Saturday, September 28, 2013


Today was certainly a contrast to our day at Auschwitz.  We had a lovely day, one of our "wandering and getting lost on purpose" kind of days.

After breakfast and coffee at our apartment we set off to explore the area right around us.  We are staying in the Kazimierz area, or old Jewish quarter.  There are several important and historic sights right out our front door.  In fact, the site of one of the earliest synagogues in Krakow, Synagogue Poppera, is in our courtyard.

A sad note about current Jewish life in Krakow--there are estimated to be less than 1000 Jews in Krakow today.  Before 1940, Krakow was home to a thriving and vibrant Jewish community of over 70,000, 25% of the total population of Krakow.  By 1948, the post-holocaust Jewish population had dwindled to 6,900, and by the 1990's was only about 600.   Today there is one active Synagogue in Krakow.  There is a concerted effort by the small Jewish community to encourage growth of their congregation.

We really didn't have a plan for today, we just started off in one direction and wandered.  Just a couple blocks from our apartment we came across a market.  The Plac Nowy was a thriving Jewish Market in the pre-war days, and the rotunda in the center was a kosher slaughterhouse.  Today there is still a butcher shop inside (although not a Kosher shop), and local fast food windows line the outside.  Around the rotunda are a few rows of produce and "bric-a-brac" vendors.  

We bought some produce and a few packages of goulash seasoning, then made a quick trip back to our apartment to unload. 

Entrance to the market, in black and white (Forgot to change the setting on my camera!!)

After dropping off our purchases we set off again, this time in a slightly different direction.  We walked and walked, up and down the narrow streets.

Some views along the way:

I liked this old building--very dignified.

We saw a banner for a beer festival this Sunday--we'll be there!

We walked along a street with many funky art galleries and interesting little shops.  Of course, I popped into several of them, and in one particularly interesting shop I bought a very cool bird pin made by a local artist--couldn't resist!

Another sweet bride and groom, they laughed when they saw me taking their picture!

And.....just for Deb:  a scrapbooking store!  We followed the signs down a narrow alleyway, but it was closed.  I'll try again tomorrow.

After a couple of hours of wandering, we found ourselves back at the market, so we decided to have lunch.  We'd read about Zapiekanki--a large open face sandwich, a local favorite.

David and our Zapiekanki, which we shared--it was huge, and very tasty!

We even had music to dine by--a local band was playing.  It was quite a mix of young and old musicians.  They were having a great time, and were quite good!

 As we were walking out of the market, I spotted this scary looking wild boar rug.  Wish I could take it home for my favorite young neighbor, Nathan--he'd LOVE it!

We continued on with our wandering, slowing walking towards the big central square, as we wanted to do some gift/souvenir shopping.  (A certain favorite son NEEDS a Polish shot glass!)

Here are some "building/architecture" photos--we've really enjoyed the architecture here in Krakow.  It has a faded kind of charm.  The buildings have seen better days, some are crumbling, but they are still beautiful to me.

Don't think I'd have a party on this balcony:

Crumbling but lovely:

I LOVE this window--I could just live like this!

We came across this interesting cafe--The Singer.  It had very unique outdoor seating!

Each table had an old sewing machine set into it, and the base was from an old treadle machine.  .  Kind of limits the table space--but it's cute:

After walking blocks and blocks, we were finally at Old Town Square:

This big building is called The Cloth Hall, and is one of the oldest markets in Europe, dating from the 1400's.  Sadly, it's now filled with souvenir shops.

There were about 10 horse and carriages lined up offering rides, they were pretty fancy:

After doing a bit of shopping, we zig zagged up and down the streets north of the square.  

We saw this shop of beautiful Polish pottery.  I though of my friend Pat, who collects Polish pottery.  Hey Pat--how about a new tea pot  or coffee cup, sure wish it would fit into my suitcase!

A few blocks later, we came across another market, this one was the Stary Kleparz, and was very busy with locals doing their Friday grocery shopping.

There were flowers, of course:

Wonderful produce--look at all these different types of mushrooms!

There were also bakeries, meat shops, a fish seller, two vendors selling dried fruits and nuts, spice vendors and just about everything else imaginable!  On Sundays there is a big antique and flea market--we'll be going for sure!

We decided we were going to have an early dinner, so we walked out of the market back towards the Old Town Square.  We saw this interesting building across the street--but there was so much traffic we couldn't cross, so we don't know what it is--but it looks very medieval.

Earlier in the afternoon we'd spotted a nice looking Italian restaurant.  We are ready for a break from German, Czech and Polish food!  

My pasta--olive oil, pine nuts, rocket and chili flakes.  Mmmmmm good, just what I needed tonight!  

David ordered a pizza, as usual.  He said it was the best pizza he'd had in a long time.  It had no sauce on it, but had feta cheese, black and green Greek olives and salami.  I had a bite--and it was delicious!

We had a loooong walk back to our neighborhood.  As we walked back through the small food market near Old Town Square, we hear music, and stopped to listen to this group sing traditional Polish folk song.  They were quite lively:

It was windy and cold, and by the time we got to our neighborhood, we were a bit chilly.  We thought a mug of hot mulled wine was in order, so we walked a block over from our apartment to the same small Italian Bistro we'd stopped at last night.  They have the best mulled wine we've had--it's just perfect!

The nice young waitress remembered us from last night, and greeted us warmly.  She asked if we were back for more wine, and we said yes.  She even remembered that I liked mine sweet, and David liked his plain!

We relaxed and enjoyed our wonderful mulled wine, and talked about what a great day we'd had.  A young lady came by selling roses, of course I shook my head "no", but David bought me one anyway--what a sweetie he is.  I'm so lucky!

(and the nice waitress even brought a wine carafe of water to put it in, so it would stay fresh!)

That was a perfect ending to a wonderful day in Krakow.  We said goodbye to our new favorite waitress, and strolled back to our apartment--just around the corner.

Good night from wonderful Krakow--I love this city! And I love that sweet guy who buys me roses.......


  1. And you had your red scarf on to match your red rose....I love the way you end this blog....Flowers, pottery, produce, food all so wonderful. Your hoagie looked good (lol) and so did that pizza. The ingredients sounded delicious. Mulled wine. I think I would like that also. Krakow is fun to see. How about that beer festival tomorrow! I enjoy these slower paced relaxing days. Where you just wander around seeing the sites.

  2. What timing to be there for a beer festival. I loved the tables at The Singer, what a cute idea.
    Flowers in the market were beautiful, but really special to end your day with beautiful red rose from your sweetie.