance). Of course, we could have waited and watched the crowd but then we wouldn’t have found a seat on the benches. As with Prague’s astrological clock, the square fills with people wanting to watch the billy goats emerge. The head butting goats commemorate the local legend in which the two animals locked horns on the steps of the town hall, drew attention to a nearby fire, and saved the city.

The noon gong rings and the doors above the clock open. The billy goats slowly make their way out of the doors, face the audience, then slowly turn to face each other. They butt their heads together 12 times, turn once more to face the audience as though taking a curtain call, and recede into the tower to await tomorrow’s noon. It was great!

The Town Hall (Ratusz) is a beautiful building, rebuilt in the 1550s in Renaissance style. The eastern façade has lime green pilasters with a frieze of Polish monarchs, alongside portraits of statesmen and poets from ancient Greece and Rome. On three sides of the façade are words of Polish Renaissance with post WWII extracts from the communist constitution.

The museums were opening and we began with the History of Poznan museum inside the town hall (admission 5PLN). The museum contained portraits, documents, beautiful targets for archery and shooting, archeological remnants and in the Great Hall from 1555 were bas relief scenes from the lives of Hercules, Samson, and King David on one side and astrological figures on the other. Many of the signs were in English.
adrienne is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 25th, 2012, 05:18 PM
  #14
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 11,190
Museum of Musical Instruments was next with 3 floors of some very interesting instruments, many of which I could not identify. There were violins, piano fortes, pipes, alpine horns, a typewriter that typed musical scores, zithers, and a very weird instrument made from a turtle complete with its head and elongated neck.

I loved the billy goats and set off to find a souvenir goat for my shelf. After looking at the tatty vendor’s wares lining the square, the best representation of the goats was found at the TI.

After a fruity, sweet drink at the Brovaria outside café which was billed as iced tea but was not I went to the cathedral/basilica. It’s about a 20 minute walk from old town square through an unattractive area. I stopped people a couple of times to make sure I was going the right way as I had lost sight of the church. One fellow I stopped was Polish by birth but had emigrated to Florida 30 years ago and was on an extended visit with his parents. He told me that 10 years ago I would have been mugged 3 times between old town square and the cathedral but the mugging situation has been cleaned up now. I was happy to hear that. He had to take a cell phone call so I couldn’t stop any longer to ask him about Poznan.

Cathedral Island was lovely and serene. The church was interesting as both the interior and exterior were of red brick. The interior was quite dark so I waited until my eyes adjusted and then looked around. There was a beautiful pulpit and triptych on the altar but otherwise it was not a very interesting church other than it is one of the oldest in Poland.

The island is the historic center of Poznan and the oldest part of the city where the Polanie tribe built their first fortified settlement and their first basilica in the 10th c. On the island is the Archbishop’s Palace, 15th c. Church of St Mary and a college that was established in 1512.

I walked around the square looking at the restaurant menus to see what looked good and found the Bamberg Well with the statue of the Bamberg girl. In the 18th century people from Bamberg, Germany, relocated to Poznan. To honor them, a Bamberg Well was erected in the Old Market.

Dinner was at the Brovaria in their outdoor café and although the night was cold the café was comfortable with propane heaters and lap blankets provided by all the cafes for their patrons. Another good dinner of pork loin, potato and vegetable, a bottle of wine. Hot chocolate and Irish coffee for after dinner. The price for 2 with tip was 200PLN.

Although it was late for us, it seemed the activity around the hotel exterior was becoming livelier with tables of young people drinking beer and eating snacks. It seemed the Brovaria and that side of the square had all the patrons and the other side was more sedate (the cafes were centered on two sides of the square). I asked the gentleman at the front desk if the hotel was so busy because of the trade fair and because it was Friday night but he assured me that it was always like this with lots of people eating, drinking, and hanging around on the sidewalk. I commented that the Poles are party people!

Interesting note: dinner prices on menus do not include taxes.

There were lots of things that I didn’t see in Poznan but we only allocated 1.5 days here and it was time to move on. I would love to return to see more.
adrienne is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 26th, 2012, 04:25 AM
  #15
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 1,565
adrienne:
not being familiar with Polish money, could you give us an idea what prices mean in US$? Thanks!
mokka4 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 26th, 2012, 05:21 AM
  #16
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 11,190
There are approximately 3PLN per USD. Divide by 3 to get a price in USD. So the 200PLN dinner I referenced above would be about $66.

