Krakow in the snow

Jan 5th, 2006, 03:52 AM
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Krakow in the snow

Here's my report from our winter trip to Krakow and a link to some pictures:

http://www.worldisround.com/articles/263514/index.html

We returned home from Krakow on 31st December after an interesting and very snowy 4 night break. We flew direct from Manchester to Krakow with SkyEurope, who seem a decent, budget airline. The flights were on time both ways, despite the weather and there was sufficient leg room on board. No refreshments were included but there was a trolley service available, though for the 2 and a half hour flight, we didn't need anything.

We picked up a taxi from outside the airport to the hotel, at a cost of 52 zloty (at the time of writing £1 = 5.5 zloty). We had booked the Hotel Senacki through Venere at a rate of 90 euros per night, but when we arrived at the hotel, we found that due to a problem with their system, they had overbooked and so had booked us into another hotel. My heart started to sink but I needn't have worried. They had booked us into the Hotel Pod Roza, only 2 minutes walk from the market square and a more expensive hotel than the Senacki. The extra cost and taxi transfer were paid for by the Senacki. Though the Hotel Pod Roza is in an old building, the decor is quite modern. Maybe not entirely to my more traditional tastes, but warm, comfortable and convenient and with a decent buffet breakfast.

It was snowing when we arrived in the evening of 27th and continued to snow all the next day, when we visited the castle. The Royal apartments were closed for renovation, as was the front entrance but we entered round the back of Wawel Hill and visited the state apartments, treasury and armoury and the cathedral, all of which were fascinating. We then spent the last part of the afternoon wandering round the stalls in the Cloth Hall and Christmas market in the main square.

When we woke up to find the sun was shining On 29th we postponed our visit the salt mine as it seemed a shame to waste the sunshine under the ground. We wandered all over town, venturing out to the Jewish quarter and walking back to the castle along the river. The old town is surrounded by a narrow belt of parkland, known as the Planty, which follows the lines of the original town walls of which only a small section remains. The Planty makes a pleasant place to stroll, away from the traffic and would be a lovely place to sit and relax in warmer weather.

We woke up on 30th to find it had been snowing again all night and was still coming down heavily. We headed off to catch the minibus to the Wieliczka Salt Mine, with run every 10 minutes or so from the stop opposite the main post office. It costs 2.5 zloty each way and you pay the driver on entry. Just check that you get one that goes right near the mine - our stopped on the main road, almost 1km walk away - not a problem usually but as there was about a foot of snow on the ground and it was still snowing, it was a bit hard going. The Salt Mine tour cost 44 zloty each, and for another 10 zloty, you can use your camera or video inside. The tour takes about 2 and a half hours and involves walking down around 400 steps - coming back up is by high speed but cramped miners lift. It was a fascinating tour and the size of some of the caverns is amazing. Apparently you can get married in the large chapel, which was beautifully carved with biblical stories in relief on the walls.

Eating out is not expensive - and can be very cheap indeed. Polish food can be very much based round meat and potatoes, though fish is also available and there were plenty of international restaurants of all types. We found various restaurants that we wanted to try from recommendations or had seen on www.inyourpocket.com We also were given the Krakow InYourPocket magazine at the hotel, which was very useful.

The first evening we ate in one of the Chlopskie Jadlo, peasant style restaurants - there are 4 of them around the town. The first we tried was full but the second, just off the town square, had plenty of space. The food is substantial portions of peasant fare. The pickled herring starter was delicious but big enough as a meal in itself and for main course I had potato pancakes topped with goulash. Another recommendation was Pod Aniolami (under the angels), so we tried to go there on the 2nd evening but it was full, so we booked for the following night and went instead to the Balaton, Hungarian restaurant which is next door. The food and service at the Balaton were very good and the prices very reasonable - about 100 zloty for 2 courses and drinks for the 2 of us. The next evening we went to Pod Aniolami and enjoyed it so much that we also booked again for our last night. The peirogi (Polish dumplings) made a delicious, if filling, starter - small dumplings with a thin, pancake like batter containing various fillings and not at all greasy or stodgy. I can also recommend the venison and wild boar steak. The venison was the most expensive dish on the menu at 64 zloty.

We found 3 full days was sufficient time to visit most places of interest to us, especially at this time of year, when it's difficult to sit and rest without finding a cafe, or somewhere warm to stop. Krakow copes remarkably well with the weather but we were very glad we took our walking boots, fleeces and thermals. Be aware that in winter many places close at 3pm, so an early start is advisable. Krakow may not be quite as spectacular as Prague but is an interesting and welcoming place to spend a few days.
Maria_H is offline  
Jan 5th, 2006, 04:45 AM
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Nice report. thank you. We were in Krakow last September after spending time in Prague, Dresden and Berlin. We enjoyed it as much as the other three. We especially enjoyed just sitting in the enormous square and watching the people. As yet it is less touristy than Prague and we enjoyed watching the locals traverse the square to go about their business. We also found SkyEurope a servicable, low cost airline.
JulieVikmanis is offline  
Jan 5th, 2006, 05:51 AM
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Thanks for your report, Maria. I really want to go to Karkow and was considering a long-weekend in February but chickened out because of the weather (going to Rome instead). I'll save your report/tips for the future. Hopefully it won't be "the new Prague" by the time I get there.
mvor is offline  
Jan 5th, 2006, 11:13 AM
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Did you ever take the train or see the train station. I will be traviling by train from Warsaw to Krakow. if you did how close is it to the old town.
gawr0008 is offline  
Jan 5th, 2006, 11:59 AM
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Very nice wintry pictures.
Michael is online now  
Jan 5th, 2006, 01:31 PM
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The train station is not a far walk from the old town. Maybe just under a mile. It wasn't bad for us - a family of 4 - pulling our carry on's. You walk the length of the train station, go thru a tunnel which goes under an intersection, & when you come out of the tunnel, there is a visitor information kiosk & the wall of the old town. Go thru the gate of the old wall & you are on the main shopping street. That goes for a few blocks & ends up in the old town square. An easy walk, but if you have a lot of suitcases, it may be difficult.
Dbacks is offline  
Jan 5th, 2006, 05:14 PM
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Awesome pictures! Now I really want to go!
amp322 is offline  
Jan 5th, 2006, 06:18 PM
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Hi Maria,

Thanks for your report and fantastic photos. Been to Krakow three times, but always in summer/fall. Glowny Rynek is gorgeous under a snow cover. Loved the photo of the Christmas tree.

Pod Aniolami is my favorite restaurant in Krakow. Did you hear the trumpeter from the tower of St. Mary's?

Best wishes, SusanEva
SusanEva is offline  
Jan 6th, 2006, 07:00 AM
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As Dbacks said, the train station is not far from the old town - it depends where you are staying if it's walking distance if you have lots of bags to carry, but taxis are not expensive anyway.

Yes SusanEva, we heard the trumpeter. According to the inyourpocket guide, some local firemen keep up the tradition of playing on the hour from the tower. It's really quite moving, when the tune finishes mid-note.
Maria_H is offline  
Jan 6th, 2006, 08:24 AM
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I was hoping you would post after your trip. Thanks, great photos. I love Krakow in the snow, it's beautiful. I had gone in Jan '04 and we had heavy snow. Will be going back early Oct.Thanks for the info on the bus to the salt mine, wasn't aware about it. It helps to post prices.
absolutkz is offline  
Jan 6th, 2006, 09:16 AM
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Thanks! Great report. I will be there in late Feb or early March, so hope there will still be snow (should be). Will check out your hotel recs; haven't booked a spot yet.
BTilke is offline  
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