I had parked in Wieliczka to see the salt mine and a friendly lady in an art gallery told me the train station was not far and it was quick to get into Krakow. It cost me about 400 Zloty in her place for things to take home for a friend so the info wasn’t cheap.
However I found the station easily and it was only a few euros into Krakow on a train that ran regularly. Happily I could not get lost either as Wieliczka is the last stop on that line. I decided to go in the next day but would leave Jack in the van if it wasn’t too hot.
And indeed it was only about 15 minutes into Krakow, and it’s a very pleasant and modern station with lots of terminals that were very fast and easy to use so I grabbed my return ticket while there.
Sadly the first thing I saw when I left the station proper was the graffiti. Europe seems plagued by it, I’ve even seen commercial vans covered in it and I know it costs councils millions a year to deal with. Such gross vandalism ought to attract heftier penalties I think, but the likes of Banksy doesn’t help.
I remember the streets of Rome being like this, and Paris, and Prague. Many of them are political comments but many are simply tags, the name these vandals put to the stylised nickname they use.
It’s one of my pet hates because it can so alter the look and feel of an environment and why should we all suffer because of a few selfish vandals?
The old town
Anyway, putting that aside the walk into the old town was short and pleasant. The streets are wide and clean, the crossings plentiful and well responded to, and a lovely young lady stopped me for a chat on my way asking if I was a tourist. I was on my belly taking a photo of a tram and felt slightly foolish! Her English was great and we chatted for 5 minutes and then she went her way. I thought what a pleasant place this is but I also checked that my wallet was still there…
The old town is beautiful. No doubt about it. Clean, free from clutter and mostly free from traffic. Beautifully clean carriages pulled by lovely well kept horses, and lots of colour around in street cafes, performers and tourists.
The main Cloth market is amazing and even though I’m not really a shopper, I had to have a wander through it. There’s dozens of little stalls inside all selling trinkets and scarves and all sorts of touristy type things.
Some had quite expensive jewellery and some had the normal tacky stuff you see everywhere but they were all doing great business. It was nice to walk through just to feel part of the hustle and bustle of it all.
There were lots of horse drawn carriages and they were far from simple traps, they were very elaborate and attractive carriages that could easily grace a wedding. I found out that there is no set price, you haggled with each driver but none of them gave you a commentary on your 35 minute tour.
I suspect they need to add that as part of the tour!
St Mary’s is a beautiful sight and has the mouth boggling name of Church of Our Lady Assumed into Heaven. Apparently most people call it St Mary’s church.
Wawel Royal Castle
It’s a 10 minute walk out of town to get to the castle, but very well worth it. The walk up was fairly steep as the sun had come out and it was swelteringly hot. The views were great from the castle walls though and the place itself is quite impressive.
Apparently it now houses one of the largest collections of Flemish tapestries in it’s museum. Right.
From the walls I could see a lovely grassed promenade along the banks of the Vistula river below me so to escape the heat a little and to rest my hot feet I walked back down there and sat on the grass with an ice cream.
I must point out that the amarena cherry ice cream easily matched the quality of the ones in Linz and even Venice! Great price at €1.50 as well, nice to see they’re not ripping anyone off.
After my ice cream I decided to go back through town and head back to the van. I have air conditioning so I knew Jack would be fine. However I know that people get on their high horse and act emotionally if they see an animal in a vehicle on a hot day. I remember visiting a friend and the friends neighbour threatened to smash a window to get my dog out!
Everyone wants a drama, led by emotion, and to feel a ‘hero’ so they have a story to tell their friends. So despite he’s the most loved and well cared for dog I went back for him and took him over the park.
On a last note, there’s a large piece of grassed waste ground near the rail station so when I got back and got Jack we were playing on this land when a young man came over and told me I should have a ‘line’ on the dog because it’s not safe. I don’t know what it is about me and Jack but I looked pointedly at the other dogs running around with their owners off-leash, and looked back at him and he said he was scared of dogs and walked off!
Bizarre. I really am a fool magnet lol
Anyway, fantastic day in Krakow it’s a beautiful city and 2 days would have done it more justice. Here’s a few photos to whet your appetite.