Categories
Polish food

Pierogi Recipes from a Polish Village

Pierogies are the quintessential Polish food. I hope you will love these simple recipes.

  • I grew up in as an American with Polish and Ukrainian roots with where homemade pierogies were a staple.
  • My wife grew up in a Polish village where the tradition is 100% authentic Polish from Poland.
  • We live in Poland and America. However, no matter where we are, we eat Pierogies.

My wife Kasia created a video on how she makes pierogies from the Polish countryside. Her parents have a farm in a Polish village. You will not get more authentic than this.

Download 101 Ideas for Pieorgi Filling & the Recipe from the countryside

Polish Pierogi Recipe Video

How I make Pierogies – the Polish countryside way

Hi this is Kasia’s writing now and here we go.

To make amazingly tasty pierogi dough at home all you need is:

Dough Ingredients

  • flour
  • egg yolks
  • butter
  • salt
  • warm water

Homemade pierogi are great for many reasons. One of them, you can make a lot of them at once and either have a pierogi feast that day or a fantastic meal for a few days.

From this recipe you will get about 50 or so, that is why I like to make the different stuffing. Polish Dumplings are delicious. Preparation takes some work, but it is worth it.

Steps to Make Pierogi

  1. Choose a stuffing and saute it in a pan
  2. Make the dough
  3. Flatten the dough and cut into circles using a glass
  4. With a small amount of filling add it to the pierogi dough cuttings
  5. Fold the cuttings and pinch them closed
  6. Boil them for 3 minutes after they float to the top.
  7. Add a topping such as butter, onions or yogurt.

I start from making my stuffing first – it has time to cool down and also the dough will not dry out while I make the stuffing.

You can experiment and fill your pierogi with anything you like – sweet, sour, or a mix of both; there is plenty of ideas here.

The critical thing to a proper stuffing it to make it reasonably sticky but not wet, so it does not leak out of your dough.

If you have dry stuffing – like walnuts and mushrooms add an egg – that will bind the filling together.

Making pierogi is pretty straightforward, but it does require some time. If you have any helpers around- that will speed the process, and it also makes it enjoyable.

Potato and cottage cheese recipe is classic.

To make a good dough, it is essential to have a right balance of flour and water – you want your dough to be soft but not sticky. Hard dough means you did not put enough water – you can soften it by adding water and working it in. After a few minutes of kneading the dough should be ready – soft and fluffy. Adding some butter or oil will prevent dough from drying out.

When your dough is ready, start a pot with water. It takes a few minutes for the water to boil, and it will give you time to assemble your pierogi.

While cooking, put one pierogi at the time, do not crowd them so they can float to the surface quickly and will not stick together.

For the topping – Pierogi taste great with sour cream, yogurt is good too but not as fat. Fried onions on top are amazing and add flavor.

Here you have it – delicious pierogi, which anybody will like. Smacznego!

What to do with your fresh batch of Polish Dumplings

If you make enough, then you can have them throughout the week. We often make it on Sunday’s after Mass and before we go for a Sunday walk. We freeze some and put some in the fridge. You can warm them up with a salad for example for a light supper, pack them for your kids lunch as a snack or incorporate them into a full meal.

The point is do not feel obligated to use them up all at once, they will not go bad if you freeze them.

My Favorite type of Pierogies

  • mushroom
  • sauerkraut
  • spinach
  • blueberry

The standard are:

  • Potatoes and cheese
  • Potatoes

More exotic I like

  • Nuts
  • Tropical fruit

A note on healthy Pierogies

I like anything healthy.

You can make Pierogies as healthy or unhealthy as you want.

In fact, I was thinking of writing a book called “The Pierogi Diet” and prove out that you can lose weight and look great with a pierogi centered diet. Let me know if you think that would be a good idea.

In the above video much of the ingredients are from our garden, for example the potatoes, if you notice are organic we grew, or the eggs from our backyard chickens. Here we do not have a farm but a large 1/4 acre homestead under cultivation.

If you fill them with anti-oxidant rich stuffings, rich in micronutrients or with a superfood, you can transform pierogies into a superfood.

You can use organic ingredients or gluten-free flour for example. There is no need to the dough to rise so you can use any type of flour you want. I use organic white flour, but make sure the filling and the toppings are super healthy.

Also, the oil you use is a consideration. You can fry them in polyunsaturated oils (harmful, as heating these oils creates free radicals) or saturated like butter or monosaturated (better) or Coconut oil (Perhaps best). I like butter.

  • Healthy Dumpling Toppings – Usually, my toppings are organic yogurt and/or sauteed onions
  • Vegan Piegories – You can make it Vegan by simply not adding an egg, the dough will be perfect.

Add dumplings to your soup

You can add these pierogies to a clear broth soup. For example beet soup (Borscht). I make a sound and drain the vegetables and add dumplings as others would add noodles. A variant of traditional pirogi are called lazy pierogi (usually dough and cheese unfilled) which is also added to soup.

History of the Pierogi

The origins of Pierogies are Central and Eastern Europe. The origin of the word comes from word pirъ, which means ‘feast’. It is a dumpling with filling, vegetable, fruit, cheese or meat.

With the advent of agriculture, the Slavic tribes went from a hunter-gatherer diet to recipes that are a mix of the above food groups. Hence the invention of the Pierogi.

