Krakow is a lovely city to visit, as it offers many sights and activities to all kinds of travellers. But before you go to Krakow, consider the air pollution levels in the city and ask yourself, is it worth loosing your health to see this place?
Krakow's pollution rates are very high, in fact it is the most polluted city in Poland. Atmospheric particulate matter (PM) is regularly several times over acceptable levels. Particulate matter of 10 micrometres (PM10) and under can penetrate to the depths of our lungs, and the EU insists that the maximum limit for PM10 should be 40 ug/m3. Krakow's levels range from 70 ug/m3 to 170 ug/m3. Those fancy numbers show the amount of cancerogenous particles in the air. As you can see, the levels of air pollution in Krakow exceed the maximum levels 2-4 times!
I wouldn't reccomend visiting Krakow to all of you who suffer from asthma or any other pulmonary diseases or allergies, to families with children and to those who simply care about their health.
You can check the levels of pollution here: http://www.malopolska.pl/Obywatel/EKO-prognozaMalopolski/Malopolska/Strony/default.aspx. Just click on the map and find Krakow . You don't need to know polish to understand the meaning of colors (green=good, yellow=medium, red=bad, purple=very bad) but the description of those levels translates roughly to: "red=don't stay in the open for too long, especially if you are a pregnant woman, a child or an asthmatic" and "purple=it is recommended to stay indoors and not proceed with any phisycal activity in the open".
So my point is: if you care about your health, choose a different destination in Poland. There are many lovely cities there, like Wroclaw, the "Triple City" (Gdansk, Gdynia, Sopot) by the sea, Lublin, Warszawa... They offer just as many beautiful sights and are just as welcoming to tourists but they are much less polluted and you don't risk health problems when you visit them.
I hope this tip is helpful.
Try to avoid getting in touch with the traffic police! I have seen them in action and I can say that they are much nicer on photoes than live.
If you park at the wrong place you have problems as well, getting the claws removed. But first you have to pay quite a heavy fine which could instead have been used to......
I'm a British Asian (Indian) male, and visited Krakow last week. Generally people were friendly and I didn't encounter any problems.
Unfortunately, on a Sunday evening at around 5pm I was walking down Ulica Szczepańska (just off the main square) and heard a couple of guys shouting monkey noises at me. I stopped and turned around, and one of them spat at the ground towards me, near my shoes, and continued walking. There's not much you can do when faced with such an ugly situation whilst visiting a foreign country.
I've never encountered anything like that anywhere else in the world, including Budapest, Prague, Sofia and cities in Croatia.
I also encountered a lot of stares one night, particularly on Stolarska (also near the main square) around Tram Bar.
Although it might simply be down to not being Polish, rather than being Indian, in Tram Bar I was told the prices on the menu were "wrong" and asked to pay more for my drinks.
Whilst I'm sure darker skinned visitors to Krakow won't be unsafe, I think they should be prepared for potential unpleasantness they probably don't experience elsewhere.
i was conned to the tune of 100 british pounds when i flagged down a buggy for a tour of of the jewish area - not kazmierz the other one which included supposedly a tour of schindlers factory. it became apparent when the buggy driver told me that i would have to pay to get in even though this was listed as included, that he was conning us. the difference between the tour that included the admission and the one that didnt was 240 zloty - the admission price was 15 zloty - what a con. me and my mate had handed over 718 zloty. we objected told him we wanted our money back but would happily pay for the lesser tour - we got 300 zloty back. a total con. dont flag buggies down in the street and make arrangements through proper agencies
I was last in Krakow 2 years and have never been the victim of or seen any crime. This time was so different. I hired a car and parked it in row of cars leading to Wolski Woods. Though there was nothing left in the car someone broke into it and stole the car radio. Though I had hired the car in Warsaw the car hire company were very helpful and immediately replaced it though I had to pay approx £90 for repairs. The replacement car had a non standard radio with a detachable front, so I guess the same had happened to that car. The next day I was in the Kazimierz District by a main road when my daughter saw someone acting suspiciously. Whilst I was looking the other way he smashed a car window and stole something from inside before jogging off up the road. The area was busy and the owner of the car was close by. The following day I'm walking along a main road when a car alarm sounds and 3 men emerge from that direction and run off up the road. So my advice is find out any excess charges when you hire a car. Try and get one with a detachable radio front. Do not leave anything in the car. Always use guarded car parks. Because cars are expensive to hire in Poland there is probably a hire market for older cars which are less atractive to break into.
