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Monday, 5 March 2018

5 Things You Should Know About Krakow

Dearest sweethearts,

Hope you had a great weekend, even though the weather might have frightened you a bit and made you stay indoors. Here in Krakow, during the weekend we had temperatures around -10 degrees Celsius and even though there was plenty of sun it was still freezing cold. You know... the kind of cold that when you get outside from your house you get instant nostril freeze. The cold creeps Up on you and shards of ice seem to penetrate every open skin pore. In Romanian tradition on the 1st of March we celebrate spring coming back. In Poland on the 1st of March they celebrate the great Nicholaus Copernicus. Everyone celebrates something! And on the 8th of March we will celebrate the international Women Day! But now that we have a hint of the weather clearing up, and we already have bigger days with more light, maybe it's time to plan for a holiday or at least a mini vacation, a city break. I've said this before, but Krakow is a magical city that can be visited at any time in the year - you will always find events to join, museums to visit, cafe's/bars/restaurants to test. So without any further ado, let me tell you 5 Things You Should Know About Krakow:
1. Poland's currency is not Euro, it's zloty! Even though Poland is part of the EU they keep their own currency strong. Zloty (with the small denomination of groszy) can be used to buy products in Poland or you can just use the credit card. If you are looking for exchange houses, they are named Kantor - I suggest you don't go in the Market Square to find one as they will have bad rates. The one in the Galeria Krakowska, top floor, though is always decent. They also speak English there ;) unlike in Romania, you will not be asked to present an ID/passport to change the money.
Tram on display next to the Tram Museum in Krakow 
2. Public transport (or walking) is the way to go! Everything important is within walking distance so it would be a shame not to walk down the cobbled stone paths and enjoy the local vibes. Public transport is highly developed and highly recommended - especially the trams! The tickets can be bought according to the time spend in transit + the zone in which you are going (strefa I and II or I +II). For example if you take a bus to Wieliczka Salt Mine from the station next to Galeria Krakowska, you would have to buy a strefa I+II ticket valid for 60 min (a 40 min one might not be enough).
Breakfast option at "Marchewka z Groszkiem" in Kazimierz, Krakow
3. Polish breakfasts are a must! There are so many nice places in the Old Town or Kazimierz or Podgorze region, places where you can have a nice and quiet breakfast. You just need to pick and choose: from the English breakfast that everyone praises at Milkbar Tomasza, to the French option in Charlotte (plac Szcepanski) to the typical polish breakfast with bread & butter + jam or ham or cheese or tomatoes or pickles... or all at the same time!
4. Krakow Free Walking Tour - if you really wanna get under Krakow's skin, I really recommend you taking an hour with a local or someone who lived in Krakow for a long while and loves this magical city. All you need to do is follow the yellow umbrellas of the Free Walking Tour Krakow team - I absolutely love them! They put so much passion and knowledge and fun in what they are doing... they are contagious and even after one tour with them you will love them!
#FreeWalkingTourKrakow offers the best walking tours in town, so check out their offer:
  • FreeWalkingTourKrakow - StreetArt - FreeWalkingTourKrakow provides city tours in Polish, English & Spanish. You can find them on Facebook or on their website or you can just call them at +48 513 875 814. I joined them in a StreetArt Tour and it was amazing!
  • FreeWalkingTourKrakow - Macabre Krakow - stories about ghost and real vampires... methods of torture, bodies under the Main Market Square with their hands and legs tied, stories of impailing living people... dark and twisted and perfect for a rainy Saturday evening :)
  • FreeWalkingTourKrakow - Her Story - there is a saying that if the men is considered to be the head of the family, than the heart belongs to the woman.
  • FreeWalkingTourKrakow - Pagan Krakow - do you wish to know about the old beliefs of Polish people but also about interesting facts like: "Did you know that General Hans Frank along with other members of the Nazi party celebrated the Yule holiday when they were living inside the Wawel Castle?" - join this tour once you see it up and running ;) (Beginning of March) 
  • FreeWalkingTourKrakow - Foods Of Krakow - traditional foods and drinks from Krakow. Lasts around 2 to 3 hours and takes one around Old Town and Kazimierz (a lovely Sunday afternoon in August 2015) 
  • FreeWalkingTourKrakow - Centre of the World - learn why Krakow can compete with other grand(er) cities, for being the possible center of the world (28th of November 2015 - around 2 hours (and a bit))
Innocent pleasures at Babcia Malina: pierogi (dumplings)
5. Authentic homemade food at any bar mleczny - the bar mleczny are a reminiscence of the communist times. They are basically places where local food is cooked in large amounts, that can be bought at a really low price. It's a "push the tray" environment, very unpretentious. They are still somehow funded by the state, and can be found in every city in Poland. You will hear the local radio playing, sit with a stranger on the same table, sharing salt and pepper... and at the end taking your tray back to the special racks - no service, no waiter, no fuss. Don't you dare miss out on the traditional pierogi - be it fried or boiled - or some homemade serniczek (cheesecake). 

Yours very much truly,
The Twisted Red Ladybug That Loves Krakow 

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