People will write about the origins of Pierogis with connections to Marco Polo or Saint Hyacinth of Poland. However, it is elementary. People in the countryside had flour, and they started to experiment. It is not that one person gave people the knowledge from above; rather, usually, the people from a grassroots culinary experimentation perspective started to roll dough and fill it. I do not have documented evidence but I saw how my grandmother, who was born in the 1800s cooked. This is what people did. I think the origin coincided with the milling of grains.

Personal history of Pierogi

The most likely reason you have an interest in Polish dumplings is because of your family. Perhaps your grandmother cooked these. I am sure they were vastly superior to anything you ever encountered in a dinner or a store. After eating homemade pierogies I do not know if I could eat anything other than homemade. Therefore, I created this video and post. I hope you liked it, comment and ask questions, give it a thumbs up and share, to get the word out there about the worlds tastiest entree.

Categories
Poland

Ask any question about Poland

If you have any question about the great nation of Poland let me know. You can ask it under the specific post or category set up or simply in the comments below. Leave a comment and ask a question about the Polish nation anything you can imagine ask.

Some sample questions about Poland are:

  • Ask about  a town, where your relatives are from example? I have a pretty good idea on how to approach this.
  • Questions about Polish surnames and what they mean or questions about Polish first names, girls names and boys names.
  • Ask about Poland and other nationalities, such as Jewish or Ukrainians or Germans living in Poland and what the relationship.
  • Maybe you want to live in Poland: Move to Poland, life in Poland, cost of life in Poland ask questions here.
  • If you have questions about citizenship ask here: Polish citizenship and visa you can under this post.
  • Travel to Poland – This section will be built but you can ask in the comments below until it is complete. It could include anything from medical coverage to hotels to stay in.
  • Polish women – and dating questions. I am very happy I married my wife from Poland. It is a world of difference than western dating culture.
  • Historical questions. It is a long history and my initial interest in Poland came from a historical perspective. I think I will have to expand this section on Poland.
  • Polish language You can ask anywhere here under my Polish grammar section. This includes learning Polish for kids to Polish as an adult.
  • Polish holidays.
  • Polish cooking.
  • Religion in Poland.
  • What are Polish people like?
  • Polish weather – what is it really like?
  • How do Polish people use the Internet?
  • Where do Polish people go on vacations?
  • Sending things to and from Poland.
  • Polish places, cities and towns.
  • Polish law.
  • Polish driving questions.
  • Polish people abroad?
  • Polish news sources – where to find the best Polish news.
  • Shopping in Poland.
  • Business, economics and real estate in Eastern Europe.
  • If you have any crazy question in just ask it. Do not be afraid, just leave a comment and I will reply as soon as I can, usually in a day. You can also contact me via e-mail, but sometimes those e-mails do not get through. The best ad surest way is via the comments below.

I am working to build this site up to be more of a forum but it will take time. I ask you subscribe and contribute with comments if you can.

Why do I know about Poland?

I am a duel US and Polish citizen and lived in Poland for about ten years. I have made it a lifetime passion to study about Poland.  I live in the USA now.  I have a pretty good perspective about Poland and the world as I have traveled a lot though Eastern Europe and the world. Although sometimes I write negative things about Poland, generally I have a positive spin on Poland and a realistic understanding of the culture.

 

 

 

 

Categories
Poland

Why Polish people have few children

I am a foreigner in Poland and can answer the question easily in one word  ‘economics’. Concern of economic loss and poverty and being poor like in the 1990.  Polish magazines and forums can analysis it all they want, but I can see it objectively from the outside looking in. Polish people have fewer and fewer kids to the point that the population is shrinking is because Polish people are obsessed with material security. They want to build that fence around their stone house (common in Polish homes) and being all set in life.

The new generation is being programmed to override one million years of human evolution that tells them to  procreate freely and often and replace it with a selfish feeling of material comfort. All because many Polish people’s new matra is ‘we need more (money) to have more children’. Although this generation is richer than ever, Poles live in fear they do not have enough money. Let me tell you this. I worked on Wall Street, you will never feel like you have enough money.

Take it from a post crisis American; once you have a house and car and vacation, you will feel spiritually empty. Life is a spiritual journey. You will feel empty if you do not have a family that jumps on you and wraps their arms around you, as soon as you walk in the door.  Think of the movie Family Man’ with Nichoas Cage. Do not build your spiritual house on sand. Think of the man in the Bible who set up his life economically, yet God took it from this world that very night or the story of Lazarus.

Why Polish people started to replace children with last-minute trips to Egypt, a new Toyota Yaris and a 60 meter flat

There was a mentality shift in Polish society to focus on the material and money. Post communist – new capitalist families finding their way in the 1990s and 2000s conveyed a new ethic to their children. Buy apartment, even if it is 60 meters, before you start living. I understand why, because they grew up with so little and did have a hard life. But so what? We all as humans suffer in different ways, and can not insulate ourselves from this.

The new generation parrots this collective unconsciousness with ‘ how can we afford to have kids’. The reason we do not have many kids is we have no money. I say this is nonsense. Do not listen to your fears (or rather the fears of your parents).

That is the sin of greed and lust for material things talking. People all over the world in less developed countries than rich fancy EU Poland (and yes Poland is a relatively rich country) have many kids and the children are happy and so are their parents.

