Travellers’ Corner: Kraków, a Journey in Time

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Kraków is one of the most fascinating places in Poland. The distinctiveness of the city can best be described by its rich history, beautifully preserved architecture, excellent cuisine and exciting cultural life. As a frequent visitor of Kraków, I want to take you on a walk, where we will visit my favourite places of the city.
If you arrived by train, you can easily get to the city centre, as it is minutes away from the main train station. Just follow the signs to Stare Miasto (Old Town), pass Galeria Krakowska, the main shopping centre, walk under the subway and you will find yourself in Planty, a park which surrounds Stare Miasto. There you can find a small tourist information point where you can collect a free map of the city.
If you keep walking ahead, you will find yourself in ulica Pijarska (Pijarska Street) with Brama Floriańska (Florian Gate) on the right and ulica Floriańska on the left. Pass them and then turn left into ulica św. Jana. Now slow down and admire its breathtaking architecture, ornaments and lanterns. After having walked for a few minutes, turn left into ulica św. Tomasza, on its corner you will find Kościół św. Jana (St John’s Church) and opposite there will be Pijalnia Wódki i Piwa (Drinking Room for Vodka and Beer). Pass them both and enjoy a short break at Camelot, a local café or its small, yet cosy garden. There you should definitely treat yourself to a cup of coffee and a delicious slice of sernik (cheese cake).
Ulica Pijarska
 Okay, the break was lovely but it’s time to see the rest of the city! Turn right and follow the ulica św. Tomasza and next take the first right into ulica Floriańska, one of the main streets of Kraków. Head towards Kościół Mariacki (St. Mary’s Church), the church of two unequal towers. Kościół Mariacki is in Rynek Główny, the largest medieval town square in Europe. You may want to wonder around Rynek Główny and visit Kościół Mariacki, Sukiennice (Cloth Hall) or Podziemia Rynku (History Museum of Kraków).
You can then return to ulica Floriańska and turn right into ulica św. Tomasza to try the most delicious pierogi in Kraków at Klubokawiarnia Relaks. Crescent shaped pierogi are Poland’s national dish and they were once described by Robbie Lawrence as “scrumptious”. It would be very difficult not to agree with him!(1) If you are not feeling full yet (and I honestly doubt that), you can walk back from ulica św. Tomasza to ulica Floriańska and through Rynek Główny onto Kraków’s most well known street, ulica Bracka. There, at Nowa Prowincja café, you can have a cup of gorąca czekolada (hot chocolate) and szarlotka, the very best apple pie in town.

 

Nowa Prowincja
 Now you can come back to Rynek Główny, walk towards the right and then turn right into ulica Sienna. You will walk through Planty towards ulica Starowiślna, which will lead you into Kazimierz, the old Jewish quarter; a very different part of Kraków, greyish, mysterious, crowded with buildings and small shops. I highly recommend taking a guided tour and vising the local Jewish museums, synagogues and cemeteries. There are many restaurants and cafés full of character, if you require a short break.
You can take a tram back to the city centre or walk through ulica Starowiślna, ulica Sienna and Planty, and then turn left to ulica Stolarska and have a nice afternoon pot of herbata(tea) at a very small and cosy café, Siesta Cafe. After feeling refreshed you can return to ulica Sienna and have a short stroll in Planty to appreciate the taste of old times. You can then come back to Rynek Główny and have an exquisite culinary experience at Wierzynek, one of the oldest restaurants in Europe (remember to pre-book your table and have a tour around the dining rooms).
After having the feast for the taste buds, you can go for a short walk around Rynek Główny and treat your imagination and cultural desires in Piwnica pod Baranami, a local literary cabaret and jazz club. Even if you do not speak Polish, you will have an unforgettable evening, as all performances are of high artistic quality. You will be squeezed in a small room for 4 hours, sitting on a foldable chair and wishing the concert would never end. At midnight, you will walk through the centre and only the darkness of the sky will remind you of how late it is, as people will walk, laugh, talk and hurry, as if it were midday.
Piwnica pod Baranami
 I am sad to say that our walk has come to an end. But I’m sure that fascinated by Kraków’s history, architecture, culture, art and cuisine, you will already start planning your next visit. See you then! 
Written by Kinga Macalla
Edited by Alicja Zajdel
Photos courtesy of Kinga Macalla
Reference:
1.Robbie Lawrence, “Cereal”, vol. 4, p. 66.

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