Krakow travel tips: Where to go and what to see in 48 hours

“Krakow travel tips: Where to go and what to see in 48 hours”

by Mary Lussiana via “Independent

krakow

Why go now?

May is the perfect time of year to explore Poland’s second city, with summer seeping on to the cobbled squares after the long winter, cafés spilling out on to the pavements and the lilac trees scenting the air. British Airways has this month started flying from Heathrow, increasing the range of travel options

Touch down

British Airways (0344 493 0787; ba.com) flies four times a week from Heathrow to Krakow’s John Paul II airport, 12km west of the city centre. BA competes with easyJet (0330 365 5000;easyJet.com) from Gatwick, Bristol, Edinburgh and Liverpool; Ryanair (0871 246 0000; ryanair.com) from Stansted, Manchester, East Midlands, Liverpool, Birmingham, Edinburgh and Leeds/Bradford; and Jet2 (0800 408 1350; jet2.com) from Newcastle.

Bus 208 or 292 (2.80PLN/£0.50), run four times hourly, and take 20 minutes to reach Dworzec Glowny Wschod (1), which is approximately 10 minutes’ walk from Market Square.

Get your bearings

Krakow is easy to negotiate. Its centre, comprising the old town and Wawel Hill (2) where the Royal Castle and Cathedral sit, are hemmed in by the Vistula on one side and the Planty – a green belt of parks which replaced the city walls in the early 19th century – on the other. To understand the beating heart, and history, of the city, go first to the magnificent Market Square (Rynek Glowny) in the old town, where you’ll find the main tourist office (3) at Rynek Glowny 1-3 (00 48 12 4337310;krakow.pl; 9am to 7pm daily). The square is dominated by the asymmetrical spires of St Mary’s Church (4). As you listen to the bugle playing to mark each hour – with its abrupt ending which signifies and commemorates the bugler’s death from a Tatar arrow in 1241 – you understand that this is a country whose spirit, despite repeated invasion, has never been broken.

Check in

Hotel Copernicus (5) at ulica Kanonicza 16 (00 48 12 424 34 00;copernicus.hotel.com.pl) stands on Krakow’s oldest street. Its Gothic façade is easily spotted among the jumble of Renaissance palaces. Beautifully converted to a 29-room hotel, with swimming pool in the medieval cellars and frescos from the 15th century on the walls, this was where the astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus stayed when in town – doubles from 833 PLN (£152) room only.

The beautifully decorated Hotel Gródek (6) at ulica Na Gródku 4 (00 48 12 431 90 30; donimirski.com) abuts the medieval convent of the Dominican sisters, minutes from Market Square on a tranquil cul-de-sac. It offers roof-top dining with views over Krakow’s skyline and doubles from 610 PLN (£109) with breakfast.

The Hotel Polski pod Bialym Orlem (7) at ulica Pijarska 17 (00 48 12 422 11 44; donimirski.com) is in an excellent location by St Florian’s Gate. This ancient hotel has recently been renovated to produce adequate, if not design savvy, accommodation – doubles from 350 PLN (£62), with breakfast.

krakow map Click here to see a bigger image of the map

Day one

Take a hike

Snack on traditional obwarzanki (Krakow’s take on a bagel which is now on the EU’s protected food list), sprinkled with poppy seeds and a little salt at any one of the cafés around the Rynek Glowny (3) before heading south, out of the square, along ulica Grodzka to Wawel Hill (2) (00 48 12 422 5155; wawel.krakow.pl; open daily 9am to 7pm), a symbol of national pride which rises above the city and is home to both the Royal Castle and Krakow’s 14th-century cathedral (katedra-wawelska.pl). Although the capital of Poland was moved from Krakow to Warsaw at the end of the 16th century, royal coronations and funerals continued to take place here, with many dignitaries buried in the cathedral which houses the relics of Saint Stanislaw, the nation’s patron saint.

The Renaissance castle currently houses Leonardo da Vinci’s beautiful painting, Lady with an Ermine. Exhibitions within the Royal Castle require separate tickets (from 3PLN/£0.50 to 25PLN/£4.50, depending on which one you visit) and can be reserved at 00 48 12 422 16 97. Be aware that visitor numbers are restricted. The cathedral is open from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Saturday, and 12.30pm to 5pm on Sundays. The castle is open from 9am to 5pm daily; but only to 1pm on Mondays (wawel.krakow.pl). . .  . .