It seems that apartments/flats are almost the most expensive in Poland just in Krakow. Only in Warsaw they seem to be even 30% more expensive.
The most expensive and not so easy to buy are those overlooking the Main Market Square, then on so called Royal Tract (Florianska and Grodzka street), then others in strict historic old town (inside Planty garden ring). Even those located in ugly, Soviet style huge (10-store) apartment buildings far from historic old town are expensive at least in comparison to other Polish ciies and especially in relation to people's incomes.
So how much is it?
Prices for 1 square meter (1.2 square yard) are usually from $600 to $1500 in 4-room apartment and $700 - $1000 in a studio (1 room).
Example: 100 sq meter flat (1 bedroom, 2 living rooms) in old tenement, peaceful district 20 min. from downtown - $120,000!
Three human diseases are known to be associated with pigeon droppings: Histoplasmosis, Cryptococcosis, and Psittacosis. They all result in years of unimaginable pain and then DEATH. There are no known medicines to alleviate the pain or prolong life.
OK. Only the names of the diseases are true, but do you want to contract anything you cannot pronounce? Pigeons are flying rats. Just plain nasty. Fortunately there are expensive fines in some places for people hell-bent on feeding these rodents. They don’t need it. They can live in the wild, find food and not poo all over people in congested urbanised areas. The only reason they are pooing on your head is because people either feed them (bad) or from food litter from irresponsible people (worse).
They are completely over-breed here. Why do you want to make the situation worse? Don't do it.
It would seem that the Peezy Jet staff at the Krakow departure desk at Balice are on a different wave length. Having left Gatwick five days previously we were not reprimanded for carrying an extra bag/computer as well as the carry on bag. My wife carried her handbag while I carried a small rucksack. Unfortunately on arrival at the Departure lounge at Krakow airport we were met with an over zealous representative who declared that we were in excess of our limit as a computer/handbag constituted 'luggage' and we had four items and not two. Hastily repacking we managed to squeeze everything into one bag each. We have since found out that the staff are renown for their enforcement of policy and less than pleasing approach. The security area resembles an armed camp of days gone by reminicent of the previous regime rather than a modern International Airport. One must presume that Peezy Jet Krakow is intent on limiting carry on luggage in the hopes of creating revenue on extra checked in luggage ! Other than that the Airport gets top marks for its very modern facility.
I was amazed to find that the tap water in Crakow is unsafe to drink. After an upset stomach within 24 hours of arriving at our hotel I was advised by the hotel receptionist that the tap water in Krakow is not fit to drink, bottled water being the norm. In this modern age its amazing that the word hasn't yet reached the traveller especially in such a popular city/destination
In case you need them, the Kraków police is not far away.
Down town the police patrol on ATB's and the train station is surveilled by a remote controlled camera vehicle.
Police stations are located at:
Posterunek Policji Rynek Glówny 27
KP I ul. Szeroka 35
KP II ul. Lubicz 21
KP III ul. Pêdzichów 5
from 07.08.2006r ul. Rozrywka 26
KP IV ul. Królewska 2
KP V ul. Zamoyskiego 22
KP VI ul. Biezanowska 70
KP VII os. Zlotej Jesieni 11c
KP VIII os. Zgody 10
Alarm telephone number: 997
Being brought up properly to say my P's and Q's, it seems quite alien not to say Thank-You, when the waiter/waitress takes your bill and money at the end of your meal.... However, this can result in either a) being left short of money, or b) an embarrassing situation, while you try to reclaim your change........
I hadn't encountered any problems with this custom, until we were in the Czech Republic, when one of our group was left waiting for her change, and the waitress explained that when someone says 'Thank-You' when they hand over the bill and money, they mean for the waiter/ess to keep the change.
Waiting staff are notoriously poorly paid, and rely on tips to make up their wages. So I'm sure that this custom is quite useful for them.
The expected tip is 10-15% of the total bill.
So, ensure that you have a selection of notes/coins of different denominations - Not a good idea to be paying with a 100 zloty note for a 10 zloty bill, if you want your change.
