So to keep it fairly brief, here's my lowdown on the beautiful and bewitching Krakow.
- Our hotel - The Poleski on the banks of the river directly opposite Castle Wawel. No complaints at all. Great room, friendly and helpful staff, delicious breakfast with a view to die for and a 15 minute walk into the town.
- Castle Wawel - well worth a visit. It's free to go in, you only pay to see the state rooms etc or as we did - Leonardo Da Vinci's 'Lady with the Ermine' painting (which knocks spots off the Mona Lisa and we didn't have to battle crowds 30 deep to see her).
- The Old Town and Market Square - just stunning with the Cloth Hall at it's centre and more bars and restaurants around it's perimeter than you can shake a stick at. Busy at all hours of day and night with music, people jostling for your custom on tours, sightseeing horses and carriages (which I refuse to go in), it's the place to be.
- St Mary's Basilica - for a raging Atheist/Heretic I have a huge love of religious architecture and stunning interiors and this place has to be one of the best I've ever seen. A few quid gets you in. Pick your jaw up off the floor on your way out.
- Free Walking Tours Foundation - Google them and then meet up for your preferred tour. The guides are funny and very knowledgeable, and it's a great way to see the city.
- Food and Drink - to us Brits it's downright cheap. One bar we found on the square was doing beer/wine/coffee/tea for a quid!! Yes a £1. They also did food and I had potatoes with white cheese and it was bloody lovely. The Polski Pub do fab pizza and they are responsible for my sudden love of Orkisz vodka. We had a particularly good night there after doing the Macabre Tour and 3 beers, 2 glasses of red wine, a pot of Assam tea and a glass of vodka came to a breath stealing 74 zloty which is about £13.50!!!! There is so much choice that you won't starve. Of course if you can't bear to let go of England there are several Costa Coffee's, Starbucks and McDonald's *shudder*
- Cafe Mini and Karmello Chocolatier - Eye popping cakes, chocolates and coffee. Walk past if you can.
- Tour to Auschwitz/Birkenau - while I'm glad I went on this tour I could have done without the obscene amounts of people milling about but I guess it's to be expected. Everyone should visit if only to bring it home what atrocious conditions these people were forced to endure. I did think though that the 'souvenirs' shops were a little bit in poor taste. Yes we all want a magnet of the gas chambers on our fridge - NOT!
- Krakow airport - my idea of hell. It wouldn't be so bad if the airport staff weren't dressed like the bloody KGB and had no patience what so ever. I was probably a hairs breadth away from being locked up for my refusal to bin my vodka and my anger at having to remove my footwear!
- Most Krakowvians speak excellent English but will appreciate you making the effort, even if it's just "Hi or Bye".
I can't wait to go back as there's a Communist Tour I'm itching to go on and then of course there's the food and the vodka........