Getting around Krakow!

The best and easiest way to get around Krakow is on foot.  Its also free of charge, and a great form of exercise!

Krakow is flat so you don’t need to worry about any hills, well in the centre that is!

One of the great things about Krakow, is that the centre is pedestrianised!   You can walk around, relaxed, without worrying about cars.  It makes getting around so much nicer!

It also feels very safe!

There is so much to see around the city, that it would be a shame not to put at least a day aside to just wander!  Whilst the square is pretty in itself, as you explore the streets, you will see so much more on foot.

Don’t forget to look all around you, both in front, side to side, and upwards.  Many of the buildings have beautiful paintings or statues on them.

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You can’t really get lost if you keep to the rule, that all things end up back in the square!

When you visit the castle, take a walk over the river to view it from another perspective!  Its such a unique castle, with different types of architecture, it would be a shame to miss it.  If we hadn’t done this, we may have missed the fire eating dragon!

The parks are small, but again worth a walk.  You will fall upon different sculptures along the way.  Many of them hidden amongst trees, or on benches.

There are many churches in the city.  If the doors are open, pop in and have a look.  I was blown away by some of the decorations inside.  Remember to have your shoulders and thighs covered though!

If walking isn’t your thing, don’t worry.  There are a couple of other options.  How about a tour in an electric car?  Prices will vary depending on where you are going and for how long.  I would say no more than £20 per person.  Ask the driver and agree a price in advance.   We took one of these for the short ride to the Jewish Quarter, for dinner.   It was only £2.50 each for us, as it took probably only about 15 minutes!

Here you will find a square of chairs, dedicated to the Jews who lost their lives.  Its situated just over the river in the Ghetto, and worth a visit around sunset, where the chairs are lit up!

You will also see many horse drawn carriages.   They leave from the square, and take you for an hour ride around the city.  Again agree a price before you start.  They are usually around 400 PLN (£100) and can seat 4 comfortably, but if you negotiate you may get it cheaper!  On a sunny day, it is quite a nice way to explore the city.

Trams are plentiful.  At under 4 PLN (£1) each way, they are a cheap way to get around.  They run from 5 am to 11 pm.

If you want to go further afield, I would certainly recommend the train service.  We used it to go to the Salt Mines.

To go into the Salt Mine, you just have a 5 minute walk up a slight hill.   The cost is 89 PLN each plus 10 PLN if you want to take photos or videos (£25 in total).  Certainly a nice day out and well recommended.

The station is clean and everything is easily signposted.  It cost us around £0.85 each way for a single trip lasting about 20/30 minutes.

The trains were clean and spacious.  They have ticket machines on board if you don’t have time to get one before boarding.  Alternatively, there are ticket machines on platforms, if there isn’t a ticket office.  It is also a nice way to sit back and take in the scenery.  I do love looking at other peoples lives.  The houses, streets and countryside always interest me.

Taxi’s are also plentiful.  A ride from the airport is around 90 PLN or £20.

We also took a private hire to Autschwitz as there were 7 of us.  It was all included in the price for the tours.  The cost was 160 PLN each (£40), but well worth it.

There are so many options to get around the city, there really isn’t any excuse not to explore.

 

 

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Auschwitz & Auschwitz-Birkenau

Today is our first full day here! We arrange to meet at the ‘head’ in the square at 8.30 am for breakfast.

We decide on the same restaurant that we had lunch in the day before ! The food is good as is the service . In fact the waitress remembers us! Is that a good thing ? I hope so!

I opt for the beetroot and walnut bagel, which was delicious.

Today we are off to Auschwitz and Auschwitz-Birkenau. We have some time before we are due to be picked up, so hubby and I decide to try and take photos of the Castle on the opposite view from yesterday!

It’s a bit dull this morning so the photos are not as good. We cross the river and look back ! There opposite us is the famous dragon, with fire roaring from its mouth! We decide we have just enough time to go across and take some pictures!

We get to see it in action, but it’s too light to capture it on camera !

We head back to our hotel ready to catch our tour.

It’s not a long drive. Approximately 50/60 km. As we are a group we have our own car which is nice.

It’s a good drive, it’s lovely to see the countryside around Krakow. The houses, many churches, as well as how people live away from the main city!

