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Archive for the ‘Krakow’ Category

Communism Tour and Zdiar

Posted by Jen on Jun-12-2010

Ivan and I woke up at 9:20 am on June 10, 2010.  We told Lil Dave to meet us in the dining room for breakfast.  Ivan, Lil Dave and I had the free breakfast.  There was so much food there, but it was only us three in the dining room.

We packed up our bags and stored them at the Front Desk of the Hotel Floryan.  It was another hot day in Krakow.

A guide named Cyril picked us up at the hotel.  We were going on the Crazy Guides Communism Tour.  He took us to the red, original East German Trabant car.  We hopped in to the car.  It’s a very noisy car.  Ivan said it sounded like it could stall at any time.  Cyril said if the car does stall, we would have to help push it.  Ivan asked how often does that happen.  Cyril said only about 2 or 3 times a month.

Cyril drove us to Nowa Huta.  It was a town set up in 1949 that was run by the Communist Government.  He talked about Communism while we were driving through Nowa Huta.

We stopped at a place called Cafe Styli.  It was a stylish restaurant that still had the same styles of the 50’s.  There was a statue of Lenin.  People walk by it and hit it.  Ivan got a honey vodka while I had a cherry vodka.  My vodka tasted a lot better.  Cyril talked about Communism in Nowa Huta and how the people lived.  It was very interesting.

We walked around the square. 

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We saw the area where a Lenin statue once stood.

We drove to the ArcelorMittal Steel Factory which was formerly known as Vladimir Lenin Steelworks.  We weren’t allowed to go inside though.  It was the biggest steel mill factory in Poland.

Nowa Huta built their housing communities in units.  There was a couple buildings were set up in one area.  The people would talk in their area.  It was a way that the Government could hear what was happening and for control.  We went to an apartment that had 60’s & 70’s style furniture.  Here we watched a documentary about Nowa Huta by Andrzej Munk.  The film showed people that were happy about building this new town that would be run by Communists.  I don’t think they would have been that happy to move there or even build it.  But, the film portrayed a feeling of enthusiasm.

Cyril drove us to the Arc of the Lord church.  It’s the only church in Nowa Huta.  It was built by the people of Nowa Huta.  The government wouldn’t give any funding for the construction. 

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It looks like a boat.  There’s a statue of Pope John Paul II in the front. 

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A balcony was constructed at the church for Pope John Paul II.

Cyril drove us back to Old Town near our hotel. 

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It was a very interesting tour.  I didn’t know anything about the Communist town Nowa Huta.  I can’t believe that people actually lived like that.  It’s hard to imagine living in a Communist government.

Ivan and I got some noodles at the Asian to go place.  It was very plain noodles though.  We grabbed some sandwiches at Coffee Heaven for our upcoming car ride.  Lil Dave got a banana and chicken wrap.

We met Sean from the Ginger Monkey Hostel.  He was picking us up to drive us to the Ginger Monkey Hostel in Zdiar, Slovakia.  It cost us €20 per person for the ride.  The air-conditioning worked, but only two of the windows went down.  I was glad my window worked in the back.  I worked on the blog and took a short nap.  Lil Dave ate his wrap and then took a monkey nap. Ivan chatted with Sean.

We stopped at a grocery store.  Sean had to buy food for the hostel.  Ivan used up the rest of his zloty by buying 2 yogurts and tangerines.  We arrived at the hostel at 4 pm.  There was no border immigration check.

The Ginger Monkey Hostel is situated in the very pretty mountain town of Zdiar, Slovakia.  There’s actually a Ginger Monkey.  Lil Dave was excited to play with another monkey. 

We checked in and put our backpacks in the room.  We relaxed and used the internet.

Ivan needed to get some Euros.  So, we walked to the ATM.  It was great seeing the beautiful surroundings. 

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Sean cooked a chicken stir fry with noodles and veggies.  The charge was €3 per person.  It was a group of 6 of us eating dinner.  The food was good. 

Ivan, me and an English guy named Jack went to the lounge to chill out.  Sean and an American guy joined us later.  We chatted for awhile.  Ivan was talking about hypnosis.  Everybody seemed too scared to try it out though.  It was nice to have a chill night of chatting.

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Laid Back Day

Posted by Jen on Jun-11-2010

Ivan , Lil Dave and I checked out of the Greg & Tom Junior Hostel on June 9, 2010. Ivan used the internet to find a place to stay.  We were planning on staying at the hostel, but we had to move to a different room.  One of the employees had the key to the room and wouldn’t be in until 3 pm.  We wanted to get in the room to chill out. 

It was another hot day in Krakow.  I had a big headache when I woke up.  Ivan found a place, so we headed to the hotel.  On the way, we stopped at Greenway which is a vegetarian cafe. 

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Ivan got a Mexican pita and I had a falafel pita.  The food was okay.

