Monday, 24 December 2012

Krakow Christmas Market

A few months back, I signed up for a packaged tour with NewMarket Tours in the UK for a 4 day trip to the Christmas Market in Krakow, Poland. I traveled with a colleague of Andrew's.

Outside the Cloth Hall

Cloth Hall

 The market is held in old town, main square which is surrounded by beautiful architecture. There is a Cloth Hall, and a church with two towers. Shops and restaurants make up the rest of the buildings.                                                                                                         

A bit of travel info for those local folks:  We had an early flight out of Bristol Airport, which was easy and much smaller than London's airports. Our flight was so early that we stayed in a B&B near the airport. Yew Tree Cottage has tailored its business to those doing just what we did. We took a train from Cheltenham to Bristol Airport, where he picked us up. The rooms were comical in that they are super small and we were there on the coldest night of the year so it was freezing. Nicely decorated I must say. It met our needs as we were only there for a matter hours. Landlord took us to the airport at 04:30 am, no problem and gave us a hearty breakfast to go. For £50 it was worth it.

Once in Krakow, our tour leader met us and we were transferred to the Hotel Logos, cheap and cheerful,  very convenient to the old town, and a treat continental breakfast. The old town is surrounded by a tree filled park which makes it very easy to navigate around the city.

 On our fist day there we spent time getting acclimated.  We walked over to the Old Town and visited to Christmas market.

 We had lunch in the Market and tried the gluwein, hot mulled wine that is sold from these giant casks.

The Krakow market seemed different than other markets. It's more..... Polish! Not only are there ornaments and gluwein, there is pottery, knitted mittens, hats (lots of hats), crystal, candles, linens,amber jewelry, and all kinds of yummy snacks. There are traditional tradesmen working right there. The stalls are beautifully decorated with traditional linens and decoration.

 Very tempting pottery was on offer! The colors are so beautiful and there is a pattern for everyone.

It was Dec 6 which is St. Nicholas Day, so we saw many people dressed up as St Nick. Some more convincing than others!

The architecture is varied from medieval to renaissance to art noveau. While Krakow is a beautiful city there are still signs of decay and graffiti is rampant and out of control. 

Day 2 City Tour

Christof our tour guide lead us through the town from one interesting sight to another. We started in the Cloth Hall and moved to the Main Square. It was bitterly cold, and we were thankful for the warm bus that moved us from one attraction to the other.
Some highlights:
St. Mary's Church in the Main Square
Our guide told us about the  legendary buglar, who every hour on the hour performs the hejnaƂ , a 600 year old tradition. Legend has it that in 1241 a watchman saw the advancing Mongol invasion and started to warn the citizens of Krakow about the impending danger by playing his trumpet. A mongol arrowsman spotted the trumpeter and with a well placed arrow pierced the trumpeters throat in mid song. This is why the hejnal stops on a certain note. It is played facing north, south, east and west.

Wawel Castle
Pope John Paul statue outside the Cathedral

St. Peter and St. Paul's Church

Restaurant in Kazirmireicz

Old Synagog is now a museum

Oskar Schindler Factory workers

Memorial to those who died during the Nazi occupation

Cathedral in Wawel Castle

Inside Royal residence

Memorial to 65,000 Jewish Polish lost to Nazis during World War 2

Panoramic view of top of Wawel

University of Theology

Pope John Paul residence

View of river  from Wawel hill.

Royal residence in Wawel Castle

Franciscan Church

Town Hall

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