We arrive relaxed and ready for our tour.

I visited both camps over 12 years ago. It’s changed now. Security has increased . You can’t take large bags in anymore. They have to be 20cm x 30cm or less! Mine is slightly larger, so I take my camera, phone and go pro out of my bag! I’ll have to carry them all separately, but I need them to capture the trip!

When you arrive, you are given headphones and a receiver, so you can hear your guide easier!

The tour at Auschwitz takes about 2 hours. There are a few rooms missing from my last visit, but the sadness I felt then is still here now !

It’s hard to believe people could be murdered just because they were Jews! Young innocent children, with their whole life ahead of them !

You visit some of the huts, see where they lived and died!

After the first tour you take a shuttle to Auschwitz-Birkenau. This is far bigger than Auschwitz. You can still see the railway line that brought people to the camps !

Wandering around, looking at how they slept and were treated, you can’t help feeling angry!

Row upon row of huts! All built by the people who ended up loving and dying there !

When you go inside you see their sleeping area. Can you imagine how cold they must have been in winter?

If I said I enjoyed the camps again, I don’t mean in a fun way! I think it is so important to go to these places. See what happened and how they lived, with your own eyes!

More important, I want to remember them all. I hope they are all at peace now !

If you are ever in Krakow, you have to do this trip. It’s very humbling !

I will publish my photos on my YouTube Channel next week. Please take time to view them.

We heard back to our hotel. I think we are a little weary now, so a quick drop off of our stuff, before we head out for dinner!

Tomorrow we plan to do the Salt Mines !

Out of the mouths of babes !

I’ve just had an amazing weekend with my 2 beautiful nieces ! They are 6 and 9. I’ve had them many times since they were born. They are growing so fast, I treasure every moment !

I always try to find an excuse to ask to have them, although I know if I just said to my brother I wanted them, I know I could have them. I think they love their sleep overs with me as much as I do too!

To them I’m auntie MeMe! I absolutely love them to bits. They are not just family, but they are both amazing young girls . In fact I see myself in the eldest one so much.   I call her my mini me!  The youngest has this really brave side to her, which definitely isn’t me at her age, although maybe the independence bit was!

Both girls have the most amazing blue eyes . I’m biased but they are the best girls ever!

What I love about my time with them is seeing life differently!

This weekend we have taken a train ride to Birmingham to go shopping.  I commute to work on the train every day and think nothing of it.  To them though, it’s a real adventure!

We get onto the platform and I explain to them that they have to stay behind the yellow line. Then the questions come.  Why?  To me it is obvious but to them not so much.  We have a conversation about the trains going through the station fast cause a rush of wind, which could blow them under the train!  They both take it in, and make sure they do not cross the line.

The train arrives and they count the carriages.  8 in total.  I hadn’t realised what a big step up it is onto the train.  With their little legs its a big heave up!  We then have to find the right seats.  It is pretty full for a Saturday, but we find a set of 6 which is only occupied by 2 gentleman.

The girls love a picnic, so I’ve made one up for them.  Ham rolls, French Fries crisps, chopped apple and a pork pie each.  They tuck into it nicely.  When it gets to the crisps, they start making letters out of them.  C and Y seemed to be the common ones.  I have to smile as they chat amongst themselves.

The youngest asks me how old I am, to which the oldest tells her its rude to ask a lady her age!  I laughed and said 21, to which the 2 gentleman opposite me laughed.  How rude!  I had to laugh with them though!

Just before we get to Birmingham, I have a chat with them about either holding my hand or staying close.  Birmingham is a big place, and I would hate it if they got lost on my watch!  They both promise me they would, so we jump off the train (and I mean jump its so high!) and head off to the city centre.

The girls are so excited.  Today I have promised to take them shopping for clothes.  The eldest for her birthday, and the youngest as a treat!

We head to the first shop – Primark!    There children’s section isn’t huge, but quickly they both have found an outfit each!  The problem with them both, is that they are both really tall for their age.  The 6 year old is in 9 year old clothes, and the 9 year old, 12-13 year old.  There lies the dilemma!  Some of the outfits are not age appropriate for them.  Thankfully they both realised that, and don’t look at anything too old!

