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The Hurdle of finding things to do in Krakow

sunny 26 °C

Sunday

Last night after looking into weather forecasts and cost of flights (too hot in Prague where Toni would have liked to go and too expensive, almost 1 000e flights per person, to Dublin what I would have preferred) we ended up booking flights to Poland.

This morning we packed and never have it been so easy! We would be just couple of days so there weren’t much to pack. Just one small backpack, basically toiletries, one set of clothes and passport. ANd of course Yatzy and deck of cards.
My brother took us to airport and we were off again!

At the hotel our room got up-grated since they had some booking issues, which, we naturally didn’t mind a bit.
Since booking of this trip was so sudden, I didn’t really know much about Krakow or what to see or do here, so this evening we just went to a restaurant and a little stroll around. There were much more people here than I had anticipated. Obviously other knew about Krakow even if I didn’t!

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At the Main Market Square

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At the Main Market Square

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At the Main Market Square

Monday

This morning I had an only inkling of what I wanted to do. One thing was to see the dragon the city was famous for, Smok Wawelski.

To get to the den you needed to walk up to Wawel Castle and buy a ticket either from the ticket office or from the booth which was on top of the den. The day was hot and the booth was outside without shade so we opted to buy our tickets from the office. We also got tickets to visit the tower where we went firs but that wasn’t worth it in my opinion. The windows were teeny tiny and you couldn’t see almost anything from the tower so basically it was a walk up the stairs and then back down. With many other people. If you want to go, think of it as a functional exercise, that’s what I did.

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On our way to the dragon

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On our way to the dragon

Since we had the tickets, we were able to walk in front of the line and walk down to the dragon’s den without too much wait in the sun. Under the castle it was pleasantly cool and the den was litted nicely, albeit smaller than I had anticipated. But bigger than what Toni thought! Walking out from the den there was statue of the dragon which breaths real fire. The day was sunny and hot so we didn’t stay to see it, even when I read from the online that there would be even an app where you can buy the dragon to breath fire!

According to folklores fierce dragon moved under the Castle and demanded to be fed. If the people wouldn’t bring him food, it would devour them instead. So, the King Krak (founder of Krakow city) promised a bounty for the man who would slay the beast. Many tried and failed, until brave and handsome shoemaker Skuba. Not being a soldier nobody took him seriously, he didn’t have any weapons nor armor but he was armed with his wit. Setting to the task he filled a sheepskin with hay and sulphur which he took to the dragon’s den. The hungry beast ate the snack that was brought to him and the sulphur started to burn inside him causing him to breath fire. He drank from the Vistula River trying to quench it which cannot be done with water, obviously, and according the story, dragon exploded and the city was free and Skuba became a hero.

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Dragons Den

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Dragons Den

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Dragons Den

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Dragon

At this point the difference between me and my travelling partner became obvious. It was still quite early, just little after midday, and I haven’t planned anything for us to do after the Smok Wawelski. I am quite happy to wander aimlessly looking around, so I suggested that we could go and find us some nice café and see what we would see on the way. Toni said that there were café’s in the Old Town around our hotel but I didn’t want to go that way. Why would I since we just came from there? Nothing new to see there, I wanted to go to the opposite direction. So, there we went. There was a path beside the river which we followed for a while before I steered us away from it and towards to city. At this point we had passed couple of restaurant boats and pubs. In which next everyone of them Toni asked that why wouldn’t we go in there. Well, I was in a look for icetea, not beer and we have walked all of few minutes and haven't really seen anything yet so I kept going. And he kept to his questions.

I wonder if the trait to aimless wander is only in those people who doesn’t have any sense of direction? I am use to getting lost and ending up in the places I wasn’t supposed to be in first place but with his immaculate inner navigation system Toni isn’t. I was starting to think that aimless wanderings might be best to do alone.

In the end, we did find a very nice place, where all the tables were outside in the garden. And then started the “Whats next” questions. So, I was forced to do something I don’t really like doing during day out on a holiday. Use my phone other than photography. My good friend google came up with few options and after we finished our beverages (and very delicious lemon cheesecake!) we steered in to the bus stop and on the look for one of the four artificial Mounds of Krakow.