Don't say "Dziekuje" or Thank-You unless you don't want any change.
"Prosze" is the word to practice for handing over the bill, when you want your change = Please or Here You are!
Raeshty nye chaeba = Keep the rest
As I said before, I didn't encounter any problems with change, despite not having done my homework! Either we'd had the right money, or the waitresses had realised that as English tourists we probably weren't aware of this custom , and sitting there, rather than getting ready to leave probably meant that we were expecting change.
I'm sure that there will have been many altercations over the years with booze addled stag parties thinking 'They've been ripped off' Should be interesting come Euro 2012! (Warsaw, Wroclaw, Gdansk and Poznan are the Polish host cities, (although Krakow will be an entry airport/train point)
Apparently shaking hands, to denote that a deal has been agreed, also has a different meaning in Poland- It just means that 'The talking has ended'!
As in all cities/towns, where there are crowds, there will be pickpockets around.
On our first day of sightseeing, Our large VT group had split into groups of about 30, to tour the sights of Medieval Krakow. Outside the Mariacki church (St Marys Church) our group was waiting to enter to see the 'opening of the altar' ceremony, that happens once a day, around noon, and so is on most tourist group schedules.
Diana (dila) had spotted these 2 women, who had 'joined' our group, and had become suspicious of them, so much that she put her hand on ones shoulder, and said "Sorry, I thought you with us" and pointed to her VT badge! The woman had walked away, but returned again with her accomplice. Diane was telling me about what had happened, and they were easy to spot. I raised my camera to take a photo of them, and they were off like a shot into a nearby shop, but soon reappeared, only to hide each time I 'targeted' them.
Later, when our group stopped again, we both spotted a young man, who was also trying to work his way into our small crowd. Again, as soon as he spotted me trying to get a photo of him, he was off like a shot!
As far as I know, no-one was a victim of these three, but it was a reminder to me to be aware of where my bag was, and who was nearby!
For me, Krakow still felt a safe city . Apparently Poland is considered to be one of the safest European Countries, with Krakow being one of Polands safest cities. Petty crime, suck as pick pocketing is on the increase, muggings are not unknown, but are sporadic incidents . Car theft, is the most common crime in Poland, and credit card fraud is on the increase
Emergency Numbers for Foreign Visitors to Poland.
Poland’s state police provide a phone service in English and German for foreign visitors.
Call toll-free 0800 200300 for information on public safety, safe travel, and to ask for help if necessary.
Those roaming with foreign-based cell phones should dial +48 22 6015555 instead.
Available from from 08.00 - midnight.
Krakow's Emergency Numbers.
The emergency phone number for integrated services is 112,
Police 997, Fire brigade 998, and Ambulance 999 – all four are toll-free.
Unfortunately, most operators etc don't speak English.
Police stations do not employ interpreters, but they will bring one from the Krakow headquarters if necessary.
We went to some great bars in Krakow but for me the experience would have been even better if Poland had got round to banning smoking in confined spaces as is the case now here in the UK and many other countries too. I hadn’t realised till this trip how quickly I had got used to the pleasures of being able to taste my drink or my meal without the intrusion of cigarette smoke, and of being able to get through an evening out without coughing and sneezing. If like me you find being in a smoky atmosphere difficult, you may like to check in advance whether the bar or restaurant you plan to visit has a non-smoking section.
And thanks to staff of the Harris Piano Jazz Bar for creating a one-off non-smoking section for our “Welcome to Krakow evening” :-)
While out on a Euro VT meet its always wise to keep in mind that some VT members , mentioning no names what so ever (Nathalie) are very touchy when it comes to taking there beer or using there name badges when introducing yourself to other VT members. Also posing for a pic with the name badge in question will suffer the same consequences as drinking that persons beer....!
So my advice is tread carefully around such VT members...! LOL
I only used the train to and from the airport. It's a very new and snazzy one, but seems rather too low for the existing platforms.
From the airport station there is a bit of a gap and a bit of a downward step; not too bad.
At Krakow Glowny, the step up to the platform is a good 30+cm over quite a wide gap.........a bit of an effort for a small person with luggage, and just as iffy when making the return journey.
The photo doesn't really make it clear, but do be prepared for a bit of an 'up and down'.