Just before we entered into the first shop, the youngest spotted a man with balloons.  She now really, really wanted one!  I said that we could see how the day went, and if I had enough money left, and she still wanted one she could have one.  I thought she would change her mind!

In Primark, the youngest had an outfit, but then spotted a coat!  I thought is was my opportunity to get out of the balloon!  I said she could either have the coat or the balloon!  Damn, she said she didn’t really need another coat, but she did need the balloon!

We continue around a few more shops such as H&M and New Look.  None of them inspired the eldest, in fact these 2 shops in particular were age inappropriate for the 9 year old!

Now they need the loo!  Where do you go?  Except at the station , I couldn’t remember where there was one!  You don’t tend to think about it when you are on your own!  I look around and see a McDonalds!   I decide we should head there and hope no-one notices us!  I didn’t need to worry though, as the girls then tell me that ‘daddy said the McFurry’s are the best ever!’.  So of course I treat them to one!

Did you know you could get table service there these days?  No, it was news to me too!

While we are sitting there, a man behind us starts having  a row with his wife.  Swear words are exchanged very loudly!  I’m a bit worried about the girls in case he kicks off.  Thankfully he doesn’t.  I ask the girls if they are ok.  I didn’t need to worry.  The young one just said ‘that man said naughty words and wasn’t very nice’!  Oh how true!

As we walked around the city, the girls noticed the homeless.  They were telling me about soup kitchens and charities that help them.  I was so proud of them.  At 9 and 6 they were very aware of how lucky they were and the sad lives other people have.

We passed a man singing for money, and the eldest commented that he was doing it to feed himself.  I was so humble.  I asked if they would like to give him some money, which they did.  I gave them both some coins, and they proudly put them in his tin!

Later we passed a man selling bands for the homeless.  The girls thought this was a really good idea, so again I gave them the £2 each to buy one.

It is amazing how they, so young, can remind us adults to be kind.  I do give to homeless, usually sandwiches or hot drinks, but not every time!  Had I been on my own, would I have noticed them as much?  I’m sad to say, probably not!

We have been shopping for over 4 hours now, and so we decided to head back to the station.  Then the subject of the balloon is raised again, for about the 10th time that day!  As they both had been so good I give in!  Only a small one though!  We do have to take it on the train you know!

We head to the man selling them.  I ask which one she wants.  Cat Boy!  I hadn’t got a clue who that was and had to ask her to point it out.  Of course it had to be the biggest!  I tell her she can have it, as long as she holds it tightly at the station!  She agrees, so we go home with Cat Boy!

True to her word she holds him tight and he comes home safely with us.

We had a great day and are all ready for our dinner and bed!

Spending time with them is always a delight.  I have them until tomorrow and I can’t wait to enjoy every minute of it.

Size does matter!

So you want a glass of wine. You look into the cupboard and see 2 glasses ! A champagne flute and a large wine glass! Which do you choose ?

Recently I have been using the champagne flute ! I want a glass of wine, but I don’t want lots of calories ! In my head, using this glass, I feel I’m still drinking, just a little less ! If I want more, I have to physically walk back to kitchen to fill it up ! It should slow down the drinking and burn calories in steps ! I’ve got it all sorted !

Tonight, my hubby poured me a large glass of wine ! I need to be good, so I fetch the champagne flute out of the cupboard! I start to decanter the large glass into my champagne flute ! Hubby is looking on! I don’t think either of us were expecting what happened next ! The large glass full of wine fitted into my champagne flute !

OMG!

This is a massive lesson! Size certainly does matter ! Just because something looks bigger or smaller than something else, it doesn’t mean it actually is !

This is such an important lesson in making sure you measure everything ! How often have you said ‘I’ve been so good this week. How have I put weight on?’.

Calories can easily creep into our lives without us knowing it !

If you are serious about losing weight, or even not putting it on, you really need to have your eyes wide open!

Is that really a teaspoon full of food? Or is it an actual tablespoon ?

Don’t get caught into that trap! Weigh everything!

Success will come if you let it !

If you are unsure, do the same test ! I guarantee you will be as shocked as we were !

Good luck on your journey too x

When you see your name in print!

