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Sunday, August 24, 2014

Krakow: A Wonderful Surprise

After almost 2 weeks in Poland including several interesting and enjoyable days in the capital, Krakow was our last stop in the country. It turned out we had saved the best for last.  It's a gorgeous city with a stupendous Old Town Square, one of the most, if not THE most beautiful churches we've ever seen, picturesque castle area, pedestrian streets were the norm, history oozing out seemingly on every corner, a lovely hostel, AND several day trips to boot so we could explore the areas around Krakow.

I will post several short posts on Krakow as there were for me too much to include in just one or two. Some of the posts may not be of interest or be too sensitive a subject matter for you; I leave that up to you.

Arrived early enough off the bus from Warsaw to check in and drop our bags at the Mosquito Hostel before exploring the city.  Luckily NO mosquitos were seen or heard during our entire stay!  Wonder how hostels come up with their names, just like the Oki Doki Hostel in Warsaw, red haired Polish girl! 

This was hands down the best place we’ve stayed all trip: fantastic location just a 10 minute walk from the combination bus and train station, super friendly staff, breakfasts and a light repast for dinner, free use of the washer including detergent all included in the $56 per night price.  Only wrinkle for us was we had Room 1, located just inches away from the front door and reception area so it was not the most peaceful rest we had each of the 5 nights we stayed.  This would be a perfect hostel for the ‘younger’ set as the young staff hosted nightly drinking games, pub crawls, etc which, judging by the revelry around 9:30 every night outside our door, must have been a hit.

What a nice change to have a double bed
again as we've only had twin beds for so long.
Rynek Glowny aka Town Square: Once again, another gorgeous town square in another city in Poland.  This one took the cake though in terms of sheer size as it measures 200m x 200m making it the largest medieval town square in Europe; its layout was drawn up in 1257. St Adalbert Church and several other churches were also located in the square area.  It makes me wonder how many Poles are church going Catholics as the churches ALL seemed pretty full of the faithful of all ages fervently praying both in the churches themselves or in the Adoration Chapels no matter the hour or day we stopped by.  Certainly not what I’m accustomed to in the States.

Much of the HUGE square still harked back to
 its medieval roots as a trading center. Not until 

we saw the lovely crafts for sale was it apparent 
that  Krakow is almost a world unto itself,
 totally unlike what we'd seen in the other 4 cities 
in Poland.
Wish we had a spot to put these at home
as they were just stunning.

Loved the ceramic ware but too heavy and
fragile to bring home alas. Again, we'd never seen any

 ceramic items like this for sale previously.

Interior of St Adalbert's Church.

What can be more charming than this?

Cloth Hall: The building dominates the middle of the square and was once the center of Krakow’s medieval clothing trade. Created in the early 14th C. when a roof was put over 2 rows of stalls and then extended into a 108m long Gothic structure; rebuilt in Renaissance style after a fire in1555; the arcades were added in the late 19th C. The ground floor is now a busy trading center for crafts and souvenirs.  I just MIGHT have had fun shopping there, yathink!

Very difficult to get the entire Cloth Hall in a photo as it's so huge.

Intriguing strolling through the interior of Cloth Hall.

Above all the market stalls were emblems of
Polish towns; if you look closely in the preceding
picture, you may be able to see them
 on each side at the top of the photo.

Some nighttime shots of Cloth Hall

Wawel Hill and Castle: Situated at the top of a hill overlooking Warsaw, the castle was the seat of Polish kings for over 500 years; even after the center of power moved to Warsaw in the late 16th C., it retained much of its symbolic power. It’s one of the country’s most popular sights for Poles and foreigners alike but we didn’t spend enough time there to truly appreciate it.

Walking toward the castle.
Wawel Hill in the foreground and Wawel Castle in the background.

 Hey, I found Waldo!

A sense of the overwhelming magnitude of the palace.