Tag Archives: Poland

Foodie’s guide to Kraków

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Kleparz market in Kraków

Most visitors come to Kraków for sights – the imposing Wawel Royal Castle, St. Mary’s Church on the grand, medieval Main Square, or bustling Sukiennice Cloth Market to name just a few. But especially for those new to Poland, Kraków also provides a great introduction to that key aspect of exploring all foreign lands: food. The Main Square, where most people start their city adventure, has plenty of restaurants and cafes to choose from but you can do much better in terms of originality and selection, not to mention price-to-performance ratio, by venturing out a bit. Here a foodie’s guide to some of the best restaurants and places to eat in Kraków, Poland. Read the rest of this entry

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Lessons from 2011

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The road ahead may be long…

Sonora desert, Arizona (January)

…and winding

Road to Park City, Utah (January)

but make sure to stop and smell the blossoms

Cherry blossoms, Washington DC (March)

take time out

Big Island, Hawaii (April)

think deep thoughts

Nairobi, Kenya (May)

follow the rainbow

Sopot, Poland (June)

find new perspective

Yerevan, Armenia (June)

find new direction

Manila, Philippines (July)

look at the bright side

Muir Woods, California (August)

and don’t forget to feed the squirrels

Home (December)

Magical Kraków

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Kraków's Main Square with St. Mary's Church

Having lived in Kraków, I find it hard to blog about it: there is just so much to say. It’s such a great place, special in so many ways, and returning there always feels like recharging batteries. The Main Square especially, even though it is probably the most touristy part of town, has this special energy. First, there is the scale: with sides about 200 meters long it is one of the largest medieval squares in Europe. Then there is history: over the ages the square has been its witness. From the spot now marked by a church where St. Adalbert (Wojciech) preached back in the 10th century, through the place of homage by Prince Albert Hohenzollern of Prussia to Polish King Zygmunt I in 1525, the location where Tadeusz Kościuszko took an oath to defend the country against foreign partitions in 1794, to the commemorative plaque placed there upon Poland’s entry into the EU in 2004. Finally, there is the atmosphere: old churches next to hip cafes, high-end restaurants competing with obwarzanki stands (Polish version of a bagel), kids chasing pigeons around the local landmark of poet Adam Mickiewicz’s statue affectionately known as “Adaś”… Life here flows to the rhythm of Hejnał Mariacki, traditional tune played by a trumpeter each hour from the tower of the stunning St. Mary’s Church. Read the rest of this entry

…and amber

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Bursztyn. Bur-sztyn. I’ve always liked saying this word. It rolls roundly in my mouth. It rustles with the sound of waves polishing the solid blood of ancient pines. Jantar. Jan-tar. Sounds bright, shimmering with honey-hued reflections of the sun. Bernstein. Янтарь. Electron. ηλεκτρον. Whatever you call it (ok maybe with an exception of what the Romans used to call it – lyncurium – or lynx’s urine), amber is among the few of my favorite things.

I guess my sentiment comes from thinking of amber as something very familiar – and very Polish. When I was a kid, one of my favorite events of the year was an annual exhibition of minerals and precious stones in my home town Kielce. I would always be drawn to glowing orange and brown pebbles, rough or made into jewelry. Some translucent like drops of honey. Some almost milky-white with streaks of gold. I always gravitated to the stalls with amber and inspected each for insects frozen in time. Anybody who’s walked down Gdańsk’s Długi Targ or shopped in Kraków’s Sukiennice can relate.

For centuries, amber powered the economic bloodstream linking Europe and Asia. The Amber Road – an ancient trade route – led from the Baltic Sea to the Mediterranean. If I were more of a biker, I’d try EuroVelo 9 that roughly re-traces this path… For now I’ll just keep buying more amber pieces to fuel the modern Amber Road on the Baltic.

Read on: