Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Krakow, part 1

Last week we went on a family trip to Krakow, Poland.  When the husband was sharing his travel plans with the Brits at work, they were all jazzed thinking he would be attending some of the Euro Cup football games in the region.  But no - we were clueless about the games, but became quite familiar with the hoopla since Krakow had quite a few fans in town.  It seems the Italians, Dutch and English teams were housed in Krakow, so we saw lots of folks representin'.

Leery of the European peanut fare airlines that have straight shot flights to Krakow, but also make you pay extra for luggage, are located remote distances from our house and have a tendency to cancel flights, I decided to go with Lufthansa.  Therefore, we had to change planes in Frankfurt.  The husband had read that this is reputed to be one of the best international airports.

It's official - we hate the Frankfurt airport.  First off, they've closed down at least half of their gates for renovation.  So that means we landed on the tarmac, in the rain, and had to hustle down the tall steps onto a bus to be crammed in like sardines and shuttled to the terminal.  Then we had to go down some stairs and an elevator to the basement's basement where I believe we had to walk underneath the length of the runway.  Then we had to wait around for another elevator to bring us back up to the surface and continue our hike over to the gate for our Krakow flight.  But then they changed the gate and we had to walk even further.  Thank goodness I chose the longest possible layover - a whopping 90 minutes - or we would have missed the flight.

Our hotel was fabulous - Rick Steves and Trip Advisor definitely steered us in the right direction.  We were on the 3rd floor (4th floor to us Americans) and it gave us a great view of the street below and 16th century church diagonal from us.

I had reserved a separate room for the girls, but they actually ended up in the larger room because it had this black and white geometric patterned carpet that made me feel kinda queasy every time I looked down.  

It was overcast as we made our way the couple blocks to Market Square for a look-see.  Here are the girls and husband standing in front of St. Mary's basilica with its two towers.  Constructed in the 13th century, it is famous for the hourly trumpet signal that commemorates some poor soul trying to warn the city of invading Mongols during medieval times who was shot in the throat while sounding the alarm.

Since our flight didn't land until after 5:00, we were ready for supper by the time we had settled into the hotel.  Thanks to another Rick Steves suggestion, we dined at the Hawelka restaurant on the Old Market Square.

Hawelka's entrance is the red glowing sign with the yellow umbrellas to the left of it in the first pic. The second pic shows another part of this very large square, reputedly the biggest in Europe, where there is a thriving cafe culture for lots of lively people watching... when it's not cool and rainy.

Hawelka was old school, traditional Polish food.  We especially enjoyed the pierogi - dumplings filled with tasty things like meat or spinach or cheese, boiled and then fried in butter.  Pork is big in Poland, so we also had sausage and pork cutlets.  And when I say "we", I mean the rest of the family because I don't eat either of them.

Our family voted the coolest food on the menu, ordered by the teen, was this bread bowl, of sorts, filled with mushroom soup.  The potato pancakes were also quite tasty.

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