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Published: January 20th 2006
By far my favorite city in Eastern Europe (assuming that Hungary is classified as Central and Estonia Baltic), Krakow has as much to offer in its surrounding areas as in the city itself. We took a quick day trip to the Ski resort of Zakopane, headed off to the salt mines, and took in the sobering sights of Auschwitz. The market square and surrounding streets are a great place just to sit, walk and experience the atmosphere of Krakow. Try to get lodging within the old city walls, or very close to. The class that the city offers warrants a stay close to the old town. There are several hostels that send out scouts to find guests. This is a good way to find lodging, but be sure to bring the price down if it is the right time of year or if you sense that they are really looking. Beware: verify the sales pitch upon arrival. I was told that breakfast was included in the price only to find out that it was not even offered at our first hostel. They said that the hostel was ‘too small to offer food’ and that I should have known that by seeing
the place. So, check all the features that the scout promises. We ended up switching to a much nicer place with breakfast included for about $8 a person, same as the first spot.
We decided to give the ski resort of Zakopane a full day, even though it was nothing terribly special, epically for those of us who grew up in areas with mountains. Nonetheless, it was fun to hike up in the mountains and play in the snow. Plus, we were able to sneak over to Slovakia for about twenty minutes, just enough for our host Tom to buy some cheap heavy A.
Auschwitz was of course of must see, and any guide book will tell you that. When taking the bus, check with the driver to see how long it will take. On the way to, we took a big bus which ended up going for two and a half hours before arriving. Coming back, a minibus took 45 minutes. Best bet is to find a few others who want to go and get a minibus together. Since you are the only passengers, the driver will take every shortcut in the book and get you there
Busride from Lithuania
Beth and Katie eating dinner on the go
in record time.
The only real let down of the trip were the salt mines. Ok, so they are big and the tour is interesting. But the mines are way out of the way, and, really just amount to a big hole in the ground. See the pics and judge for yourself. The city has a lot to offer, and if time is of the essence (like it ever isn’t), skip the salt mines. The Castle and various sights within the old city combined with the concentration camps are the essential sights. Add Zakopane and the mines as interest perks.
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