Tuesday: Vienna

We headed from Krakow to Vienna this morning. It was a gray day and snow is expected in Krakow in a few days, so it was probably a good time to go. I enjoyed our stay in Krakow and would love to return.

The Czech Republic and Austria both require a sticker to drive on the main toll roads, so of course that was an important concern as we drove. The booth to get a “winiety” was behind a convenience store. The woman working there was very friendly and had stickers available for both countries, so that was out of the way without further searching.

We got to our lodging in Vienna in the late afternoon, but we realized right away that we are too far from the center of the city to walk there – or walk anywhere really. Luckily the bus and subway systems are very good but we should have researched a bit better. Still, it is nice to be on the Danube River.

We had weiner schnitzel and then enjoyed the Christmas lights, some hot mulled wine, and the holiday market. There are four of them here so we will check out more tomorrow. It is a beautiful city, full of people.


photos: some of Vienna’s holiday lights; chocolate tools for sale at a booth at the Christmas market; the small (just one person can fit in it, plus the woman woring there) hard-to-find booth to buy a sticker to drive on the roads in the Czech Republic and Austria.

Monday: Krakow

Today we visited Kazimierz, Krakow’s Jewish Quarter. We found a hip coffee shop/bookstore – Cytat Cafe – and relaxed there for a while. I could have spent hours there. It’s a very comfortable place.

We wanted to go into the Remuh Synagogue but the doors were locked and it is being renovated, with workmen actively on the job. The building looks huge from the outside and it is centuries old.

We walked to the Galicia museum and spent some time there, which looks at the Jewish history in Poland, remember the victims of the Holocaust, and provide information about life in this part of Poland.

We checked out some shops in the Quarter, but mainly walked around looking at the very old buildings. It is a beautiful part of Krakow and seems to be very vibrant.

We had a very long lunch today, mainly because we were one of the few in the restaurant on a Monday and neither us nor the server seemed to be in any rush.

We leave in the morning for Vienna.

photos: the ancient Jewish Quarter of Krakow. Not all of the buildings are in need of renovation but many are and they have tons of character. It is a beautiful part of Krakow; a very hip, fantastic coffee shop in that area. Books were for sale all over

Saturday: Krakow, Poland

We left Eger this morning and made our way to Poland. Krakow was five-and-a-half hours away.

Along the way we drove through some small, very interesting Hungarian towns. In one, cabbage was grown on a long stretch of land very close to the side of the road (there was a car right behind us so I couldn’t get a picture). We did stop at a pekseg (a bakery) and got some apple strudel since I doubted we would be eating anything until the afternoon. The two women in the bakery seemed thrilled to meet someone who spoke English (and of course baked goods know no language – I could just point).

We neared the border from Hungary to Slovakia and needed a vignette (toll permit) to drive in Slovakia. Getting one was was a bit of a puzzle. The truck stop we walked into smelled of old frying oil and the guy at the counter was annoyed before we even approached him. He demanded to know our car’s weight and class as though we would know it. We went back out to the car to try to figure out that information, but I just suggested we leave. Not far away I could see another small store that probably sold the permits.

The woman there was kind but said that no, the Slovakia vignettes were only sold in the “blue container,” a trailer – and she described how to get to it. The unmarked blue camper looked abandoned at first, but after a few minutes we had our permit. We learned later that this can be done online now. That is not as exciting though.

We arrived in Krakow at about 4:30pm and it was already dark. We are staying by the city square so we walked around there and found a restaurant for a late lunch/early dinner. By the time we left the restaurant, the weather had gotten much colder than we have experienced since being away. Tomorrow looks to be a sunny Sunday and I’m looking forward to seeing the city in the daylight.


photos: Krakow city square wrebath vendor this evening; Poland countryside; Crazy Hungarian money. 1,000 forints = about $3.30 U.S. dollars