More than a dragon
Krakow residents often consider themselves better than the rest of Poland because they are from Krakow. There is some sense in this. I have visited several cities and have lived in a few of them. There is no one like Krakow. The ancient seat of Polish kings comes steeped in legend and evokes the most fanciful of images, from the Dragon under the catacombs of Wawel, to pigeon – knights waiting for their king to return.
Only Krakow has postcard-perfect Old Town with Europe’s largest medieval market square and a fairy-tale castle overlooking the river.
Krakow has the hejnal – a short, melodious bugle call played every hour from the east, west, north and south sides of St.Mary Basilica’s left tower. Whenever I come back here and hear the hejnal I feel I’m coming back home.
Krakow has also the Planty, strollway of greenery encircling the centre of the Old Town. No matter if it rains or is sunny the Planty are always beautiful. They are better than Luxembourg Gardens in Paris because they are open 24h a day!
I love Krakow because of the Jagiellonian University, all sleepless nights before the exams and because of Nicolaus Copernicus who made doodles in the margins of his notebooks in the 1490s here.
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 which is only in Krakow.
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 also kind of special simplicity and authenticity. It is not a small town, but it’s friendly and cozy.
Only in Krakow you can admire such events as the dragon parade or dachshund parade.
But the most important is that Krakow has a dragon!
Coffee and obwarzanek
Early morning. You are sitting on a balcony overlooking the medieval castle. The bell rings on the tower and… a small group of people in medieval costumes get out of a small Fiat car as if nothing ever happened. One gentlemen pulls the carts full of obwarzanki ( sort of bagels that you will buy only in Krakow). You run through the Planty Park to the lady who sells these these little freshly baked goodies and you have breakfast . She knows all about what is happening in Krakow . You have your obwarzanek and a portion of Krakow gossips, as well as some personal stories from the life of a obwarzanek saleswoman.
After this you go for a walk to the Wolski Forest and see the elephant. The real one. Like in Africa but in Krakow. And you already know it’s going to be an incredible week. It’s normal. This is Krakow.
And God created the mountains – such thoughts appear in my head every time when after two hours of bus or car ride from Krakow I finally get off in Zakopane, the winter capital of Poland.
In a hurry I leave a suitcase somewhere and go to the trail. You can choose hundreds of them here. Difficult but with more spectacular views or easy, besieged by tourists. The most popular is the one that leads to the Giewont mountain massif (1,895 metres). The profile of these mountains is similar to a lying knight. It is associated with a legend about oversleeping knight who will awake when Poland is in danger.
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. Changing the weather or well-being can complicate you even the simplest walk, but it’s worth it because these mountains are breathtaking with their majestic beauty.
I love these mountains since I was a child. Recently I showed a large part of them to one American friend and he said that even in the USA they don’t have such beautiful mountains.
On the trail you can meet a herd of sheep with the shepherd and even a bear, so in the Polish Tatra Mountains you can’t be bored. Just, don’t waste time in Zakopane. Go on the trail!