Sept. 25-28: Krakow Poland — The morning of the 25th was the end of the Cal Discoveries Tour and we, Tom, Peggy, and Bill traveled to Krakow by train (3 trains). We took taxis from the station to the Hotel Grodek and settled in for a 4-night stay. It’s an excellent boutique hotel on the edge of the Planty and within easy walking distance of everything in Old Town. We wandered into Old Town where we found the Bull Pub and had a so-so dinner. The next day we all went to the Francia Café to do our laundry. This remarkable little place tucked into a basement, is a combination laundry, internet café, and bar. While doing our laundry, we asked the young woman running the cafe if she could make Irish Coffee. She searched the internet for a recipe and made a round of perfect Irish Coffees for us. We spent the rest of the afternoon wandering Old Town and had an excellent dinner in the Hotel Gródek restaurant. Jim and Corky flew in from Germany and arrived about 11:30p.

The morning of the 27th, our KrakowShuttle van and driver picked us up at 9:30 and took the 7 of us to Auschwitz Camp 1 and Auschwitz-Birkinau for guided tours. It was a very somber and very necessary all-day trip. All I will add is that everyone needs to know what happened here, so we don’t allow it happen again.

In Old Town, the kids met Radoslaw Kulak, Happy Tour Manager/Guide, who provides transit and tours in his 8-seat electric golf cart. They made arrangements with him for a Sunday morning tour and also arranged to have him take us to and from Pod Wawelem (Under the Castle) for dinner Saturday evening. Radoslaw was excellent, and we highly recommend him (

On Sunday morning (the 28th), Radoslaw picked us up for our 2-hour city tour. We went to the Barbicon and then went to and through Kazimierz (the old Jewish quarter) with lots of stops along the way. Later, we walked through the Planty to Wawel Castle and wandered the castle grounds; then back to Market Square via Grodzka Street. Midafternoon, we gathered in a sidewalk café in Little Market Square for a final drink and meal before Jim and Corky headed back to Germany. The remaining 5 of us spent the rest of the day in Market Square followed by dinner at the Hard Rock Café, and then Peggy and Bill treated us to a carriage ride. The next morning, Tom took a train to Warsaw to begin his flights home to Thailand and the rest of us headed to the airport to fly home.

It was another great trip and having family meet us in Passau, Prague, and Krakow made it extra special.

© Virginia E. Vail 2012