It’s August 2016 and I’m only a week into my latest European trip when I find myself in the charming city of Krakow in Poland. Now, in fairness, Krakow was on my bucket list because of it’s proximity to Auschwitz (you can read about that visit here), but as I discovered, the old town has much to offer of it’s own to tempt travellers.
Upon arriving in Krakow, my companions and I set off on a guided walk to get our bearings. From memory we walked for about 2-3 hours but that was typical of our little orientation walks at each new city, and we would be in Krakow for 3 nights so navigation would be handy 🙂 We were staying in a quaint guest house in the old part of the town called Globtroter Guest House, it was located on a small square full of restaurants and bars, and was only a few minutes walk to the centre of the Old Town. Our walk took as through the cobbled streets, passed churches and old buildings, towers and gateways – it really is a beautiful area to walk around. We walked through the main square and the markets, and up the steep passageway to Wawel Castle. Built in the 14th century, the castle has some of the most amazing architecture and the variety of roof lines was definitely eye-catching.
Our first full day in Krakow was actually spent out of Krakow, at Auschwitz. But our second full day gave us plenty of time to explore. And it was also my birthday! We started off the day with the best breakfast at a little restaurant in the old town square called Europejska. From there, we headed out to explore the old Jewish quarter of Kazimierz. This was home to a vibrant Jewish community up until the Nazis moved to town and deported them to a ghetto across the river, before ultimately exterminating them during the Holocaust. Walking through the area, we ultimately ended up at Oscar Schindler’s factory … I’m sure many of you have seen the movie Schindler’s List, so you’ll know what I’m referring to. The factory is now a museum, and well worth a visit. Our visit was a little special as one of the ladies on my trip was a descendant of two of the Jews who were saved by Oscar Schindler. She even found photographs of them among the museum’s displays. After a quick lunch, we hopped on a tram and headed back … or so we thought. Busy chatting away, we missed all the stops and ended up at the rail terminus. End of the line! Unfortunately, we had some difficulty finding out how to get back as nobody at the ticket office nor any of the tram drivers spoke English … much sign language was employed before we opted for pot luck and just jumped on the next available service. Lucky for us some English speaking tourists were onboard and headed in our direction. Ah, the joys of getting lost in a foreign city!
Upon returning to the town square, we decided to book some mini buses to take us out to the Wieliczka Salt Mines. These mines were opened in the 13th century and functioned right up until the early 2000’s. But the real draw card is what’s in the mine …. you see, these mines are known for the carvings done by the miners. And I’m not talking little etchings in the wall. Nope. Life sized sculptures of people, ornate tunnel doorways, and the chapel. Yep – an enormous underground chapel, carved entirely our of salt … the walls adorned with religious carvings of scenes such as the Last Supper. Our last evening was spent celebrating my birthday – a lovely group dinner, followed by a trip to the shot bar across from our guest house, followed by an unexpected visit to the nightclub under our guest house … all in all, one of the best birthdays ever. But as for the details … as they say, what happens on tour stays on tour!
This post is part of my contribution to the April 2017 A-Z Challenge
For a list and links to my other challenge posts, please click here
For those interested in revisiting my 2016 challenge post for “K”, here’s the link: Snapshot – Kakadu