Krakow is a very enjoyable city and very affordable as well. We stayed at a nice boutique hotel, the Dwor Kosiuszko. This hotel was previously a summer home for the Bishops in Krakow. The room was large and very comfortable, the staff was extremely helpful and the food in the restaurant was delicious and surprisingly affordable for such a nice place. The hotel is located on the outskirts of Krakow and is a 10 minute walk from the tram station so we were able to get around the city easily.
Unfortunately for us it rained nearly the entire time we were in Krakow and several parts of the country had severe flooding. The Vistula river in the city was very high and the paths and roads near it were closed off. Having checked the weather ahead of time we were prepared for a little rain. We purchased rain boots for the girls and packed their rain coats and rain covers for their strollers. We also packed our rain gear but that ended up giving us a fair amount of trouble as my coat has lost its ability to repel water and James' coat ripped and is now in the trash!
Weather aside, Krakow is a great city. The streets are wide and easy to walk. The people are friendly, prices for food, gifts and lodging make it even better. We started in the Rynek Glowny (Main Market Square) where we browsed the stalls filled with touristy type wares and watched the pigeons wait for their next snack from the tourists.
We walked through Kazimierz, the former Jewish Quarter. This part of town is a little run down but filled with synagogues and two Jewish cemeteries. Did I mention that it was raining? Well, by this point it was a downpour. Did I mention my rain coat leaked? By now my fleece jacket and sweater were also wet. While we were looking for one of the Jewish cemeteries we found a great little restaurant right next door where we attempt to dry off. James was looking at the menu when I noticed that Restaurant Szara had received a Michelin rating so we decided to eat there. I had a delicious fried couscous and James had a local dish. I may try to replicate the couscous dish, it was so darn good and my mouth is watering just thinking about it now and the girls loved it as well. We shared tiramisu for dessert and I had a cappuccino to warm myself up.
After lunch we walked back towards the square and up to Wawel Hill but decided to not walk around and save it for the next day as our plans to visit Auschwitz were cancelled because it was closed due to the flooding. We figured out the public transportation and made our way back to the hotel so we could dry off and get warm. Aubrey and Lolo were more than happy to be back in the hotel room and out of their strollers for the day.
The next day the rain was just a light drizzle in the morning and dry in the afternoon. We took the tram into the city and walked up to Wawel Hill. This is where the Polish National Cathedral is located as well as a castle and a couple museums. The interior of the cathedral is beautiful but you cannot take photos. There are many tombs located inside and alters as well. Pope John Paul II was the bishop of this cathedral before being named Pope.
After wandering around Wawel Hill we headed back down to the Main Market Square and spent the afternoon exploring more of the city. We had lunch at a nice restaurant that had a large play area for the girls and they were having so much fun they didn't want to eat. The only way for me to get them back down to their seats was to tell them that daddy was going to drink their juice if they didn't eat lunch. Both girls decided that their juice was far more important than the ball pit.
Scattered across the city are brightly colored pianos in honor of Chopin.
We really liked Krakow, even in the rain, and are currently planning a trip back in July. The only disappointment, which could have been avoided with a little research on our part, was that we did not buy any Polish pottery. We looked online while at our hotel and discovered that for the most part only Americans purchase it! We passed the town well-known for their pottery on the drive to Krakow and didn't even know about it. There was a small kiosk in the Market Square that sold a few pieces but that was it. Now that we know that Polish pottery isn't as popular as I thought it would be we have already fit a stop to Boleslawiec to purchase some pieces.