Krakow

I promised myself I won’t go back to Uni without posting again. And so, here I am candles, music on and writing; for the first time this year. This long but much needed break from Uni allowed me to breathe again; some of you may know that so far I haven’t really found my feet. Yet. I’m still hopeful that I will fall in love with all my subjects and find some sort of determination and motivation to finish this educational journey. With ‘only’ a year and a half to go it does feel like I’m closer rather than further from achieving this; let’s hope I stick with it.

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I have already been on two amazing little trips this year but as eager as I am to tell you about my previous weekend I will first tell you all about Krakow. It was my first trip of the year and it would be real shame not to share it with you.

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Christmas was truly wonderful and I will forever remember it, New Years was in its own way kind of special too but I must admit that as I’m getting older the magic seems to disappear out of it. Our trip to Poland was needed, especially for Dom, he’s been ihiDSC_5929missing all his friends and family; here he spends most of his time either at college, work or with me- I could see how he could need some manly companionship. It was tough, we were only away for 9 days which sounds like nothing but I missed our routine and just being close. We still spent time together, with our families, friends, went to the cinema, talked, walked, kissed but it all tastes different in Polandoland. I won’t dwell on it but I was in a way glad to be back, our room has become our little world and I like it here.

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Seeing my Dad and Gran is always great, even though we all have very strong characters and not always agree it does feel good. Sometimes we just sit in the living room in the evening with James Bond or something on and it feels…good. It feels like I’m still a child, like we’re a team no matter what. I wasn’t in the tricity long as my Dad planned a trip for us two to Krakow. For a long time we wanted to go somewhere the two of us, just to get a chance to spend some time together and catch up. Finally, this seemed like the perfect opportunity and so we packed our bags and boarded our train.

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In a few hours we arrived in a different city ready for our first adventure of the year. We were staying in an amazing hotel the Stary Hotel (Old Hotel) situated in the heart of the Krakow meaning we were a short walk away from everything we were planning to see. I don’t often get a chance to stay in luxurious hotels so this definitely different for me a budget traveler. Here is a little about the history of the hotel found on the website:

http://www.stary.hotel.com.pl/stary_en/Home

There is an unusual story behind Szczepańska Street where the hotel is located. In times when one of the official study topics at Jagiellonian University was wizardry, famous magicians and astrologists, such as Paracelsus, John Dee, Edward Kelley and even doctor Faust himself frequented it.  Szczepańska Street may easily be compared to Golden Lane in Prague.   There are many reasons why Stary Hotel is described with these words: “with form they can reach further, they made it possible to reach beyond what’s material and visible“.
The building of Stary Hotel has been adapted from a ruined, XIV century tenement. During renovation, many historical details were kept, thanks to which we can now notice elements of various architectural styles: from Gothic, through renaissance and baroque to classicism.
Inside the tenement, several antique elements have been renovated, Gothic beams have been partially reconstructed, XVIII century polychromes have been revealed and early XVI century piers between windows have been perfectly kept. During renovation, ceramics (most probably from the pre-location period), medieval workshop and XVII century import documents, which allowed world wine trade, have also been revealed.

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The biggest fault with the hotel was that for a five-star hotel the Wi-Fi connection offered was a total pain, it hardly ever worked and when it did, it was annoyingly slow. It was however a beautiful hotel inside and out and the hotel’s swimming pool offers an area where you can truly relax and unwind, it was total bliss.

I didn’t take any photos inside so all photographs are taken from the website or booking.com.

 

 

We were there for only two full days but we managed to see and do quite a lot. My Dad is an extremely organised traveller with museums, restaurants and galleries all worked out along with some amazing knowledge and history. It’s an amazing thing travelling with my Dad, he’s literally like a walking Encyclopaedia.

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We spent a few good hours walking around Wawel Royal Castle, where we got the chance to see Leonardo Da Vinci’s, Lady with an Ermine.

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All useful information can be found here:

http://www.wawel.krakow.pl/en/index.php?op=40

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I have to admit that from what I’ve seen all prices were affordable even for budget travelers, with numerous discounts offered. It does get very busy (we were there in the middle of the week, January) and it was busy even then, it might be worth looking into booking tickets ahead of your journey. It is a definite must see when in Krakow and it would be a shame to be scared away by ques.

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We also went to the theater to see Hamlet, a more modern adaptation which I will admit without fighting, I failed in many ways to understand. In the first break about a half of the audience left the theater which probably means I wasn’t the only one.

Here is a little about the play for my Polish readers:

http://www.stary-teatr.krakow.pl/content.php?url=page/repertuar&id=13

My Dad also arranged for us to go on a behind the scenes tour of Teatr im. Juliusza Slowackiego which is of the most and distinguished Polish theater scenes. We were the only two people signed up that day so our tour guide had even more time to tell us about the secrets of the theater and show us around places, bigger tours don’t usually even have access to.

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It was an amazing experience, for the first time in my life I had a chance to stand on a stage and feel a fraction of what the actors must before the show starts. It was designed by Jan Zawiejski and is ranked amongst the most valuable monuments of theater architecture in Europe.

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When our guide (unfortunately I can’t remember his name, ihDSC_5732sorry!) was telling us all this theater’s stories it made me so incredibly lucky to be able to see it now and listen to it all. Our guide knew the theater in and out and you could feel his love for it when he spoke about it; he did manage to bring into life for us. The legendary theater started to fulfill its role as a national theater just at the turn of 19th and 20th centuries. It was a birthplace of Polish modern theater direction, stage design, staging and the acting profession.

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I would recommend it to anyone and everyone to do this tour when in Krakow, all you need to do is phone in and explain what you’re looking for.

http://www.slowacki.krakow.pl/en/theatre/

 

I was looking forward to seeing the Jewish part of the city the most. On our last day we went for a long walk and headed towards Kaziemierz. For those who have no idea what the hell I’m talking about, Kaziemierz is a historical district of Kraków and Kraków Old Town, Poland. Since its inception in the fourteenth century to the early nineteenth century, Kazimierz was an independent city, a royal city of the Crown of the Polish Kingdom, located south of Kraków Old Town and separated by a branch of the Vistula river.

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For many centuries, Kazimierz was a place of coexistence and interpenetration of Christian and Jewish cultures, its north-eastern part of the district was historic Jewish, whose Jewish inhabitants were forcibly relocated in 1941 by the German occupying forces into the Krakow ghetto. This part of the city is in many ways kept as it used to; there are many traditional cafes, shops and restaurants. There are guides everywhere offering various tours which could be an interesting but an expensive way to see the city and especially this part of it. After the war Kazimierz was forgotten by many citizens however in 1988 it has began getting it’s interest and glory back. There is an incredible old Jewish centenary which is open all year round.

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Our trip was not the longest one but it was definitely an extremely interesting and calming one. For the first in a while I didn’t have to worry about my budget, where to eat and what to see; I could just let it go and trust my amazing Dad. It was a great and I hope that it set the way for other incredible and special adventures this year. 2016

I am well and truly ready for you.

Love,

Joanna

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