Krakow Journals

The Stags of Krakow

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A July 2006 trip to Krakow by Liam Hetherington

Cloth Hall & St Marys Basilica Photo, Krakow, Poland More Photos
Quote: Krakow—an ideal destination for a weekend city break.

The Stags of Krakow

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Overview

Cloth Hall & St Mary's Basilica Photo, Krakow, Poland
Quote:
Krakow. Whilst it may not be as visually stunning as Prague, it is not quite so full of tourists. For the moment anyway. Having visited the city three times now (Sept 2003, Dec 2004, July 2006) I have seen the ease of reaching Krakow increase, and also the number of backpackers, weekenders and stag parties.So, what draws the crowds? Well, Krakow has a lovely Stare Miasto (Old Town), centred on the Rynek Glowny. This is supposedly the largest town square in Europe, though its volume is somewhat hidden by the ornate building running along its centre, the Cloth Hall. Once the place visiting merchants hawked their wares (the crests of their home towns still line the roof), it is now an atmospheric...Read More

Chlopskie Jadlo

Restaurant

Quote:
I love this place! I have spent 7 nights in Krakow on three different trips, and I have dined at Chlopskie Jadlo on four of those nights: twice at the Ul Agniewski branch; and twice in the smaller venue on Ul Jana, one block up from the Rynek.Here you get "traditional" food in all its, erm, "hearty" glory. With a set-up designed to look like the farmhouse kitchen of its name you may end up sat at a sleigh, a sewing machine table, or at a massive bed. Start with hunks of fresh bread spread with dripping and a draught Okocim as you survey the English menu. Be warned: portions, whilst not the cheapest in Krakow, are amongst the most filling. My habitual meal is "Soup-in-Bread"—a crusty loaf hollo...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on July 19, 2006

Chlopskie Jadlo
Ulica Sw. Agnieszki, 1
Krakow, Poland 31-071
+48 (12) 421 8520

Faust

Restaurant

Quote:
Oh dear. As a nightclub this is a great placed, reached down a (treacherously steep) flight of stairs off the Rynek Glowny. Maybe that's the problem.First off we were charged a 5 Zl entrance fee. That should have warned us that food wasn't their top priority. It advertises itself as a pizza restaurant, but I'm assuming they only have one oven. There were 13 of us. The pizzas arrived two at a time, 5 minutes between each pair. By the time the last calzone arrived, the first eaters had been finished for 20 minutes.*Sigh* If you really insist on dining here (maybe there's only two of you, and you can't beat the place for convenience) what are the specialities? Pizza obvious...Read More

Member Rating 1 out of 5 on July 19, 2006

Faust
Rynek Glowny 6
Krakow, Poland 31-042
+48 (12) 4238300

Sioux Classic

Restaurant | "Sioux"

Quote:
Liam's rule of travel #7: Never eat at restaurants overlooking tourist centres. They are generally more expensive, and the food more so-so than somewhere local a couple of backstreets away. While this dictum has occasionally been proved wrong, Sioux could be its poster-boy. Sioux has an adventurous "Wild West" theme. While this might be more pronounced inside the restaurant, out on the Square it merely advertises itself by the waiters in Wranglers and neckerchiefs, the waitresses in fringed suede skirts, and the fact that whatever you order it comes topped with a pastry starfish...which I think was meant to represent a Sheriff's badge).My first complaint was maybe due to my a...Read More

Member Rating 1 out of 5 on July 19, 2006

Sioux Classic
Rynek Glowny 22
Krakow, Poland 31-008
+48 (12) 421-34-62

Anatewka

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Restaurant

Quote:
In the heart of Kazimierz, the Jewish quarter of Krakow, lies a cluster of restaurants and bars around Szeroka. Many feature folkloric displays and klezmer music. Anatewka - at least on the occasion I visited it - did not. In fact it was lovely and peaceful, the only other diners being a loved-up couple in one corner, and a group of local businessmen in suits. The decor is 'country-cottage' - net curtains, doilies, dark wooden tables and the odd strategically-placed sewing machine. Whereas at, say, Chlopskie Jadlo the clutter seems kooky and artificial, here you feel that you have stepped into someone's house. The cuisine keeps that impression going. Though there are Jewish specialities on the...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on August 30, 2006

