Overview

Basic geography (Poland is huge and it takes a long time to drive from one place to another) meant that we only saw Krakow on this trip to Poland but, if that great city is any indication, there’s a lot more in store for us on our next visit. We loved the city for its leafy parks, its cobblestone streets and its ubiquitous sidewalk cafes. It’s got a great night life, complete with rowdy English stag parties and low-key locals sipping the uber-popular bison-grass vodka with apple juice.

Poland seems to us to have moved almost completely beyond the years of communist rule. Communist-bloc buildings are a rarity (at least within medieval Krakow), and if a trip to the local shopping mall is any evidence, they (particularly the younger generations) are embracing capitalism with a zeal. It’s certainly more pricey here than it was in years past, but it’s worth a visit. We know we’ll be back!

Blog Entries We Wrote

  • To see all the blog entries we wrote about this country, please click HERE.

Pictures We Took

  • To see some of the pictures we took in this country, please click HERE.

Cities/Areas We Visited

  • Krakow (July 29-August 4, 2008)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Places We Stayed

  • Angel House Apartments (July 29-August 4, 2008): After walking into a decrepit-looking apartment building and climbing flight after flight of dingy stairs to get to Angel House, we weren’t sure what to expect once we arrived. And then we opened the door and walked into what was basically B & B utopia. A fully renovated, luxurious apartment awaited us, complete with an extra computer than we took over for a few days in order to do some serious blog work. Hanna, the woman who seems to run everything there, was wonderful–she felt more like a friend than a member of the staff. At about $105 a night, this place was a pretty good bargain, especially given that it was just a few blocks away from the Old Town. We highly recommend this place; it’s been one of our favorites so far.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Places We Ate

  • McDonald’s: Ahh, McDonald’s. We did it again. Guess that’s a side-effect of being in the car so much; the place makes for perfect road-trip food.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Greenway Restaurant: Shanna fell in love with this place and fervently wishes that we had something similar at home. It has all kinds of flavorful vegetarian options, from Mexican enchiladas to Indian kofta, and it’s cheap and quick. A lot of the food is microwaved, though, as opposed to fresh. So there’s that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Horai Restaurant: We were craving Asian, so we headed to this Kazimierz place. Derek’s Thai green curry was excellent (and kind of spicy–a rarity on the road!), but Shanna’s Japanese ochazuke was not good. At all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Coca-Cola Kebab: Kebab shops are everywhere in Krakow. We stopped into this one for a quick meal. The food was just ok, but it was cheap.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Kielbaski Z Rozna: We felt like locals walking up to this random blue van parked near the Krakow train tracks. We’d heard that this was the best place in town to get Polish sausages. Sure enough, a long line of people waited for kielbasa that a scruffy looking guy cooked over an open fire and then served with some mustard on a paper plate. Given the atmosphere, we thought we were in for the best sausage we’d ever tasted. As it turns out, the stuff was good, but not amazing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Polski Smaki: Lots of informal places in Krakow are “self-service,” which means you order at the counter and, a few minutes later, get some cheap, delicious homemade Polish food. At this self-service place, we got some great zurek (a sour polish soup) and some pierogies that were just ok, probably because they were covered with chunks of soggy bacon fat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Edo Sushi: Derek has started to develop a theory that eating sushi abroad is One Big Rip-Off. Sadly, this place could serve as Exhibit A. The rolls and sashimi were good, but not worth the high price we paid for them. Shanna may have to eat sushi alone for the rest of the trip…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Bar Kuchcik: This was another self-service Polish food place. Derek though his borscht and his pork with mushroom sauce were ok. Shanna really liked the cold cucumber/beet soup she had, perhaps because it was magenta.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • North Fish: This outdoor seafood place was really cheap in light of its location right on the square. We loved the fried calamari that we got as an appetizer. The grilled tuna and salmon we had next, though, were pretty boring.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Cukiernia Bakery: Shanna has loved bakeries pretty much since birth, and this one was no exception. It was really close to our B & B, too, so she spent lots of time peering longingly through its windows. Once she actually sampled the goods, they were, of course, delicious.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Trattoria Soprana: It may have been in Poland, but this place served up salads and pastas that were so good that we could’ve sworn we were in Italy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Miod Malina: We loved the cozy, elegant atmosphere in this place, which serves Polish dishes with a modern twist. Perhaps against our better judgment, we ordered a huge platter of grilled meat. It was decent, but we’re pretty sure that there were better things on the menu.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Sponti: This roadside tavern served up decent soups (we tried zurek and goulash) and a combination of chicken, cheese and bacon that Derek referred to as “a poor man’s Alice Springs Chicken” (his Outback Steakhouse favorite).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Things We Did

  • Walked around the once-thriving Jewish community of Kazimierz, visiting its synagogues and cemetery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Walked around the Old Town and marveled at its massive main square (the largest medieval square in Europe!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Went running on a great path that circles the Old Town
  • Visited the gorgeous Wawel Castle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Toured Auschwitz I and II (Birkenau) and left feeling both sobered and informed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Country Facts

  • Capital City: Warsaw
  • Currency: Zloty
  • Exchange Rate: 2.03 Zloty to $1