Wandering around Krakow

Today was our last day. As we didn’t need to be picked up for the airport until 6.30 pm, we decided to have a relaxing day, wandering around the city!

We met our friends for a drink (tea and coffee!) in our favourite restaurant, in the main square !

After saying goodbye to one of the couples, as they were heading to the airport, we took a stroll back to the castle. We have walked here a few times, but you can never get bored with it!

I wanted to see if I could get a better shot of the dragon, as it roared with fire! I did! Check out my YouTube channel to see it! I’ll post the link below!

We then strolled around the streets. It’s amazing how you see new things everyday.

What surprised me today is how much quieter everywhere is. There is definitely a lot fewer tourists about!

There are also a lot more nuns and priests around!

The sun is out, so it’s a perfect day again for photography!

https://youtu.be/Kx3NfU9p1jk

If you are going to Krakow, make sure you give yourself time to just wander around! Look up and down. There are so many things to see! Beautiful architecture is everywhere, statues on buildings, as well as sculptures.

We meet our friends again for lunch, before they too head off to the airport. We choose a restaurant just off the square.

As we eat our lunch, we notice a lot of people behind us! There is a film crew and actors literally over our shoulders. People are gathering to watch and take selfies!

I ask our waiter what is going on! They are filming for a local Soap! It’s all very exciting and interesting! I don’t know for sure, but I’ve decided the main man is cheating on his girlfriend!

We have spent everyday in one particular restaurant on the square. They have some lovely tin dishes for sale at 22 PLN each! I love them and think they will be a great pot to make individual meals in. They also are red to go with my kitchen, and with the restaurants symbol on, so can’t resist buying 6! It’s a good job I’ve saved space in my case!

We say goodbye to our friends. We are the last of the 4 couples to leave. We still have 3 hours to kill, so decide to just have a little wander again!

It’s so hot we end up back in the square for the last hour, people watching !

It’s been an amazing weekend.

At 6.30 pm we are picked up for a drive to the airport! It takes less than 20 minutes to get there.

Security and passport control are all speedy too.

I can’t resist a quick look in duty free! There, on the first isle I look at, is cherry and hazelnut vodka! 16 PLN each! That’s £4 a bottle. It would be a crime not to take some home! Hubby and I can enjoy it while looking back over our photos of the trip!

Our flight home, at the moment is on time! Tomorrow we are back to work . We have had a wonderful time, with great friends, weather, good food, drink, culture and some amazing memories!

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The Salt Mine – Krakow

Today we headed off to the Salt Mine. Instead of booking a formal tour, we went solo!

We headed off to the main train station in Krakow, to catch the 8.51 am.

We initially tried to buy the tickets through one of the many machines, but not speaking the language and being a little unsure, we opted to go to the main ticket office!

As you walk through the station, it’s all very well signposted. It’s also very clean!

At the ticket office the cashier speaks English, so it’s very easy. You can’t get a return ticket so we buy just a single! I can’t believe how cheap public transport is here. 3.50 PLN each, which is about £0.85 each!

We head to platform 1. The train arrives on time. Again, it’s clean and modern. There is also a ticket machine on the carriage, so if you don’t have time to get one before boarding, you can still buy one!

I’m also impressed with the seats. They are comfy and have plug sockets underneath? Plus a bin for each set of seats!

Above is a screen which shows you the trains route, and where you are on that route. For foreign travellers, it’s perfect to make sure you get off at the right stop. Which we do!

The Salt Mine is only about 5 minutes walk away from the station, up a slight hill.

As we have arrived early, there isn’t really a queue! Entry, for a 2 hour tour is 89 PLN, approximately £22 each. If you want to take photos or videos, you have to pay an additional 10 PLN (£2.50), which of course we do!

The tours are in different languages, so we head for the queue for the English one. We are given headphones and receivers, so we can hear our guide better!

You then start the tour. Be warned, we will go down a lot of steps, so sensible shoes are a must.

The tourist books say to take a jacket as temperatures fall to between 13/16 degrees, although we were rather hot in ours!

To descend to the Danilowicz Shaft on level 1, you walk down 380 steps, taking you 64 m underground!

In total you will descend 800 steps, taking you down to 135 m underground to level 3! There are a total of 9 levels to the Mine, so the tour only covers about 1% of it !

In total, there are nearly 2400 chambers in the Mine, with 245 km of corridors! Reaching to 327 m underground! I’m amazed, just thinking of what lies beneath us! All this is supported by wooden beams! The Salt hardens the wood, so it’s perfectly safe!

Don’t worry about the way back, there is a lift back up!

As you walk through the Mine, you will be blown away at its natural beauty! If you touch the walls and lick your fingers, you taste the Salt!

As you pass through chambers upon chambers, you will see many sculptures carved out of the Salt! The chapel of St Kinga is said to be the largest underground temple in the world!

An emerald lake sparkles in the light.

Due to the darkness in places, it’s difficult to video, although, I have tried it on my GoPro, so I will see when I download it at home.

