Thursday, 21 March 2013

Day 4 - 8th March 2013, Kraków

Today was a fairly uneventful day, as were mainly preoccupied with travelling by train from Warsaw to Kraków, which took a little over two hours, and on a pleasant and comfortable inter-regional train. After arrival, as usual, we made our way to the place where we would be staying, known as the Aston hotel on Ul. długa (Long street). Trams run along this street shuttling between the edges of the historic centre, known as the Planty, and the marketplace known as Nowy Kleparz, where there are lots of stalls selling food, flowers and other goods generally in daily demand.

A bike with my name near our hostel - it's destiny!
We first discovered this market in the December of 2006 on our first visit to Poland, when it was wonderfully decorated and had lots of stalls selling intriguing Christmas food products and decorations and other colourful regalia. We discovered it quite by accident as the area also serves as somewhat of a transport interchange between trams and buses, which led to the hotel we stayed in.

Our accommodation in a Polish apartment
In any case, upon reaching our accommodation we were somewhat surprised to discover that our room was not in the same building where the reception bureau was, but was actually in a second building across the street. For me at least, this is one of the quirky delights of travelling in Poland. Although our accommodation was technically a hostel, it was really just a set of apartments that had been taken over by the company that operated it, and as such utilises a multitude of buildings in the area to provide accommodation for temporary visitors or residents. This is a particularly Polish phenomenon to me and means that your lodgings are inevitably much more pleasant than a typical travellers hostel would be likely to be.

One of the Polish traditional Szopki (Nativity scenes).
 This turned out to be the case, as we had a nice big room leading off a large hall with a kitchen and bathroom attached. It felt more like we were in our own private apartment than a hostel, as at least for the first night, we were alone in the place. The only downside was being three storeys up and no lift, but this was less a problem for me than my Dad, and in any case Polish people are used to this sort of thing - often hardier folk than those in what I call the West (i.e. Britain). By the time we had familiarised ourself with the local area it was almost evening and so our stomachs were calling our for something to eat. We made our way to the main square and down to the Milk Bar on Ul. Grodzka. 

Advert promoting an international volunteering programme.

Milk Bars (known in Polish as Bar Mleczny) are another historically Polish phenomenon. They offer good, home-made cuisine in simple, informal surroundings and at an excellent price. We ate Polish meat cutlets with mashed potatoes, peas and carrots, washed down by a Polish fruit milkshake (very different to those at home, and healthier) and a chocolatey cake specific to the region we were in. All very enjoyable and cost only £3.50 (17zł) per person! Following this, we made our way to the Ethnografic museum (Muzeum etnograficzne) which showcases traditional Polish lifestyles, folk art and cultural phenomena. The most interesting was an impressive display of szopki (nativity scenes) made by hand out of various pieces of coloured foil - the museum had an impressive number of these of astonishing size, and were made all the more beautiful by being lit up for us. We were the only guests in the museum so to go to this effort was touching.

After this it was getting dark, so we went to a cellar bar (Kraków is notorious for these) near our hotel and had a drink before heading back. Wouldn't have minded buying the barman a drink, as he was very nice, but I thought I might give the wrong (or right!) impression ;) - better luck next time!

Link to day 5:

No comments:

Post a Comment