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Travel Story by Helga McGilp

  A postcard to Krakow
Krakow, Poland
 




Krakow is my favourite city in Eastern Europe. You can see whyÖ
(It was the cultural capital of Europe in 2000)

Best places to visit in Krakow (not in order of preference):

1. Stare Miasto (old town centre) - the main square is the largest medieval marketplace in Europe dominated by the cloth stall (Sukiennice) with an arcade of stalls selling Polish crafts and flowers.

2. Wawel Cathedral Ė a magnificent castle, cathedral, chapels and variety of bell towers (seat of Polish kings for 800 years) Best to visit early in the morning or late afternoon to beat the crowds.

3. Kazimierz (Jewish district) Ė once a home to one of oldest Jewish ghettos in Europe. Not to be missed.

4. Auschwitz (remember Birkenau II, 3km to north-west) Ė on the outskirts of Oswiecim (west of Krakow)

5. A walk by the River Wisla (from Kazimierz to Wawel Cathedral)

You can easily combine sightseeing and shopping around Stare Miasto, as the best shops are on Mikolajska, Florianska and Ul Sw Anny. Look out for shoes. You can spot which people are British and Polish at Krakow airport by looking at their shoes!

There are some nice pavement bars and underground cellars to chill out, with live jazz in the evenings. The centre of Krakow is small enough to walk around.
Divide your one-third of time with cathedrals/synagogues/Auschwitz, one-third eating/drinking and one-third walking around Kazimierz, the river and the narrow medieval streets around Stare Miasto. I loved the ease of daily life.

Drinking and dining outside can be very pleasant if the weather is good. The vibrant bar culture can be seen on a par with that in Prague. The best restaurants (for serious meals) are in Stare Miasto. It was cheap when we went in 2001 before Poland settled within the EU in 2004

We stayed in Kazimierz with a beautiful blend of Renaissance, Romanesque, Baroque and Gothic synagogues and churches and Yiddish shop signs. The area was quite desolate with houses being boarded up, which felt like walking through a time warp. The main focus of the district has some nice cafes and restaurants.

Steven Spielbergís Schindlerís List was filmed in Kazimierz. Oskar Schindlerís factory (Emalia enamel factory) is further out of the district. You will recognise if youíve seen the film but Iím not sure if itís worth visiting especially if you cannot look around the factory.

No visit to Krakow, however, should omit a visit to Oswiecim (Auschwitz in German) Itís located 50 miles west of Krakow. Donít go on a tour. Catch a local bus from main bus station at Pawia or train to Owiecim and catch a taxi from Auschwitz to Birkenau (20 minutes walk) after visiting the main museum (Auschwitz) Expect to spend at least 3 to 4 hours here.

Enjoy Krakow!


E-mail: helga@deaftravel.co.uk
Date Submitted:
27 Aug 2006


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