I’ve take many photos, so I’m hoping they too will show it’s beauty!

There are plenty of toilets on route, and a couple of places to buy gifts and have a drink or snack!

The highlight of the tour though has to be the chapel! You can get married there too! What a magical place to take your vows!

The tour takes a nice pace, but I was very thankful for the lift back up!

If you are scared of enclosed spaces, please tell your guide! The lift is very small, and they will fill it to capacity! It’s certainly not for anyone who needs space!

The trip back up only takes about 20 seconds.

Outside, there is a kiosk which sells food and drink! I highly recommend the sausage! You get the sausage, a roll and a coke for 15 PLN (£3.75). It was delicious!

After a feed and rest we head back to the station. There isn’t a ticket office here, but now as seasoned travellers, we buy our return ticket from the machine! You can’t pay cash through the machine only card though!

The train arrives on time and we do the 20 minute journey back to Krakow!

It’s been a great trip.

As we head to the main square, it’s hard not to notice how much busier it is. Obviously the locals must come out on a Sunday. There is a lot going on! Musicians are playing, people are making bubbles or balloon animals! It’s absolutely lovely!

The sun is out, so it’s a perfect afternoon for a stroll!

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 !

Kraków here we come!

Woo hoo, today we are off to Kraków.  Our flight leaves at 6.25 am, so the alarm is set for 2.50 am.The plan was to go to bed last night at 8pm so we could get plenty of sleep! Typically, I’m still wide awake at this time.  I know that going to bed when you are not tired is not good for you, so I decided to watch a bit of t.v, to see if that helps.  I eventually feel the need for bed about 9.30pm.

The dogs went to kennels yesterday.  The house is so quiet.  It’s strange not having to put them out for their final toilet break before bedtime.  I’m missing them already.

I always worry that I will oversleep when I have something important to wake up for, so I have set 2 alarms, and asked hubby to make sure his is on too.

I wake up just after 1am and force myself to go back to sleep, but I just can’t! By 2 am, I’m wide awake!  I’m going to be so tired later!

At 2.45 am, I decide to make tea for us both. I always have a pint of green tea every morning, which takes a while to cool down enough to drink, so I jump into the shower in the meantime.

The plan was to leave the house at 3.30 am, but just before then hubby realised he hadn’t notified his bank that he was going away.  Eek, neither had I! So we both have to quickly log into our computers to do it.  I’m now panicking a bit, as we are late leaving, and there is no guarantee either of our banks will update our accounts in time!

We are booked into a carpark at the airport that we haven’t used before, so we have to use the postcode!  The sat nav in my car is nearly 4 years old, it doesn’t recognise the address!  I was originally going to drive, but as my reading glasses were to hand, hubby and I swap places!  Thankfully the  Sat nav on my phone recognises it, so we find it easier than we expected.

We eventually get parked and to the airport, not as early as I would like, but we are here!

We have 40 minutes before we have to go to our gate, so we pop to Burger King for some breakfast.  Why is it so expensive to eat and drink at airports?

I’m also a bit worried about being able to draw currency when we get to Kraków, so I decide to buy some  currency at the airport.  It’s better to be safe than sorry!

A quick trip to WH Smith for water and some sweets is all we have time for, before we have to board!


We have our usual seat positions!  Hubby with the window seat, and me in the middle.  For a long while the isle seat next to me was empty.  I don’t know about you, but I always hope it stays empty, so we can stretch out!  It rarely happens, and today is no exception.  It’s quite a full flight!

We are flying with Jet2.  They are not a bad company to fly with.  My only negative is, that there is nowhere for you to put your bottles of drinks.  There is a cup holder, but it’s too big  for hubby’s Fanta and too small for my water!  Sounds like something out of the 3 bears!

The just right was a green tea which I bought in the flight!  I tried to sleep, but as usual I can’t!

The flight is just over 2 hours, so not too long. We thankfully arrive ahead of schedule!  There is a short ride from the plane to passport control!  I’ve never been in such a long slow queue!  They only had 2 desks open to deal with a plane full of people!  They do eventually open 3 more desks, but jeez!

By the time we get through the carasel for baggage has stopped, and the flight no longer listed on the board, so I had to hunt round to find our bag!

We had pre booked a car to pick us up at the airport, to take us to our hotel.  We are staying at the Rembrandt Aparthotel in the old town.

We are joining 3 other couples  there.  As we have all come from different places in the uk, they arrived late last night.  The weather promises to be mid 20’s, so it should be a good weekend!

Our driver is lovely and friendly.  The trip only takes about half an hour!

Our room isn’t ready yet, so we drop our bags in a friends room and go off exploring.  As we are staying in the old town, it only takes minutes to hit the main square.


Tonight we are heading to the Jewish quarter for dinner!

The plan over the weekend is to visit the 2 concentration camps – Auschwitz and Berkenau, the salt mines, castle, and the old town.

Keep following my blog to see how the weekend goes!

I’ll upload photos to my YouTube channel when I’m home too, so don’t forget to subscribe to it too!

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.