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Turkey: readers’ tips, recommendations and travel advice

“Turkey: readers’ tips, recommendations and travel advice”

via “Telegraph

Turkey:  readers' tips, recommendations and travel advice

Two sides of Turkey

For two very different experiences of Turkey, consider a few days in Istanbul, followed by a week in Northern Cyprus. In Istanbul, base yourself in Sultanahmet near the beautiful Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia, the huge and handsome monument to the Byzantine empire – once a church, later a mosque, and now a fascinating museum.

Excellent public transport and affordable taxis make visiting all the sights straightforward. Must-sees include the opulent Topkapi Palace; the bustling Grand Bazaar; and the remarkable engineering feat of the Great Cistern. After the buzz of Istanbul, Northern Cyprus is a far more laidback experience. I’d recommend staying in lovely Kyrenia – be sure to dine in one of the excellent restaurants around its picture-postcard harbour (left), looking across to the castle.

Car hire is reasonably priced (and they drive on the left) so visit Nicosia and Famagusta or just relax under Lawrence Durrell’s Tree of Idleness in Bellepais.

Lynda Robson, from Surrey, wins a holiday voucher with DialAFlight

More feedback from readers

Turkbuku

This resort on the Bodrum peninsula is the most magnificent we have stayed in. There are beautiful boutique shops, strings of twinkling lights framing the shoreline and restaurants that serve your dinner to a table set out on the sandy beach while you look out on the luxury yachts moored in the bay.

It has a different atmosphere to other towns we have visited in Turkey and feels grown-up, chic and relaxed, so it is little wonder that it’s a favourite of the rich and famous.

The town is a late riser, so if music and dancing is your thing, be aware that the nightlife doesn’t get going until midnight.

Jo Stevenson, by email


Bodrum, Turkey (Fotolia/AP)

Turkey summer holidays guide

Kalkan

My wife and I celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary in Kalkan. We rented a villa on the hillside overlooking the old town and harbour with breathtaking views across the Mediterranean.

Kalkan surprised us both as it is quite sophisticated and classy. The shops sell good-quality upmarket goods – some genuine, some not. (There is also a weekly market full of fake goods.) There are plenty of supermarkets selling fresh food and drink, essential if you are self-catering. The nightlife was quite lively with around 200 restaurants to choose from and several cocktail bars.

We had several excursions in our hire car but Patara was the best place to visit with wonderful and extensive ruins to explore and a massive beach to chill out on.

Stan Kirby, Kent

My tips are to eat where the locals do. We were in Kalkan and used to eat at a lokanta in the middle of a bus station – not much to look at, but when we climbed the stairs to the terrace, it was an oasis of green because the owner was also a landscape gardener. So visit places off the beaten track and you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Also, try the delicious apple tea and the wonderful coffee.

Heather Jenkinson, West Midlands

Turquoise Coast travel guide


Topkapi Palace, Istanbul (Alamy)

Istanbul

We’re just back from the hustle and bustle of Istanbul – highly recommended. The city is steeped in history and there is so much to see. We stayed in the Celine Hotel, which is ideal for visitors seeking a superb central location and a decent breakfast. It is fairly obvious, but the earlier you get to the main sights, notably the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, the Topkapi Palace and the Cisterns, the shorter the queues will be. This does not apply to the Grand Bazaar, which is relatively quiet and hassle-free towards the end of the day. The Galata Tower is worth the queue for the stunning views, while the Bosporus boat trip was a bargain at £3, providing the opportunity to rest our feet for a couple of hours.

Chris Saunders, Nottinghamshire

Istanbul city break guide

Old Istanbul is enchanting, but a local guide who can turn back the centuries can make it sublime. From your boutique hotel on the slopes under the Sultanahmet, look out on the Golden Horn, the Bosporus and the original railway station built as the terminus for the Orient Express. From here, walk or take a tram to absolutely everywhere of interest. Yes, you must see the Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, the Topkapi Palace and its museum and of course the Grand Bazaar, but then find your guide and step back into history.

Be led through a hamam into narrow streets. Pass ancient rickety houses with their hanging balconies, through heavy wooden gates to discover the colonnades of the sultan’s caravanserai where traders, slaves and camel caravans ended their treks.

Tony Meakin, by email


The white rocks of Pamukkale (Alamy)

Pamukkale

My favourite place in Turkey has to be Pamukkale. Where else can you swim in hot mineral waters with Roman columns lying underneath you? Now a Unesco World Heritage site, the mountains have regained their whiteness and look spectacular. Besides the ancient graves, a museum, and the remains of a theatre, there are the ruins of a church dedicated to St Philip, who was believed to have been martyred there. Also nearby are the ruins of Laodicea, one of the seven churches mentioned in Revelations. It’s best to go by bus to Denizli and then on to Pamukkale and stay in the village for a few nights to give ample time to explore this fascinating area.

