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Travel story of Poland to Krakow and Poznan

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Travel Story, a city trip to Krakow and Poznan in Poland, which can be combined with a visit to Auschwitz and the salt mine of Wieliczka

Where are Krakow and Poznan located in Poland?

map poland krakow poznan

Travelogues, a city trip to Krakow and Poznan in Poland

For years, we had been trying to organize a long weekend to Poland with a group of friends. According to a Polish girlfriend we could buy quality clothing for a reasonable price. However, we never seemed to get around a concrete date, but this year we finally made the prompt decision to go to Poland at the Hemelvaart weekend (a Dutch - Flemish holiday weekend following up Easter).

Wednesday 24 May 2017

From Antwerp to Krakow in Poland

As Krakow in Poland takes about 1300km from Antwerp, we decide to divide the long trip into two parts. The end goal of today is the German town of Gorlitz, which is close to the Polish border.

Well rested and with renewed vigor we start our ambitious trip around 10.00am. Our GPS indicates that we can make the journey in 8 hours, but we must, of course, include the necessary stops. Everything is running smoothly and in no time, we pass the Dutch and German border. The prospect of driving 160 - 180 Km/hour in Germany is slightly disappointing, as around the cities maximum speeds apply. A pity! In addition, there are many road works in progress, which cause delay as well.

At the height of Kassel our engine begins to sputter. We choose for safety and leave the motorway looking for a garage. Fortunately, we don't have to go too far to find one and in our best mix of German and English try to explain our problem. Fortunately, they want to help us, but we must, of course, wait a while for our turn. Damn, loss of time, the last thing we need right now, but, we don't have much choice!

After we've waited an hour or two, the car is repaired and we continue our journey to Gorlitz around 17.00pm. We speed up along the German roads, but after an hour the fun is over and drive ourselves stuck in several monster traffic jams. We follow the alternative route the GPS proposes, but we lose a lot of time on a massive scale. From the parallel side street we see cars and trucks lined up for kilometers long on the 'highway'. Very frustrating!

Finally, we arrive at Best Western Hotel Via Regia in Gorlitz (76 EUR per room) around midnight. First, we drink a large beer in the hotel bar before we take our feed in the well-kept room.

Thursday 25 May 2017

From Gorlitz to Krakow in Poland

Around 8am we all take seat at the breakfast table and enjoy the very extensive buffet (10.50 EUR per person) fully. Since we want to have a taste of all the tasty things they have to offer, we stay a bit longer and leave the hotel around 9.30am in the direction of Krakow.

On the road to Krakow, you'll come across the former Nazi concentration camps Auschwitz and Birkenau, one of the largest attractions in Poland. Of course we would like to visit this highly infamous Nazi stronghold, but apparently we had to register ourselves on the website http://visit.auschwitz.org/?lang=en in advance. This is a new scheme since 2015 to control the major tourist stream. We did not know about this, and all the available seats for individual tourists were already granted. Another alternative is to from Krakow book a tour via a tour operator, but these tours with a guide all take up to four hours, which unfortunately didn't fit in our tight schedule. Such a shame! Our advice: if you are planning to visit Auschwitz, register on the website well in advance and provide sufficient time especially if you would like to visit the grounds with a guide.

After all, we would never hit Auschwitz on time as the roads, today again are mega crowded. In theory, a long 4-hour drive should take us from the Polish border to Krakow, but instead we're stuck in traffic again and arrive around 17.00pm at our final destination. At the end of this day, we've been in the care for more than seven hours and are very relieved when we finally get to the Ibis Krakow Stare Miasto (185 PLN per room).

krakau polen

Pictures - photos of Krakau 1

We throw our luggage on the small but well-kept room and walk in the direction of the main market square, the heart of Krakow and the largest medieval market in Central Europe. We decide to walk along the 'Royal Route' enabling us to follow the main sights of this historic city. We see the Barbican fort, the Florianska Gate, the St. Mary's Basilica, the Town Hall Tower, the St. Francis' Basilica, the Saints Peter & Paul church and last but not least the Wawel Castle. Since we regularly stop and watch, photograph and go into all those beautiful buildings, we are on the go for at least two hours.

krakau polen

Pictures - photos of Krakau 2

Apparently, here as well is it the period of the communions, because around the churches we see lots of little girls walking around in identical white dresses and boys in cute little costumes. The churches and basilicas are full of believers and in a few of them choirs are singing, standing in front of the altar. The perfect acoustics causes a divine moment!

