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> Krakow City Guide: The Basic
post Mar 31 2010, 12:56 AM
Post #1

Rolling Stone

Group: Local Expert
Posts: 4290
Joined: 25-March 09
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I believe that the information below will help those who are planning a trip to Krakow, Poland's former capital.


Poland’s glorious former capital still has the air – and appearance – of a city born to greater things. Indeed, few European cities can muster such an impressive and authentic Old Town, a captivating mix of Gothic, Renaissance and baroque buildings that is all the more precious for having survived the Second World War, and Communism, almost unscathed. Overlooking it all is Wawel, the riverside hill where the kings of Poland were crowned, lived and buried for more than 500 years, and which still occupies a special place in the country’s turbulent history.

Krakow’s cultural highlights aren’t solely architectural, however. Its many museums showcase everything from aristocratic interiors to folk costumes, oils by Renaissance masters such as Leonardo da Vinci to touching mementoes of Krakow’s Jewish community.

Music, too, has always played a large part in the city’s daily life, and summer in particular brings a flurry of festivals: from Early Music and opera to jazz.
Life’s more earthly pleasures haven’t been overlooked. The city is regarded as the gourmet capital of Poland, where a younger generation of chefs experiments with traditional dishes and ingredients, and serve up the polished results in suitably chic surroundings.

There’s a thriving café scene, too, for those who prefer home-made cakes and scrubbed pine tables. Nor does the fun have to end after dark, thanks to Krakow’s selection of sleek cocktail joints, bohemian bars and lively beer halls catering to all tastes.

Prices in Krakow are still very reasonable, meaning your money will stretch just that bit further than at home.

Insider's tips
• Poland is in the EU, but still has its own currency, the Polish Zlotych. The exchange rate is currently around 4.25 zlotych to £1.

• Smoking is still allowed in bars and cafés, and there are no plans at present to introduce a ban.

• The Krakow Card (www.krakowcard.com) provides free entrance to 30 museums, as well as free travel on the city’s trams and buses, though the city centre is small enough for walking. Two-day card £11.75, three-day card £15.50.

• The train from the airport to the central station just north of the Old Town costs less than £1. Hop on the shuttle bus outside the terminal for the world’s shortest transfer.

• If you say thank you, nod your head or smile when the waiter collects your money, they will probably take this to mean that you don’t want any change.

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