Thursday, September 16, 2010

Krakow, Poland

After we left Berlin we drove into Boleslawiec, Poland so I could pick up a few pieces of polish pottery on our way to Krakow.  If you are interested in reading about the history of this beautiful pottery click here.  The town has an abundance of factory stores but we went in search of the Zaklady store after a recommendation from another blog ( I can't remember the site).  The photo above is of giant pieces of pottery in front of the store. 

I was so excited to finally start my collection of beautiful pieces.  I was shocked at how very affordable everything was and the most difficult decision was what pattern I wanted.  I ended up going with a simple pattern that I should be able to find later on when I want to purchase more.  I left the store with salt and pepper shakers, a small bottle with stopper, gravy boat, sugar bowl and small creamer, small platter, small and medium sized serving bowls and spent roughly $59!  They sell the sugar bowl and creamer for close to 20 euros at the small kiosks at the Px!  I am glad I held out to get my pieces.  Since the Jeep was full of our luggage, sleeping cots for the girls and strollers I had the pottery by my feet for the rest of the trip! 

So after my quick shopping trip (less than 30 minutes) we continued in to Krakow. We really enjoyed our trip to Krakow in May (if you want to check out that post please click here) but unfortunately for us we were in Krakow while many areas of Poland were experiencing severe flooding.  This time around we had beautiful weather so we were able to do a lot more walking and exploring.  We checked out the Wawel Dragon because last time we could not walk down by the river to see it.  This statue actually blows flames out of his mouth every few minutes and was a fun, quick stop. 

We took a quick tour of the Old Jewish Cemetery which was used from 1552 to 1800.  After World War II the cemetery was renovated and the damaged headstones were used to make a mosaic wall around the grounds. 

We walked from the Jewish Quarter over to the "Ghetto" for a tour of the recently renovated Oskar Schindler's Factory.  A brand new exhibit takes you through Krakow during World War II.  There is much to see here but strollers are not permitted so we had to rush through as the girls were more than ready for a nap.  There are video screens at certain points that have the option of translating the text into English and but the newspapers and other documents that are on display are not translated at all, which was a bit of a disappointment but hopefully something they think to add in the future.  The last room of the museum is covered in newspaper and then coated in layers of wax. So interesting to look at. 

We only had one problem while we were in Krakow and using the public transportation.  James purchased our tram tickets from the ticket window at the station near the hotel as we did not have a small enough bill to stick into the ticket machine.  The lady helping him did not speak any English but another lady did and James told her we needed a ticket.  We validated the tickets as soon as we boarded the tram and went about our business.  After visiting Schindler's Factory we hopped back on the tram.  A stop or two later a group of 3 men got on and as soon as the tram was underway one of them got up and started checking passenger tickets.  As they approached us we fumbled to find our tickets and James handed them to the gentleman.  The guy was mad at us and told us we had to pay a fine because our ticket wasn't valid.  Huh?  We just purchased the ticket in the morning and validated it right away.  We had to get off the tram and another guy who spoke English told us that we had to pay a fine before we could get back on the tram because the ticket that was given to James was only valid on the weekends and we were traveling on a Tuesday.  The lady sold us the wrong ticket!  So after a few minutes of disagreeing the dude told us to purchase the correct ticket before boarding the tram again and they went on their way and we did not pay a fine. 

This was seriously a bit scary because we have been told about people who pretend to be these inspectors that will target unsuspecting tourists to try and steal money from them.  After we made it back to the hotel we spoke to the manager who assured us it was legit.  We attempt to use public transportation whenever we possibly can while in large cities and we have never been stopped to show tickets before. 

This wraps up our trip to Krakow.  I am so glad we were able to get back and see the things we missed last time due to the rain.  I really love Krakow!  It is an old city that is often overlooked when people are planning their European vacations.  I know Eastern Europe isn't as exciting as France but it deserves more attention from tourists.  The locals are friendly, hotels and food are reasonably priced and there is plenty of sights, shopping and cafes to help fill your days.  As long as you have a valid tram ticket Krakow is easy to get around. 

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