Tuesday, March 24, 2009

An A+ Arrival in Krakow

When Kirk found a bargain basement flight to Krakow, Poland I was at first hesitant and then a little indifferent to the destination. Kirk did the research on it, found the hotel and planned the all of the details - and he seemed pretty excited. Connor and I were just along for the ride. But Wowee, Krakow is some place. Our books call it the “next Prague” and I would have to agree.

We flew Wizz Air from Charleroi, Belgium to Katowice, Poland (pronounced cat-o-veech-ay). Connor LOVED the "purple airplanes" and kept asking for them by name and color!
Getting to Krakow from Katowice was a little more of an ordeal because we had to take a shuttle from the airport 90 minutes to the bus station, and then we walked to our hotel, ~1.5 kms. But Connor timed her nap perfectly and fell asleep right in our arms for the bus ride. Good call in cramped quarters, little one! We were relieved and grateful. Poor Kirk, he was so happy to be in Poland when we finally arrived, but to me the first impression was of Connor needing a new diaper and me needing a bathroom after all the travel transfers, and us feeling very far away from the familiar – especially with Poland not being on the Euro currency and us having to figure out the money situation. It made me remember when I traveled through Europe in college with my sweet friends, Kate and Beth. It was before the Euro existed and the most stressful part of the journey was landing in a new country every day or so, trying to find a place to stay and how to exchange to a totally new currency and exchange rate. Thank you EU for standardizing European currency. Life is much better this way! The Polish zloty is currently equal to about $0.30 so large sums really aren't as big as they seem. Confused yet? If not then compound our feelings of uncertainty by translating this from Polish to something meaningful. The language was worlds away from English!

When we made it to our hotel and refreshed we felt so much better. Our hotel, Hotel Grodek, is right near the impressive Market Square and is very nice. I think because everything is so cheap and because of our uncertainty over this Eastern European country, we decided to go with a 4 star place....still less than $70 per night though, including hot buffet breakfast! The linens are embroidered and our room decorated around fabrics of golden yellow toile and pink butterflies. Right up my alley.

Tonight we did the unthinkable. We ate dinner at a place with white tablecloths and drippy candles WITH CONNOR! We have been deliberate thus far in not eating out or at nice places for two reasons:
(1) to save money to continue our travels;
(2) because busy toddlers are often not welcomed in European restaurants.
But in Krakow we were hungry and everything here is dirt cheap. We had the most delicious meal from this Polish/Italian spot called Miod Malina, right off the Market Square (the name translates to "Honey Raspberry"). If you ever make it to Krakow GO!!! Better yet, go to Krakow just for a meal at this place. A few blocks off Market Square, the insides beckoned us in with warmth and attitude. I had a spicy beef tenderloin pasta. We all ate, drank, and had dessert for ~30 euros, total. We could probably spend that at Chick-fil-A in the States!

In the back of my mind the entire dinner I was holding my breath and waiting for a "Connor-eruption." We forgot toys so had to be creative with the chapstick, camera parts, and bread (we made "bread-o-sauruses") among other things. But honestly Connor was so good. The candlelight danced around us and to reward our baby we ordered her a scoop of vanilla ice cream. She was in heaven - and so were we. Eskimo kisses were all around (note the spaghetti-stained mouth!)

Usually after an event or outing Kirk and I will jokingly “grade” Connor’s behavior, evaluating how she did. Well tonight we give Connor an A+ for her efforts. I left relieved at our success with warm, rosy cheeks from the Polish wine. Can’t wait to get out and explore Poland that much more tomorrow. It looks amazing!!!
PS - I wrote the above on Saturday night when we had just arrived in Poland. We are back tucked in safe and sound in Brussels. But I just wanted to remember and relay that not only did we have this incredible meal at Miod Malina the first night, but we went back again on night #2 and repeated the same scrumptious meal (why mess with a good thing?!?). And if we had been there a third night I would have gone again. The wait staff went to pieces over Connor and were so glad she was back; they kept complimenting her and giggling with her. Kirk had meat dumplings, more Polish beer and more apple pancakes the second night - and I had a chicken, almond, pear and pasta dish. I can't remember the last time I was treated to such a top-notch place. A+ for them too!

1 comment:

Dallas said...

You've got me sold on the hotel and restaurant for whenever we make it to Poland. I can't wait to hear what else you guys saw while you were there.