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|Kraków for free||– Schindler’s Factory – Mondays 10-14h (exept 1st Monday of the month)
– Underground Museum – Tuesdays 10-16h (exept 1st Tuesday of the month)
|Things to do||– Visit Schindler’s Factory
– Visit Underground Museum
|Useful websites||Kraków on Wikitravel
Krakow Card – one card which allows you to enter to 40
Walking around the Main Square, You will certainly hear the melody coming from the top of St. Mary’s Basilica. This famous melody is called Hejnał (pron. Hey-now 😊). It is one of the main Krakow’s symbols. Every hour on the hour, trumpeter plays this tune. It happens all year long both at day and night – 24h per day, 365 days per year. However, each time it suddenly stops in the middle… Do you know why???
Explanation of this tradition you can find in this legend. “When Mongols have come here to conquer the city, one brave guard who was in the highest tower of basilica grabbed the trumpet to warn people as fast as he could. But one of Mongolian archer was faster than him. The archer managed to release the arrow and pierce the guard’s throat. That is why the anthem stops on the broken note now. That was a legend, but the truth is a little bit different…
This story was made up by the one city guide in Cracow. People used to ask her a lot about the broken note in Hejnał, she was so fed up with those questions she couldn’t answer that she made up the story! She told it to some American tourist, but she didn’t know that he was a writer. When he was back, he wrote a book about the trumpeter of Cracow, of course including the legend. The book became quite popular and people from America started to travel to Cracow to listen to the famous melody.
At the beginning people in Cracow were very surprised to hear about the legend from tourist, but later on they started to tell the legend to children as well.
What is “Bar Mleczny?”
Poland is a very interesting country with unique traditions. There is so much to discover, to try something new and extraordinary! Now I will give you one more argument to visit Poland. During our Food Tour Taste of Poland, I often ask tourists if they’ve been to the Milk Bar. Then every time, I see a serious confusion on people’s faces: “Milk bar??? You mean, bar with milk???”
Hm, actually, not, really. Well, people don’t have any idea what’s that but they definitely should know! That’s why, finally, I decided to make it clear.
Milk bar is a very characteristic and important place in Polish culture, trace of communism times, part of latest Polish history (poles don’t like those times – probably the Milk bar is one thing they really like about the communism). Basically, it is canteen with cheap traditional Polish food and self- service. It looks very simple (most of Milk Bars still are the same as in communist’s period) without any frills and it is non-touristic place. However, often there you can see endless queue of locals (that means the good quality of food). And it is very cheap. For 10 -13 zloty, you can eat traditional Polish lunch and get full. Well, as you can see, there are only benefits for you.
This cafeteria got its name “Milk Bar” not just like that. There are two explanations of this name: dishes served in that kind of cafeteria were cheap but nutritious to make such a dish u use dairy and vegetarian products, another thing is that during the communist times Milk Bars were financed by government and the name “milk” symbolizes the same relation between mother giving milk to her child and government providing their people with food. By the way, the government still supports most of the Milk Bars. Maybe that is why this confusing but attractive name is still in use. Yep, it is all about Poles, they love their traditions and maintain them.
So, I recommend you to visit Milk Bar at least once. Such a non-touristic place allows seeing Krakow from another, homely, typical for local and unfamiliar for tourist side, to move into the past and feel the atmosphere of communist Poland. In Krakow, sometimes it is so hard to find something really soulful, so, Milk Bar will be definitely great idea for your cultural experience in Poland.
Here, I’ve made a list of the best Milk bars in center of Krakow:
1. Milk Bar “Pod Temidą” (Grodzka 43 street)
2. Milk Bar Tomasza (Świętego Tomasza 24 street)
3. Milk Bar „Górnik” (Czysta 1 street)
4. Milk Bar Kazimierz (Krakowska 24 street)
5. Milk Bar „Flisak” (Tadeusz Kościuszko 1 street)
Cracow is one of the most beautiful and charming medieval cities in Europe and 4 years ago I came here 1st time to check it out. It was my first trip abroad (originally I am from Russia). So, you can imagine how I felt in such a touristic place. It was interesting and fascinating and at the same time difficult to be a guest in absolutely foreign city full of travelers from all over the world. Anyway, I fell in love with Cracow from the first sight and finally decided to move here. Now I’d like to share with you by my own travel experience of visit this city.
