Thursday, May 16, 2013

Back from Krakow

This is just a quick checking-in post.  I got back from Krakow yesterday and I already miss it. I had a wonderful trip and got to spend some time with my mother and see a lot of my old friends and relatives. My daughter had a blast sightseeing and I think it was quite educational for her.

When I left Poland over 20 years ago, it was the beauty of the town and its medieval charm I missed even more than people.  As it is probably the case with most old towns, when you grow up there, you always carry the love of the old architecture and its attention to detail in your heart.  Every place you see later in life is measured by its standards and often unable to compete.

I will be back later with details of some places we visited,  Mother's Day my mother's 75th birthday pictures, my musings on packing and what worked for me, plus some new purchases, but for now, I just wanted to quickly share a few pictures from the Old Town.

Map of the Old Town historic district of Krakow
Map of Old Town  (source)

The map above shows you the center of Krakow, which was a walled city in the Middle Ages (fragments of the walls preserved are marked in red at the top of the map).  Krakow used to be the capital of Poland and you can see the Royal Castle of Wawel in the lower left corner.  In the center you can see Rynek Glowny (Grand Square) with the blue cross of Sukkiennice (Cloth Hall) in the middle and the red St Mary's Church to the right  of it.  The Old Town is surrounded by park-like Planty (marked in green) and is closed to the automobile traffic, except for service vehicles and local residents.  My mother once lived on Grodzka Street, where you could see Rynek Glowny from front windows, but she has since moved to a modern apartment, outside the center of town. 
 
Rynek Glowny (Grand Square)
Krakow is famous for the largest Market Plaza of the medieval Europe.  It is hard to capture it in the pictures, but is is a huge square, paved with cobblestones, surrounded by outdoor cafes and perfect meeting, shopping and gathering place for the Krakowians and tourists alike.
 
View of one side of Market Square (it is humongous) 



The shot above shows about one fourth of the space.  It is separated by building of Sukiennice (Cloth Hall) in the middle, part of which you can see on the right side.  It used to host merchants selling fabrics and now it has array of souvenir shops inside and huge underground museum in the basements that spreads underneath.


Maly Rynek (next to Saint Mary's Church on the map)
Smaller plazas in the Old Town have their own unique charm and delightful architecture.

Other side of Maly Rynek (Small Market Square)
Every street corner promises some surprises, details you did not notice on your previous walk.

Pijarska Street near old city walls


Florianska Street, old entrance to Krakow in the back

Almost any random street turns out extremely photogenic...


One of Grodzka side streets

Kanonicza Street leading toward Wawel castle
It was relatively cold in the first few days, forcing everybody to eat inside, but once it got warmer it was hard to find the seating, despite what must be thousands of outdoor tables available in close proximity.

Outside Cafes at Grand Square



Small plaza next to St Mary's Church


If there was such a thing as Krakow's town bird it would be a pigeon without any doubt.  They are omnipresent and you have to feed them with crumbs from 'obwazanki',  big round pretzels available on every street corner in Krakow.  Not sure if this is what pigeons should eat but they definitely seem to thrive on the diet.


Famous pigeons

***
That's all folks!

I am off to do the laundry and catch up on my favorite blogs. Despite having a lots of fun I missed everybody's daily musings.  

I know I could never be a travel writer but at least I hope you enjoyed some of the pictures.

26 comments:

  1. I was in Krakow roughly a decade ago and spent a lot of time wandering around the square, with a side trip to Wawel Castle. It's such a beautiful city and I remember the whole trip very fondly. Thanks for the pictures! They remind me of how enchanting a place Krakow really is.

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    1. I also visited 10 years ago and then 5 years ago. There has been a lot of renovations going on and the city looks more beautiful than ever.

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  2. I am so happy for you that you and your daughter got to go back. My husband was there a few years ago, and he still talks about it! The pictures are wonderful!

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    1. It was a wonderful trip for sure, also great chance for my daughter to spend time with her grandmothers and cousins.

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  3. That is absolutely fascinating. Thank you for sharing your pictures. I love travel photos, and I had no idea Krakow was so scenic. Welcome back, you look very chic in your photos. Your daughter is quite the photographer!

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    1. Thanks KnitYarns! I don't think Krakow is advertised well but it became more popular after Euro 2012 soccer games and it is swarming with tourists now.

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  4. I was there too about a decade ago and love seeing the city again. I loved my trip with my best friend as my local tour guide. Not only the town center but all the cellars are truly a unique experience. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. hi rcb.shops! visiting with some locals is always the best way to travel. The underground museum was amazing.

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  5. Welcome back! I loved Krakow when I visited it briefly in the 1980s, but I didn't see nearly all of that. It is a beautiful city, so much character.

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    1. I think it has changed a lot of since the 1980s. All the buildings were no taken care of during communism and looked pretty drab, but so much of it was renovated in the last two decades, thousands of cafes and restaurants popped up everywhere and the city was brought to life with the new reveal of its beauty.

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  6. Thank you for sharing the pictures , they are lovely :) You look lovely in your trench !

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    1. thank you Miramar! I was wondering if I should bring the trench but I was sure glad I did.

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  7. What a beautiful place! Does your daughter speak any Polish? Wonderful photos, thanks.

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    1. Unfortunately (because of some complications in her early childhood) my daughter does not speak Polish :( She did pick up some of the language on our trip.

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  8. welcome back, and thank you for these enchanting photos!

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  9. welcome back!! what beautiful pictures - it looks like such a lovely place. i'll put it on my travel list of places to go now! :)

    xo P

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    1. Thanks phiphi! I am so glad I was able to capture some of the charm, it is definitely worth the visit.

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  10. Thank you for sharing your hometown with us. Beautiful! (You look pretty stylish yourself! A good example of a good travel chic)

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  11. Beautiful photos, ajc, and thanks for sharing. Krakow reminds me of all the European cities I've visited. My photos from Switzerland and Germany look a lot like yours!

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    1. Hi Rose! I agree, there is certain look to those central European towns, Krakow is often compared to Prague but definitely less known.

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  12. How cool. And beautiful. Totally brings me back to my visits to Europe. You look great, AJC! So chic.

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    1. I do love the good old Europe Gigi! The charm can kill you, I swear ;)

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