TOP 5 SUMMERTIME DESTINATIONS IN POLAND ( AND WHAT TO EAT THERE?!)

Poland is really small .In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if it turned out that two provinces in China put together are bigger than our country. Still – you will be impressed how diverse it is and how many various travel destinations it has to offer.

In this post, check out top 5 areas that you need to visit when it Poland and…what to eat there!

1.POLISH SEASIDE – MORZE BAŁTYCKIE

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The Polish seaside by the Baltic sea –Morze Bałtyckie –  the area the Poles used to fight for so vehemently in the past – is a very popular summer destination for Polish tourists and our German neighbors!

When I was a kid, most Polish parents would get an annual leave specifically to take their offsprings to the seaside and have them inhale iodine there ( whoever made that rule, thank you!).

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I rememer how excited I would get each time when we were getting on the night train with bunk beds to sleep on, that would get us to the very north of Poland the next morning!

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The coastline is over 200 miles long and the most popular resorts are:Sopot, Międzyzdroje, Kołobrzeg, Łeba, Władysławowo, Hel peninsula , Jastarnia, Darłowo, Mielno and Rewal.

Warning! The water in the Baltic sea is VERY cold ( from 18 – 23 C degrees) but it is refreshing and salty.

Accommodation

Besides big resorts, you can choose the homestay to immerse more in our culture ( I am sure they will offer you pierogi if you ask!)

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However, if you want to mingle with Polish celebrtities, head for The Sofitel Grand in Sopot – a 5 star, lavish hotel with sea views, adjacent to Europe’s oldest wooden pier!

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Food

Of course, fish! The traditional Baltic sea lunch or dinner will definitely include fried fish with bread or french fries.Very simple but delicious!The fresh fish you will get most of the time during summer is sole, trout, eel.

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As for snacks you can’t miss the symbols of my chidlhood’s summer – waffles with whipped cream and wild Polish blueberry ( that is very small and black!) and ‘jagodzianki‘ – sweet , yeast buns stuffed with wild Polish blueberries!

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2.POLISH LAKESIDE – MAZURY

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I haven’t been to Mazury many times.Only once but ‘intensely’. My mother used to be a member of a professional sailing team and when I was 16,she decided it was about time for a survival camp for me!That’s how I ended up on a 2 week sailing camp,where every day we would explore different part of the lakes and stay the night at a different harbor ( most of the time – in the middle of the forest!). The experience was unique and I recommend all of you to try!

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Mazury lake district – also known as ‘Land of thousand lakes’ –consists of 2000 lakes and stretches over 200 miles.It is surrounded by forests and meadows.

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The largest lake is called ‘Śniardwy’ .It is over 10 miles long and 8 miles wide, up to 75 feet deep in places, has 8 islands and connects with numerous other lakes and canals all part of the Mazury waterways.

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The most popular tourist resorts, include Węgorzewo, Olecko, Mrągowo, Giżycko, Mikołajki and Ruciane Nida, many of the resorts are interconnected via canals and lakes

Accommodation

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Mazury have a wide range of accommodation choices, from luxury hotels,through homestays,traditional agricultural holdings or traditional timber cabins.But! To experience the spirit of Mazury, I say go yachting and sleep on the yacht or in a tent! It will be an experience of a lifetime!

Food

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Again, fish! Pollock, carp,sturgeon,whitefish to name just a few.Altogehter, there are around 30 different types of fish you will get in Mazury!

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Since Mazury is also a land of forests, you can  enjoy a big variety of mushrooms. Don’t forget to try delicious game (my favorite type of meat) that Poland is famous for !

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3.PODHALE – TATRY MOUNTAINS

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I am definitely biased putting Podhale on the list.Everyone who comes from Kraków, grew up visiting Podhale and Tatry mountains on regular basis ( especially in winter), since it is only about 2 hour drive from the city. The striking beauty of the landscape and folk culture as well as food from this area is our Polish pride, so I consider myself really lucky that my hometown was in such a close vicinity to it.

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The Podhale is Poland’s most southernmost region and its name literally means ‘under the mountain meadows’.Sometimes it is referred to as Polish highlands.It is located in the foothills of the Tatra range of the Carpathian mountains.