Polish expectations about wealth in contrast with other nations

Further, Polish people have such rigid expectations about life and they are high. They think they get out of school and with their degree, they will get a good job and work for an “emerytura”. ‘News flash’, this is the new economy and nothing is guaranteed. Life is an art not a science. Just because life is not going along a perfect track do not deny yourself the birthright of self having kids.

Demographically the sun is setting on the Polish nation

Examples of poor people with a big happy family

For example, even in ‘richer’ countries like the USA where I am from many people buy their first house after 50. They have had many children and live happy lives without worrying they are renting a small apartment with no more. They have had five kids like my parents did or nine kids like my friend Paul has or six kids like my friend Jose who still does not have a house. Their kids are all happy nice and well-adjusted.

In contrast, in Poland every Polish couple I know has to own an apartment, have a good income, leave the children in day care or with Babcia and a good car and basically be ‘all set’. Then they start thinking of having one or two kids because that is all they can afford.  My reply is ‘really’? Where is your sense of life and adventure? Kids in my area of the USA, are running all over the yard and they have no money and everyone is happy like out of a Disney movie.  It is only the rich and self-absorbed who think different. There are many Polish girls who are serial monogamists instead of getting married as they delay their lives until they are in a better situation (economic) to have a family. But I have news for you sister, by then it will be too late.

One lady told me they want to wait until they can afford an English tutor for their children before they have kids. I said ‘really’, just live in the UK even to do a blue-collar job, for a few years and they will be native speakers better than the richest families in Poland. Or teach your kids English yourself by reading to them. But this Polish gal was a career lady. What a nightmare.

Is waiting to have children until they were rich or comfortable, what your grandparents did who had nothing? Is that what John Paul II taught or have Poles forgotten already? Is that what any of the Indian or Spanish or African friends I have in the USA do?  It’s a cultural myth in some sterile cultures you need money to have a family.

In the USA I do taxes and see what people make. One of my friend makes a fraction of what my friends in Poland make and he has seven kids and they are happy. I know what he makes as I do his taxes.

  • Whatever it is, maybe Polish people have a sense of entitlement and a feeling of self-consciousness or lack of confidence that they are some how behind the west and want to catch up. My message is get over it. Poland is a great nation, but will be a footnote in history unless values change.

Let me tell you from someone who has live in Poland a good part of their life, and travelled the world, Poland is a rich country and if you are not having kids because of fear of lack, it is your psychological problem not reality.

Poland has things other countries do not have to raise a child

Consider cultures that see children as a blessing not a burden. Children are a blessing and take little to no money to rise besides a roof over your head. Your Medical care is free in Poland as is education and even daycare. What else do you want?  I see a lot of fat Polish youngsters on the street and none are starving.

Good bye Poland hello Asian people

I am sorry to sound hard but Polish people have such high material expectations I can only classify as greed and pride and the price will be the Polish nation and people will disappear eventually. It will become demographically Asian most likely. It will not happen today but extrapolate out the demographics. I love Polish culture but also Asian culture. It looks like the Poles do not stand a chance right now if you project out a few generations. It is simple mathematics. The population of Poland is declining and the reason is clear. Polish people are focusing on money rather than family.

A warning for Polish girls

Many Polish girls read feminist Western magazines and silly books from Empik and watch TVN serale, and get programmed into thinking ‘having fun’ and develop your career first and experience life is the way to go. My reply is, why not experience life with your own family? Forget the money, do not listen to your parents fears they project on your and have a bunch of kids. There is no adventure is greater. What greater career could there be than having rasing children?

  • Polish girls if you wonder why your guy is not committing? ‘Why buy the cow if the milk is for free’. See feminism and materialism are like thieves in the night that take the sweetness and joy from the one of the most basic things in life, and that is having a family. If your guy is not committing to you it is because you are too hip and cool and give up your virtue so he is not inspired to marry you.
  • Polish guys are often afraid to marry because they will be tied down or it will not work. My message is, find a girl who is moral and good and you will not have to worry. If girls did not give it up so easy today in Polish society then guys would marry more because guys need companionship. Its human evolution.

So the young new Poles can make fun of the Catholic church or idolizes the West all they want, and keep chasing  ‘almighty Zloty’, and blame the economy for everything, but this will result in the disappearance of Poland. Children are always a blessing. Money does not buy you happiness.

I am no conservative by the way, I am a free thinking libertarian. But the facts are the facts, Poland is getting smaller and smaller and the reason is material greed or at least fear of lack. Get over your fears and have some kids. Polish girls listen up, don’t get smart too late.

Categories
living in Poland

Do Polish girls want to marry Americans?

Poles love Americans and Americans love Poles. However, dating is a little more complicated and not what many people think. This is not the 1980s and Poland is not the Soviet Union, nor was it ever. Polish girls choose guys because they are in love and a subconscious component of this is they are compatible including culture.

Do Polish girls want to marry western guys?

I do not know, it took a year for my wife to even would go out on a date me because she thought I was a foreign guy who wanted to play. Only when she got to know me, then she we start meeting and dating. Basically I had to move to Poland to date her.

My beautiful family, I thank God for.

Let me tell you a story. It was funny one day I pulled out my Polish identity card after knowing her for about nine months. She was asking me who is this with the last name of ‘Biernat’. I said that is me, she said what, I though you last name was Smith. I said  I am Polish. Needless to say I she was pretty happy.