Now I live and work in Cracow as a Day Manager in free walking tour company Good Cracow Tours. I speak Polish fluently and feel here rather like a local. However, I turned from a tourist to a citizen not a long time ago and still remember my first arrival here. There were so many funny, awkward situations. I remember, how I was surprised by “strange” polish words, how I had difficulties with pronunciation making an order in the café, how I was lost trying to find good place to eat pierogi and then, asking people the right direction realized that so many poles here don’t speak English. I had so many questions. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a local friend or someone who could help me with all this stuff. It took me a long time to discover the real Cracow, even when I’ve already moved here! But don’t worry, there is a good proven way to get the best from Cracow and save your time.
First of all, I want to warn you: just walking around the city with a guidebook is not the best idea. There are so many tourist attractions in Cracow connected with a long and complicated Polish history. So, if you’re going sightseeing everything, reading the description and studying tons of boring information, probably you will fell asleep soon. That’s why when you just arrived and don’t know what to do, what worth to see first and how to organize your time, you will need kind of professional help. In this case, you can go to the receptionist in your hotel/hostel or to the closest tourist information center and ask them for a piece of advice. Who knows, maybe you will be lucky and the person you are asking will be in a good mood genuinely to help you. But maybe not. Nobody can guarantee it for 100%. The best alternative for that is free walking tour. Independently on the season, weather and national holidays you are always welcome (personally me, always, when I go to a new city, firstly I join free walking tour). There, you will get a historical background, see the most important places and also get extra valuable information which you hardly find in any guide book. Joining free walking tour way you will save a lot of time and energy.
What’s more? Check the weather before your trip, come here and explore. Explore by yourself, with your friends or with Good Cracow Tours. Cracow is amazing city and has so much to surprise you! There are so many things to discover!
Sometimes in the tour you meet really nice people with whom you end up having a beer, lunch/dinner or hanging out for a while. Because let me tell you something, as a true Spaniard, we immediately get pretty close with people that we just meet. Our tourist by the end of the tour are like our friends already.
With some of them you eventually stay in touch in case they come back to Cracow or you go back to Spain; so you can meet again. And well specially when they are from the same exact region that you are coming from in Spain; Catalunya in my case. And if in addition they are married with a Polish woman, then is quite likely that they will come back at some point. Cause even if they live in Spain from many years, they keep coming to visit the Polish part of the family. And sometimes you have the honor to be invited to a dinner with them.
Some of the reasons why I love so much my work as a free walking tour guide in Good Cracow Tours 😉
KRAKOW’S CULTURAL LIFE
I love this city for all the events and things that are going on, especially in spring-summer. Events like all kind of festivals (film, music, food, theater festivals), outdoor art exhibitions or concerts in the rooftop of a building as if it was the Beatles who were playing. These things make your day a bit better 😉
Something good about August in Krakow, beside the heat and the wave of tourist is the Pierogi Festival!! Ok maybe the first two doesn’t sound so good, but trust me they are…. After polish winter, warm weather is much appreciated, and well for my job as a Free Tour guide, as much tourists the better. But yeah for a foodie like me, an event like Pierogi festival is heaven on earth. Wait, you don’t know Pierogis are? Let me explain you. Is basically like a dumpling, like huge ravioli, stuffed with many things. The typical are called Ruskie, but not because they are Russian, just because of the area or origin (Ruthenia). But there are also with cabbage and mushrooms, meat or even sweet. So during the 5 days of the festival I was there almost every day…. Who can resist to delightful pierogis with chocolate dough and banana filling, pierogis with raspberry and cheese, pierogis with lentils veggies and smoked cheese, pierogis with Gorgonzola mushrooms and nuts, pierogis with tomato mozzarella and basil, and all the possible combinations you can imagine.
What a better idea for celebrating the beginning of summer than with a music festival? That’s Wianki, a pagan tradition to celebrate that summer is here. The name comes from “wianek” the flower crown that girls are wearing for this celebration.
But that was just the beginning of my day. After my Free Walking Tour at 14:30 we went for this concert, The Dumplings [a music band called just like a typical polish dish] which was really nice. Afterward, it followed some other concerts from other polish bands. And then, after 1 hour of waiting in a line we finally got our headphones for the silent disco, the last of the events of the festival.