Krakow is a lively, vibrant city and especially the main market square with its many restaurants is a big tourist magnet. It's almost impossible to get a table for six, so we resort to one of the charming side streets, where our eye falls on a Georgian restaurant. Fortunately, they still have space and so we slide our feet under the table. We obviously start with a shot of vodka and/or a pint of beer. The choice of food will be slightly more difficult since we are less familiar with the local cuisine. Once everyone has made his choice, we're still apprehensive to see what eventually will appear on our plate. Thankfully everyone's choice turns out to be absolutely fine, and so we order another round of drinks to celebrate this feast of a meal.

krakau polen

Pictures - photos of Krakau 3

Afterwards we feel like a little nightcap on the large market square, but once we have studied the price list, we decide to get our nightcap elsewhere. We are near the Florianska Gate a cozy terrace, where we end the day in beauty.

Friday 26 May 2017

From Krakow to Jarocin with stopover at the Wieliczka Salt Mine in Poland

As we sleep in an Ibis Budget hotel in Krakow, comfort rather is on the moderate side. We do not have a full bathroom, but do have a shower (which is fitted in a corner of the room), a sink and a toilet. Hilarious when you sit on such a small round toilet seat for the first time!

The breakfast room is minimalist and functional. There are only a few tables and you can take a seat on a long bar with stools. Cozy is different, but what can you expect for 22 PLN per person. With the food though, is nothing wrong, there's more than enough for everyone.

Today a visit to the Wieliczka Salt Mine in Poland is on the program, which is just a 30-minute drive away from Krakow. We drive past all the waving men who try to maneuver a car park and park ourselves near the main entrance (15 PLN). Fortunately, there are not too many people and we don't have to wait too long at the counters (84 PLN per person + 10 PLN to take photos). If we like we can enter directly with the International English-language group at 10.00am.

zoutmijn wieliczk polen

Pictures - photos of the Salt Mine in Wieliczka 1

We start our two-hour trip with a descent of 350 steps along a spiral staircase, after which we're met by our guide at the bottom. Walking through the different mine courses, she tells us about the long history of the salt mine and its economic importance for the region. For anyone who's interested, you can lick the walls! We pass several larger spaces with idyllic underground salt lakes or imposing salts images.

In the middle of the tour we end up in the Chapel of St. Kinga, a large majestic hall with huge salts chandeliers. Stunningly beautiful! Luck has it that a choir just started to rehearse. The acoustics here are phenomenal and even when one person sings, you hear it flawless throughout the space. Another highlight of the tour is a sound and light show around a salt lake to the sounds of Chopin.

zoutmijn wieliczk polen

Pictures - photos of the Salt Mine in Wieliczka 2

After two hours, we've walked for 3.5km and are 135 meters below the earth. On the website, it's recommended to even on warm days take a jumper, as the temperature in the salt mine throughout the year gets to 16°C. But due to all the walking, we're rather too hot and don't feel the need for that extra layer.

zoutmijn wieliczk polen

Pictures - photos of the Salt Mine in Wieliczka 3

At the end of the guided tour we end up in a room with a few souvenir shops, where you can buy salt, of course, but also other crystals and beautiful jewelry. For the hungry stomachs among us, there is even a real restaurant on a depth of 125 meters!

After this commercial break, we get the possibility to visit the underground museum (included in the entrance fee), but no one really feels for it, so we decide to return to the surface. Fortunately, there are two large, high-speed elevators so that we don't have to take the stairs all the way back to top.

zoutmijn wieliczk polen

Pictures - photos of the Salt Mine in Wieliczka 4

In the meantime, it's lunch time and we start looking for a cozy terrace in Wieliczka in order to strengthen the inner man. In addition, we'd like to enjoy a typical Polish cliché: drunken men zigzagging or stumbling along or simply sleep away their intoxication on a green lawn. Hilarious!

