Krakow and Poland

More than a dragon

  Krakow residents often consider themselves as better than people from the rest of Poland, even the rest of the world because they are from Krakow. There is some sense in this theory.  There is no city exactly like Krakow.  The ancient seat of Polish kings comes steeped in legend with fanciful images, from the Dragon under the catacombs of Wawel, to pigeon – knights waiting for their king to return. The reality has been mixed up with legends for hundreds of years in Krakow.

 The city atmosphere is conducive to this. Krakow has postcard-perfect Old Town with Europe’s largest medieval market square  and a fairy-tale castle overlooking the river.

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View of the main market square from the St Mary’s tower

Krakow has the hejnal – a short bugle call played every hour from the east, west, north and south sides of St.Mary Basilica’s left tower. Whenever I come back to Krakow and I hear this melody I feel I’m coming back home.

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Krakow has a statue of a national bard, Adam Mickiewicz with the pigeons still siting on his head.

Adam Mickiewicz statue on the main market

Krakow has the Planty,  strollway of greenery encircling the centre of the Old Town. No matter if it rains or it is sunny the Planty always look beautiful and romantic. They are actually better than the Luxembourg Gardens in Paris because they are open to the public 24h a day! All parks in Paris close their gates at 8 pm.

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The Planty

 

There are also many mysterious gardens outside of the Planty. One of them is located at  the Karmelicka Street.

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Krakow has the Jagiellonian University, where Nicolaus Copernicus made doodles in the margins of his notebooks in the 1490s.

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Jagiellonian University – Collegium Maius

Krakow has a horse drawn carriages. They permanently etched into the landscape of the Old Town and became one of the biggest tourist attractions. It’s a kind of fairy tale taxi. Interestingly, Krakovians never use them.

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Krakow has Leonardo da Vinci’s Lady with an Ermine,  housed in the main branch of Kraków’s National Museum.  Only five other cities in the world can boast a painting by da Vinci.

Krakow has many events. You can take part in the Jewish Culture Festival, Street Theatre Festival or the dragon parade for example.

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Krakow has the Stary Kleparz, covered marketplace with of over 800 years tradition.

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Krakow has kind of simplicity and authenticity. It is not a small town, but it’s cozy and everyone knows each other. Above all, however Krakow has a dragon!

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All this makes it always nice to come back to Krakow regardless of whether you left for a few days or a few years.


Tatra Mountains

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And God created the mountains, Such thoughts full of admiration appear in my head whenever after two hours bus or car ride from Krakow I finally get off the bus in Zakopane, town in the Tatra Mountains called the winter capital of Poland.

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I leave a suitcase somewhere and  I go to the trail right away. You can choose hundreds of them in Tatra Mountains. Difficult, with most spectacular views or easy one.

The most popular is the one who leads to the Giewont mountain massif (1,895 m). The form of these mountains looks a bit like a lying knight. It is associated with a legend about oversleeping knight who will wake up when Poland will be in danger.

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Giewont

Three trails lead to this mountain. No matter which one you’ll choose, when you are on the trail, you realize that you have to respect the Tatra Mountains. Sudden change of the weather or your well-being can complicate even the simplest walk, but it’s worth it. The Tatra Mountains are breathtaking with their majestic beauty.

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There are many additional attractions outside of the landscape in the Tatra Mountains. On the trail you can meet a herd of sheep with the shepherd. You can also meet people from the mountains who make smoked sheep’s cheese in small wooden huts called bacówka. You will be surprised by their energy, humor and the wisdom of life.

Bacowka

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