Anatewka
Szeroka 3
Kazimierz Dolny, Poland
(+4812) 4310 129

Lubu-Dubu

Attraction

Quote:
What a place! Lubu-Dubu (the name is onomatopoeic and allegedly refers to the noise of stamping feet) is a kooky little place east of the main square. It seems to have once been a first-floor apartment which has now been converted into a cramped club. Catching on, a couple more clubs have moved into the same block.The look: red-painted walls, Bruce Lee murals, a '60s to '70s haven.The music: eclectic but danceable. The Grease Megamix rubs shoulders with New Order's True Faith, Kylie Minogue alternates with local crowd-pleasers.The clientele: studenty. The sort who are confident of their look. A crowd who didn't seem that concerned with fashion, but just liked to have a really g...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 19, 2006

Lubu-Dubu
Ul. Wielopole 15/1
Krakow, Poland
+48 (12) 4230521

Dunajec Gorge Rafting

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Attraction

Dunajec Gorge Rafting Photo,
Quote:
For a day out, why not try white-water rafting? It's actually not as white-water as you'd think.Travelling to Poland for a stag weekend for two friends we booked a package from redsevenleisure.co.uk. We opted to spend the Saturday rafting through the Dunajec gorge on the Polish-Solvakian border in the Pieniny region of the Tatras. While it takes a long time to get there (two hours each way in minibus) the scenery at the end is truly spectacular. The gorge winds its way towards the Wisla, towering up to 300 metres above you, the grey cliffs liberally coated with pine trees. Birdlife flits about, from pied wagtails to a black stork which stood placidly watching us.Safety is paramount. Ea...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on July 19, 2006

Dunajec Gorge Rafting
Szczawnica
Krakow, Poland

Quote:
I think this would have to be my favourite bar in Krakow. I have been on two separate trips now. Just a couple of doors down on the left from the Florian Gate, opposite the Fashion Cafe, a short covered alleyway leads to the stairs down to this bar. The way is marked by a blue neon cross, imitating the green crosses that signify hospitals. And no wonder. The name "Przychodnia Towarzyska" (don't even try to pronounce it; I gave up after 20 minutes) means "Social Clinic."The bar is underground, a complex of linked arched brick-work cellars. So far, normal for Krakow—every other bar and club would fit that description. The bar is packed, full of the trendy youth of Krakow. There's not really...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 19, 2006

Przychodnia Towarzyska
ul. Florianska 53
Krakow, Poland
+48 (12) 4218465

Faust

Restaurant

Quote:
Tucked away on a corner of the Rynek is Faust, the largest club on the square. It bills itself as a pizzeria (but don't eat here—see the Restaurant Review), but doubles as a bar.A precipitous flight of stairs leads down, made even more dangerous by the people leaving whom squeeze past you. A woman with a cash box charges you your 5 Zl, and then it's down into a maze of brickwork cellars. Candlelight gleams on the wooden tables, shivers on the free-flowing drinks, and lights up a cross-section of Krakow's beautiful ones.First off, sit and have a drink. The thick brickwork muffles the music, so it is perfectly possible to have conversations. Then, on the dance floor, squeeze amon...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on July 19, 2006

Faust
Rynek Glowny 6
Krakow, Poland 31-042
+48 (12) 4238300

Klub Materia

Attraction | "Club Roentgen"

Quote:
Four am, staggering through the inky December night, and tipsy on mad-dog cocktails...ah, here's a queue of people. In we go!Roentgen was the inventor of the X-Ray, and within this subterranean club lasers stab through the dry ice. Hands are raised, trying to catch the green and blue needles of light. The music is serious hard-house—not my scene at all. The noise-level is too high to talk. People dance, that's it. I'm sure this might sound like heaven to many people. For me, tired and predisposed towards the cheesier end of the market, it was a vision out of Dante's inferno. Fortunately, the dance floor was lined with old, over-stuffed couches. I plonked myself down next to an amo...Read More

