"In every other city in the world you’re running; in Krakow you walk." Magdalena Drazba, my host in Krakow, knows this first hand. She gave up a high-flying corporate job three years ago to settle here, take it easy and start a homestay. Honestly, though, I didn’t even walk. Most of the time, all I did was sit. In Poland’s second-largest city, the best way to see the people is to find one of its many town squares, pick a spot, and gawk.
Krakow is an old city. And you can see right where it all began. The city dates back to the seventh century and legend has it that the first settlement began on Wawel Hill: the site of the present-day Wawel Castle. Prince Krakus is supposed to have slayed the dragon, Smok Wawelski, and built the castle foundation above its cave.
Today, the castle is the crown jewel among Krakow’s sights. A bronze dragon stands at the gate of the cave, breathing fire via a natural-gas nozzle every three minutes, much to the amusement of children.
The Wawel Catherdal itself is a chaotic mixture of gothic, baroque and Renaissance architectural styles. Inside, royal tombs fight for space with those of the saints, while many altars and chapels jut out from the side walls.
* There are no direct flights from India to Krakow, most visitors take an express bus service from other Polish cities or fly via another city
* The Polish currency is the zloty. One zloty is a little more than Rs 16
* InfoKrakow (the tourist centre) is open daily 9am–7pm
* Visit www.en.infokrakow.pl to plan your trip
From HT Brunch, March 22
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