Friday 1 December 2017
After missing out on the Krakow Christmas market last year (our trip was all booked, but we didn’t go), it was the obvious choice for this years visit.
This year I get to go to two (or maybe three, if I can sneak away from training in Copenhagen next week!) Christmas markets. Or four, if you count London.
After a bit of a train palava, we arrived into Gatwick ready for our 4pm flight.
It was only 2 hours, across to Kraków, Poland. And my first time in Poland!
As it was cheap, I had already booked a hotel taxi to pick us up. So easy.
It was cold.
The drive to the city wasn’t too exciting. Foggy. Cold. And dark. Through some small villages. And then into the one-way maze of the city.
We are staying right in the middle of the old town. In a really cool, modern apartment hotel. Awesome.
And we still had an hour or so until the Christmas market closed, so we went off to have a look – as it was only one block away.
The Rynek Główny is Europe’s largest market square. The Christmas market is held only on one side. And it was surprisingly not that busy. There were lots of stalls, but not too many people.
There was the usual – mulled wine, some food stalls – soup, pierogis, meats. And lots of crafts – wooden spoons, gingerbread biscuits, ceramics, Christmas decorations, woollen items, wreaths, chocolates, sweets, nuts. So much variety. The most variety we’ve ever seen at a Christmas market.
It was fun wandering around looking at all the different things. Deciding which to come back later and buy. Too many things that I liked!
The market was pretty. Surrounded by Christmas trees and the tall St Mary’s basilica.
After an hour or so of wandering around, we were freezing.
Saturday 2 December 2017
We spent the morning wandering around. We are staying in the old town, which is full of historical buildings, monuments and churches. The area has been on Unesco’s World Heritage List since 1978.
We popped into a few shops here and there. And a supermarket. I do love a foreign supermarket!
We ended up down at Wawel Hill. This walled castle ruled Poland for over 500 years from the early days of the Polish state until the centre of power moved to Warsaw in the late 16th century.
The ground was white with snow. And we could barely see the buildings all around us, as the white fog surrounded them.
We went inside the Wawel cathedral. Very dark and Gothic inside. And a bit of a maze. With little rooms leading off the main centre.
From here, we walked south, into the Jewish quarter. There are a few synagogues dotted around. Plus lots of artisanal shops. And a few vegan cafes.
Lunch time. The cafe (Nova Krova) specialised in burgers, but I didn’t fancy a burger. So ordered their other specialty of the day, which was apparently a local type of kofta. Really it was a pakora with a carrot dip and some rice. But it was delicious. And I had some hot chocolate, which was so thick, with cream on top!
It was now snowing. And after a bit more wandering around, we headed across the river into the old ghetto area. Here is a square – Plac Bohaterów Getta – which has been turned into a war memorial. There are chairs which represent the numbers of people which were taken from the city to concentration camps.
Too cold to walk back, we got an uber. Right back to the edge of the old town. Uber’s are not allowed into the old town streets.
We popped back to our hotel to warm up for a while.
Then went back out to have some dinner. A Thai curry. (At Hurry Curry). Very Polish….
And back to the markets. This time we had already decided what we wanted to buy. Too many things!
Sunday 3 December 2017
We really didn’t fancy being out all day. So waited until 12pm checkout time before venturing outside.
There really isn’t much to do that doesn’t involve walking around in the snow. So we did that for a while. Before heading to a cafe for lunch.
A vegan kebab shop (vegab). Immense. It was so delicious.
But sitting in the warm didn’t last for long. And we were back out in the blizzard. We spent the next while moving from shop to shop, trying to stay warm (ish) and dry (ish).
We hadn’t made it into the main basilica yet. And at 2pm it opened back up for tourists. So we popped inside.
St Mary’s basilica is one of the largest in Poland. And it’s altarpiece is the largest. It is a pentaptych, which means that it’s altar consists of a central panel and two pairs of side wings. This is all carved in lime wood. Each day, it opens and closes at various times.
Back in the market, we bought some pirogies. A local filled dumpling. You could get 6 for 10zl (£2). We got a few flavours. Cabbage, lentil and strawberry! And a mixture of fried and steamed. They were really good. But we were standing out in the snow eating them. My lips were so cold it was rather difficult!
On the way back to the hotel, we popped into a vegan burger restaurant (krowarzywa) – there are so many in this city! And got some food for the plane later.
Then back to get our bags and wait for our taxi back to the airport.
We arrived back at the airport about 5.30pm. Ready for our 7.40pm plane, back to London.
We were running all on time. Whilst the plane had been on the ground, it had iced up across the wings. So we drove to a different end of the airport, to be ‘de-iced’. Sprayed by a guy on lift.
Back to London. Just for a few days.