Kraków: Of Kings, Castles and Pierogi

After a goulash-filled week in Prague, my newfound travel buddy and I decided to make moves.

Three trains, one transportation mishap (we got off one of the trains a stop early, but it worked out!), many cat naps, and seven hours later, Andrée and I made it to Kraków, Poland!

Once the capital of Poland for more than 500 years, Kraków is now a bustling city of nearly 800,000 people and the cultural hub of the country. But Kraków is old—unbelievably old.

Stone tools dating back to 50,000 BCE were found on Wawel Hill, and the city’s name originates from Krakus, a mythical ruler who supposedly slayed the Wawel Dragon. The city was a bustling trade center in 965, and the castle was built in the 1300s.

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As an American whose country’s oldest buildings date back to the 1700s, this kind of history is hard to wrap my head around! All of Europe (and especially Israel) has been blowing me away with the ancient architecture!

The heart of Kraków is the Stare Miasto, or Old Town. Smack in the middle is Rynek Główny, the largest medieval town square in Europe.

Filled with vendors and local craftspeople, the square is surrounded by historic houses, palaces, towers and churches.

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Prague II: Czech Food and Street Eats

Prague was my first stop in Europe after spending a few weeks in Israel eating mostly veggies, hummus and falafel.

When I got to Prague, I gorged myself on all the rich traditional cuisine. It’s hearty stuff that helps soak up all the cheap pivo (beer) you’ll be drinking!

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On my free walking tour of the city, I met a nice lady from upstate New York (hi Beth!) and we got lunch together. Beer battered deep fried mushrooms, a thick vegetable soup, and potato dumplings! The food was surprisingly flavorful for being so hearty, and the innocuous looking potato dumplings were my favorite part!

We also put back a few pints, as did everyone else at the place! Needless to say, Europe really doesn’t judge you for day drinking!

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The beer of choice in Prague is Pilsner Urquell. First brewed in 1842 in the Czech town of Pilsner, this especially hoppy beer is found all over the world, but I was lucky enough to have it in cask condition in Prague: unfiltered, unpasteurized, and naturally conditioned like it was made in the 19th century.

There’s something else that Prague does especially well…

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