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Cafe we ended up in

From the bus we hopped off and walked straight in to the Wolski Forest. There had been some signs to warn about wildboars so I was a bit vary. The path was bit tricky to find and I wasn’t 100% sure we even were in the right place but as I said before, I don’t mind getting lost. Luckily, we didn’t meet any of those boars and after walking up a very steep hill we finally founded our selves at the bottom of Pilsudski’s Mound. And we continued our upward journey to the top.

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Entering the woods

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Wolski Forest

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Wolski Forest

Making artificial mounds are Cracovian tradition dating in to the pagan times which was revived when Kościuszko Mound was made in early 19th century. In 1934 building of another mound had been decided and when one of Polands beloved leaders, Józef Piłsudski died, it was built to honor him. This mound has soils from every battlefield polish warred during WW2 which is quite fitting considering Piłsudski’s history being a Military leader. The Mound is 111m wide and 35m high.

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Mound too big for a one photo

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Mound too big for a one photo

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Mound too big for a one photo

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Toni on the way to the top

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Nearly there

Spectacular scenery is greeted to those who walk the paved path on top of this hill. The park where the mound is situated seemed to be popular and we weren’t alone at the top nor on our walk back to the bus stop. Walking to find bus to take us back to Krakow we were on the same mind that we wouldn’t take the same path back but walked to different direction. Walking on that side of the forest was like walking in Jurassic Park. The Zoo was near and the noices the animals were making had a large impact on the atmosphere!

Back at Krakow we found restaurant to eat in, and the shrimp pasta I had was wonderful! Toni ate pizza (more about that later). To my disappointment they had run out of pannacotta and that made me to surrender to the charms of many of the candy stores they had in here! I was meaning to buy just a few candies to appease my craving for sugar but I ended up with a huge bag! Needless to say, that I didn’t manage to eat all even with Toni’s help, hah.

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Candy store

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Candy frogs, every little girls dream

Tuesday

Today everything was opposing us. Salt Mines both of us wanted to see were full, we should have booked the trip who knows how much in advance. I had two museums that interested me, Underground Museum in the Main Market Square was closed and Toni wasn’t that keen on the Manggha Museum. The Old Movie theater I find Kino Pod Baranami didn’t have anything showing that interested us. And the weather was as stable as Toni’s stomach at the moment. Did I mentioned that Tonis pizza yesterday was hot? As in spicy hot (not hot in temperature-wise) and he was joking yesterday what that would do to his tummy. Well, it didn’t agree with it, that’s for sure. We waited for a while but in the end, he suggested that I should go explore without him. So, I made outline of a plan, promised that if he wants, he can eat rest of the candies and off I went.

My plan..Well near our hotel was Galeria Plakatu, Kracow Poster Gallery which I thought could be cool, and also somewhere close by were Museum of the Living Butterfly. My navigation system malfunctioned, which was only expected and I never found the Galeria Plakatu even it supposed to be less than half kilometer away.

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This kind of things I see when I get lost

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This kind of things I see when I get lost

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This kind of things I see when I get lost

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This kind of things I see when I get lost

Butterfly Museum I did find, partly because there were guy promoting it on the street. They had ticket office which also sold tickets to Mirror Maze and I though why not, since I didn’t have any real plans. I went to the Mirror Maze first and it was fun as long as it took for me to realize how small it was. And that there, weren’t separate exit, you exited from the same gate you went in. That was quite a bummer. Odd was also, when I asked the entrance to the Butterfly place, I was told that walk this same street couple hundred meters. It wasn’t even in the building next to it but several street corners away! To be honest I have to say that the butterfly museum was sad and I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. In this small hot room, were several butterflies, flying seemingly free, couple terrariums with lizard in them and few birds. Yes, you read correctly. Birds, flying free, with all those butterflies around. Several butterflies had torn wings to proof it! That was money wasted and straightly in to the very wrong pockets..

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Sad but pretty butterflies

Luckily rest of my day went better even if it did start pouring rain and I got quite peculiar (in the bad way) service at the café. I went in to one of the nicest looking cafeterias to get out of the rain. And wasn’t only one with the same idea! I was a bit peckish too and decided to have one of the items from the showcase with my coffee. I said item because I didn’t really know what it was what I wanted, and there weren’t any labels in sight, I just knew it looked scrumptious. So, I went to the counter and told the girl working there that I would want that thing from the showcase and pointed in that direction. They had two showcases and the one that had my scrumptious-item was of course the one further away. And what was the waitresses reaction to my polite order? She said not so politely, “Everything there is haves a name”. I was flabbergasted and pondered for a while if I should say to her that if I would know the name, I would indeed order it by it, but came to a conclusion that it wouldn’t change a thing and just waved her to follow me and pointed again the item I wanted. Her another flabbergasting remark was the name, “Fruit in a cup”. Photo below of my, indeed very scrumptious nibble, but do you see any fruits in it?

