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Mar 12th, 2012, 06:44 AM
  #1
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krakow

I was orginally going to spend 3 days in Krakow but now am thinking 4 days might be better.
Day 1- Arrive at 10:AM. We are planning to drop bags at our hotel and then visit the Salt mines outside of town? Does that seem doable on the first day? Do we need a reservation?
Day 2-Visit Auschwitz and the other camp
Other things that we'd like to visit are Schindlers Factory- it also is outside of town. can anyone tell me what is the best way to reach it, do we need a reservation, and about how long for a visit.
We'd also like to visit Wawel HIll (palace and cathedral). Do we need a reservation, what is the best way to get the reservation, and about how long to visit this area? Is it doable to do both Wawel HIll and Schindler's in one day?
Possibly we would visit the Jewish neighborhood but may not have time for that, especially if we only have 3 days. We will visit The Jewish area in Prague and I understand it is the best in Europe.
My other question is if we only do 3 days our only option in to train to Budapest, if we do 4 days we can do RyanAir or train. Both leave at 10PM but of course the flight is much shorter. The bus could also be an option with 4 days but I don't see any feedback from anyone who has done that. What are thoughts on air vs. train. No one has even mentioned air travel between the two.
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Mar 12th, 2012, 06:57 AM
  #2
P_M
 
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The Schindler factory is not outside of town, I took a taxi and it was no problem. I believe you can also get there on the city bus or tram.

I visited the Jewish areas in both Prague and Krakow and IMO they are both worth the time, however if it can only be one I would go for Prague.

I don't think you need a reservation for the Salt Mine but I was with a private group so I will let someone else answer that. I also don't think you need a reservation for Wawel and yes I believe you can do that and Schindler's in the same day.

Sorry I can't answer all of your questions but I'm sure someone else will jump in. Sounds like it will be a nice trip.
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Mar 12th, 2012, 07:13 AM
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Wieliczka Salt Mine tours - UNESCO World Heritage Site several miles south of Krakow - easy by bus or train. I found it incredible! Yes plenty of time to do on first day. Tours take about an hour or so.

http://www.krakow-info.com/wielicz.htm
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Mar 12th, 2012, 07:22 AM
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What time of year will you be in Krakow? We were there in October 2003. Regarding Wawel, even though it was October, there were a lot of tourists. We didn't make reservations; we bought tickets in line. If I remember correctly, the tickets are timed tickets (at least to visit the palace), & we were able to visit the Wawel palace that day. But I think there were only certain times left, so if you are going in summer, I wonder if you may not get a ticket for the day you want. Can your research this on the internet? Wawel must have a website.

We did not have a reservation for the salt mine, either, but as I said, it was October, not the height of the tourist season. We walked from our hotel to where we picked up a bus to go to the salt mines. They are fascinating & well worth it. Very easy trip from Krakow.

We enjoyed walking around Kazimierz. Also, make sure you go inside St. Mary's Church. It is small but stunning!
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Mar 12th, 2012, 07:56 AM
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Salt Mine - you could do this the first day in Krakow. Plan for plenty of time because if there are a lot of people that day you might have to wait for groups to leave to get into area. You also might need to wait for the elevator to exit. I had to wait about 20 minutes for the elevator. It only holds 36 people at a time but it is very fast. Plan on 3 hours at the mine if it's busy.

Schindler's Factory is Krakow Under the Occupation Museum. It's wonderful. I spent 2 hours there but if you look at all the videos (survivors' stories) it will take you a day. From the main square you can either take a tram or walk. The TI will give you the tram number (you get on by the main post office). The woman at the newspaper kiosk there is very helpful and she showed me the train number. You need to buy 2 tickets for a round trip.

I'm trying to remember the route from the tram stop. You get off by the square with the chairs and Under the Eagle Pharmacy. Turn so your back is to the square with the chairs, cross the street, turn your body left, and take
the street on the right. Walk straight. This means do not follow the street but continue always walking straight. There is a sort of path that you take and then a tunnel. When you come out to another street the museum will be in front of you and slightly to the right. I did this first thing in the morning and there were few people around to ask directions of and went wrong.

You can make reservations for the Krakow Under the Occupation Museum at the Cloth Hall. There's a visitor's center on the side that is away from St. Mary's church. If you ask about the tram to the museum from the visitor's center they will give you a different tram to take so the directions above do not apply.

Before you return to the main part of town visit the Pharmacy Under the Eagle and other things in Kazimierz.

You can see Wawel and Krakow Under the Occupation in one day but geographically it doesn't make sense.

Wawel - complete chaos. It's the one place that every tour group goes to. You can walk around the hill, view the castle from the outside and go into part of the cathedral for free. Tickets to the castle are timed and the groups are small. Tickets sell out early. You can reserve ahead of time for a fee. Click on my name for my trip report of the Czech Rep and Krakow where I give detailed directions for reserving tickets to Wawel. IMHO if you have been to other castles Wawel is not worth the time.

Cathedral - only part of the cathedral is free. You need a ticket to see the whole thing and to climb the tower (not worth it and claustrophobic).

4 days in Krakow are better than 3.
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Mar 12th, 2012, 08:31 AM
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tidy:

This may be too much for your four days...but I've driven east through some beautiful rolling countryside to Zalipie...I'm not sure there are tours, but a visit to the Travel Center that Adrienne mentions above could be informative . There is probably a bus tour to that unique folk art village....about 40 miles east of town. We drove it from the salt mines on some country roads but the trip from Krakow is on main highways...so figure an hour to get there, an hour visit and an hour back, a three hour slot out of your itinerary.

