Krakow, Poland

Krakow is a beautiful city, there is no doubt about that. However, after four days both my husband and I felt like we’d seen what there was to see. The city was affected by the massive amounts of tourists visiting, and though beautiful it seemed to lack some of its soul. I find a city a lot more interesting if you can blend in with the inhabitants and see the city as they do. This seemed difficult in Krakow, as tourists dominated the urban picture. The city centre appeared to be abandoned by its inhabitants. As we visited in July, we shouldn’t have expected anything else, still it’s sad to see the city not being used as anything but a giant museum.

Most shops in the city centre must owe their existence to tourists looking for cheap and inauthentic memorabilia. The book shops had a good selection of books in English and other foreign languages, and books about Poland and Krakow were on every shelf. We visited two of the three major shopping centres in the city, and were pleasantly surprised by the atmospheres there. This seemed to be where the locals went. Polish was spoken everywhere, and not everyone understood English. 

The shops varied from the typical brand stores; Puma, Nike, and the like, to similar shops with a lower price setting; the make-up store Inglot for example, seemed to compare well in quality to many of the high street brands in Sephora. Prices are ridiculous compared to prices in Norway, for most things, however, certain brands (again Puma and Nike) seem to have the same prices all over Europe. We did, however, find a few treasures hidden in the Jewish district.

We did try proper Polish cuisine, the restaurant could probably have been better though, though it seemed to be among the better at first sight. What we ordered sounded good, but looked worse, it was also very plain, both in taste, presentation and variation – Husband had a piece of meat and rice covered in gravy – with no salad, vegetables or anything to spice up the visuals or the taste. Food elsewhere was very good. Restaurants had varied menus, and the quality of even the cheapest locations seemed to be rather high.

Language was never a problem and most who were in contact with tourists spoke English quite well. I did however have an encounter with a shop assistant in a shop in one of the shopping centres. The assistant only spoke Polish, but pretended to understand everything I asked about. We actually held a long conversation, or it might be considered two monologues, between the two of us.

Near Krakow is Auschwitz Birkenau, a concentration camp from the second world war. We did not visit. Tour companies offer daily trips at quite a low cost from most hotels and also from the city centre. We visited the salt mines Wieliczka, which I have already talked about here.

I was a little disappointed by the city, but can only blame that on myself. We visited in July, when the city is crowded by tourists. I would have liked to go again, but then not in the worst tourist season. We walked and walked for hours every day, and even while moving away from the city centre, were unable to find the soul and spirit of the city, which I hope and believe would have been more easily found in October, rather than July.

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Garden design

Interior design is popular these days, that much I have noticed. And especially in this area, the dominating style seems to be shabby chic, French country style, or something similar to a palette of white and pastels having exploded in a room, together with loads of lace and linen.

Now, I don’t mind the style, it’s just that too much of it makes me barf. I assume there’s absolutely no reason to, but I pity the kids I see dressed in pastels in order to match their parents’ (read: mother’s) interior design. I thought of doing the same to Son. Dressing him up in white, pale blue and light shades of grey. Shoot many photos, before taking him out in the forrest to pick blueberries. Now, that would be a sight!

I have posted about my kitchen earlier, and I probably will again soon (if Ikea will do as they’ve promised). And I have mentioned my bedroom, which I will probably also do again. But except for a few things every now and again, I promise I won’t turn this blog into an interior design blog. And especially lace will be a rare sight! However, there are a few things I would love for my garden. I have spotted a few things while out travelling, and I just have to share them. So instead of going all interior blog on you, I’ll go exterior blog on you! Because I think this would look brilliant in my garden:

Now, this isn’t all that unusual, and doesn’t really stand out (well, it would in my garden as it would cover the entire front lawn). But take a look at this peaceful lion’s wee brother:

Now, that would make a statement! Don’t you think?

This is to be found btw in the city centre of Cracow, Poland

Wieliczka Saltmines

A few kilometres outside of Cracow is a salt mine which has been excavated since the Middle Ages. Salt was a major income for Poland for many centuries. The mine is today a tourist trap, and a beautiful one as such. The numerous and long tunnels now have statues hidden around the odd corner, each statue carved from the salted rock. If you ever find yourself in Poland, I would absolutely recommend a visit to the Wieliczka salt mines.

We first found ourselves climbing down some 120 metres worth of stairs (follow that up with a walk around the city before ending the day in high heels at a fancy restaurant – and I can guarantee a pair of soar calves the following day – or three).

Beautifully carved ‘pictures’ decorated the walls.

Large structural beams support the ceiling.

A gigantic cathedral is also to be found, decorated solely with carvings from the mountains done by untrained masons.

Strolling through the park

How wonderful it is to stroll through a park, hold the hand of a certain someone, breath the (semi) fresh air, listen to the birds sing, and to simply enjoy every ounce of life.

We didn’t simply stroll. I was quite fascinated by the park, the large trees with their great trunks, and the green ceiling of leaves and branches. The benches were cute, the street lights were of the Narnia kind and even the garbage cans matched the rest. I took photos, both of the park itself, and the two of us together. Husband shook his head at me several times, but he did it while looking at me and smiling softly. I like to think that he finds my quirky little habits and childish enthusiasm charming.

Our little weekend getaway is something that will be done again, although the next trip will not be to Cracow. We have several other large cities waiting to be explored. Any many more parks to stroll through while holding hands and smiling at each other.

Cracow and the ice-cream curse

Husband and I had a wonderful few days all to ourselves in Cracow, Poland. One of the days there we spent some time exploring the Wawel Castle. The castle was beautiful and all that, the buildings were magnificent and yadda, yadda. But, the place holds an ice-cream curse! Not a single sign said anything about this, neither did I find any information about this online before leaving. So now, I’m informing you, just in case you ever find yourself in this royal castle craving an ice-cream.

When in Rome you eat the same ice-cream they eat. That philosophy rarely gets me in trouble, but of course there is the occasional mishap. Husband and I bought an ice-cream each. He chose something safe, international brand, well known from paths travelled earlier. Me, oh no, I’m the tough one. I found something that looked cool, with a name I’ll never be able to pronounce and an illustration that left a bit to imagine. The ice-cream was chocolate covered, I didn’t need more information than that. I unwrapped it with a bit of difficulty as I had the strap to my SLR wrapped around my wrist. I tasted the ice-cream and turned away from the counter. In front of me I saw this:

I needed to take a photo, obviously. I put the ice-cream in my mouth, as one does, and used both hands to steady the camera. As I press the shutter, the ice-cream breaks (!). Apparently it has a soft caramel-filled centre. Chocolate, caramel, vanilla ice-cream, and soft caramel mixes in with long hair. Luckily, sporting a bit of a cleavage I was able to avoid littering the grounds. Needless to say, I, however, did not feel all that clever.

Husband dearest felt sorry for me and bought me a new ice-cream. Chocolate covered again, as chocolate and ice-cream always make everything better. We walked through this gate:

Entered this magnificent courtyard:

We walked to the centre and gazed around. Someone cleared their throat behind me. I turned to look. And there is Ms Trunchbull, or a petite, pretty and Polish version of her, pointing at my ice-cream and then pointing at the bin. The second ice-cream too had to go.

Now, as you can see, the castle holds an ice-cream curse. You might have to be Norwegian, female and in your twenties for it to strike, but you’ve at least been warned. I have not checked other Polish castles, but I cannot guarantee that such a curse might be in effect in other magnificent building across the nation. You’ve been warned!