It is not that she did not want to date a foreigner (me) it is that it makes like complicated. Many English guys come for a weekend and the go home. Many people come from different cultures and religions or are not religious and where will they get married, how will they raise their children? It is easier to marry someone of the same religion and a nice boy to take home to the parents.

  • Irish, Polish and Italian marriages actually work pretty well. Many Muslim and Polish marriage work because both are religious people. But agnostics cultures and Poles do not mix well as there are cultural differences.
  • Poles who are Americans really find happiness and bliss in Poland with Polish partners as there are similarities and difference but just enough to make it interesting.

 Culture is a reason marriages to foreigners are always martial bliss

Having lived in Eastern Europe a good part of my life I can tell you that most women there love their guys and want to marry their guys, same culture can bring them home to Mama. Polish girls want Polish guys, and Russian girls are very nationalistic and want Russian guys.  Yet in every culture, even American we complain about our own. We complain about American women and American women complain about us. It is nature. Polish girls complain about Polish men sometimes. Even in the Bible Jesus said a prophet is not honored in his home town, or something like this.

However, the other extreme is I see British and Polish marriages break after a few years from the strain of two different realities. Their approaches to life are different.

Two types of American guys looking for love in Poland

  • Americans and Poles are more congruent culturally, but it depends are you talking Americans with a real love of Europe and maybe Catholic; or some sport watching American who is pround of his business accomplishments, thinking money impresses girls (it does not and I defy anyone who tells me it does).
  • Yet still, some Americans mistakenly think because they are from the west they can just import a Polish girl for a wife. I tell them not so fast, if you do this and not understand the complexities of the cultures than you will wake up one day and realize you married just another farm girl from Kansas with red shoes.

Further, I know a lot of American girls dating or married to Eastern Europeans and living in Eastern Europe. I know many people on my blog asking how to marry an Eastern European for a passport. This is not the stereotype that Polish girls are dreaming of marrying a western guy to escape. Yeah right. On he contrary, I think many Americans escape to Poland like I did.

Again, before I married my wife I learned Polish and went to her Church. We fit well, as well being madly in love.

EU factor in marriage

Look All EU citizens are like US citizens, free movement of labor and capital. There are millions of Poles in the UK and Ireland. Many marry there, but the USA is a zillion miles away and the standard is just OK.

Look if I was a chick and wanted a better life I would go to Norway or Sweden or France, a million other places close to home in the EU than the USA.   In Europe you have free medical, universities,  care long vacations (months) interesting history, in the USA the economy is just OK.  I love the states but I would not say we are the empire we once were.

Life in Krakow shops – look at this article I wrote about shopping in Krakow, look at the photos,  It is not a bad life in Poland you know.

So are foreigners special?

Yes because there is a novelty in being different. But there is a lot more to love than just novelty.

Categories
living in Poland

Life in Poland Vs. life in the USA

Poland and The USA are two different worlds entirely. The USA is sunny and positive and casual. Poland is cold, dark and romantic. There is an ancient feel in Poland, something almost mystical. I have often said that in the USA life is easy, in Poland life is beautiful.

People in Poland day to day

However, not to romanticized too much about Poland there are some difficult sides. The people had the War then communism. As a result people can appear not as friendly initially as you might be use to. I would say this applies to the cities like Warsaw, Krakow etc, not to the villages. However, do not misunderstand me.

In the US for example, people are superficially positive and friendly, sometimes but it is only on the surface. In contrast in Poland people might be cold initially on the outside but when you get to know then it is a world of difference. People often say this about other Northern Countries, like Scandinavian countries.

I have never had an issue with Poland people beyond grumpiness. It is a Catholic country and people treat people with respect. They will help you on the streets if you are lost and like to interact with foreigners and use English, even if you want to speak Polish.

Life in the village

Village life is totally different and people are more easy-going. In the cities they are charging ahead and trying to get and take as much as they can. I would say Polish cities have the feel of NYC in the 1970s, that is a lot of unfriendly and rude people. Polish people taking advantage of Polish people and foreigners coupled with long faces and a low-level of customer service. I think this is most seen in the people in their 50s. People in the 20s are like Americans, positive and friendly as are Poles in their 30s.. The character of American cities have change a lot over forty years and I suspect this will happen in Poland also. I do not want to say anything bad about Poland, but just want to give some people a heads up that sometimes you might encounter some rude people and this is because of communism. It has nothing to do with Poland or the Polish people, just a group of people that are going away that learned the way to interact with people under communism.

Poland is gothic, romantic and something to explore – in Contrast the USA can ebe cookie cutter or seem plastic at times

I am almost 100% positive on Poland, however, there are some things to be aware of. I can not tell you the number of people who have tried to use me in Poland. In the USA it would not happen as much, but it does happen. So you have to be vigilant. When I moved to Poland I thought Polish people could do not wrong. I learned they were just people like all over the world, some are sheeps and some are wolves.

It is easy to go to the dark side and get sucked into the negativity around you. I am sure it was communism that changed the attitude of Polish people. It is not all Polish people just those who have an attitude from communism that nothing good can come from Poland. It is not true. Poland is a blessed nation.

