My husband never has much of an opinion on where we holiday but Poland has been the one place he has continuously talked about visiting. I am pretty certain the reasons for going has nothing to go with the sites or culture- he wanted to go because his friends told him how cheap it was. Who doesn’t love a cheap getaway?
They weren’t lying. Poland has been the most affordable place we have been to date. The flights into Krakow were a bit more expensive for the time we wanted to travel (and by expensive I mean over $75 for a ticket), so we saved money by flying into Katowice and driving an hour via rental car.
Where we stayed
P&J Apartments have two bedroom flats one block from the Old Town main square. If you plan to walk to all the sites this is a great place, spacious and clean. The realtor told us the buildings in Krakow are very old and it’s one of the only buildings with an elevator. Parking is easily found on the street. They even sent a team of people to rescue me after the lock jammed when I tried to exit the bathroom. I was stuck in there for an hour, y’all. So embarrassing.
What we ate
The food is so cheap in Poland you will feel like you are eating like royalty. We would even order multiple entrees per person just because we could and wanted to try everything. Pizzatopia just off the main square was so good we ate there twice. Its child friendly, serving ‘build your own’ artisan pizza in 3 minutes. What’s unique about it is how creative you can get with your toppings. The craft beer is great, too.
Another family friendly dine-in place we enjoyed was Taco Mexicano. We can’t help ourselves when we come across Mexican food in Europe as we don’t get it very much. The food was good (again-cheap), and there is a small play area for the kids to enjoy while you wait for your meal.
For Polish food we took to the streets. We had takeaway of kielbasa and fries from kebab shops and traditional dishes from the Christmas market such as perogies. The best thing I tried was grilled oscypek, a cheese dumpling topped with cranberries. Sweet mized with salty…mmmmm!
The Christmas Market
We were in town for the opening of the Christmas market which is held in the main square of Old Town. We spent our evenings walking around with some friends that met us from Germany and letting our boys play together. Europe really knows how to make Christmas feel magical. This was a smaller market with but still charming. Sold the basic sweets, ornaments and other locally made items. There are street performers dancing and playing instruments.
My only disappointment was the lack of children’s activities. Last year we went to markets in 5 different countries and each had small rides, a Santa’s grotto and other activities. This one didn’t have anything like that aside from carriage rides. In fact, we didn’t see a lot of children at the market or generally in the city of Krakow for that matter. I noticed that the city had a young, trendy vibe full of attractive and well dressed people in their 20’s.
Strolling the city
We didn’t make specific plans for things to see in Krakow. We really wanted to just walk around, shop and eat. We spent hours wandering the streets. It is a great city to just stroll about while admiring the architecture. Those are my favorite cities. The ones where you don’t have to be on a schedule, get advanced tickets and wait in lines for things. Poland is famous for its pottery so we made sure to pick up a couple pieces. I also picked up way more ornaments than was necessary because I couldn’t believe how cheap they were.
A UNESCO World Heritage site, Wawel castle is considered to be the most historically significant site in Poland. We didnt tour inside the castle but chose to walk the perimeter. Built in the 13th century it is where the kings of Poland resided and now serves as a museum. It is said the area has been populated by humans for 50,000 years. In the middle ages bones were found that the people believed to be dragon bones. They were believed as such up until the 19th century when they were revealed to be of a wooly mammoth. This is why a dragon is the symbol of Krakow.
At the bottom of the hill is a dragon statue that breathes fire every 10 minutes. The boys had a blast pretending to fight the dragon with their swords. Every castle we visit we always tell the boys to look for dragons and protect us with their swords. It was so much fun having this castle display a fire breathing dragon.
**For my next post I will be writing about our trip to the nearby Auschwitz camp**