We checked in to the Hotel Floryan.  It was a nice room with air conditioning.  The air conditioning was great since it was hot outside.

We chilled out in the hotel for hours.  We used the internet.  . 

Ivan wanted to look for souvenirs.  We walked to the Main Square.  We browsed all the stalls, but we didn’t find anything cool to buy.

We walked back to the hotel and got ready.  We walked to Apertif Restaurant for dinner.  It’s #2 on Tripadvisor.  The restaurant is nice.  We were seated outside at first.  But, we found out that it’s the smoking area.  We sat inside near the front of the restaurant.  There were lots of midges (a bug similar to a mosquito) flying around since the windows were open.

Ivan and I started off with a  fantastic homemade fish soup.  Lil Dave had a chicken and banana skewer. 

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Ivan and I shared the delicious chicken breast stuffed with chips on top of thin chips and a skewer with turkey and fruit.  It was the first time Ivan has eaten turkey.  I told him it tasted similar to chicken.  He liked the turkey.  We had a great meal there.

We walked back to the hotel.  Ivan and I watched Little Britain on the laptop.  We used the internet and then time to get some rest.

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Bike Tour and Pub Crawl

Posted by Jen on Jun-10-2010

Ivan, Lil Dave and I left the hostel around 1 pm on June 8, 2010.  We got lunch at Cafe Vega which is a Wegetarianski (Vegetarian) restaurant.  Lil Dave had a  good pancake with bananas, honey and cinnamon.  Ivan and I shared tomato soup, Polish rice dish and Russian-style pierogis that were filled with cottage cheese, onions and potatoes.  The pierogis was the best dish – very tasty!

We walked to Cool Tour Company office to sign up for their bike tour.  Ivan didn’t turn his clock forward on his laptop.  So, we missed the 1 pm tour.  We got lucky though.  A private group from Intrepid tours was doing a tour at 2 pm.  The group and the guide said it was fine to join their group. 

Our guide was an American guy named John.  He took us to many places during the tours.  We went to the Jewish Quarter.  It’s so sad to hear about how the Jewish people were moved to the Jewish Grotto area.  Most of them were sent to the concentration camps. 

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We saw the graveyard and the Jewish Memorial.  Then, we saw the Schindler Factory.  Our guide told us the story of Oskar Schindler.  I’ve never seen Schindler’s List so it was very interesting to hear about his story. 

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He saved the lives of 7,000 Jewish people (including all the descendants).  Lil Dave wanted to know if he saved any monkeys.  

It was such a hot day out.  Ivan and I had lots of water to drink.

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We went through other areas of Krakow like the Old University Center, Old Town with the Main Market square, Vistula River and the Wawel Castle Dragon.

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There was a girl who complained before the bike tour began that her brakes didn’t work that well.  She slightly hit a priest in the park and then fell off her bike.  I didn’t see it, but I heard her say Sorry, then I heard her fall.  Ivan asked me How many Hail Marys does she have to say?  It was funny.  She was annoyed at the guide that he didn’t do anything about her brakes.  She can’t blame him for her horrible bike riding.

In the Main Market square we saw St. Mary’s Basilica.  At the top of the hour, a man plays his trumpet – a tune once on each side of the tower (four times total). 

It was a great tour.  We were sweating because of the heat. 

We stopped at a Wodka (vodka) bar for a chocolate vodka shot.  It was tasty!  We walked back to the hostel and used the internet.

We had dinner at Chlopskie Jadlo.  Ivan and I shared the tasty herring with apple, onions and sour cream.  The chicken steak with mountain cranberries was very bland.  Lil Dave got some delicious banana pierogis.  Ivan and I got some pierogis with cabbage and mushrooms.  I didn’t like it though.  Ivan ordered pierogis with cottage cheese, onions and potatoes.  We ate some of the pierogis which tasted a lot better.

Lil Dave decided to head back to the hostel.  He was tired from the bike tour.

Ivan and I walked to the Clock Tower in the Main Square.  We met up with the guide and group for the Clock Tower Pub Crawl.  Our guide was a pretty Polish girl named Maria.  The group was a mix of ages and people from America, Scotland, Ireland, Poland and England.  There were 20 people in our group.

Our first stop was Pub Sisi.  We walked downstairs to find a cool underground bar. 

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The first hour was unlimited beer, wine and vodka shots.  We smoked some shisha.  We were sitting next to two Irish guys named Noel and Cyrill and two Scottish girls named Amy and Beth.  Ivan and I drank a few beers and had kamikaze shots.  It was fun chatting with everybody.

The next bar was Bafomet Club.  There was dancing and a pole for pole dancing.  I was trying to pole dance with the Scottish girls.  I couldn’t really do it right, maybe because I was buzzed.

We walked to the next bar called Hedonic. 

