‘Krakow, the city of Kings’ – Pam Jenoff
Day 8: Warsaw – Krakow 23.08.15
Plan of Action:
- Travel from Warsaw to Krakow
- Find the hostel
- Explore the area surrounding our hostel
Without doubt, the strangest thing about travelling is starting the day in one place and finishing it in another. It doesn’t matter whether or not it is a different city or a different country, it is a strange experience.
An early morning train from Warsaw to Krakow meant we slept for the majority of the journey, arriving around lunch. Upon arrival our first order of business was sorting out reservation tickets for our journey to Prague in a couple of days, due to Poland’s policy of all trains needing seating reservations.
Whilst getting lost on our way to the hostel we found a delightful little place to sit down, where we played a couple of hands of cards before asking a local for directions. Even with his help we did get lost again as the hostel was tucked away inside a slightly run-down multi-storey building.
After checking-in we found out that the hostel was situated near Krakow’s Old Town, so we wandered over to see what we could find and I am glad that we did.
About a 10-15 minute walk from the hostel was the beautiful market square of Ryneh Glowny that absolutely took our breath away. We were fortunate enough to arrive there whilst the Sunday market was on, spending plenty of time inspecting what trinkets and items they had for sale at their stalls.
In amongst the goods on sale were plenty of hand-crafted and hand-painted pieces as well as some quite beautiful pieces of jewellery, many of which contained amber.
So entranced by the square we ended up spending the rest of the evening there, eating the Polish national dish pierogi and drinking beer by the litre before I did a spot of photography once the sun had set.
A lovely way to end a lovely day.
Day 9: Krakow 24.08.15
Plan of Action:
- Visit Auschwitz
To read about my visit to Auschwitz, click here.
Day 10: Krakow – Prague 25.08.15
Plan of Action:
- Visit the Wawel Royal Castle
- Catch the night train from Warsaw to Prague
Whilst the weather during my visit to Auschwitz was hot and sunny, today was rather over-cast and gloomy. That didn’t stop us though as Faye and I headed out to the one place in Warsaw we were desperate to see before we left; Wawel Royal Castle.
Castle’s are always great to visit, but we had two key reasons driving our desire to visit Wawel. The first was that you can see the entirety of Krakow from the Sandomierska Tower, while the second was the presence of Johannes Vermeer’s ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring‘. Unfortunately, soon after arrival, we found out that all the tickets to see Vermeer’s masterpiece were sold out. However, Wawel offers up many more treats, so the decision was taken to buy tickets for the chance to go around both the Cathedral and Cathedral Museum.
Wawel Cathedral is grand. It truly is something to behold. The ticket we bought gave us entrance to the Cathedral, the bell-tower, the Royal Tombs and the museum. Built mostly in a gothic style, the Cathedral was both beautiful and ornate… with many prayer rooms. The bell-tower was interesting, with the three bells getting bigger the higher up you went. The real eye-catcher was the Royal Tombs though. They were mesmerizing. In every room was another beautifully crafted tomb made out of either stone or marble for the important faces from Krakow’s past. Each tomb was also accompanied by a description of their accomplishments and contributions towards Krakow’s growth. The museum itself was a much of a muchness, with nothing that particularly stood out.
Following on from this, Faye and I walked up to the top of the Sandomierska Tower to see the Royal Castle in all its glory, as well as the views of Krakow. Unfortunately it was at this moment that the heavens decided to open so, we took in as much of the city as we could, then trotted back to the hostel to wait for the skies to clear before we headed off to the train station for our night train to Prague.
First and foremost, night train sleeper cabins are small. There were six of us squeezed into triple bunks and it wasn’t the most comfortable experience I have ever had, although the four people Faye and I shared our cabin with made the night rather enjoyable.
Firstly there was Jean-Pierro who lived just outside Milan. There was also a teen couple named Arthur and Mathild from Bordeaux, and finally Daniel. He was originally from Ecuador but studying in Salamanca. As a group were played a few games of Go Fish! whilst getting to know each other and cracking some long-standing stereotypes. Aside from the poor – and bumpy – nights sleep, it was fun.
Poland was a wonderful country to visit. Both Warsaw and Krakow left me with quite wonderful memories and my experience of Auschwitz is one that I will carry about with me for the rest of my life.