Mave Dellor, Warwickshire

Saklikent Gorge

Memories of Samaria 40 years earlier persuaded my friends that a trip to the Saklikent Gorge, one of the deepest in Europe, was for us. High temperatures meant early arrival and no tourists in sight – just a gaggle of children clutching bright blue waterproof shoes, soon offered in exchange for small change. “Go to the end, I’ll take you,” was the cry from one small boy. Despite having no idea where the “end” was, we accepted. My short skirt billowing, we survived the first waist-deep wade through icy, rushing waters then scrambled, squeezed and pushed our way steadily upward through a tumble of large boulders and deep pools, increasingly helped with a push on our bottoms by our wiry guide. We arrived 90 minutes later at the final waterfall, exhausted but enthralled at the beauty of the limestone walls 1,000ft above us. Next time I’ll wear shorts!

Janie Toy, Cornwall . . . . 

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5 Handy Travel Tips for Dealing With a Canceled Flight

Because Cancelled Flights can also happen to Study Abroad Students **DB

“5 Handy Travel Tips for Dealing With a Canceled Flight”

by Catherine Northington via “WallStCheatSheet

For all the brilliant experiences and opportunities that air travel has brought us since its advent, there are a few major pitfalls to cope with in the process. Even the most cautious planners among us can’t predict erratic weather conditions, airline snafus, or other factors leading to cancellations. You can, however, follow these five tips to make the best of a canceled flight at the last minute!

1. Keep essentials in your carry-on

There are tons of helpful resources online when it comes to packing a reasonably sized carry-on bag of essential items. USA Today shares this article covering anything a traveler might need in a pinch, while The Every Girl offers itemized, female-specific lists to suit any travel occasion. Crucial items for any traveler include a toothbrush, hairbrush, moisturizer, headache medicine, chargers, headphones, and a sweater.

For additional tips on efficient packing, check out Lifehacker’s helpful tutorial on the subject.

2. Rebook by phone

Brett Snyder of Cranky Concierge, an air-travel assistance firm, recommends that flyers immediately call the airline’s customer service number upon learning of a flight’s cancellation. Real Simple explains that this easy move will not only eliminate the need to join a long line of frustrated travelers at the check-in counter, but it will also expedite the entire rebooking process.

Always keep the airline’s phone number handy in your wallet or phonebook in the event of last-minute emergencies. USA Today reports that there are three major airlines that offer a “Rule 240″ clause, meaning that the carrier in question will seek out an available seat on another flight out of the airport — even if it’s on a competitor’s flight!

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“7 Things I Regret About Studying Abroad”

“7 Things I Regret About Studying Abroad”

by Aryn via “Driftwood & Daydreams

Studying abroad was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. You can probably tell from the way I go on and on about it. I’m sure I often come off as bragging but in truth, I just want to share. I know what it felt like to be a foreigner and scared and confused so that’s why I always want to share my experiences with others so that they don’t have to feel so lost.

Yes, studying abroad was awesome. If anyone were to ask me if I wanted to go back to Le Havre I would say yes in a heartbeat. However, not everything is perfect. Here are my list of regrets from studying abroad that I hope will help you get the most out of your experience.

1. Not really practicing the language
I think this was one of my biggest regrets. I had the amazing opportunity of being in France but I often avoided situations where I would have to speak French because I was worried I would embarrass myself. Though I did learn a lot of French and would consider myself near fluent, that was only obtained by listening and so my speaking is still weak. I became aware of this after spending 2 months in China and actually making myself use the language. It was amazing how quickly I picked it up after I started speaking and using it in contextual situations, instead of the simulated classroom conversations. I wish I had known that and not been so self conscious while I was in France because I know my French would be 10 times better if I had.

2. Not building my resume
Sure, the act of studying abroad in and of itself is a great resume builder but it’s becoming more and more common place. To make yourself stand out to future employers you need to do even more. Being in a foreign country is a great chance to add something to your resume that shows that you can take initiative and are comfortable with cultural differences. I, however, did not do this. I went to class, did my readings, and hung out with friends. Looking back now I wish I had joined some clubs or even picked up a job. I had the time but I just didn’t apply myself as much as I could have.

3. Not traveling locally
I studied abroad in Normandy, France. This is one of the most historical regions in the whole country. You’d think I would dedicate some time to seeing all the incredible sites in this area, right? No. I focused so much on trying to see all of Europe that I hardly even explored France. I mean, I was only a couple of hours from the D-day beaches and yet I never visited them. I still regret to this day not appreciating all the cultural heritage of the country is was studying in.

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