If you don’t know what a Pierogi is, please go google it, and then come back. Because this post is alllllll about Pierogies. And for good reason too. Poland is known for them! After eating lots of Schnitzel in Austria and Germany, we were ready to eat our weight in Pierogies once we got here. And boy, was it delicious.
After a morning heavy with history in Krakow, we headed back into Old Town on a mission to find some good Pierogies. A few people had recommended a place nearby called “Domowe Przysmaki”. Sure it was pretty much in the heart of all the tourists, but we gave it a try anyways.
The first dish was the traditional boiled version. Filled with cheese and topped with grilled onions. I was hoping for some sour cream on the side, that’s how we always at them growing up. But that must be another one of those “Americans ruin everything” tricks, because they definitely didn’t have sour cream there. And honestly? Didn’t even miss it. It was awesome even without it.
I have to say it was a tie. They were both amazing-melt-in-your-mouth Polish deliciousness.
Then we went back up to the counter and ordered another item off their awesome ‘hung by clothespins’ menu. This was “Dumpling with Fruit”. Yum! Not exactly what we were expecting, but it was also tasty and satisfying.
We didn’t have too much free time, but we had just enough to get explore old town and it’s surroundings. Wikipedia told me that ‘entire medieval old town is among the first sights chosen for the UNESCO’s World Heritage List’. It used to be a walled city and a few of its original towers and moats are still standing.
Soon enough, it was time to board the bus again. We chose to do the Wieliczka Salt Mines, which was an optional Contiki excursion and we heard they were pretty cool anyways. It wasn’t too far away, but long enough to squeeze in just one ‘sleeping-on-the-bus’ picture. (We’ve got one from every trip!)
As soon as reached the bottom, we realized how commercialized and touristy this site had become. Some of the displays were impressive, but they tried to add light and sound shows that made it a little bit hokey. (Although they project laser beams on the Egyptian Pyramids, so maybe that’s just the way of the world nowadays).
Even though we were a quarter mile below the surface, surprisingly our guide’s cell phone still had enough reception to ring… strange, no?
Each of the caverns inside the mine used to be salt that had been chipped away and sold. And all of the tunnels were rock that had been blasted out of the way to find more salt.
When the miners were down there, many of them used to carve statues out of the salt. They were beautiful and impressive. I raised my hand and asked “weren’t they supposed to be working?” but the guide didn’t answer me.
At one point, we were just walking along and then the guide mentioned “oh, and now you have to pay for your photos”. We were confused since we had been taking pictures the whole time. But apparently what she meant was that you had to pay for the right to photograph the “big salt ballroom”. We declined, so I have no pictures of it, but lucky for you, the internet had lots to share.
This entire room used to be salt that was mined and hauled away. Now it’s a cavernous space with carved salt murals, statues and art work. Supposedly, the chandeliers are solid crystal from a nearby mine.
In the middle and end of the tour, we were greeted by souvenir stands and snack bars. It did feel a little strange to be inside a 800 year old mine and be faced with bags of Doritos and espresso machines. Took the charm away I thought.
The worst is that you were victim to the trap and they made you stay there for 20 minutes with the hopes you’ll cave and end up buying something. That doesn’t sit well with me, so we just walked around. We were very entertained my this sign near the snackbar, haha:
Anyways, all in all, the mine itself is worth seeing. It’s crazy that human hands carved away at it for eight centuries. But I think they ruined it by trying to rip people off left and right once you’re in there.
Didn’t take long to find one. This time we tried Zapiecek (which we later found out was a popular chain).
I decided I needed some vegetables and tried to order a root soup (sold out)… beet soup (sold out)… side salad? (got a quick ‘no’)… Ok then. Just a plate of Pierogies then. And add some broccoli (and a single kernal of corn?). Done.
We really loved Krakow. The people were fantastic, the food was great and the history and sights will literally take your breath away. For a country that has been torn apart so many times and ravaged by war, they have done a tremendous job rebuilding their country and their spirits.