Oh wow, how excited was I on 21st August , when I opened my emails?  There, in black and white, was an email from Countryfile Magazine, telling me a photo I had sent in of one of my dogs,  was selected as the winning entry, for the September edition of their magazine.  The competition was being sponsored by Halti, so I was also to receive a selection of their products!

I have been a fan of Countryfile ever since it started! Thankfully, my husband really enjoyed it too.  It has become a religion in our house now.  Every Sunday evening, we would have a roast dinner, then curl up on the sofa, to watch that weeks episode.

One day, I was sitting in a waiting room waiting for my medical.  On the table was a Countryfile magazine.  I had never seen it before, but was so absorbed in it, I was gutted when I had to go in for my appointment.

I immediately went out and subscribed to the magazine.  That was June 2012. And I’m still subscribing to it!

Every month, I have read the articles, looked at the walks and the competitions.  I have mentioned to my hubby many times that he should enter the competitions.  Both hubby and I love photography.  I have seen his photos, and I firmly believe he has some award winning pictures of his own.

I have never really thought any of mine would be good enough.  Then in July, after a trip to Isle of Skye, I saw the competition regarding pets on holiday.

I love taking photos of Fido and Lola, and had been pleased with how they had come out.  My hubby actually was the one who thought I should enter one of them into the competition.

I thought – why not!  What have I got to lose?  So on 16th July, I send off my photo.

When I received the email telling me I had won, I was absolutely shocked.  I didn’t care about the prize!  It was the fact that someone had thought my photo was good!  I couldn’t stop smiling.  Immediately, I started spreading the news!  I was now an award winning photographer!  Ok, it isn’t like I’m on TV or anything, but I was having my photo published in September’s edition of Countryfile Magazine.  I mean, Countryfile!

I have been waiting in excitement to see it in print.

Last night a friend received her copy of the magazine.  Mine hadn’t arrived, but she sent me a photo.  I was again in ‘smile’ mode!  She promised to bring me the magazine into work the next day.

When I saw it in print, it was like I had won the lottery!  Ok, most people won’t know me, but everyone who buys the magazine, will see the picture I took of Fido!

I was always into photography and competitions, just not both together!  This has given me a new motivation, to get out there and take more photos.  Learn more about my camera and  explore the countryside.

Sometimes, you just have to have confidence in your own ability.  If I hadn’t won, I wouldn’t have been disappointed, however now I have, I feel 10 feet tall.  I am very proud of myself, but more importantly, I am proud of my husbands word.  I know he takes some amazing photos too.  I will be pushing him more to get his work out there now!

Don’t ever doubt yourself.  Push yourself out there!  Sometimes, it turns into nothing, but other times, it fulfills your dreams and more!  I certainly will be doing more photographic competitions.  You never know, once day it may even get me on the TV with my photo in the Countryfile calendar!

You have to have a dream and ambition!

I have now started uploading some of my photos to YouTube.  If you are interested, subscribe to my channel.

Can dogs make you a better person?

You may think this is a funny question to ask, but I think they can!  I’m not saying if you have dogs you won’t commit a crime,  but I do think dogs as pets do make a difference in your life!

Since I was born, my parents had dogs.   As a child, there are many options  we want as pets.  Some want fish, some cats, some even want snakes and spiders, but like me, it has to be a dog.  Whatever the pet, the one thing they all teach kids is responsibility.

If you own a pet, you have to make sure its given food, water, a nice home to live in, and depending on the pet, exercise.  What it also does is give you the feeling of love!

How many times have you seen homeless people with dogs?  I have seen many! You may wonder why they have them when they don’t have a home.  For someone who is homeless, they not only give them someone to protect them, but it also gives them someone to love, and love them back!

When I left home at 19, I decide to have 2 kittens, rather than a dog.  I loved my cats dearly, but they are very independent creatures. Yes they would be waiting for me when I got home, but they still wanted to be out exploring!

Dogs on the other hand want so much more from you, and give even more back!

As a child, my fondest memories were of walks at the weekend with my parents, siblings, and the family dog.

We lived near Warwick Racecourse, which is also public land. When the weather permitted, this was a great spot for walking the family dog.

I’ve always loved walking, which I think came from that experience. Even when I left home, I continued with my walks!

