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Cracow 2008

Cracow, Poland

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November saw Roland Join the team and the 'Roland in Poland' tour took shape. We stayed in the Okol part of the city, in Hotel Senacki not far from the old town, where we mostly explored. The once palaces of Grodzka street were a fabulous setting for the independence day procession, of an obvious proud nation, that we watched.

During our, 4 nights stay, we visited lots of places of interest such as, the Royal Wavel castle, its armory and stunning renaissance style courtyard. The warm beer, honey and rum in the refectory there wasn't all bad either! We visited the cathedral too, with its numerous chapels and crypts with a host of sarcophagi and tombs. Also scrambled up to see the Zgmunt bell, largest in Poland.

Another nightmare climb was up the tower of the old town hall, its only remaining fragment, great view but the ascent is not for the faint hearted! The market square where the tower is located had lots of other interesting features, the church of St Mary with its unmatching twin towers and the gothic high alter, one of the largest in the world, had to be visited. The bugle caller brought great amusement, especially when certain members of the group mimicked the rally at every opportunity!

The market in cloth hall was worth a visit. The Noworolski cafe housed within it, we renamed Lennons bar, due to its famous patron (not John!).

Food came in various forms, gorgeous onion soup offered in the Ratuszowa underneath the town hall tower, Pizza from Pod Ostona Nieba, Grodzka, chicken in Roosters (both branches), with lashings of okocim beer course and kebabs from, it seems, everywhere in the old town. Lots to drink in numerous and very varied bars from the dark and smoky, the deep and moody through to the hip and trendy! Zywiec as well as Tyskie was also sampled. One of the best bars was just round the left hand corner from the hotel, cafe Tygiel.

On one of the days, we visited the Kazimierz quarter and sat in a square soaking up the November sun, the winter weather we'd expected luckily enough never materialised and so we strolled back into town along the Vistula.

Transport was easy. we got a train, on time and very cheap, from the airport . Using the network we also visited Auzschwitz, the view from the train gave us a great idea of what the country was like as it took almost two hours. The visit itself to both camps (including Birkenau) was a very thought provoking and at times shocking experience.

Last day allowed some time to walk around the Planty, a horseshoe shaped park area surrounding the old town created in replacement of the old town walls. Great idea as the opportunity for a bit of peace and quiet, away from the hassle of the city, for the Cracovians is never very far away!

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