On the other hand, I lived in Poland about ten years and did so for a reason, because I love Poland and it is one of the most amazing places on earth.  I think the women are beautiful, slim and attractive as well as educated if you are a single guy, hint – hint. The history and culture are rich, it is in the center of Europe and it has beautiful nature.

My day in Poland Vs. My day in the USA

I moved to St. Augustine, Florida recently. I would say that life is different from Poland. Not in prices as much as what I do.

My day here in the USA is, writing, swimming surfing, biking and sun.
My day in Poland was writing, and rocking shopping centers (for example) and going to parks and museums,  or other shopping malls (because it was too cold). On the weekends or vacation I traveled all over Europe and Poland. I hike in nature in Poland. In both countries I enjoy gardening.

My point is day to day life in not much different. You work and play within the context of your interests. Poland has more cultural things to do and the US has easier road travel.

Shopping in the USA vs Poland

Poland and USA are equal in terms of shopping in 2019, you have Amazon and Netflix in both countries. I would have to say I like Poland generally better for the culture and American for the weather.

Beside that it is similar.

I tend to think you need more money in the USA to have the same standard of life. Housing is pricey in the USA and it is more about keeping up with the Jones. In Poland you can buy a nice city apartment for a fraction of the price of the US. Also if you buy local food is more expensive in the USA by far. Only gas is cheaper in the US, but Poland has better transportation.

I have said all along, with one million zlotys in Poland, you can have a big car (automatic), full cable on a flat screen, travel Europe to sunny locations, a nice wooden house in the countryside where you actually keep the heat cranked. A very nice life. This way you can insulate yourself from the darkness and cold.

On the other hand you can live much cheaper in Poland if you want to, and do not have such high expectations about lifestyle. You could rent a basic flat in a block and eat at the milk bars. Its an interesting life. Nothing like the USA, it has a rustic authentic feel. Maybe you need about 4k PLN a month and you will have a good life.

In contrast in Florida where I live now, it is a different world here. The water is still warm.  I think December and January and February I will be going to the gym more than ocean, basically winter. I am enjoying the easy going life in warm weather and friendly customer service.

Weather in Poland and the USA

Polish people say – ‘ our weather is normal  we have 4 seasons’.  No it is not normal.  It is three season.  PA is normal, NC is normal. It is because they are used to it, they say it is normal. But most of the world’s population does not live that high north in the globe. I am not saying it is bad, a lot of smart people come from northern places as they are inside living a surreal existence of  cold blue dark winter.

  • Poland has 3 seasons     Winter, Spring, fall
  • St. Augustine, Florida where I live has 2 seasons.  Summer and spring – the exact opposite seasons in the other direction.  I might go surfing today, we have this boggy board. I do not know if I prefer the heat or the cold but in Florida I enjoy growing food all year around.
  • NC and PA has a true 4 seasons.

If you like skiing and winter sports like skating Poland is fun.   I was going to get x-country ski in Poland.   We went ice skating and that was fun.  Also it is a lot of fun if you need to focus on work and you can be cozy watching the snow fall from your window.  Steven King writes in Maine and it does not stop him.  Cold weather is great for working too.

So this is a short post to get a discussion going on Poland Vs. the USA. I would be curious to hear other people’s experiences.

Categories
Krakow Poland

Kopiec Kościuszki – Krakow

Kopiec Kościuszki a view from above of the Royal city of Krakow

Kopiec (mound) is a tribute built in commemoration of someone important. It is pretty much an artificial hill with symmetrical paths leading to the top. There are four of these in Kraków, the oldest ones are Princess Wanda Mound and King Krak Mound (the legendary founder of Kraków)and they were originally meant to be graves built by the thankful residents of the town.

Up on a Krakow hilltop - note the smog in the background as Krakow is in a valley

 

Its amazing I have lived in Krakow for so many years and only hike a few of the mounds and I have certainly not done all of the touristy things. The hills in Cracow are worth seeing as they give you a good panorama of the cityscape of the Royal city which you can not get in any other way.

The Story of Kościuszko Mound

Kościuszko is a Polish, Lithuanian and Us military hero. He was a Polish general who led the Kościuszko Uprising against Russia and Prussia. He was also involved in American Revolutionary War as a colonel. In short words, he was and still is a quite special guy to the Polish Nation, so they decided that he deserved his very own mound. It was built three years after his death, on top of St Bronisława Hill (Polish name: Wzgórze Swiętej Bronisławy), also known as Wzgórze Sikornik.

It is visible from a lot of spots in Kraków, I can even see it right now when I look out of the window. You can see it when you walk along Piłsudskiego Street, which has very nice architecture by the way, so it is worth taking a walk there.

Tickets & opening hours

It costs 10 złoty to enter the mound area (but just going up is free of course only the tower top costs), there is also a chapel of Saint Bronislawa and some exhibitions every now and then. A couple of times a year it is free of charge. It is normally open from 9 till dusk and between may 1st and Sepptember 30th it is open until 11pm but only on the weekends and holidays. It is magical at night with the lights along the path great place for a date in Kraków.

How to get there

There are 2 bus lines that you can take, 100 and 101, but it is more more fun if you walk as you can see the landscape along the way. The easiest way to do it is take a tram or bus to the Salwator terminal (trams 1, 2, 6, buses 109, 209, 229, 239, 259, 269, 409) , then head up the hill along St Bronislawa Street (Ulica Swiętej Bronisławy) and then Washington Alley (Aleja Waszyngtona). You can also rent a bike and ride it all the way to Kopiec, there is a place to park it and they even provide free locks.