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The most disctinctive peak of the Tatra range is Giewont – also known as ‘The sleeping knight’ due to its silhouette. According to the legend, ‘one of the bravest Polish kings from 11th century– Boleslav the Brave and his knights went into the mountain.Withing the mountain, there is ahuge dark cavern where Boleslav and his knights sleep.They are mounted on their horses with their swords beside them and lances couched.If Poland needs them in the time of great danger,then someone must awake them and they will ride forward to serve.However, once they have gone forward, they will never return…’

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The most popular resort is undeniably Zakopane with the lake known as ‘Morskie Oko’ – ‘The Eye of the Sea'( the local legend claims it is connected to the Adriatic sea by subterranean passages). However, it can be really crowded, so you can check out the place called ‘Kościelisko’ where I spent a lot if winters as a kid!

Accommodation

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Just like the seaside, in Podhale you will find lots of luxurious hotels as well as private homestays.And again, if you want to experience the local culture, I definitely recommend private rooms in or around Zakopane!

Food

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Podhale is particularly famous for OSCYPEK – cheese made of mix of cow and sheep’s milk (that I described in one of the previous posts!).Try it warm with cranberry sauce!

Of course,in any local restuarant you can also get your set of pierogi!

4.BESKIDY MOUNTAINS WITH KRYNICA ZDRÓJ

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The Beskids (Beskidy mountains) are a series of mountain ranges that stretch from the Chech Republic in the West, along the border of Poland with Slovakia up to Ukraine in the east.They are situated in the south of Poland and pride to have one of the best equipped skiing resort in Krynica Zdrój.

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Krynica is  situated in the heart of the Beskids.Before it gained popularity among snow sports lovers thanks to Jaworzyna Krynicka, it was and still is known as the biggest spa town in Poland.Therefore, it is also called ‘The Pearl of Polish Spas’.

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As a kid I would go there almost every summer to drink the natural mineral water ( and you could get at least 10 different kids of it) and the mineral water spa treatments.

Accommodation

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Just like in Podhale, you will find a big variety of hotels, spas as well as homestayB&B.

Food

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Since it is mountain area, you will also find here a lot of ‘oscypek’ and other traditional foods.But when you are in Krynica, you should mainly focus on getting all kinds of mineral water as they have multiple health benefits!

5.PUSZCZA BIALOWIESKA – BIAŁOWIEŻA FOREST

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This is the only place on this list I haven’t visited in Poland and really regret it.

Białowieża Forest straddles the border between Poland and Belarus and there is even border crossing available for hikers and cyclists!

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It is one of the last and largest remaining parts of the immense primeval forest that once stretched across the European Plain.It has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site and an EU Natura 2000 Special Area od Conservation.

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The forest is home to 800 European Bison – Europe’s heaviest land animal . If you have ever had the famous Bison Grass Vodka – in Polish – Żubrówka (Joanna loves to serve it with apple juice and actualy she learned how to make this vodka herself!),then this is the animal you see on the bottle!

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The forest contains a large number of large, ancient oaks, some of which are individually named, with Emperor of the South and Emperor of the North among them!

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Accommodation

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You will find lots of homestays/guestrooms in the area which can be as cheap as 30 RMB per night.

Food

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You will be spoilt by a big variety of Polish foods here.The must try is local dumpling called PYZY made with raw,grated potatoes and cooked, mashed potatoes in the dough.Served with bacon topping, of course! Besides that, try the local milk and goat cheese, local bread, Polish pancakes and smoked sausages.

ENJOY YOUR HOLIDAYS IN POLAND!

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WHAT DO SHANGHAI – LANDERS SAY ABOUT PIEROGI?

Although Pierogi Ladies are only 4 months old, our yummies have been the talk of the town since the launch party on March 9!

Check out some of the opinions of our regular customers!

Here is what the famous food blogger – http://www.recipenomad.com said about us in the whole article dedicated to pierogi! Check it out here!http://www.recipenomad.com/shanghai-pierogi-ladies/ 

Below, more opinions of the notorious foodies!

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JOANNA’S TOP 5 SPOTS IN HER HOMETOWN – WARSZAWA!

The capital of Poland and the birth place of Joanna Pierogi Lady.

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The general saying goes that while Kraków is more relaxed and slow paced, Warszawa (Warsaw in English) is more international, fast and the place for career oriented people. I won’t lie to you and shame on me, but I don’t really know Warszawa very well.To be honest, I have been there only 4 times maybe in my whole life.However now, that my business partner is Warszawa local, hopefully she will show me around whenever we visit Poland at the same time.

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In this post, let’s have a look at 5 places that Joanna described to me as her top favorite in Warszawa and would recommend to anyone visiting her hometown.

Before that, some key info about Warszawa!