One day, I was walking on my own around the Malvern Hills! It struck me that something was missing in my life! I loved my walking, but I really missed that one true friend ! Don’t get me wrong, I had lots of friends socially, but just going for a walk needed a special friend. – a dog!

I worked full time so knew a puppy was out of the question! I decided a trip the the ‘Dogs Trust’ in Kenilworth was the answer !

If you have ever been to a dogs home, you will know what I mean when I say, you know ‘the one’!

I hadn’t really got anything in my head, except it has to like walking!

I looked up and down the kennels, I saw lots of cute dogs, but none said ‘take me home’! So I decided to give up and go home !

Later that day I spoke with my mum. She was disappointed that I hadn’t taken her with me! I felt bad, so even though my last trip was unsuccessful, I decided to return the same day with my mum.

As we walked around the kennels I saw the same dogs again.  My views on them hadn’t changed.  I felt sorry for them, they were cute and sad, but none still didn’t pull the right heart string!  Then I saw her.  She was a beautiful golden dog.  She was called Tilly.  They thought she was a german shepherd and greyhound cross.  She was 8 years old.  They didn’t know much about her except she was found in Ireland.  I fell in love with her immediately.

I registered my interest in her.  When you take a dog from a dogs home, they always make checks on you and where you live before they agree if you can take the dog home.  Thankfully, I passed the tests and Tilly came home with me a week later.

The dogs home had named her Tilly.  She hadn’t been in there long so didn’t really know her new name.  I decided to change it to Sophie!

She was a beautiful dog.  Very loyal.  In the 4 years I had her before she passed away, I never heard her bark.  She was frighten on newpapers though and bangs.  She had a bullet a few millimetres from her heart.  It was believed she may have been shot.  As it was so close to her heart, they couldn’t remove it.

Sophie and I became immediate friends.  She would love coming out for walks with me.

When you walk with your dog, something changes.  You become more sociable.  When its just you walking down the street, you wouldn’t often say anything to someone you pass!  When you have a dog at your side, you seem to have to be polite and make a gesture.  Good morning or afternoon become normal phrases.

You meet other dog walkers.  Funnily enough, you always get to know the dogs names but never the owners!  I was ‘Sophie’s mum’.

I have had 3 more dogs since Sophie.  Ember was next.  He was 2 years old and again from the dogs home.  He was my best friend and very beautiful.  Everyone would stop and talk to me, sparked by their love of my dog.  He was so well behaved.  It broke my heart when I lost him 10 years later.

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We had  a great time with him.  He was walked miles in the Lake District,  up and down Snowdonia as well as the Peak District.  He came down to Devon and Cornwall with us.  In fact where I went, he came too!

He helped me through my cancer treatment.  He didn’t need a lead, so I could walk him straight away.  The exercise helped me keep fit and prepared for my radiation treatment.

Dogs need walking.  You can’t just ‘veg out’ in your house!  You have to get up in the morning to walk them, and again in the evening.  Not only does it give you exercise, but it means you are always out and about meeting new people.  This was vital after my cancer operation.  it could have been so easy just to sit around at home, worrying.

It can be extremely lonely, if every night you just go home to an empty house.  I know some people who go home on a Friday night from work, and not see or speak to someone again until they return to work on the Monday morning.    That is when depression and loneliness can set in.

Having dogs mean you have to leave the house.  Even if you don’t speak to anyone, they will speak to you!  It forces you to be more sociable.

I actually met my ex husband from walking my dog.  He had seen me out and about and wanted to get to know me.  He didn’t have a dog, but he had noticed me.  Whilst he is now my ex, it does show that having a dog can bring new experiences in your life.

I now have 2 border collies. Fido and Lola. They are very beautiful and draw a lot of attention.  Even people without dogs stop to talk to me about them.

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One of my walking routes takes me around an estate where there is a lot of bungalows.  This means that there are a lot of elderly people there.  Every day I meet many of them, either looking out of their window, going to their cars, doing their gardens or putting out the bins.

As I pass them, I always give them a wave, or say hello to them.  I wonder how many other people they see or talk to in that day?  I feel that that little gesture to them, may make a lot of difference to them.

When we are not walking we are also missing out on our surroundings too.  We have recently come back from a week in the Lake District.  We had the 2 dogs with us too.   One of the walks we did was not far away from our cottage.  We had driven the same road every day when we were there.

