| Part 2: Jawor,
-> Jawor -> Wroclaw -> Krakow
zloty for an elegant room with four beds, attached toilet+shower. Good
location close to the old town. No own parking (you have to leave the
car in one of the city parkings (we found one where we pay 150 zloty
for 5 days). High quality elegant furniture, modern, A/C, nicely
decorated. phone, TC, fridge, free WLAN in the rooms. Only problem is
that the room is facing a busy road with trams passing by, although the
window provides a certain noise insulation. Window can't be darkened
properly (only a curtain). Room is not really adequate for four people:
only one cupboard, with just 3 coat hangers.
A/C does not seem to be working. No double door to provide noise
insulation to the corridor. 25 zloty for the breakfast (Alissia would
have to pay). Overall not terribly good value.
Weather: a mix of
sunshine and clouds
the whole day. It has rained during the night in Dresden, then it rains
very slightly again in the afternoon in Poland. Fresh, probably around
17-20°C, although when the sun shines it gets hot.
We manage to leave for Poland around 9:30am, planning to do the first
stop in Jawor (Poland) to visit the Church of Peace. The motorway trip
proceeds surprisingly smooth, with very little traffic on the motorway.
No border control when we enter Poland.
On the Polish side the motorway
is in a very good shape (two lanes only, however with service lane).
Speed limit at 140km, quite reasonable and
higher than in many other European countries except Germany.
while the service lane disappears and the speed limit drops to
110km/h. Almost empty motorway, we are able to quickly proceed towards
Jawor. The final 12km before Jawor are on countryside roads, which are
mostly in a good shape. Heavy traffic however, making it almost
impossible to overtake (we are stuck behind a bus).
We reach Jawor at 11:45am and are inside the church of Peace a few
minutes later (ticket is 8
zloty/person). Quite cool old building, completely built out of wood.
Like in a theater people can site on balconies/balustrades to attend
mass. Paintings everywhere. Groups of tourists coming every now and
then, but overall not so many tourists.
We are at the church until 12:30pm and could actually have stayed even
longer because the park around it is nice and invites to relax and the
kids to play. But we have to go to the next place (Wroclaw) where we'll
have lunch, so we continue driving.
We decide to skip the church in Swidnica, because it is 35km from here
and we won't make it before 1pm (church closes at 1pm according to the
Rough Guide). We should perhaps have left Dresden earlier. So we
Beautiful countryside here in Poland. It's more wild and original than
in Germany, where everything looks very civilised. Here in Poland the
countryside is more original and has some kind of magic. I guess the
fact that the population density is lower plays a role, since not every
square metre of land has to be cultivated.
It's almost 2pm when we finally are in Wroclaw on the Rynek (the main
square). The motorway part of the trip was fast, what took time was the
access roads to the motorway from Jawor and when we got out of the
motorway in Wroclaw. Especially in Wroclaw it takes way too much time
to get into town when you leave the motorway. The roads are in a decent
People here have western level cars, no small cheap cars, mostly
mid size good quality cars. The buildings and houses however are
in a poor state which shows that Poles prefer to invest first in a car
and only after that think about renovating buildings. By the way, there
are no poor people or beggars on the streets.
We leave the car in a side square of the Rynek, in a free parking.
Seems a bit strange that there is a free parking so close to the Rynek,
but then I can't see any street sign telling it's forbidden to park
here and the car doesn't get fined.
The Rynek square is a hive of activity. They are building something,
a huge screen on which to show the football matches of the European
championship. Lots of people everywhere. We have lunch in a Pizza Hut
After lunch we still spend some time on the Rynek. Very nice, although
also here most of the buildings have been rebuilt after WW II and some
of them look a bit artificial.
At 3:30pm we start driving to the next place, the centennial hall in
Wroclaw, another UNESCO world heritage site. It's just 4km from the
Rynek, but it takes us almost 15 minutes until we are there due to
The Centennial hall is a yellow circular building with sort of a spiral
shape. Nice building, but a bit hard to understand why it was selected
UNESCO world heritage site, because, well, it is not that impressive.
Soon after we arrive the sun disappears, making it a challenge to get a
good shot. There is a park adjacent to the hall with a big pool and
several fountains. Music is playing and the fountains are synchronised
with the music.
At 4:50pm we start driving to Krakow and are in the hotel three hours
later at 7:50pm. There is no way to stop the car in front of the hotel
and I almost leave it on the tramway tracks in front of the hotel
because I need to unload the luggage. Luckily somebody drives away in
front of us and I can park the car on the pavement. "Luckily" because
minutes later a tram passes by and would have been blocked by our car.
