We felt quite revived today for our ride into Krakow. The route went on 791 to Ogrodzieniec – Pilice. Then along 794 through Wolbram, Trzycha, Wielinoza, Skata, Brotowka, Korskiewsku, to Krakow.
It turned out to be an easy 70km as we had a lot of downhill runs as we came closer to Krakow. We also noticed that the quality of the roads had improved today (fewer pot holes and patches), presumably due to our proximity to the big city. We also saw our first other bicycle tourists – one about 30km before the city and a second (a Frenchman) in the centre.
The outskirts of Krakow didn’t look at all promising – with many ugly big square apartment blocks, congested roads and angry traffic. We circled around a bit to get into the centre and it started to rain quite heavily just as we arrived. We found a currency exchange, tourist information (for accommodation) and bookshop (for a map). Once these were sorted the rain had stopped and the place was looking a lot better. We decided to have a meal at an outdoor café on the main square. This was quite a treat, as they had outdoor gas fires that we could sit besides – nice and warm. We both had steaks and beer. We know from previous experience how good red meat is when you are cycle touring.
We then rode around to see the main sights. There were no tickets available for the today or tomorrow for the two things I would have liked to see – Wawal castle and the underground Krakow tour – so we just rode around soaking up the ambience. There are enough museums and tours to keep you busy for a week, and also horse drawn carriages, a real tourist Mecca. All the people in the centre seem to be tourists – we heard French and German, spoke to an Irish couple at the cafe and even saw some Indian and Chinese people. We talked to an eccentric solitary French cycle tourist. I guess we are eccentric too. We hadn’t come across many tourists during the rest of our trip – it seems that they are all concentrated in this one spot. After seeing hundreds and hundreds of cycle tourists in Germany, we finally saw two cycle tourists in Krakow.
After checking into the Okay Hostel (couldn’t figure out if the name is marketing genius or idiocy), which is near the river, we rode around some more on our bicycle (another 15km in all around Krakow). The nicest place to ride is on a bike path alongside the river.
There are heaps of places to eat and drink. We had a beer on a boat restaurant (one of many) and found a superb delicatessen where we bought some snacks and red wine before heading back the the hostel.
The Okay Hostel is up two flights of stairs (a disadvantage with bikes) but otherwise I would recommend it. It is very cheap and based on the youth hostel model. We had our own room but shared a bathroom. It was not full, so not a problem. An advantage was that they had a washing machine that we could use to wash our clothes.