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on July 19, 2006

Klub Materia
Plac Szczepański 3
Krakow, Poland
12 431 11 77

Krawkow Stag Parties

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Attraction | "Stag Parties"

Quote:
With Poland's accession to the EU, and the diaspora of skilled young Poles seeking their fortune abroad it is now easier than ever to reach Krakow. When I first visited in September 2003 it was as part of a wider inter-railing tour of Eastern Europe, and train was practically the only way to reach the city. By December 2004, the airport at Balice, 10km outside of town, was processing SkyEurope flights from London Stanstead. Now SkyEurope also fly from Manchester, Stanstead handles flights on Ryanair too, and Easyjet fly from Liverpool. With return flights for under £100 (if you book ahead at the right time of year) Krakow has made itself a name for attracting British stag parties. What is the ...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on July 20, 2006

Krawkow Stag Parties

Krakow, Poland

Carpe Diem Pub

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Attraction

Quote:
Goth-tastic! Right on Florianska, on the west side there is a doorway to a bar. As with most places in Krakow, a flight of stairs leads down to an interconnecting maze of brickwork chambers. The prevailing theme here seems to be 'biker'--disassembled motorcycles decorate the corridors, affixed to the walls, hanging from the ceiling. The music is hard, Gothic, industrial rock. And predominantly in Polish.This is a local club for local people, despite its location. The beer is cheap. People seem to have their usual seats in the alcoves and niches off the main bar. The club room is entirely undecorated, save for some camouflage netting over the DJ booth. Black-clad youths pogo and sway. The usual chat...Read More

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on July 20, 2006

Carpe Diem Pub
ulica Florianska 33
Krakow, Poland 31-019
+48 12 421 1451

Christmas Markets

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Attraction

Quote:
Krakow. December. Slush fills the gutters. An icy wind sweeps in from the east. Going out without gloves is a recipe for pain. Why visit Poland at this time of year? In two words, 'Christmas markets'. These are a big deal throughout Central Europe (even Manchester, my hometown, has imported a 'European Christmas Market' to fill our squares!). Krakow has the real deal. The eastern side of the Rynek fills up with festive merchants. Food stalls sell potent mulled wine, schnitzel in a bun, chocolates, and candies. Local craftsmen sell decorations and gifts: baubles for your tree, intricately carved nativity scenes and cribs, scented candles. They even have the fir trees for you. The air is redolent wi...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 20, 2006

Christmas Markets
Rynek Glowny Central Square
Krakow, Poland

Market Square (Rynek Glowny)

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Attraction | "Rynek Glowny (Market Square)"

Cloth Hall & St Mary's Basilica Photo, Krakow, Poland
Quote:
The heart of Krakow is the Rynek Glowny. At 200m by 200m it is the largest market area of any European city. Its bulk is broken up though by the Cloth Hall (Sukiennice), the porticoed building at its heart. Now it is a charming and echoing tunnel lined by stalls selling souvenirs. Be sure to shop around, as chances are you can find the same thing at different prices. I would personally recommend the little trees made from twisted wire, with droplets of amber for leaves, and the porcelain tankards. I bought one for my father, and he now refuses to drink out of anything else! Whilst browsing the puppets, icons and (sadly) fur rugs, don't forget to take a look up at the ceiling, where you can see the coa...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 30, 2006

Market Square (Rynek Glowny)
At The Center Of The Old Town
Krakow, Poland

Wawel Hill, Castle and Cathedral

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Attraction | "Wawel"

Wawel Hill, Castle and Cathedral Photo, Krakow, Poland
Quote:
The Wawel stands proud over the curve of the rivel Wisla. The castle was the residence of Polish kings from the 10th century up until 1611. The Cathedral is the mother-church for Poland, and kings and national heroes from the nation’s turbulent past are honoured in the crypts below. The complex is the chief tourist attraction in Poland and it does get horrendously busy. I would recommend getting there as early as possible – it opens at 9.30 – to help beat the afternoon rush. The complex system of ticket charges doesn’t help much either. Just glancing through my leaflet reveals charges of 20 Zloty for the Royal private apartments, 15 zloty for the state rooms, 15 for the treasury and armoury, ...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on August 30, 2006

