Just back from Warsaw/Krakow

Old Jun 1st, 2003, 03:22 PM
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Just back from Warsaw/Krakow

Just back from a short trip to Warsaw and Krakow, had beautiful weather and enjoyed the trip very much. Krakow is a beautiful, well preserved city with a very compact tourist area that is very walkable. We also did day trips from Krakow to the salt mines and to Auschwitz/Birkenau, both highly recommended. Warsaw seems to get the thumbs down from many tourists but I thought it was worth a couple of days, not as quaint as Krakow but more of a real city. The restored old town is only a small portion of the city.

We had no trouble finding great food in Krakow, loved the pierogis at Hawelka on the square and the pizza at Cyclops. Wasn't as impressed with Chlopskie Jadlo which seems to be recommended in all the guide books, a local suggested that their quality has diminshed and the food is not as good as it once was.

Dozens of bakeries in Krakow (try the Kremowka) so no need to get an expensive add on breakfast. And for cheap eats there are dozens of kebab restaurants and several stalls in the square serving sausages, cabbage, etc.

We mostly stuck to the highlights but for something a little off beat in Krakow, there was an Aqua Park (pools, water slides, lazy river, jacuzzis) located a short bus ride from the city center, a nice place to relax after a full day of touring. It was open until 10:30 every night.

Got a great rate at the Sofitel Victoria in Warsaw, it was very well located and a nice hotel to stay in.

Food was a little harder to find in Warsaw, had a very mediocre meal on the square in old town, a rather pricey meal (although a nice break from Polish)at the London Steak House and a passable pizza/pasta meal at Pizza Express.

Any questions, please feel free to ask.
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Old Jun 1st, 2003, 04:38 PM
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Where did you say in Krakow? Did you drive or take tours to the spots mentioned? We are going in August and are just starting to make plans.
Thanks
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Old Jun 2nd, 2003, 06:51 AM
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We stayed at a flat in Krakow on Baterago to the north of old town. The location was fine, just a 5-10 minute walk from old town, and it was quite spacious but the beds were uncomfortable. It would have been OK for just me but my husband has a bad back.

I think if I had it to do over I would have stuck with my original selection of Hotel Polonia which was right by the train station. The only concern I have is the noise level though as it is on a major street. If the Polonia doesn't have air conditioning, a couple of other hotels I saw that looked like they had excellent locations were the Pollera and Saski, both of which weren't too expensive.

We took public transportation to Auschwitz/Birkenau and the salt mines. In restrospect, I would probably recommend a tour to Auschwitz/Birkenau, esp. in August. The public bus which was 10 zl each way wasn't air conditioned and was running 1/2 hour late. Be sure to get off at the museum. Birkenau and Auschwitz are about 2 km apart so there is another shuttle bus that runs between them about once an hour for 2 zl or there are taxi drivers that will take you between the two for about 10 zl each way. There are signs in English at most of the buildings but I still think a tour would have been more informative.

If you do drive be sure to know the Polish name Oswiecim. And you can hire a English speaking guide there but only at certain times so try checking their website.

The salt mines were easy to get to, there are Lux Buses that go from near the train station near where the public bus stops are. Look for the yellow sign that says Wieliczka. The go every 15 minutes or so, cost 2 zl each way, takes about 1/2 hour or so from Krakow. They stop several times en route so be sure to watch for the car parks or ask the driver where to get off, it's not the end of the route. The salt mines are 100 m from the bus stop and there are English language tours several times a day for 38 zl (I think it was 10:30, 12 and 3, may be more in the summer). If you enjoy the first part of the tour, stay on for the museum which is included but requires a guide. No need to pay extra for a guided tour from Krakow.
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Old Aug 23rd, 2003, 10:14 AM
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Only tourists eat in Warsaw Old Town. I am amazed you had trouble finding decent restaurants in Warsaw - check the www.inyourpocket.com website for all listings. Warsaw Old Town is a Legoland made for Japanese & US Tourist groups - head down Krakowskie Prezedmiescie 500 mtr and enter real-life Warsaw - or go through the Barbakan fortress, enter New Town and after 50 mtrs you see U Pana Michala, a local pub with decent food.
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Old Aug 23rd, 2003, 03:17 PM
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Well, I am a tourist and from the US.....

Your suggestion to check www.inyourpocket.com is an excellent one, I had checked it for Krakow and had no trouble finding food (even in the touristy square near the Cloth Hall) but I didn't for Warsaw and ended up not enjoying the places we ate.
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