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Wednesday, October 5, 2022


Hello hello!  It's been a minute and my blog posts have been pretty sporadic for a while, but starting today I'm back to a more frequent posting schedule!  The Summer and this season up until this point were exceptionally busy, which I'm starting to realize is never going to change.  I'm finally coming to terms with the fact that things will never actually slow down after that next holiday, trip, event, .... fill in the blank.  The next big thing will always be right around the corner, which I'm sure most of you can relate to! But, it's time to move the blog off of the back burner! I have so many things stored up to share with you and we've already got the holidays in sight, so buckle up and get ready to see me in your inbox several times per week. (Are you a subscriber?  I sure hope so!)  

If you're a fairly regular reader you might notice things look a little different around here!  Another reason for my absence- I've been working with a tech designer on a redesign for the blog!  Much of the look and colors are similar to before, but  I'm hoping everything is a bit more streamlined and easier to navigate for you with this new layout.   Unfortunately, there are still some kinks that we are working out and I wanted to wait until everything was perfect and working properly before sending out any new posts to you, but that is taking longer than I had hoped and I just decided I can't wait any longer.  So for a few days here the design is good enough to proceed, just know that there are still some things like spacing, colors, and features that we're still tweaking.  Thanks for your patience on that, I'm hoping everything is ironed out in the next few days and I'll let you know more about the new features then.  That being said, if you notice anything glaring that seems off or incorrect please let me know (I'm aware of some photo spacing and centering issues, archive links that aren't working etc. but would still appreciate anything you notice that might need some attention.) 

Enough housekeeping, let's get on to today's post that I've been wanting to share for 3 months but just now getting around to it! 

Mid-July our family returned from spending 16 days in Poland!  

The purpose of our trip was to work at an orphanage summer camp and that's where we spent the majority of our time.  However, we also had a small amount of time after arriving and before departing the country to spend in Krakow, one of the oldest cities on Poland.  

Krakow has a rich cultural, economic, academic, religious, and political history that you can't help but be drawn in to upon visiting the city.  Krakow was originally the capital of Poland, but it was moved to Warsaw in the 1600's.  However, many now consider Poland to have 2 capital cities with Warsaw being the official political capital and Krakow being the cultural capital. 

Ray and I visited Krakow in 2014 and we were excited to bring the kids along this time, this was Emily's first international trip.  For the 8 years since that trip I've been meaning to write a post about it, but since that never happened I'll just include a few things from that trip here that we visited back then but didn't have time for this trip.  This post is going to primarily be a big photo gallery of sites around Krakow, but I'll also include a few highlights of activities and some places we ate.  I hope you're able to visit this lovely city one day! 

Must See Places to Visit:

Krakow Old Town Market Square (Rynek Glowny/City Center)

With our limited free time this visit we spent most of it exploring the original Old Town City Center.  (Still in our travel clothes here upon arrival in Krakow- we'd been up for around 30 hours and trying to stay up for just a few more until bedtime in Krakow to try to thwart jetlag.)

Cloth Hall

There's a large central area anchored by The Cloth Hall, once fully in operation but now full of merchant booths on the main level and a great spot to pick up local goods and souvenirs. 

These brass cases at one of the booths... swoon! 

From the center, imagine the rest of old town laid out similarly to spokes on a bike wheel with streets that are primarily for pedestrians full of shops,  restaurants, and open air entertainment venues sprinkled around. 

Also bordering the center of the City Center is this beautiful church.  Don't miss the hourly live bugle call played by a musician in the top of the tower out over the square.  It's done to commemorate a bugler in the 13th century who played to warn of invading forces and was shot with an arrow right in the middle of the warning call he played, so present day the song stops abruptly on the same note where the bugler was shot.

This is a green belt area that circles the Old Town.  It's a gorgeous walk or find a bench and do some fantastic people watching!

The Barbican and City Walls

In the 13th Century work began to build a wall completely enclosing the original old town and Wawel Hill/Castle. The Barbican is one of the most impressive European original fortification posts.

14th century medieval castle and cathedral, a must see!  Ray and I toured on our trip years ago but this time we only had time to show the kids around the outside area. This is the back side, it's actually a quite large collection of multiple buildings on the site.) 

One of the best museums depicting the Jewish experience in Poland in the 20th century.  We visited in 2014 and it is sobering yet very well done. 

Jews were forced out of their homes into this area that became a ghetto of sorts during that time.  Our hosts pointed out how the walls that were built around the area resemble tombstones.  😢  This area is full of history to explore. 

