Krakow, Poland ~ River Tram ride to Benedictine Abbey, Underground City, Main Square

May 24th and 25th ~ Krakow, Poland

View of the castle from the river bank

View of Wawel Hill and the Royal Castle from the river bank

After our tour ended and goodbyes were said, the six of us (Dick, Karen, Jan, Gary, Tim and I) prepared to move to a smaller hotel located right in the heart of the Old Town.  I have probably written about this before, but our criteria for what we look for is:

  • Great location (usually in the heart of the old town or historic district)
  • Reasonable price (this varies a lot depending upon the city and country)
  • Free WiFi (preferably in the room and not just in the lobby, common rooms)
  • Free breakfast (hopefully a buffet with a nice selection)

Karen and Jan found the Campanile Cracovie Hotel which ticked (almost) all the boxes.  They did not offer us an included breakfast.  It certainly was in a fabulous location, only three short blocks from the main city square.  We booked through and got a decent rate of $85/night.

My only complaint was that the WiFi was hit and miss.  Sometimes we could get on, but other times the service was minimal or nonexistent.  That made it hard for me to try to keep current on my blogging.

May 24th – River Tram

Karen, Dick, Tim and I had decided to take a morning walk along the river bank while Jan and Gary relaxed at the hotel.  We had only walked a short distance when we spotted this sign:

River Tram advertisement

River Tram advertisement

Since it was mostly written in Polish, we scratched our heads, and tried to figure out if this was something of interest.  About that time, the boat owner (Jan) walked up.  He spoke no English, but through the magic of sign language, smiles, pointing and laughter we managed to get a pretty good handle on where and when the boat went, how much it cost, and that we needed a minimum of six people for the longer 3.5 hour excursion.

Jan (pronounced John) and his river tram

Jan (pronounced John) and his river tram

A very nice young lady walked past and confirmed that our game of charades had been pretty spot on.  Tim got volunteered to return to the hotel to see if Jan and Gary would be interested in joining us to make up our needed numbers.

Yes, they would.

In the meantime, another couple climbed on board and the eight of us plus the captain headed downriver.  The small river tram had seen some years pass by and the theme song from Gilligan’s Island popped into my head.

“Just sit right back
And you’ll hear a tale
A tale of a fateful trip,
That started from this tropic port,
Aboard this tiny ship.
The mate was a mighty sailin’ man,
The Skipper brave and sure,
Five passengers set sail that day,
For a three hour tour,
A three hour tour.” (Lyrics from Gilligan’s Island Theme Song)

Left to right:  Karen, Jan, Dick, (Our captain Jan), Gary, Tim, Joanne

Left to right: Karen, Jan, Dick, (Our captain Jan), Gary, Tim, Joanne

Our destination was a monastery sitting on the bank of the river.  But first we had to pass through a lock system.  I was astonished that they would operate the lock for only a tiny, little craft, but they did.  We were dwarfed inside, but in short order passed through.

Our boat was so tiny all alone inside the lock

Our boat was so tiny all alone inside the lock

After a very relaxing 1.5 hours on the river we arrived at our destination, the Benedictine Abbey in Tyniec.


The Benedictine Abbey in Tyniec

A purple flower will always get my attention

A purple flower will always get my attention

As will adorable, smiling children...

As will adorable, smiling children…

May 25th – Market Square Underground Museum and Main Square

Main Market Square as seen from St. Mary's Basilica (photo by Jorge Lascar)

Main Market Square as seen from St. Mary’s Basilica (photo by Jorge Lascar)

Dating back to the 13th century, this is the largest medieval town square in Europe.  In the center of this lively area is the Cloth Hall (Sukiennice) and just behind it in the picture above is the Town Hall Tower.

Another one of the stand-out monuments on the square is St. Mary’s Basilica and her gothic towers.

In 2005 excavation underneath the town square began to unearth the long buried ancient city relics.

Opening as an underground museum in 2010, it is hard to locate the entrance if you don’t know about the place.  We were fortunate that some friends recommended we check it out or we would have never noticed it. (Thank you, Paul and Linda)

The entrance is located on the side of the Cloth Hall.  Tickets can be purchased at the Tourist Information Office.  They only allow a certain number of people to enter at any one time, so reservations for a specific time are recommended.

Walking down stairs 4 meters underground brings you to a large room.  This is a self guided tour but there are frequent displays with information posted.  Tim and I rented headsets which are automatically activated when approaching a numbered area.  They worked only so-so for me.

I was frustrated and confused for a while, not sure if this was going to be for me.  And then things started coming together.  I finally understood that I was walking down the rows of ancient merchant stalls, looking at artifacts found during the excavation from a variety of craftsmen, each with their own small “booth” from which they sold or traded their goods.

At the END of the exhibit, several short movies were shown, each in a separate room.  Oh how I wish the movies had been at the beginning instead.  I got interested, and then I got fascinated by all that had been uncovered and learned.

Unfortunately by now, we had kept our friend waiting for over an hour and I did not have a chance to go back through the museum to really understand all that had been presented.

Back above ground we enjoyed the afternoon sun and a cold beverage.  Market Square was alive and bustling with tourists, horse-drawn carriages, and of course a million pigeons.

Have you ever seen Dalmatian colored horses?  This was a first for me. We saw several matched sets and they were beautiful!

Dalmatian colored horses

Dalmatian colored horses

GRATITUDE MOMENT:  Today I am grateful for the laughter and giggles of young children.

About Tim and Joanne Joseph

Hi and welcome! We are Tim and Joanne Joseph and we have just embarked on our latest adventure. We hope you will join us!
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