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Fruit in a cup??

Even if I had just waited the rain to stop in cafeteria a for while, after it decreased in to an drizzle I went in for a look for another. This one I had tumbled upon on my search for things to do in Krakow. The rain had scared most of the people inside so even the weather being gray in light drizzle now and then, the couple kilometers walk to Pub Eszeweria was very enjoyable. Pub Eszeweria was said to be nondescripting from the outside and very atmospheric inside. That proofed to be true! Walking in ordinary looking doorway and into dimly lit interior you could have walked straight to beautiful outside garden which, doe to the weather, I opt not to sit in. I stopped to order beer and went to sit on a blush armchair near the window. I enjoyed the view to the garden without being in mercy of the unpredictable rain I had encountered today. I had my Kindle with me so after the first beer I ordered second one and truly savored the afternoon by myself. I finished reading travel related book called Kamikaze Kangaroos which tells about 20 000 mile road trip around Australia and started another one, book 2 of Witcher saga (appropriate the author being polish).

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My kind of place

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My kind of place

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My kind of place

Alas, all good thing must come to an end, so was this, and it was time for me to get something to eat. I was feeling too lazy to read reviews online and find a restaurant that way, so I just headed out and started to walk towards my hotel. As I suspected there were restaurants everywhere and I chose one based on the name. Kogel Mogel sounded fun to my ears so I went inside. It was maybe a bit posh to my liking but I was already inside and I stuck to my guns, the name was funny! I sat table near the window to be able to look people coming and going. I wanted to try something traditional so I ordered pierogi, they are these small pastries filled either with something savory or something sweet and are usually served as a starter. So was in this time but I guessed correctly that the portion was big enough to eat as main dish too. My pierogis was filled with meet and served with mushroom sauce and I had excellent red wine with it.

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Pierogi and wine

Toni, that lazy bugger (said with all the love and tease that only girlfriend/spouse can muster, hah!), had sent me a text earlier if I could come back via Burger King so after my delicious polish dinner, I went in search of junk food for Toni and dessert (Oreo Shake) for me.

Next morning it would be already time to go home. Albeit both of us were so intrigued by those Salt Mines that perhaps we will come back to Poland some day!

Posted by hennaonthetrek 15:07 Archived in Poland Tagged city # #poland #castle #krakow #miniholiday #aimlesswonderings #dragonsden #citybreak #mounds

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Comments

Henna, hei ystäväni! Kiitos, your page is a great descriptio nof your stay in the amazing city.

by Vic_IV

Krakow is a beautiful city - we had a wonderful VT meet there back in 2009 :) A shame you couldn't get to the salt mines, they are really worth seeing. A shame too about Toni's tummy - I feel for him as I often have the same problem when travelling. Glad you managed to find some fun things to do anyway.

by ToonSarah

Hi Victor! Thanks for visiting! Krakow was a nice city!

by hennaonthetrek

Hi Sarah! Those Salt Mines would really be great to see! :) I am usually the one of us with tummy-issues but this time I was able to pick foid that agreeed with me :)

by hennaonthetrek

I've only been to Krakow once on a day trip when I worked in Poland. We really liked it. Sounds like you had a good time even if some things went wrong. There's a lot to be said for wandering.

by irenevt

Irene, Krakow was a nice city. Propably wouldn't have been as difficult to find things to do if the trip hadn't been so sudden but with "good" attitude you can definitely enjoy your time in any trip! :)

by hennaonthetrek

Some of our family have been in the salt mines - my parents for one - but not in Poland. I haven't been. I also would like to wander, and Bob has a much better sense of direction than I do. But when someone gives him directions, he doesn't always pay attention because he thinks he knows where he is going.

by greatgrandmaR

Hi Rosalie, thanks for reading!
I haven't been salt mines in any other country either, but probably will visit to one one day.
I have to admit that I do same thing that Bob does, if I think I know where I am going, not very convenient trait to have with my sense of direction. Albeit it doesn't happen very often, mostly I know that I don't know where I am going :)

by hennaonthetrek

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