We had two crew members from Schindler's List with us,as they had a day off filming (sping '93). Watching a day of Stevens' filming was most unforgetable.

Be sure to keep an ear and an eye open for the trumpeter from St. Mary's belfry.
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Mar 12th, 2012, 09:23 AM
  #7
 
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May I suggest dining at Pod Aniolami. Excellent perogies and deserts! Its at 35 Grodzka between the main square and Wawel. Our afternoon meal did not require reservations but dinner may.
Enjoy Krakow!
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Mar 12th, 2012, 10:06 AM
  #8
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We will be there in early May. Have any of you used RyanAir? An hour certaily seems nicer than the overnite train and 10 hours or so.
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Mar 12th, 2012, 10:37 AM
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P_M
 
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I haven't used Ryan Air but please pay close attention to the baggage restrictions and fees then compare that with LOT, the Polish based airline. You might find there is not a big price difference all things considered.
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Mar 12th, 2012, 01:29 PM
  #11
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Tower, A visit to Zalipie sounds like a breath of fresh air, any thoughts on how we could get there. We were not planning on having a car while in Poland.

P_M, I don't think LOT has a flight for the day I need but I will check.Do you think a flight sounds like a better option???
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Mar 13th, 2012, 04:55 AM
  #12
P_M
 
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I would consider an overnight train if I had my own room, but otherwise I would fly. I did an overnight train once where I tried to sleep in a chair and I was miserable, but some people are OK with it.

I'm not saying to avoid Ryan altogether, just be informed so there won't be any surprises.
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Mar 13th, 2012, 07:49 AM
  #13
 
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Tidy..as I wrote, we did not go direct to Zalipie from Krakow..we drove from the salt mines on back country roads. To get there from Krakow, I do not know the travel options. Again, I would advise you to visit the Travel Information Center on Main Market Square...they will certainly know, as it is a popular destination. It's possible they will suggest a private car and driver which should be moderately priced...and possibly the quickest and most comfortable way to get there. It's certainly worth the effort.
Stu
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Mar 13th, 2012, 08:11 AM
  #14
 
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This person, Andrew, has been recommended on this board. He is a driver only, not a sightseeing guide.

http://www.tour-service.pl/

If you want a private guide you can contact Marta whom I used. A private guide will cost more than a driver and I'm not sure you would need a guide for Zalipie - tower can advise on this.

[email protected]
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Mar 13th, 2012, 09:23 AM
  #15
 
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We had Andrew Durman, mentioned in the post above; as a driver for a day trip to Auschwitz. He was outstanding. I would highly recommend. I believe the cost about 2 years ago was around $100; but very worth it. He grew up in Krakow area but has also lived in the states. Wonderful stories about the area and growing up behind the Iron Curtain.
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Mar 13th, 2012, 10:15 AM
  #16
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You all are great, thanks for the info. I Still am undecided about flying or train to Budapest.
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Mar 13th, 2012, 10:32 AM
  #17
 
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I would consider an overnight train if I had my own room, but otherwise I would fly. I did an overnight train once where I tried to sleep in a chair and I was miserable, but some people are OK with it.>

Yes never ever sit upright in a regular car on an overnight train IMO - not comfy and liable to being victimized by bag snatchers - private compartments however can be pricey but couchettes in that part of Europe probably cost only $25 or so per berth and yes you sleep with strangers but you have a proper mattress, blankets, pillow and a door that does lock from the inside for security at night. for lots of great info on European trains and overnight trains check out these fab IMO sites - www.ricksteves.com; www.budgeteuropetravel.com and www.seat61.com. Just buy your ticket once you arrive in Krakow as you will be there some days before the actual train and overnight trains IME rarely sell out - less and less too because of increasing competition with budget airlines.

But on the train you will save the cost of a night in a hotel.
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Mar 13th, 2012, 11:00 AM
  #18
 
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I've been there twice, and didn't have advance tickets for the castle area. I was there in pretty peak season, also, once it was even a big holiday (Corpus Christi) and I wouldn't say it was "complete chaos". Seemed like a normal tourist attaction to me, I had no problem with it. I think the tours in English were sold out to see the rooms so I just bought one for the Polish tour and got that fairly quick. I don't know a lot of Polish, although I do a little, but I mainly wanted to see the rooms, anyway, so I did that.
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Mar 13th, 2012, 03:24 PM
  #19
 
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We used Andrew Durman to pick us up from the airport. He was prompt and I would use him again but remember he is only a driver as Adreinne says.
In Poland you must be certified as a guide. So if you want someone to do more than just take you and drop you off you must hire a licensed guide.
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Mar 13th, 2012, 07:55 PM
  #20
 
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Tidy..all you need is to get to Zalipie either by bus or privare driver. No, you do not need a guide to enjoy Zalipie...everything you would want to see and experience is out in the open..most of the cottages are colorfully decorated/painted..you can just mosey around from house to house, snapping pics and chatting with some of the owners...learn some Polish words, but most everything could be finger-pointing with the locals. One woman invited us in for tea and cake which was fresh baked and delicious. Wanted to leave a few Z's but she vigorously refused.

stu
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