Krakow – Europe’s Gem – Part 2

Following Mass, our family walked up the set of stairs to reach the outside of the church. Once upon a time, parishioners stepped down to exit the church. Brian and I toured the unforgettable museum under Sukiennice, which depicts a story of the rough life during the middle ages, when the ground level was much lower that it is today. As history played its course, the ground raised from human impact, leaving present-day Krakow with many restaurants and shops underground. Poles discovered and unearthed relics in the town square from hundreds of years ago. All of this is now on display after Rynek had been torn apart during an excavation. There is now an above-ground fountain encircling a glass pyramid to the likes of the Louvre, which looks down to the new, worthwhile museum, proving the excavator’s hard work. The museum has attested to enlighten tourists and Krakow citizens of the history that helped build current Krakow.

Today, the city’s culture and heritage are showcased through art, music, food and many festivals. In the smaller nearby square to Rynek, that Sunday afternoon following Mass, the aroma of grilled sausage and pierogi wafted around the corner of the cathedral, inviting us for a meal, hungry or not. The festival also attracted us with their music. The kids were lured to the front stage, freely dancing to the Polish folk tunes. Some bands were better than others – as in some resulted plugging our ears, so as not to bust an eardrum. Meanwhile, I was distracted by the stalls offering unique and contemporary glass art, as well as the Polish caramel candy.

Other days our time was filled with visiting Wawel castle located on grounds truly fit for a king. Nearby was the fire-breathing dragon, which the kids fought with their wooden swords and were thrilled to see his fictitious den where they believe he retired every evening. We took a ride in the horse carriage, visited museums and art galleries, devoured Polish cuisine and embraced time with family. We assumed our numerous visits to the chocolate factory because of the kids, but in reality, Brian and I couldn’t resist their mouth watering chocolate with an intense, silky feel and divine flavor. The touch of everything being hand-made with preserved recipes made each bite more justifiable. It left us satisfied quickly, but at the same time kept calling us back for more. The Littles enjoyed watching the liquid chocolate being molded into toy-like shapes. It was the novelty figurines that consistently caught my eyes.

In between all of these activities, the Littles ran about the town square chasing and feeding the pigeons, talking to the horses and playing knights with their wooden swords and shields gifted from their uncle. A relaxing vacation and the excitement of seeing family, made for an amazing three weeks. Nights spent laughing and discussing serious issues, kept us up late with my parents. My dad enjoys sharing Poland’s finest beverages, so Brian sampled every beer Poland offers, plenty of potato vodka, mead and my favorite, mulled wine. Concurrently, my mom and I cherished our time together, laughing and discussing compelling issues such as my shopping spree at Zara and my favorite shoe store.

My parents relished in spending time with the grandkids while Brian and I enjoyed date nights and exploring Krakow’s excellent night life with my older brother. We felt it our duty to sample recipes from as many restaurants as possible, discovering old dishes, although new to our palate. We satiated our tastebuds with warming soups, fresh vegetable salads and delicate main courses, all while listening to live piano music in a venue that took us to la belle epoque. Normally, the overly ornate decor would not appeal to me, however, it was done in a manner that made us feel like we stepped back in time. Other restaurants carried us to scenes of Poland’s country region, with harmonious live music.

The orchestra concert in the Baroque church reignited our love for classical music. One of the violinists was entrancing as he madly moved his bow across the violin strings, echoing Vivaldi throughout the cathedral. Wiping the sweat from his brow and the look of determination on his face illustrated the passion for composing notes to masterpieces. A relaxed vacation filled with culture, good food and heart-warming laughter were some of the elements that made it hard for us to leave Krakow.

As for the children, their eyes were in constant awe. The dragon is spoken of endlessly as well as the horse carriages and chocolate factory. Overall a wonderful vacation, we’re left with life-long memories and many hilarious anecdotes. Cheers to a city often overlooked!


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