Make sure you take a camera with you, the view is amazing. I have not put too many photos here as I did not want to spoil the surprise, more something you have to experience.

Categories
Krakow Poland travel

Krakow Balice Airport

Kraków Balice Airport

John Paul II Airport (KRK) is a fairly small and convenient airport with very good access to the city centre, so you have no need to worry even if you tend to get nervous and / or lost at airports. There is not enough space to get lost, really, though the airport is still growing.

KRK is the Cracow airport code if you are looking up a flight online

It only has two terminals: domestic (T2) and international (T1). There is a shuttle bus that will drive you from the train stop to your terminal, but if you are trying to get to the international terminal it is quite slow, as it goes to the domestic terminal first, then turns around and goes back to the international. I wouldn’t advise taking it if you are in a hurry, unless you have a lot of luggage of course, simply because it is much faster to walk. And it is not a long walk at all.

The transport from Balice Airport to Kraków center

There most convenient way to get from the airport to the city centre or vice versa is to take the train. The ride is only about 15 minutes and even if it takes an extra stop on the way it is never longer than 20 minutes. If you take it from the railroad station it usually leaves off platform 1 every 30 minutes, unless there is a renovation going on. It is just a short white and red train, it’s easy to find it.

If you take it from the airport: there is a shuttle bus right outside the door, it is free and will take you to the train station. You can also walk, I think it is about 100 meters. There is a bus stop on the right and a pavement along it that ends at the train stop.

You can buy the tickets at the station’s ticket window , at the machine inside of the train (coins only) or you can also buy it from the ticket controller after the train takes off. Do not worry about getting a fine if you do not have a ticket when the guy asks you to show it. It does not work the same way as Kraków public transport (MPK) , if you don’t have a ticket you can simply buy it with some extra charge. A regular ticket is 10 złoty.

If you want to make your trip to the airport or back really cheap, there are two regular agglomeration bus lines going to the airport: 208 and 292. There is also a night bus 903. They all leave from Dworzec Główny Wschód, the big bus and coach station by Galeria Krakowska and of course stop around the town. You need an agglomeration ticket (bilet normalny aglomeracyjny) for those, as they exceed city district. It costs 3.20zł and you can buy it at kiosks, ticket machines around the town or on the bus. The airport buses have big blue planes on their schedule so even if you forget the bus number, you will still know which one to take without reading every bus schedule at the bus stop.

There will be drivers outside the airport who will offer you a trip to the center in their mini bus for 60 złoty, but it is not a good deal at all, especially here in Kraków with such good transport options and the airport being relatively close to the city. Even a taxi would be cheaper, yet I see plenty of tourists going for it. The cheapest taxi company is called icar by the way, if you ever need to take one in Kraków. There are also other mini buses that I believe charge you 5 złoty for the ride to Galeria Krakowska but they are never right by the exit so you have to look for them. My advice is, if someone walks up and wants you to take their bus say no, because they will more than likely overcharge you. The same applies to mini buses parked right where you can see them after you walk out of the door. They are the most expensive ones and live off of people who have no idea how cheap it actually is to get to the center. Don’t be one of them.

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Krakow Poland travel

Stary Kleparz In Krakow

Cracow’s Stary Kleparz the old market

What the name Sary Kleparz refers to now was originally the main square of the city of Kleparz back in the old days. Today if you ask anyone about it they will tell you it is a market. Probably the most popular one in Kraków, along with its younger brother, Nowy Kleparz ( New Kleparz).

Polish girl selling mountain cheese in the old market in Krakow

Most shoppers visit Kleparz to buy fresh organic vegetables. I do and the meat is also mostly organic as are the dairy products. They are grow and farmed by local farms. You can see this by the fact the garlic is actually pink not the white chinese garlic you see in the rest of the world. But pink garlic full of flavonoids.

There is a huge variety of fruit and vegetables to choose from, homegrown organic things, imported exotic stuff and everything in between. The majority of the market are stands, but there are some mini shops also, mostly on the edges of the square, including bread shops (try the famous one that sells everything out in 2 hours, I can’t tell you the name, but you will probably recognize it by a long line of people), diary & meat shops, candy and even a flower-pot store.

You can buy almost anything there. Flower bouquets, antiques, little decorative pumpkins, seeds, homemade cheese, kitchen ware and even underwear, although this one will probably not be of the best quality, just like all Kleparz clothing . You can get some wicker items at a good price, too. If you get hungry while exploring it, there are some fast food places too, selling zapiekanki and so on.

I think the best time to shop there is winter. In December you can really feel a Christmas spirit, and I’m not talking about the kind of fever that you can experience at the mall. It’s much more calm and relaxing there, people just wander around and pick trees or lights and buy candy for the kids. And speaking of candy, definitely try ice chocolates. You might know them or have heard of them, depending on where you come from. These are only sold in the winter as they melt very easily, almost like ice cream.

Stary Kleparz is located right behind the tram stop called Basztowa Lot. You can get there using lines 0, 2, 3, 4, 7, 14, 15, 20, 24 (trams) or 124, 152 and 424 (buses), but it is quick and easy to reach it from the main square just walk along Sławkowska Street and when you pass the Planty Park go slightly to the right, next to Długa Street you will see something like a cavity since Kleparz is a square.