As we started our walk, I spotted a river which I hadn’t seen before.  I had passed that route so many times, but I had never seen that river.  I then started to spot other things.  Feels with cows and sheep, views over the countryside.

During that week we did over 139,000 steps.  It took us to many places.  If we hadn’t had the dogs we might have just jumped onto a plane somewhere.  Instead we explored the countryside.  We did the same in June in Scotland.  We got to see some stunning views as well as get plenty of exercise.

Dogs help us see more of our surroundings, which we are blind to when we are just driving through!

So do dogs make you a better person?  Yes they do!  For so many reasons

Our walk from Pooley Bridge

So this morning we can’t blame the neighbours for the early start!  They seemed to have left yesterday!

5.24 am Lola lets off a half-hearted little bark.  I know that is a signal that she needs the loo, so I get up and take them both out.  We come back in and both of them jump straight back into their beds!  I’m ever hopeful of a few more hours sleep!

Ok, it was going quite well until just before 7 am, when Fido starts whining and howling. Only gently, but you know he isn’t going to stop until you go to him.  Lola has her attention seeking bark and he has this!

Hubby is awake, so offers to go down to him. He comes back with a cup of tea for me.  I say I’ll just have 20 minutes then I’ll get up and join him.  That turned into an hour!  Whoops!

This is our last full day in the Lakes.  We decide to go to Pooley Bridge.  There is a 7.2 km walk from the village, which takes about 2 hours!  From the walk you should get amazing views of Ullswater, see the Cockpit stone circle, and Cop Stone.

The route to Pooley Bridge is via the Wrynose Pass again.  This really isn’t a fun road, but we are now getting used to it.  Before hitting the village you also go over the Kirkstone Pass.  Nowhere near as bad as the Wrynose Pass that is for sure!

What we had forgotten until we arrived at the village, was that in 2015/2016 floods washed away the old bridge.  There is a temporary one in place at the moment, but it isn’t a photo opportunity!

We start the walk and head up the hill to the stone circles.  It’s a bit cold and damp.  Then it all goes a bit wrong.  We keep climbing, but can’t seem to find all the right paths!   The higher the climb the rougher the wind!

After 2 hours of some really steep climbs, we decide to turn around and go back to the car.  The forecast was for heavy rain around 3 pm.  It was now 2 pm.  It had been very windy and damp at the top so didn’t want to risk it any more.

The views from the top were stunning though, so I wasn’t complaining.  Ok, I wasn’t quite complaining, but one of the climbs was really really tough.  We had to stop a few times, before we got to the top.  I think even the dogs struggled!

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As is usual for us, the 7.2km walk turned out to be 12.67km.

As we head back down the weather feels likes it’s improving, so we think we must have missed the worst of it.  We could see heavy rain in the distance though!

While hubby takes the dogs to the car, I pop to a local shop called Chestnut House, to get a bottle of wine.  I was amazed at this shop.  It had so many Gins, Vodkas and whiskey’s in the one place that I have ever seen!  I ended buying a couple of miniatures as well as the wine to try when I get home!  I was hoping it might had some sweets or biscuits too to take home as gifts, but sadly not!

We picnic in the car before heading home.  The weather has now taken a turn for the worst.  Hubby rightly takes the decision that we shouldn’t go via the Wrynose Pass on the way back, as it would be too dangerous.  I was so thankful.  Visibility wasn’t good on the Kirkstone Pass, so the Wrynose would be worse!

I took a video of the Kirstone Pass and Wrynose Pass which I will put on Youtube shortly.

He sets the sat nav to detour us via Lake Windermere!  Although it was pouring with heavy rain, it was still nice to drive through that way.  I hadn’t been there for many years.  Although we didn’t stop, I was still surprised at how it had changed.  So many more shops. It felt very commercialised now.

We are now home safe and sound in our comfy  cottage!  Tonight is scrabble and curry!

Tomorrow we are heading back home.  We plan to take a detour via Morecombe.  It will break up the journey but also give the dogs a chance to stretch their legs.   We are in no rush to get home so we may as well make the day of it.

Its been a good week even if the weather wasn’t on our side.