Krakow #2: Food Tour, Wawel Castle and Rynek Underground

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December 21st 2019
Published: May 19th 2020
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I had booked a food tour for the morning and was rather surprised to find that I was the only person who had. I'm rather glad that it wasn't cancelled and it was the guides first time to take a tour with only one person on it. I don't really know much about Polish food so I was looking forward to trying some new foods. The tour met at the Barbican and our first stop was a short walk away. We headed away from the Old Town into the nearby streets to Żywe Muzeum Obwarzanka, the Live Bagel Museum. Here I got to try Obwarzanka Krakowski, which is kind of like a bagel. They are usually sold in little street carts, which I had seen about on my first day in Krakow. This place is a cooking studio, where you can learn how to make them yourself. There wasn't time to do that on the tour, but I think it would be a fun thing to do. I got a sesame seed one to try and I really liked it. It was very similar to a bagel, but a bit thinner. I knew it would fill me up so I only ate about half and kept the rest for later. We headed across the street to the market. This part of Krakow is Kleparz and used to be its own town before being swallowed up into Krakow. Since it was a Saturday morning, the market was bustling with people. I'm not sure if it is open everyday and even if it is, if it is always that busy. We headed to a butchers/deli place first so that I could sample some traditional Polish meats and sausages. I tried about three or four different meats and sausages, such as kabanos and kielbasa. They were all tasty, but nothing really stood out. Next, we headed over to the cheese stall. I love cheese so I was really happy to try some of the large selection. Ideally, I would have liked to have tried everything, but I don't think my stomach and my arteries would have thanked me. I had a crumbly soft cheese that I think was either Bryndza or Twarog, and Oscypek, which is a speciality of the Tatra Mountains, which aren't too far from Krakow. The guide told me about how good the Oscypek is that you can get at the markets which is grilled and served with either cranberry sauce or wrapped in bacon. I had seen them for sale at the Town Hall Square market and now I really, really wanted to try it hot. He said it was a great snack for when skiing and I could believe it.

From the market, we headed a couple of streets away to reach Piekarnia Bińkowskich, a popular local bakery. There were a few locals in there and it was interesting to watch them go about their shopping. I don't know how the woman behind the counter had the patience for some of them, especially when they were like I want that loaf, not that one and they looked pretty identical to me. I tried three different cakes here. One was Makowiec, which is a sweet cake filled with a poppy seed swirl and also some raisins and walnuts. I really enjoyed that one. The other two were good, too, although I can't remember their names. I think one may have been mazurek as the guide told me that this was a traditional dessert that was normally only sold around Christmas, and we were in the run up to Christmas. I was totally stuffed by the time we left the bakery. We headed into the Old Town and to a chocolate shop, Wawel. This is a local Polish confectionery company, there are other chocolate shops on the main square in Krakow, but they are not local, from Warsaw I think and there is fierce rivalry between Cracovians and Varsovians. Stepping into the chocolate shop was like stepping back in time. It was really old fashioned and I loved it. The guide chose a selection of chocolates for me, but I was too full to eat them so I stuffed them in my bag for later. Being the only person on the tour made it go faster and so we had a bit of time to kill until the next place was open, so we took a walk around Rynek Square and the guide told me some general stuff about Krakow and also told me some other cities that I should visit in Poland. I feel like there is a lot to see in Poland and there will hopefully be repeat trips here for me in the future.

We walked to the next place, which was a traditional style Polish restaurant, Gościnna Chata, just off the main square. The restaurant was really quite when we got there as it was not long after opening. I got to try a traditional Polish soup, Zurek, here. Zurek is a soup made from sour rye. I am not a huge soup fan, but I enjoyed this. I also loved that the tiny portion was served in a cute little cup. I also had a couple of pierogi, which were nice and I liked the onion as garnish on the top. Full of food, we headed to the last stop, which was a bar that was outside of the Old Town and not too far from where I was staying. Radocha was a nice bar and I got to sample some local flavoured vodkas here. I tried four different ones, I can't remember all the flavours now, but I'm sure I had chokeberry and a nut one, maybe walnut. They were good, very strong, so I'm glad that I only had half shots of each.