About dinner prices - a good portion of the prices was for the wine which is expensive in Poland as they are not a wine producing country. Wine typically ran 80 to 90PLN per dinner for a bottle of wine so almost half of the bill for 2 people. If you're a beer drinker you're in luck since beer is very inexpensive.
adrienne is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 26th, 2012, 09:31 AM
  #17
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 11,190
Saturday September 24, 2011 – Wroclaw (pronounced Vrots wahf)

Until after WWII Wroclaw was known by its German name of Breslau and was a German city for most of its existence. Its German roots are visible in the city’s architecture and infrastructure. Wroclaw is the provincial capital and Poland’s fourth largest city (after Warsaw, Lodz, and Krakow). After six centuries under foreign rule, Wroclaw returned to Poland after WWII. Three quarters of the city was in ruins at the end of WWII and has been beautifully reconstructed.

TI
Rynek 14 – open Weekdays 9:00 – 5:00; Saturday 10:00 – 2:00

Wroclaw is another beautiful Polish city with an amazing market square! The town hall stands in the middle of the square with cafes, shops, and restaurants on all sides. The square is from the 1240s and was originally lined with timber houses which were later replaced with brick buildings. After WWII, the buildings were re-created as they were before the war. At night, the fire dancers emerge and twirl their batons of fire to the intense beating of drums. It’s a fabulous spectacle that was repeated in Krakow.

The train was on time so we were at the hotel by noon and could check in right away. Before leaving the hotel I asked the desk clerk if there were any dwarfs around the hotel and she told me there was one around the corner. Although she spoke English very well she was unfamiliar with the word “dwarf” so I’m glad I had the Polish word for it written down. We walked around the corner but I didn’t spot the dwarf so I asked some women sitting on a wall chatting (showing one of them the word in Polish) and she showed me the dwarf.

A passerby told me that there are 170 dwarfs in Wroclaw and it’s good luck to rub their heads. I spotted 13 this afternoon; some are singles and sometimes there are two or three of them together. The waiter at a café told me about two of them which I would never have seen as one was above a doorway and one on a window sill. You can buy a dwarf map at the TI but more are added all the time so the map does not show all dwarfs. Some are hard to spot as you have to look up; one was above a doorway in a fairly dark corridor and one was on a window sill. Near the flower stalls there’s a dwarf climbing the flag pole.

The dwarf symbol began with the Orange Alternative movement, a Dada-influenced resistance movement against Poland’s Communist regime. During the 1980s, anti-Communists would paint slogans on walls and fences; the slogans were painted over by the militia. The Orange Alternative group began painting graffiti of dwarves in pointed hats as a sign of their non-violent resistance and the dwarves became their trademark. The dwarves represent various aspect of Polish culture.
adrienne is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 26th, 2012, 03:53 PM
  #18
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 11,190
The Town Hall took almost 200 years to complete and was spared during WWII. The northern end with Gothic features is the oldest part of the building. The southern façade dates from the early 16th c. and is the most elaborate with bay windows, carved stone figures, and two elaborate friezes. The western façade is the most austere apart from the early Baroque doorway from 1615 leading to the Museum of Burgher Art. The central, and most interesting section, has an ornamented triangular roof embellished with pinnacles. The larch wood astronomical clock was added in 1580. The Town Hall Museum (Museum of Burgher Art) is small but contains the huge Knight’s Hall (Sala Rycerska) on the first floor with the original carved decorations from the end of the 15th c.

After a refreshing cold drink I walked to the University to see the Great Hall (spotting some dwarfs along the way) but the Hall was closed and there were no opening hours posted at the ticket window. I guess there are no weekend tours as the hall was closed the next day (Sunday) as well when I went by. I then went on to the next building to see what some guide book billed as one of the prettiest churches in Central Europe. It was too over the top Baroque for me (and I’m a Baroque fan). I think the problem is that it needs a serious cleaning inside to brighten up the frescoes.

Dinner was at a restaurant in the square – 2 main courses, bottle of wine, 2 small waters with tip was 179PLN. We walked around the square after dinner and stopped for a hot chocolate and Irish Coffee (23PLN).
adrienne is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 27th, 2012, 05:39 AM
  #19
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 1,565
Enjoying the read...looking forward to Frankfurt as we will be there for two full days the 1st and 2nd of June!
mokka4 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 27th, 2012, 06:54 AM
  #20
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 11,190
I really like Frankfurt. I stopped there for one day two years ago since I had transited through several times but had never seen the city. I spent the day doing a walking tour and decided to go back at the end of the Poland trip for 3 days.

There's a lot of information on this board on Frankfurt and much of it is from Mainhattengirl. Do a search on her name and you'll find lots of posts. All the things I did in Frankfurt were from her recommendations. I did more off-beat things in Frankfurt rather than the traditional museums.
adrienne is offline  
Reply With Quote
 



Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On



All times are GMT -8. The time now is 02:25 PM.