We settle down in the hotel and shortly after 8:30pm take the car into
town, close to the Stare Miasto, the main square.
The Stare Miasto is the highlight of Krakow, where the famous
asymmetric church and other buildings are located. Lots of people and
street artists around. Many horse carriages waiting for customers.
heavy Pizza Hut lunch we are not in the mood to eat a lot so have a
small snack in a snack restaurant. It's almost 10pm when we head back
to the hotel.
We drive to the parking in Ulica Dluga 72 where parking is less
expensive than elsewhere in Krakow (we pay 150 zloty for five days). On
the way back to the hotel we buy some drinks and cookies in a drinks
store. When Shirley asks for a plastic bag where to put the stuff we
just bought, the girl at the counter makes an angry and pissed off
face, then throws a thin and tiny, essentially unusable, plastic bag on
the table. Shirley is horrified and I ask myself if all Poles are
unfriendly like that. Or perhaps the girl in this shop does not like
Krakow. In the morning we check the breakfast and it is not really
good, so we decide not to have it.
Weather: mostly sunny
blue sky with a
few clouds in the morning. In the evening spotless blue sky, with a
thin clouds layer. Temperatures climb to 23°C.
We leave the hotel shortly after 11am and walk towards the old town. On
the way we stop at a couple of places where the kids eat small things
and we have a sandwich (Subway). We're at Stare Miasto square around
12pm. I climb on the clock tower (7 zloty) hoping to get some good
views of Krakow. Well, the view from the top is far from impressive,
because you can't walk outside and have to look through small glass
I'm down by 12:30pm where I join Shirley again. We explore a bit the
main square which today looks less impressive than yesterday evening.
Some shopping in the souvenir shops area in the building at the centre
of the mall. We then walk to the St Mary church. Entry ticket is 6
zloty + 5 zloty if you want to take pictures (flash and tripod not
allowed). Shirley doesn't want to get in, so I walk in alone.
The interior of St Mary's church is simply stunning. Highly impressive
decorations and artwork everywhere. A big, big WOW, even from somebody
like me who has seen countless churches already. I spend 40 minutes
inside, then at 1:15pm walk out again.
Outside there is a big problem with Natasha. Shirley bought a tamagochi
toy for Alissia, but not for Natasha. Apparently this toy is too
expensive, so we can only buy one. Big, big mistake. For the next 30-40
minutes we'll be struggling with the small one, who complains, cries
and fights, to also have a tamagochi toy. In the end I hear that the
thing costs only 10 zloty and I explain Shirley that she made a mistake
converting the zloty into Euro.
Immediately we rush back to the stall and buy a second tamagochi toy
for Natasha. Now the next problem starts. The two girls get so
immersed into these tamagochi toys, that they start ignoring us and it
gets difficult to move them around. After some discussion about what to
do we head towards the shopping mall near the train station (Galeria
Krakowska), where we arrive shortly after 2:30pm after stopping at a
KFC restaurant for some food.
Galeria Krakowska is a bigger than I would have imagined mall,
considering that it is so close to the old town and usually big malls
are built out of town where space is plentiful. Very nice modern mall,
spotlessly clean, with everything you might be looking for. Food court
on the upper level, electronics shops on level -1. This mall is more
modern and elegant than shopping malls in Munich.
We spend quite some time in this place, actually almost two hours. We
could even have spent more time here, given that there are so many
interesting shops. Anyway, at 4:30pm I escort Shirley back to the
hotel, then I walk into town again. This time I'm back on the clock
tower of Stare Miasto, for some shots in this different sunlight. Then
I walk slowly towards the Wawel hill.
On the way I run into lots of churches, really impressive. Why does
Krakow need so many churches in the city centre. Some of the churches
have a very cool architecture.
At 5:45pm I'm finally at the entrance to Wawel hill, just in time to
climb on the tower (they close at 6pm, ticket is 4 zloty). Nice views
of the Wawel hill and the western part of Krakow from here. However all
views are through glass windows, i.e. you can't go outside.
The Wawel hill area is nice and scenic and comprises essentially one
castle and a big church. I spend about 45 minutes in and around Wawel
hill; much more time is not necessary. given that the castle is closed
(it opens earlier in the day).
At 6:30pm I start walking back towards Stare Miasto, then meet Shirley
at 7:20pm in the hotel. Apparently the kids didn't take a nap. We go to
a nearby Chinese-Vietnamese restaurant for a light dinner (food is
surprisingly good, despite the humble appearance of the place). After
dinner we head into town for an ice-cream (scoop is 2.50 zloty), then
walk back to the hotel.