If you feel like visiting Nowy Kleparz as well, it is not very far from it at the end of Długa Street, which is a 15 minute walk. This is area is also where all the bridal shops are in Krakow.

 

Categories
Krakow Poland travel

Shopping in Krakow Poland

If you are from the US, Ireland, UK or anywhere in Europe you might be wondering can I buy things cheaper in Poland. My answer is yes generally. I will back this up by data found on numbeo.com.  However, it is not just about finding a cheap price, but quality and the things you will actually use or enjoy. This post is an insiders guide to shopping in Krakow, Poland.

Where to shop in Kraków

 You would probably expect me to say the best shopping spots in Kraków are Floriańska Street and Galleria Krakowska, which are located in the center, but these are actually the worst spots, unless you don’t mind overcrowded places geared for tourists. I prefer peaceful shopping with better prices and try to avoid those places if I am not in a big hurry. Here is my list of places to shop in Krakow for various consumer and tourist items written by a Cracovian who shops.

Krakow has the largest shopping mall in Europe - this i a bold claim but if you look at square feet I think it is, but this is largely because of the large movie house in this mall so it ups the size a bit artificially.

  • Clothes – The most convenient place to shop for clothes in Kraków is Bonarka City Center. The location is about the only issue it has, it is definitely not as approachable as Galeria Krakowska, but a lot less crowded, too. Whatever it is that you are hunting for, in Bonarka you have more to choose from than anywhere else. It is a huge 2- story mall with all kinds of shops. I think it is the largest mall in Europe almost as big as Mall of America and the King of Prussia Mall in the USA. Watch out though, because of its size it is easy to get lost and the maps are not very helpful. So if you want a mix between Polish prices and Western brand names go to Bonarka. Take the bright yellow 304 bus there. In this mall my favorite shops are – Auchen for WalMart prices. It is the French WalMart. For women’s clothes Kappha (Swedish Store), Reserved (Polish store).
  • Alma is like a natural food store in the UK or the USA

  • Food – If you are looking for a place to buy cheap food, again Bonarka is the best choice for you. This is where the cheapest supermarket in Kraków is. When it comes to fruit and vegetables, there are Stary Kleparz by Basztowa Street and Nowy Kleparz at the end of Długa Street. The sellers are often the ones who grew the crops. I cannot say it’s organic food, but it tastes real and nothing like supermarket stuff. Kleparz offers all kinds of goodies, from usual things such as bread or cabbage to hand carved wooden spoons, wildflower bouquets or funny cosmetics sold by a Russian girl. If you are in need of something sophisticated and rare you should probably look in one of Alma stores as they tend to carry a lot of foreign food that is generally hard to find in regular stores. I also like Alma, which is basically WholeFoods of Poland. There are many Alma’s in Krakow but I go to the one in Gallaria Kazimierz. They also have Kosher food in Krakow if that is important to you.
  • The high quality fresh food is found at the farmers market in the center of Krakow

  • I shop for clothes at Bonarka

  • Antiques – There are several antique stores in Kraków and I think Kazimierz has the most of them. There is also a flea market every Sunday morning at Hala Grzegórzecka. The prices are very decent and you can really find some treasures or crazy things. I’ve even seen a big fossiled egg one time.
  • You must purchase something in Cloth hall

  • Souvenirs – I know this is quite obvious, but I have to say Sukiennice (Cloth Hall). Not only because everything in it is about souvenirs and you have a lot to choose from. They are real souvenirs from Kraków, designed and made in Poland, a lot of times by hand, not something that says Kraków but was made in China. The fact that it is a historical building and most likely the first mall in the world makes it more fun to shop there rather than in some regular souvenir shop. Other than that, I think Grodzka Street has a lot of gift and souvenir stores, there is also a good one in about the middle of Sławkowska Street, you can recognize it by different kinds of stuffed cats in the window. There is another good one on Gołębia Street and I believe that one only sells handcrafted items. If you happen to be in Kraków around the holidays- Christmas or Easter, you should definitely check out the holiday market that is set up twice a year before the holidays. This is where the most unique souvenirs are, especially pottery. If it’s there you will see it as it is right on the Main Square.
  • Buy a chess set or Amber in cloth hall in Cracow, the price is right

  • Art – You can buy paintings at the famous wall on Pijarska Street as well as in numerous galleries around the old town, such as one on Poselska Street, Dominikańska Street or Plac Szczepański. It is not hard to find one and you will most likely come across a few of them while taking a walk around the historical center.
  • Krakow bookstore Empik for Polish books there is an American bookstore for used books called Massolit

  • Books– Go to Empik for Polish books and magazines in all languages and Massolit for used English books cheap. Massolit is more an expat hangout in Krakow.

You will not find anything like the shopping in Krakow any where else in the EU, everything is modern and new

 What to buy in Kraków- the must have items

 These are things to buy in Cracow. I think the these are all good, but if you want a nice gift or something of lasting value, buy Amber.

