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” :-)
Beer and VT name Badges
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
Mind your step
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'.
- Family Travel
The local (and non-local) drunks 2
I'm sorry to say that Krakow, like some other European cities, has become a favoured spot for UK stag and hen parties. Its alcohol is cheap, it is served by budget airlines (3 separate stag groups on my Friday flight), there is ample low-budget accommodation and places to eat. And UK culture, at present, is very much a drinking-to-get-drunk-fast culture.
You won't be in any danger at all from the raucous bands of wobbly men and women (many in fancy dress of some sort) who have much drink taken. But you will almost certainly see various people in various states of inebriation, from the merely noisy and over-social to the flat-on-the-face passed-out.
And not just late at night either. I saw one seriously drunk chap being helped to walk by his mates at just 6.30pm. Drinking starts early and carries on until it can carry on no longer.
The advantage is, of course, that such groups are not much interested in Krakow's sights. So you'll really only see them in the bars and pubs around Rynek Glowny.
- Women's Travel
The local drunks......updated........1
Four years on, I noticed fewer street people (and buskers) in the Old Town itself. There is now a very obvious police presence (especially at the weekend) and I suspect they are moved on pretty speedily.
But in the week, and outside the Old Town, Krakow is much the same as in 2006. Then I wrote:
Like all cities, Krakow has its share of street people with problems. The difference here is, I think, that they were so few I came to recognise individuals very quickly. Rynek Glowny, the central square, is an obvious place to congregate, as is the area around the railway station. There were a few who made remarks (in Polish) to people eating at outside tables, but I didn't see anyone being really hassled nor was I approached by anyone begging (the very few beggars I saw sat silently in front of their collecting tin/whatever with eyes cast down).
Just be aware that, like anywhere else, there are people in Krakow whose lives are pretty miserable. Think ahead about how you want to react.
I never felt in any danger, even when walking alone around the main part of the city late at night.
- Women's Travel
I found my way to this market and hoped I'd find a bite to eat and visit the Singer cafe that I'd heard was nearby. This could have been on the tourist trap page but there were few tourists that I could see on the market which consisted of mostly clothing, some new, some second hand and local people jostling through. It was clearly a place that local people used regularly. Business appeared good but it was not a pleasant experience. I suppose I could have sat at the aforementioned Singer Cafe or some of the other cafes nearby and done a bit of people watching but instead opted for an about turn back to the relative sedate Sezeroka square area and that legendary Krakow service.
Floods in Krakow May 2010
As of yesterday the rain just keeps coming down. Even here in
neighbouring Hungary there are many towns suffering from
the torrential downpour.
I will add a few lines from the BBC website so you can get a better idea.
Thursday, 26 July, 2001, 21:34 GMT 22:34 UK
Floods threaten historic Polish city
Roads in Southern Poland are turning into rivers
By Central Europe correspondent Ray Furlong
Flooding in Southern Poland which has killed 10 people in rural areas
this week is now threatening the historic city of Krakow.
Water levels in the Vistula river, which runs around the old centre of Krakow,
has risen by two and a half metres over 24 hours.
The river, swollen by days of torrential rain, is now less than a metre below
the top of the city's flood defences, which local residents have been trying
to bolster with sandbags.
Other parts of Poland have also been hit by fierce
thunderstorms, claiming a dozen more lives.
The old heart of the city is not currently in danger,
but outlying streets have been flooded and one bridge has been closed.
Thousands of hectares of fields have been swamped,
ruining crops awaiting harvest, and infrastructure has been badly damaged.
The Polish Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek visited Krakow to
explain a $70m aid package agreed by his government.
Over 10,000 people have been made homeless by the floods
and Mr Buzek stressed they would soon receive help.
So far the flooding has been caused by small rivers bursting their banks,
but the Vistula is Poland's biggest river and could overflow at a number of locations.
People are hoping that forecasts for the rain
to stop on Friday turn out to be true.
- Sailing and Boating
Know your Vodka!
*** A WARNING FOR THE SPIRITS SEEKERS: Our group had a hardcore drinking bunch that were particularly excited about the prospect of "loads of cheap booze". They bought many cheap Vodka bottles & stuffed them in the freezer! What happened? It was all rock solid!!! So much for the alcohol content!
So what do they do next? You guessed it! To drown their sorrows they started mixing their drinks & ended up with massive hangovers the morning after. But something else happened before the morning!!! (see photo 5)... shocking!
Learn to tell the good stuff from the bad! Quality pays, and you must pay for quality!! Buy the right brands to enjoy good Vodka/Wodka/Bodka, or whatever.... ;)
- Arts and Culture
- Historical Travel
- Food and Dining
TIPPING DO’S AND DON’TS !
