K is for Kokkari, Krakow

Welcome to the A to Z challenge, a blog post everyday of April apart from Sundays, covering every letter of the alphabet. My theme is travel, that thing that we haven’t been able to do over the last 12 months, so it seemed appropriate to reminisce about past travels we’ve taken, looking forward to when we can travel freely again.

Today we’re visiting the birthplace of Pythagoras and the city where Pope John Paul II lived and studied.

Six months after our wedding we headed to the beautiful Greek island of Samos, where Pythagoras of the triangle theory is from, for our belated honeymoon, staying in the village of Kokkari. It’s a really beautiful place and the people are incredibly friendly – I don’t think we had a meal without something free being thrown in for us to try.

The cat lover in me was in heaven, as there are lots of cats around, and the one below was very happy sleeping on someone’s motorbike. Bougainvillea are everywhere in Samos, and they look so beautiful with the contrast between the pink flowers and the white of the buildings.

As always when in a new place, my beloved and I like to find the restaurants that aren’t purely filled with tourists, and Kokkari was no different. We found a lovely place down many side streets, and enjoyed a scrumptious meal with great local wine. At the end of the meal the owner brought two shot glasses full of a clear liquid over to our table and encouraged us to “drink, drink”. Not knowing what it was, but feeling brave, I knocked the shot back in one easy action, and then tried not to act like I was dying in front of the locals. My beloved, for some strange reason, decided to sip his first, and the look on his face was priceless – I so wish I had a picture of it. I could tell he really didn’t want to put the rest of that glass anywhere near his mouth, but not wanting to offend our host, he bravely swallowed it down.

Krakow is in the south of Poland and archaeological excavations have shown that humans have lived in the area since the stone age. Occupied by the German army during the second world war, the city emerged from the conflict with little physical damage, but too much loss of life, especially amongst the Jewish community.

Make sure you go to the Jewish Quarter, Kazimierz, which has a different feel to other areas of Krakow and there are some really wonderful cafes with traditional Polish food, not the tourist version of the food.

As always, we look out for street art and funny signs, with there being lots of examples throughout the city. I’ve chosen these three to share as they’re quite diverse in their appeal.

Here’s just a few of the vehicles around the city that my beloved insisted I take a photo of – the only one we actually travelled in is the glorified golf buggy with the driver smiling at the camera. The shiny bronze car in the top left corner is completely covered in 1 grosz coins, similar in size to a 1 pence or 1 cent coin – that must have taken hours of dedication.

This gorgeous black and white cat lived in a cafe, and would often sit outside next to the menu sign, almost as if he was welcoming you in. Another day when we visited he came and slept on a spare chair at our table. The cat below was attached by a lead to the inside and was sunning himself on the window ledge. The bonus being he was happy to have a chat with us tourists.

There were lots of lovely cakes to sample including what looks like lamingtons in the middle picture – for those of you that aren’t Australian, lamingtons are one of our national specialities. They weren’t quite the same flavour but still very similar.

A great daytrip to take if you get the chance is to the Wieliczka Salt Mine which is an underworld of incredible spaces. It has been mined for seven hundred years, and there are nine levels below the ground. My favourite thing was the chapel where everything is carved out of salt, including the chandeliers and the last supper.

We stumbled across this great little oasis in the middle of the city, food trucks/bus, good coffee, and various places to sit. It was a perfect moment in the sun.

One of the other things that I would definitely recommend doing is a visit to Oskar Schindler’s factory which is now a museum. The way it is set up is very revealing and confronting and makes what happened during the second world war even more real and reinforces that it should never be forgotten.

There are beautiful cathedrals, churches, and synagogues to visit, and we even gate crashed a wedding that was happening in the cathedral when we visited. It was a wedding between a Polish girl and a British guy, so really interesting to witness the blending of the two cultures during the ceremony.

This last photo is taken in a lovely ice-cream parlour we found late one evening.

If you’ve never been, do consider both of these places as somewhere to visit as they are both lovely and full of history and culture to explore.

Thanks for stopping by and make sure you visit other bloggers who are crazy enough to be doing the challenge with me – Click Here to visit the master list of participants.

Stay safe and have a lovely day.

Previous A to Z posts:

2018 – K is for Kissing

2017 – K is for Kessock Bridge

2016 – K is for Ken (the gorgeous one)

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