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Noel bought some kamikaze shots which were 11 zloty (£2.19 or $3.25).  Ivan thought this was really cheap so he bought some and shared it with the group.  We found out that it was Noel’s stag celebration. 

The group started walking to a nightclub.  I talked to a group of Polish people – 2 girls and a guy.  They were going dancing.  The nightclub Kitsch had a huge dance floor.  We danced some. 

I ran into the Polish people I talked to in the street.  I danced with them for a few minutes.

Ivan and I danced more.  We were the last ones of the pub crawl left.  We left about 4:20 am and walked back to the hostel.  We had a great time on the Clock Tower Pub Crawl.  The pub crawl takes you to bars you would have never found.

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Scooters through Krakow

Posted by Jen on Jun-10-2010

Ivan and I woke up at 4:40 am on June 7, 2010.  Lil Dave got to sleep in while we got ready. 

We got picked up at the Travelodge at 5 am by taxicab.  We shared a cab with a mom and her young son.

Our flight was at 6:10 am headed from Stansted Airport to Krakow, Poland.  Since it’s Ryan Air (a cheap airline) that doesn’t assign seats and we were the last few people in line – we didn’t have seats together. 

I wanted to sleep but the guy next to meet fell asleep with his iPod on too loud listening to rock music.  I didn’t have any earplugs, so I decided to watch Glee on my laptop.  I watched part of an episode of V as well.

We arrived earlier than planned at 9:10 am.  The time zone is one hour ahead in Poland compared to England. 

We got the free shuttle to the train station.   We took a slow train to the Old Town in Krakow.  We walked to the hostel.  Ivan had to read the directions from his laptop while we walked.

We checked in to Greg & Tom Junior Hostel.  It’s a boutique hostel.  The lady showed us the different rooms of the hostel.  She also gave us a map of the city and told us about free walking tours and Polish restaurants.

Ivan was really hungry.  We walked to U Jedrusia for lunch.  Ivan and I shared a tasty fried fish.  Ivan liked the stir fried beet root.  We also got coleslaw, onions and beet root from the salad bar.  Ivan had beet root soup.  Polish people like beet root.  I’m really not a big fan of it, only on sandwiches.  Ivan really likes it.  Lil Dave ate a  banana, honey and cinnamon pancake. 

We chilled in the hostel lounge and used the internet.

We took a scooter tour with the hostel.  Our guide was a young Polish guy named Marek.  Our group consisted of 8 people.  We walked to the scooter rental place.  Ivan, Lil Dave and I were sharing a scooter.  I crashed once on a moped trying to learn how to ride it in Bali, so I won’t drive scooters or mopeds.

It was the first time Marek was doing this scooter tour.  He had a map of where to go.  Marek had to ask a man for directions.  He has been to our first destination, but not in awhile.

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Our first stop was The Mound.  It’s a man-made mound of grass.  At the top, there’s a good 360º view of Krakow.  We were walking down the Mound to go to the museum.  Ivan and I were wondering where the group was.  One of the guys ended up dropping his key into a sewage vent.  So, we had to wait while an employee retrieved it.

We drove to Tyniec Abbey next. 

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There was a procession going on with people walking and some were holding religious statues.  Marek wasn’t sure what it was.  The kids were all dressed in white.  Everybody in the group looked quite somber. 

We found out that the restaurant had closed 45 minutes earlier.  If that guy didn’t drop his key we probably would have eaten in the restaurant. Ivan and I thought it would have been a nice view from the restaurant.  There’s great surroundings behind the Abbey.

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I wanted to go inside the Abbey.  We had to be quiet since there was a mass going on.  We couldn’t take pictures either.  All the religious statues were gold. 

We were really hungry.  We were headed to our next place when we saw a food stall.  Ivan and I shared a zapiekanka which is bread with cheese, mushrooms and tomato sauce.  It’s very similar to a pizza on bread.  It was really good.

It was a long drive to the lake.  It was worth is since Lake Zakrzowek is beautiful and we made it in time for the lovely sunset. 

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The lake is private property so people aren’t supposed to swim in it.  I saw a few people swimming though.  There’s cliffs that you can jump off.  I thought it would be fun to jump off it.

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The tour was 4 hours long.  We had a good time seeing Krakow on scooters.

Ivan, Lil Dave and I walked to Old Town for dinner.  We went to Gruzinskie Chaczapuri Restaurant.  Ivan and I each had a rose to drink.  The waiter insisted that two dishes would be plenty of food for me and Ivan.  We shared the tasty shishlik grilled chicken with Georgian seasonings and cheese (it’s a shish-ka-bob) and a salty trout dish.  We barely touched the fries and rice that came with our dishes since we are eating healthier.  Lil Dave had fried bananas and chicken dish.  It was really good food!  When the waitress brought the bill.  She told us that since we didn’t eat the fries and rice, we wouldn’t be charged for it.  We couldn’t believe how nice they were at this restaurant.

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