Would you be willing to give a tip to a waiter or waitress that is more than your total bill? Follow these instructions or you may just lose your money! Tipping is on the minimal side here. Leaving small coins in a restaurant or bar is fine. Taxis – never and count your fingers and rings when getting change back. For very good service you can add on 5% or so. If you try and leave a tip on a credit/debit card the wait staff do get it, but have to pay tax. Obviously a cash tip would be better.
Now the problem. If you say the word for 'Thank You' in Polish when paying the bill – the staff will keep ALL the change! Be careful! Ask for the bill and hand over the cash and use the work for ‘Please’. Then collect your change and leave any tip. The 3 important words are:
* Rachunek (rakhooneck)
* Proszê (prosheh) – Bring me my change!
* Dziekuje (jen-koo-yeh) – Take all my money I didn’t read DAO’s tip!
If you do make a mistake, do ask that the money be given back and do tip something.
- Family Travel
- Business Travel
- Work Abroad
Carol Singers In The Pub!
This is a bit of a difficult one to avoid, for me anyway! It seems that there is a long tradition of Polish children earning a little extra cash in the period just after Christmas by dressing up and going round places with a handmade crib and singing a few carols.
Why not you may ask?
The theory is great, but on the couple of occassions that I have been subjected to them they have been excruciatingly bad - and its not just me, I could tell from the faces of the rest of the customers that they thought likewise.
Ach well, they're only kids and its worth giving them a couple of coins just to get rid of them!
- Arts and Culture
- Beer Tasting
please please be careful of pickpockets, not just in Krakow, but in all European cities. I still believe Krakow is a safe city, I never witnessed anything at all violent whilst on my trip, and a large police presence. The latter does still not stop the pickpockets.
Me and my girlfriend and my mum had just got back from Auswitchz (5pm) and were pretty tired and in need of a rest, after looking at various menus we decided on a bar that looked ok. Inside the upstairs area of the bar was pretty quiet so we took a table. A few seconds later a man using a mobile phone sat on the chair behind my girlfriend, pushing and backing up close to her. She then decided to ust the loo and had to push the guy out of the way. I carried on talking to my mum about the days events and suddenly noticed the man had gone. When she came back I asked her where her purse was and, yep, gone, along with her money and various personal items (photos etc). To be fair, the bar owner was as p****d off as us and went scouring the streets looking for the thief.
Looking back now, he had probably followed us when we were looking at the menus, knowing that we soon be sitting eating, and he would have robbed us whichever bar we were in. I also believe he would have done it even if she had not left the table and used the loo.He caught us when it was quiet, and completely off guard. ALWAYS ALWAYS keep your money with you.
Apart from that EVERY person we spoke to in Krakow was warm and polite so dont let stories like this put you off going there. I will definetely go back, the sooner the better as far as I'm concerned, but I will be more aware, even though I always think I am extremely careful.
OK have fun and enjoy Krakow....!!!!
Krakow is rated as a medium risk city by the US embassy. Most crime is non-violent, particularly bag snatching and pickpocketing in the busy tourist areas. Except for the noisy, drunken football fans who invaded the city for a few hours after Cracovia Krakow won its cup game, the city felt very safe.
Pigeons and Cyclists.
Krakow has many pigeons in the main square that dive bomb you, also Krakow is a cycle friendly city, but some of the cyclists are not so friendly has they charge around the green areas of town. PS . The tourist cycle hire are not so bad because they go slow looking around, its the local kids that speed about.
Don't Say "Thank You" When You Pay Your Bar Bill!
Fortunately I knew about this one before I went but if you hand a Polish bar person or restaurant server the cash for your bill and say "Thank You" (Dziekuje) then they will take that to mean "Keep the change". This isn't anyone ripping you off but rather is the local way of tipping.
So always wait until you've got your change and then hand over the tip and say "Thank You" then!!
OK the pic is just a general pic but does serve as another warning or danger which applies anywhere in the world - Yep, Don't Drink On An Empty Stomach - have a couple of beers first ;P
- Beer Tasting
- Food and Dining
- Wine Tasting
Krakow Tram Inspectors
Beware!!!!! These guys show no mercy. My wife and I simply got on a tram going the wrong way by mistake, so we stayed on until we got to the terminus, where we were told to get on another tram that was just about to pull out.
Just before the Castle stop, a motley band of so-called inspectors got on, and we were accompanied off the tram by a group of 4 of them. They were very aggressive and no amount of reasoning would deter them from imposing a fine with frequent threats to call the police. It was a very nasty experience and at one stage got one of them to admit that had we stayed on the same tram it would have been OK, but there was no arguing with them. I was left with the very strong impression that they actually prey on tourists, so be very wary.
It totally spoiled what was an enjoyable few days, and we will NEVER be going back to Poland.