Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Wednesday World Travel - Krakow, Poland

image from Flickr member smif

Krakow, Poland is our destination today. The entire city has been designated an UNESCO World Heritage site, so there is plenty to see and do in this bustling city. I must mention that Krakow is also less than 2 hours by train from Auschwitz, one of the most notorious Nazi death camps. Any visit to the area would be incomplete without a stop there. However, for today, I'll focus on the happier tourist sites in Krakow itself.

Wawel Hill could easily swallow an entire day of sightseeing. The hill is supposedly the location of the first settlement in the area. It houses the national art gallery, the Royal Residences, gardens, cathedrals, and Royal tombs.

My favorite spot at Wawel Hill is the Dragon's Den. Legend has it that a dragon once lived in the cavern below the castle. The king's son, Krakus, fed him breakfast of sulfur hidden in cattle skins to rid the kingdom of the beast.

image from Wikipedia

While exploring the Old Town, it's easy to pass through Planty Park. It's a series of gardens surrounding the area and would make a nice spot for a quick rest or a picnic lunch.

image from Flickr member dwdyer

In the afternoon, visit St. Mary's Basilica to hear the trumpeter who plays every hour from the tallest tower. His song is always cut off in the middle as a memory to a 13th century trumpeter who was killed sounding the alarm of a Mongol invasion.

image from Flickr member Pete Reed

The highlight inside the beautiful basilica is an intricately carved wooden altarpiece depicting scenes from the bible. The altarpiece is hinged so that the priests may open and close it when necessary.

In August, Krakow's average high temperature is in the low 70's and dips into the 50's at night. The swingy dress and boots will be comfortable for sightseeing during the day and the sweater and beret can be thrown on when it gets chilly in the evening.

The charming Restaurant Nostalgia is my choice for supper. If the weather is nice, enjoy a meal on the terrace.

If the weather doesn't cooperate, they have a fireplace room and a lovely attic dining room. Their huge menu offers lots of traditional Polish choices, and standard fare for the less adventurous eaters. I would choose the marinated herring, a selection of fried pierogies, the hunter's stew with sauerkraut, 5 kinds of meat, and mushrooms, and end the meal with a hot pear in chocolate sauce. Then I would stumble to my bed and probably not be able to eat for several days.

1 comment:

JetPunk said...

Nice photos. I love all the little restaurants, cafes, and bars in Krakow. They're so charming.