Traditional shop in the main market square of Krakow during holiday times

  1. Obważanek, also referred to as precel, although it is not its proper name, is probably the most Kraków thing. There are stands selling obważanki all around the town. It tastes close to a roll, but has different crust and is sprinkled with poppy seed, sesame, or grained salt. It’s fun to get one and share it with the pigeons or swans by the river. Do not buy one with salt if you want to that though. This is literally a pretzel circle.
  1. Dragon. It’s a symbol of Kraków. You will see dragons on every souvenir stand around the town. There are all kinds, little wooden ones, bigger stuffed plush ones and dragon t-shirts too, so make sure you do not leave Kraków without one. It might be a little tacky but it’s like going to Paris and not buying a miniature Eiffel Tower.
  1. Bombki. Poland is famous for hand-made and painted glass Christmas ornaments. You can buy them at any time of the year, for example on Grodzka Street, although they might be slightly overpriced in the very center of Kraków.
  1. A zapiekanka in Kazimierz. Another very Polish thing. It’s fast food, but probably a kind that you have never tried before if you are a foreigner. You can get them anywhere in Poland, but Kazimierz has the most sophisticated ones and you can pick each ingredient that you want as your zapiekanka topping. You can read more about zapiekanki in a separate post.
  1. Amber. The Baltic Sea is the richest sea in the world when it comes to amber, so you will see plenty of amber jewellery in Kraków at good price. This is a good gift idea, too. Talented Krakow artists are everywhere, this city is a mecca for designers and the prices will be a fraction of NYC or London but better quality in terms of material and design, really.
  1. Wawel chocolate. Especially the Kasztanki or Tiki Taki kind, simply because you will not find it anywhere else other than Poland.

 

 

Yet, another small little shop in poor Poland

Categories
Poland Polish food

Polish bakery – Sweet Baked Goods

Polish Bakery Goods

Poland has some great sweets. Sometimes I wonder why is it that everyone talks about Polish sausage or wodka and few people appreciate the sweet stuff. It is just as good as Swiss sweets to me. This is what you will find in every bakery in Poland.

Braked and sweets in a Polish bakery

Pączki , which are a Polish version of a donut are a popular snack here. They are actually a lot better than donuts because they have jam inside, usually rose jam, but other kinds also, as well as chocolate or coconut cream. The bad news is, they will kill your silhouette if you have too many of those treats. They are fried and topped with either icing or powdered sugar. This adds up into about 300 calories. Pączek actually has its own celebration day, kind of. It is called Fat Thursday (Polish: Tłusty Czwartek) and falls on the last Thursday before Środa Popielcowa (Popielec), which is the day that the Fast begins. Fat Thursday is meant to be your last chance to indulge yourself before the fast, as you are not supposed to have treats once it begins. That tradition has vanished though and no one obeys it anymore except for the nuns. But Tłusty Czwartek remained there and you will see lines of people in the bakeries all around town. It is almost a crime to come home without a box of something sweet for your family on that day.

Drożdżówki are distant cousins of Pączek, but those are baked and never fried. The name means something made of yeast. So it is a sweet yeast bun with a filling. The most popular ones are sweet cheese, marmalade, poppy seed or pudding, but there is a million other kinds. They are considered breakfast food and make a great addition to coffee. If one works in an office, chances are they eat it every day. There are also French or half-french drożdżówki, which shouldn’t be called that since it’s a completely different thing. Not everybody likes them but I’m a fan. They are messy to eat though and will leave crumbs all over your clothes.

Kremówki. Those are exceptionally sweet for Polish standards, which is why they are usually not very big. Not as sweet as Hiszpan, the most extreme case which I will describe later, but still can give you a sugar rush. The name means something creamy and it is a light colored cream (usually yellowish) between two layers of French pastry. Most of the time it is whipped cream and vanilla pudding, some of them have two layers and those are called Kremówka Wiedeńska (Vienna style kremówka). Kremówki were popularized by the Polish Pope John Paul II as during the visit in his home town of Wadowice he mentioned eating them with his friends after taking high school final exams.

W-Z, also known as Wuzetka. The name comes from an East-West route in Warsaw (Wschód- Zachód). Do not ask me what is has to do with a cake. But what we know is that it is made of two layers of chocolate pastry with whipped cream in the middle and chocolate on top. Sometimes it has a thin layer of jam just under the chocolate coat.

Hiszpan. The word means ‘Spanish Guy’. I’m quite positive it is the sweetest cake you will find in Poland. The base is called Beza (Meringue), which is made of egg whites and sugar. The space between two bezas is stuffed with whipped cream, chocolate or coffee cream. A lot of Polish people stay away from it, as they generally do not like their cakes too sweet. I am one of those people but I actually bought one during my low sugar time. And still could only take two bites.

Ziemniaczek (‘potato’) is a little brown ball covered in coconut, cocoa or walnuts, made of ground pastry or digestive cookies with some chocolate and alcohol added. It often has nuts inside as well. Those are easy to make at home too, and do not require baking.

Napoleon is probably the most funny looking one here. It is a tall Barbie pink cake, or as Polish people would say- panty pink. It basically consists of a sticky egg white with some strawberry syrup and is covered with a thin layer of French pastry, decorated with some more of that sticky pink stuff. Do not order it if you are on a date, it is definitely not a masculine cake. When it comes to sweetness level, it is just after Hiszpan.

There are many more of course, those are just the most significant ones. My advice is when you are in Poland, try a different thing every time you go have coffee, as there is a lot to explore.