Ray and I visited in 2014, and although our free time was very limited this trip and this is by no means a "fun" tour, we felt it extremely important to take our kids.  They aren't too far away from studying about the Holocaust at school, so walking these grounds and being in the buildings truly opens your eyes to the tiniest taste of the atrocities that happened here.  

About an hour outside of Krakow, the tour includes both camps, Birkenau definitely having even more brutal and primitive living conditions than Auschwitz. 

Birkeneau is also the site for a sobering memorial built for the victims and as a warning to never forget, the design is meant to represent gravestones and the chimney of the crematorium. 

Ray and I toured this in 2014.  Our hosts set up this tour for us and honestly, I wasn't too excited about going.  However, it ended up being one of my favorite things from the trip!  These underground tunnels and huge caverns are truly a marvel.  

Deep down below ground portions open up into these massive caverns.  There are fascinating religious carvings in the salt walls, and these giant chandeliers are all adorned exclusively with salt crystals.  It is truly stunning and marvelous.  

FYI- this is not an "easy" tour.  There are 400 steps to descend at the beginning of the tour, narrow tunnels, and a few places that are pretty tight and crowded (my claustrophobic husband had to power through some of those).  But it's totally worth it and I highly recommend this tour!  


We primarily shopped in the City Centre- make sure to keep an eye out for Polish Pottery!  There's one street that has 3-4 shops near each other with the greatest selection (sorry I don't remember the street but this was one of the shops if you want to google the location) but I found it sprinkled through many little shops all over Old Town.  They wrap it really well if you have room to bring it home in your luggage, or most places will ship for you. 

Places We Ate (All in or near Old Town)
(Note- we visited these first few restaurants after 11 days of strictly Polish food at the orphanage, so we were more than ready for anything that even resembled American food!  Normally we would have wanted to eat local menus, but I've got some of those listed for you as well.)

Bobby Burger-our first meal after eating Polish food at the orphanage camp for days and days, tasted like heaven!  :)  Honestly a decent burger and fries!

Fabryka Pizzy (Pizza Factory)- Old Town-good Italian food and pizza

Sioux- this is the most kitschy restaurant i think I've ever been to in my life!  We ate outdoors but inside was completely decked out with anything and everything depicting the West- down to jean and flannel shirt clad servers and several tables that literally looked like covered wagons.  ;)  However, there was a large variety menu and we all thoroughly enjoyed our meals.

Galeria Krakowska (Krakow Galleria) is a large mall just outside the borders of Krakow Old Town.  We grabbed a few quick meals from time to time at the food court there as well (they have a few American chains).  

U Babci Maliny- for ultra traditional Polish food and pierogies (Polish dumplings), our hosts took us here in 2014 (they nicknamed it Grandma's Kitchen).  Delish, and pierogies are a must when you're in Poland!

Polish Bagels/Pretzels- I can't begin to spell or pronounce the polish name for these treats, but there are carts all over the city selling these ring shaped snacks.  They're a cross between a bagel and a soft pretzel and come in a variety of flavors, they're a tasty cheap snack! 

We so enjoy visiting Krakow.  I'm sure there are many places I missed on this list, but this is a good general starting point if you're interested in visiting.  The Polish people place a high importance on learning English, so they are usually interested in talking with Americans and it's fairly easy to communicate in most places (tourist spots especially) with English.  The exchange rate for the dollar is very good (at least when we went!) so shopping for those souvenirs (and Polish Pottery) is even more fun.  The public transportation system is very good and it's easy to get around, and it is generally very safe!  

I'd love to know if you've ever visited Krakow, or if it's on your wish list some day.  If not, it should be! 

I'll have one more Poland post coming soon, all about the orphanage summer camp that we worked at.  It was the experience of a lifetime! 

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Would you like to comment?

  1. Love the pictures. So glad you had the opportunity to spend this precious time with the kids before they went back to college. I know it was a good learning experience for them as well as a fun trip. I have always wanted to go to Auschwitz as I am fascinated by it. I know you can feel the evil there. May we never forget!

  2. What a wonderful family trip taking your children to work at a Poland orphanage. They learn so much as people in Poland don’t appear to have all the resources we have in America. Truly a gift to them to remember. Hopefully they will be back again in the future. The pictures are wonderful and so colorful and very quaint. Love seeing you and your husband having a great time doing service for the Lord and teaching your children. God Bless you and your family,

  3. Thank you for this post! My husband and I are touring eastern Europe for 2 weeks next spring. My grandparents/great grandparents are all from Lithuania and Poland, so we are starting off with those 2 countries. We begin our trip in Krakow since my college roommate lives there. This post is helpful!


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