Krakow - 09/08/04 - 11/08/04
Flew out of London early in the morning (8:05am) to Krakowice and then caught a bus to Krakow finally arriving at about 1:00pm - where does the time go. Made our way to the tourist office to get the essentials - a map of the town and some sound advice. Once checked in with 10 other people and some very noisy French next door we headed into the old town area (Stare Miasto) for a look around. Krakow is a beautiful old town that happen to escape any of the tragedies of WW2 and therefore is still in the same condition as generations before could appreciate. Went up to Wawel Castle for a look see and as we were to find out later was closed as most places are, in Eastern Europe, on a Monday. We had a better look the next day and also went into Wawel Cathedral for a view from the Bell Tower (Sigismund's Bell) etc. Also wandered around the Cloth Hall to have a look at all the Amber on sale (and other stuff - but who cares about that) and as most of you know I loooove Amber - I was in Amber heaven
. Couldn't find anything I wanted though or more that I didn't have enough time to have a good look...damn!! Krakow old town has a huge square in the middle with the Cloth Hall, with St Mary's Cathedral on the side that houses the oldest Gothic alter - this was actually taken by the Germans during the war but fortunately it was found again and reconstructured. The Cathedral was beautiful and very colourful - took a sneaky photo of the inside because otherwise you have to pay - and you have to avoid paying at all costs. Especially when you have to pay for the previledge of going to the toilet and they ration out the toilet paper in some places (3 square). Another tourist highlight is the Jewish quarter (Kazimierz) so Chrissy and I walked around the area (not a lot to see really though) and stopped off at one of the Synagogues for a look which played a couple of movies that were put together from the war period. Also went to the Salt Mines at Wieeliczka which are 1000 years old - they took us down approximately 900m. This place has it's own Chapel (St King's), salt statues and a ball room - very flash! The next day we went out to Auschwitz-Birkenhau to have a look at the concentration. Very morbid place. We thought we would be smart & do they tour on our own as we thought we would be quicker but actually took way longer and had to miss stuff as we had to head off. That afternoon we headed to Zakopane.Zakopane - 11/08/04 - 13/08/04
(South of Krakow - near the border between Poland and Slovakia)
By the time we got into Zakopane it was late and we were starving so went to a pub in town and had kebabs that are cooked on these huge bbq's (grills - they called them) - food was fantastic
. We had some entertainment with a band playing traditional polish music and some very drunk women who had been drinking beer through a straw with strawberry juice mixed with it. Haven't they ever been told about drinking a beer through a straw?!? A lady in her late 50's was shaking her booty doing very loud yip-yip calls....very amusing. The next day we were to find out that nearly all of Poland was holidaying in Zakopane - the place was manic - so this is where the Pol's go. Caught a cable car (Gubatowica)up one of the mountains and climbed down - a warm up for a bigger hike later to Strazyska Valley (4-5hrs). Saw a waterfall (Siklawica Waterfall) and climbed up Mt Sarnia Skala (1377m) after having some difficulty finding the place. Chrissy decided to have a break while I climbed to the top up the many, many stairs. Also did a tour to the Dunajec George where we were in a raft, with 2 guys with long poles pushing & steering us around for 2 hrs. The scenery was beautiful yet again.