Wawel Hill, Castle and Cathedral
Wawel 5
Kraków, Poland 31-001
(+48 12) 422 51 55

Kazimierz (Jewish Quarter)

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Attraction

Quote:
"We’re going to Krakow!" says Chava to her father Tevye when the Russian pogrom forces the Jewish families of Anatevka from their homes at the end of the musical ‘Fiddler On The Roof’. If she and her husband really did take that journey, they would have ended up in Kazimierz, the district to the south-east of the old town. Unlike in the Tsarist Empire, in Krakow – then ruled from Vienna – Jews had equal rights with Christians from 1867 onwards. This saw the Jewish population, which had first settled in the area of Kazimierz under the auspices of King Kazimir the Great in the 14th century, expand into one of the largest and most vibrant communities in the world, ranking with those in Vilnius and Prague...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on August 30, 2006

Kazimierz (Jewish Quarter)
Dajwór 18
Krakow, Poland

Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp, Memorial and Museum

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Attraction | "Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp"

Quote:
Here is not the place to go into the horrors of Auschwitz. I have written more fully in Experiences, as a mere 500 words cannot do justice to the wickedness that this site experienced. An entire tome could not. The only thing to do is visit for yourselves. A visit should be compulsory for all school children, a stark reminder of what happens when intolerance is not challenged. It is a grim and sickening place, but only by seeing it with your own eyes can you attempt to gauge the depravity that once seized Europe.Now a museum, it is free. I would recommend paying for a tour, though. With a guide, any questions you have can be answered and put into context. The downside is that I felt our guid...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on September 5, 2006

Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp, Memorial and Museum
Ul. Wiezniów Oswiecimia 20
Krakow, Poland
48 33 844 8100

Kalwaria Zebrzydowska

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Story/Tip

Basilica of Our Lady of Angels Photo,
Quote:
“From my earliest years, my own devotion to Mary was deeply joined to my faith in Christ. The shrine of Kalwaria helped me greatly in this” – Pope John-Paul II.Whilst in Krakow there is one day trip that must be compulsory for Catholics – and pretty interesting for detached agnostics like myself, too. That is a trip on ‘Pociag Papieski’, ‘The Pope’s Train’, the best introduction an outsider can have to religion, Polish-style.Pope John-Paul II (Jan Pawel to Poles) was born as Karol Wojtyla in the small town of Wadowice 30km south-west of Krakow in 1920. A powerful influence on his youth was the nearby Calvary of Kalwaria Zebrzydowska, a pilgrimage route for devout Poles determined to fo...Read More

Wieliczka Salt Mine

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Story/Tip

Quote:
At first glance it seemed like a strange idea. We had a free afternoon in Krakow, and I proposed we visit the Wieliczka Salt Mine on the outskirts of the city. My friends were dubious: why would we want to visit a salt mine?I must admit, my motivations were partially selfish. I knew that the mine was a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Additionally, the last time I had been in Poland, I had met a backpacker in my hostel who had raved about them. However, I managed to persuade my friends to join me on a tour booked with Cracow Tours through Orbis on the Rynek Glowny. The tour (which included coach travel there and back) cost 120 Zl each. I later found out that entry at site was only 65 Zl (55 for c...Read More

Auschwitz

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Story/Tip

Quote:
A small corner of Poland is forever etched on the conscience of the world as the scene of almost unimaginable horrors. In 1939, the town of Oswiencim was blessed with good rail connections, proximity to industry and the major Jewish communities of eastern Europe, and a Polish army barracks. These blessings were to be its undoing. Now it is infamous as its German name: Auschwitz. For this town became the site of the most horrifically efficient of all the Nazi death camps. At first a concentration camp for Poles deemed a threat – officers, teachers, scout leaders – it soon powered up to exterminate Slavs, Gypsies, Communists, homosexuals, and, most notoriously, Jews. In all, roughly 1.5 million souls me...Read More