A 400km drive from Wieliczka north west to the town of Jarocin, the birthplace of our Polish friend awaits. The ride is running smoothly, but when we arrive at the hotel, they have no booking in our name. The hotel is fully booked due to a wedding party and the music in the banquet facilities blows out the speakers. They probably never heard of noise standards here! After a phone call to our friend there shows to have been a misunderstanding and turns out we're at the wrong hotel. Thank god! Because due to the noise we probably wouldn't have slept a wink.

Around 19.30pm we finally arrive at the much quieter hotel Bryllandia (150 PLN incl. breakfast). We throw our luggage in the room and then leave to one of the better restaurants of Jarocin. The atmosphere is good, the drinks are flowing and the food is delicious. What can life be beautiful!

We then drive to the center of Jarocin in Poland, where we drink a nightcap in a local Hard Rock Cafe. We are looked at by everyone as if we were aliens. Apparently, this is a close-knit community and there aren't many tourists visiting this region. We couldn't care less and intensely enjoy our hearty pint and delicious Vodka.

Saturday 27 May 2017

From shopping in Jarocin to Poznan in Poland

After a scanty, but still nice breakfast we return to the center of Jarocin in Poland to go shopping. The ladies are first. Various pieces of clothing get picked out from the racks and tried on like they never done anything else. Meanwhile the men act as experienced judges. Choices are made fast and the majority decides whether or not something is purchased. Democracy at the top! In the first store, we have collected a considerable loot and the prices are indeed noticeably lower. For a qualitative T-shirt you pay 10 to 15 EUR. But you have to throw in a little negotiation and ask for a discount when buying more than one piece. Also the men allow themselves to show their most buy lusty side and score various shirts and shirts. Finally, the shoe shops may not be forgotten. Mission accomplished!

jarocin polen

Pictures - photos of the city Jarocin

On Saturday the shops in Jarocin in Poland close at 14.00pm. So, we must keep a close eye on the clock, but we nearly succeed to visit most of the shops within this time period, astonishingly. We stop in a liquor store to stock up vodka and other beverages for at home. Which here also is a lot cheaper than in Belgium!

Then we drive to Poznan, the fifth largest city of Poland with a wonderful old market. When we arrive at the Hotel Ibis Krakow Stare Miastro, there appears to be another mistake made, the rooms are overbooked! To compensate, they offer us an alternative accommodation at Novotel, which means a nice upgrade for the same price (192 PLN per room)! It is just a pity that we lose precious time again. In the Novotel hotels in Poznan we are very nicely welcomed and we even get a voucher for a free drink in the bar for the nuisance. Super service!

poznan polen

Pictures - photos of the city Poznan 1

Then we go towards Town Poznan, but therefore should cross a large modern shopping center à la Wijnegem Shopping Center. The shops and price of the clothing are similar to those of Belgium. You definitely don't have to visit this place for bargains! After a ten minutes' walk, we arrive at the Grote Markt of Poznan, which is characterized by its colorful old buildings. First, we walk around the entire square and take the necessary photos and then flatter down on one of the many terraces for a pre-dinner drink. Since the menu doesn't look that appealing to us, we keep it at this one drink and then go into a side street to find a suitable restaurant. This is more difficult than expected, because the Polish cuisine is not necessarily known for its refinement and rich flavor pallet. Eventually we find a restaurant where everyone will find his something to his liking and we can conclude the evening in beauty.

poznan polen

Pictures - photos of the city Poznan 2

At Novotel, we make use of our voucher and let out glasses toast one final time, to this wonderful trip. Meanwhile our eyes almost close of fatigue. It's time to crawl into our bed because tomorrow we need to be fit again.

poznan polen

Pictures - photos of the city Poznan 3

Sunday 28 May 2017

From Poznan in Poland to Antwerp

Today we drive 955 km from Poznan in Poland to Antwerp. After a good night's rest, we first take enough time for a delicious and extensive breakfast (30 PLN per person). Then we throw our luggage in the trunk and start the long drive around 9.30am. Fortunately, on Sundays there are very few trucks on the road, which increases the chance of traffic jams drastically. Unfortunately, there are still many road works, due to which we are obliged to use secondary roads. In this way we lose speed, but at least keep moving towards our destination.

After a fairly smooth ride of a long eleven hours we arrive in Antwerp and are another beautiful adventure richer!

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