We arrived in Krakow, Poland via the overnight train from Prague. (We’ll post a separate blog entry soon on the pleasures of overnight train travel.). Krakow used to be Poland’s capital city until about 400 years ago. But it is still the number one Poland destination for tourists worldwide. And it’s easy to see why.
Krakow is one of the least touristy “big” cities that we’ve visited. Many people who do a tour through Europe or even Eastern Europe seem to leave this city off their itinerary. While Kevin and I enjoyed the fact that it didn’t feel overly touristy, we don’t imagine that it will last long. More and more tourists are hearing how great this city is and adding it to their itinerary (like we did). So we are glad that we got to visit Krakow before it becomes the “next Prague”.
The heart, soul, and life of Krakow lives in its Old Town, which is a very cool downtown center that is easily walkable and filled with cobblestone streets, museums, old cathedrals, theaters, shops, restaurants, and the famous castle. Many of the streets are pedestrian-only streets, which makes it so much fun to wander around aimlessly and stop in the many cafes or street vendors for a quick bite or drink.
The food in Krakow did not disappoint. It is very similar to the food we have enjoyed in other parts of Eastern Europe, most notably the Czech Republic. We really enjoyed the doughy, bagel-like roll offered from the street vendors at every corner (you couldn’t find a street that didn’t have some vendor selling these, not that you would want to). Other favorites included their soups (like borscht or zurek) and pierogi (ravioli-like dumplings with various fillings inside).
As we have been experiencing elsewhere in Europe, Krakow is not exactly cheap. But, probably due to not being as popular as other places we’ve visited (and also not being on the euro), it did provide a bit of a price break compared to Prague and Amsterdam. (Again, we are still in a bit of price shock in general after spending so long in Southeast Asia)!
One day during our stay we rented bicycles and rode out into the country-side, leaving Krakow behind for the day. It was a gorgeous ride along secluded bike paths the entire time. Our destination? An ancient monastery.
We spent three full days in Krakow---and would have spent another day if our small hotel had rooms available for another night. Considering how much we liked Krakow, we’re a little bummed we didn’t get to spend more time in Poland. We met some guys who had just travelled through the small Polish town of Poznan, which they raved and raved about. (Maybe next time…)
You can check out all of our Krakow pictures by clicking right here. From Krakow, we are visiting the nearby Auschwitz and Birkenau concentration camps and then taking night train to Budapest. More posts soon!