To soak up the alcohol, I munched on the rest of the Obwarzanka Krakowski as I walked up to Wawel Castle and through Wawel Bernardine Gate. The castle had been built for King Casimir III the Great during the 13th and 14th centuries. There were quite a few other people walking up to the castle. I walked around part of the castle's perimeter and admired the views over the Vistula River and the surrounding area. I really liked the view as it gave me a glimpse of a different side of Krakow as I had only really seen the Old Town. There were quite a few people enjoying a walk in the park below next to the river. I took a walk further into the castle's grounds and I was quite surprised by the mish mash of different architectural styles. I really liked the Italian Renaissance courtyard with the tiered arcades of Sigismund I the Old. I think that these had been residential, but were now a museum. I would have loved to have been up on one of the balconies. I then headed back round to Sigismund's Chapel, which apart from the grounds, is the only other part of the castle that you don't have to pay an entrance fee to go into. The chapel is the resting place for the last members of the Jagiellonian Dynasty that ruled this area from the 14th to 16th centuries. The chapel was busy with tour groups and individuals. It was stunningly ornate and I wish that I knew more about the place. From there I made my way out of the castle through a different entrance/exit and walked through some of the streets of the Old Town that I hadn't been to before. It was really pretty and since it was a bit further away from the main square, it was a little quieter.

I headed back to the hostel for a cuppa and a bit of a rest. I checked that the muse um the tour guide had mentioned was open until pretty late, so I didn't have to rush there. The Rynek Underground Museum is located beneath the Cloth Hall. The ticket office is on the other side from the entrance to museum, so I headed there to buy a ticket and then headed back round to the museum. The museum is still fairly new in Krakow, having only opened to the public in 2010. I really like the idea of exploring the underground of the city as often we only see what is in front

Gościnna Chata
of us and forget about what is above and below us. The museum extends from under the Cloth Market across Rynek Square to S.t Mary's Basilica. It was strange as although the museum was extensive, it didn't feel like it was that big. The museum documents what life was like in Krakow in the past. There was a lot to take in and it took me a couple of hours to get round the museum. In my opinion, it was definitely worth a visit if you are interested in Krakow's past.

After the museum, I was finally hungry again, so I headed to a pierogi place that wasn't too far from where I was staying. However, I did stop off at one of the market stalls to get a bacon wrapped Oscypek, it was so delicious. I munched on that on my way to Pierogarnia Krakowiacy, which is a cheap and cheerful pierogi chain in Krakow. This branch was pretty quiet when I got there. There were only a couple of other tables taken. There were lots of different pierogi on the menu to choose from and it was hard to narrow it down to just one kind. I

Gościnna Chata
ordered the mushroom cheese and egg pierogi, but realised that the waitress had charged me the wrong price, so I would be getting a different kind of pierogi. I was a little annoyed, not with the waitress, but with myself for not making it clearer ones I had wanted. I also ordered some sour cream and was given a huge ramekin full of it. That made me happy. You are meant to pick your order up from the counter, but since it was quiet the waitress was bringing them to the tables. The pierogi I got were smoked cheese, mushroom and buckwheat. They were actually really, really tasty and I'm glad that my order got mixed up. Back at the hostel, I made myself a brew and decided to eat the chocolates that I had got on the tour. There were three different kinds and I was eager to try them, although I am quite fussy about chocolate, not a snob by any means, but I only really like certain kinds/brands. One was a truffle one, another a coconut one that was a bit like a Bounty and the other was a cream fudge. They were quite nice, but nothing I would be in a huge rush to eat again.

Additional photos below
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20th May 2020
Wawel Castle

Wawel Castle
I have posted some of your castle pics in our "Palaces & Castles" thread in the Photography Forum. Check 'em out.
22nd May 2020
Wawel Castle

Wawel Castle
Great, thank you. I will.

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