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...two travellers in search of the world's wildlife

24 September 2023

Heading to Krakow

Saturday 9th September 2023

Today was a 4.5 hour drive to Krakow, stopping only for lunch in Opole. Some way out of Jelenia Gora the hills gave way to flat plains (and a faster road) and it remained flat and featureless farmland all the way to Krakow pretty much. This is the Great Northern Plain that covers a vast swathe of the continent through Belarus and Ukraine into Russia.

Opole has a handsome town square, although I worry a bit for the chocolate festival that was getting started as we arrived – the temperature was already at 28 degrees! Instead of feasting on chocolate, we found a Georgian restaurant and enjoyed cheese pies and unusual pierogis that looked like pouched and had to be bitten into and the juices slurped out before eating them. Mum was definitely the messiest at this!

Broth-filled Georgian pierogis for lunch!

Opole has managed to preserve exactly one medieval tower from its heyday, but it all seems a bit pointless now, stranded in the middle of a huge range of ageing concrete modern buildings.

Opole’s stranded medieval tower

We reached Krakow by 4pm, dropping off our luggage at a hotel entirely covered in scaffolding. This starts to feel like a curse: the 3rd time in just over a year that our chosen hotel has been in the middle of building work. And of course, they will never warn you up front or offer a discount.

In the evening we strolled out for dinner and encountered Krakow’s rynek (town square) for the first time. It is awe-inspiringly huge, bigger than any square I’ve ever encountered, lined on all sides with handsome baroque town houses and with plenty of spare to swallow up two churches and the huge Cloth Market – a covered arcade now devoted to endless rows of souvenir shops.

The Cloth Market building at night

Pod Aniolami is a bit of a renowned tourist restaurant in Krakow. But it deserved to be, set in a 13th century building with endless rambling dining rooms and a deep brick-walled cellar with yet more dining rooms. We were installed all the way down there and enjoyed excellently cooked Polish classics to go with the setting. Particular shout out: bigos, a hunter’s stew made here with seven kinds of meat and topped with smoked stewed plums.

Pod Aniolami’s 13th century cellar

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