Kraków, Poland - A Land Built Upon a Dragon's Lair

Selina Donahue
March 16, 2016

What does one do when faced with a three day weekend? Jump onto a plane and hop on over Kraków, Poland of course! I left my Woman as the Writer class, went home and grabbed my suitcase, and then took a quick train from Landstraße to the Vienna Airport. A stop in Munich and another hour or so in the sky brought two friends and me to Kraków. We decided on staying in an AirB&B, and the very helpful Tomasz (our landlord of sorts) arranged for us to be picked up from the airport via a taxi; and thank goodness he did. None of us speak Polish, and so trying to figure out how to do that ourselves at 11 PM (Or 23 if you're feeling fancy) at night would not have been fun.

We enjoyed stepping into our new place (furnished with Ikea furniture; just like home!) and went instantly to sleep. Saturday we spent the day in Auschwitz; an unforgettable experience. I won't go into the details, but I will say that I am glad I went.

Sunday we began to explore Kraków. A lovely breakfast in the nearby Lajkonik Cafē, excuse me, Kawiarnia, and we went off the Armia Krajowa/Home Army Museum. The museum was much larger than I expected and had a ton of information, specifically about the Polish struggle for independance, as attempted by the Polish underground Secret State and the Armia Krajowa.

After the museum, we ventured to the Old Town Square. I had flashbacks of our time in Wrocław; The Polish do love their large squares filled with flower vendors.

Below: The Kraków Barbican. It was an outpost once connected to the city walls, now it acts as a sort of gateway to the Old Town. We walked past it to get to the Main Square.

St. Florian's Gate, a famous Polish Gothic tower, that was built as a fortification against the Turkish. 

Saint Mary's Basilica

The Main Market Square, with a view of St. Mary's Basilica. In a tower of the Basilica, every hour on the hour a trumpet player played a melody that would cut off in the middle. There was a legend that during a Turkish seige of Krakow a trumpet player played this song to warn the city that it was being attacked, but he was then shot in the neck, thus why they continue to cut it off today. I really enjoyed listening to him play, and he even waved at us from a window in the tower after he finished playing.

The inside of St. Mary's Basilica. I think that this is one of the most beauitful churches I've ever seen. It was painted intricately, every inch covered in bright colors or gold enamel. 

The City Town Hall Tower.

St. Adalbert's Church, which is almost 1000 years old.

There were a lot of pigeons in the square. If you dropped any crumbs, they came a running. Here we see a mother pouring crumbs on her child for the perfect photographic moment.

The horse drawn carriages, and I hate to admit it, were fancier than Vienna's. The horses were more often patterned, and accessorized with feathers and red felt.

The street performers were very cool to look at. Often times they were painted in metallic paints to look like statues; a perfect photo opportunity for some tourists.

The Eros Bendato, created by Igor Mitoraj. If you were feeling adventurous, you could climb into the head and peer out through the eyes.

The Town Hall Tower and Kraków Cloth Hall at night.

The Cloth Hall. Here they sold anything your little tourist-y heart desires; engraved boxes with Kraków on them, amber necklaces (the amber is a Kraków thing), tiny dragon statues, music boxes, Polish themed t-shirts, and more.

Two snacks I definitely recommend getting. On the left is the famous Polish obwarzanek; a pretzel like snack sold at little stands every few feet. They are usually covered in sesame seeds, poppy seeds, and salt. On the right is gelato, also sold basically everywhere. Two very cheap treats that are easy to pick up where ever, and delicious!

A typical street in Kraków.

And down this street we happened to walk by Pope John Paul the II's old home! Which you can even go into, although it was closed at the time.

A cute little church. They have lots of churches hidden in the various nooks and crannies here.

The Church of Saints Peter and Paul.

Art for sale.

Wawel Castle.

Wawel Cathedral. I absolutely love how mismatched the architecture is. 

Apparently it is under here that there is an old dragon's lair, and it's bones are buried here. 

That night we went to the Restauracja Wesele, where I got pierogi and we all got mulled wine. Boy oh boy was I happy to have pierogi again. The restaurant is right along the Main Square, I would definitely recommend it.  

The next day, Sunday, was our day to leave. We packed up our bags and went to the highly acclaimed Camelot Café for breakfast. The decor was ecclectic and the food was delicious.

After some wandering around with our bags, we took the train to the airport and back to Vienna we flew!

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Selina Donahue

<p>Selina is a Junior Studio Art Major at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. She enjoys long walks in the halls of art museums, eating too many cupcakes, and absorbing the world around her to feed as inspiration for all her creative endeavors. Her specialties lie in taking too many pictures and expressing joy over the little things. Selina is excited to share the beauty she sees all over Vienna during her stay with all who hop on over to her little blog!</p>

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