1. According to the folk etymology (yes, Poles love their legends!), the city’s name – Warszawa- is a combination of Wars – a fisherman , and Sawa – his mermaid wife he found in the Vistula River!

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2.The first historical reference to Warszawa dates back to 1313, at a time when Krakow still served as the capital of Poland.However, due to its central location between the Polish – Lithuanian Commonwealth’s capitals – Krakow and Vilnus – Warszawa became the capital of the Commonwealth and the Crown of the Kingdom of Poland. The main reason behind it was because king Sigismund III Vasa moved his court from Krakow to Warszawa in 1956.

3. In World War II Warszawa suffered extensive damage and almost 85 % of its buildings were razed to the ground.

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4. Warszawa gained the title of ‘Phoenix City‘ as it survived many wars, conflicts and invasions throughout its long history, but it was it was almost completely rebuilt.

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5.In 2012 The Economist ranked Warszawa as the 32nd most liveable city in the world and one of the most liveable cities in Central Europe.

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6.Today Warszawa is considered an ‘Alpha’ global city , a major international tourist destination and a significant cultural, political and economic hub.

7.The Warsaw Stock Exchange is one of the largest and most important in Central and Eastern Europe.

8. Warszawa, together with Frankfurt, Paris, and Barcelona is one of the cities with the hihghest number of skyscrapers in European Union.

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9. Warszawa has been called ‘Eastern Europe’s chic cultural capital with thriving art and club scenes and serious restaurants.

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Now, let’s finally get to Joanna’s top 5 spots in Warszawa that you can’t miss!

1. CHARLOTTE CHLEB I WINO AT PLAC ZBAWICIELA ( SAVIOR SQUARE)

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Plac Zbawiciela is a circular square in Central Warsaw, designed originally by 18 th century royal gardener Johann Christian Schuch as part of the royal gardens.

The square is named after the Church of the Holiest Savior, which was built between 1901 and 1927.

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In 2012 the Christian nature of the square was bothered by an artistic installation Tęcza ( Rainbow) that has been the subject of controversy and as Joanna says – has been set on fire more than once.That’s why, at some point, it ceased to exist.

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Now,all the foodies out there – remember this.The main reason to visit Plac Zbawiciela is Charlotte. Chleb I Wino (Charlotte Bread and Wine) facing the square. Joanna says it is a hipster place – French bakery – where you can have really good breakfast, lunch and champagne in the evening! (check out more on their Facebook page! https://www.facebook.com/bistrocharlotte/ )

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2.LAKE PARK WILANÓW

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When you need a break from the city, Joanna recommends heading to Lake Park Wilanów, that can be described in one sentence as ‘Wakeboarding, food and atmosphere’.It is allegedly ‘the most beautiful beach in Warszawa that besides wakeboarding and sports activities is a venue for various concerts and DJ gigs. Check out more on their facebook page https://www.facebook.com/lakeparkwilanow/ or website wakepark.pl ( it is in Polish but when you click ‘kontakt’ you will be able to call the staff that speaks English for sure!)

3.SOHO FACTORY – BARS AND ART DISTRICT

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If you want to combine food,art and fashion as well as meet Polish celebrities, Joanna advises visiting Soho – art district described as ‘an avangard space for business and culture’. This unique space utilizes old postindustrial buildings surrounded by ample green land to house various events: fashion shows, exhibitions, photo studios and many more!

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Check out more on their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/SohoFactory or website http://www.sohofactory.pl/en/content/idea

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4.TARG ŚNIADANIOWY ( BREAKFAST BAZAAR)

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Foodies heaven. It is breakfast/brunch pop up bazaar that takes place every Saturday and Sunday during summertime in 4 districts called Żoliborz,Gocław, Mokotów and Ursynów.Just like at most of the pop ups in Shanghai, you can try a big variety of homemade cooking and not only Polish!

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More on their facebook page https://www.facebook.com/targsniadaniowy?fref=ts or website http://targsniadaniowy.pl/

5.TEMAT RZEKA NAD WISŁĄ

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According to one Polish blogger from Warszawa ‘Riverside has become pretty big thing in Warsaw recently and Temat Rzeka put all the best activities in one place. It’s the best place to hang out in the summer time, makes you feel like you’re on holidays without actually leaving Warsaw ‘

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For more check out her website https://www.likealocalguide.com/warsaw/temat-rzeka or the Facebook page of the venue https://www.facebook.com/trzeka/?rf=294066897403591

ACCOMMODATION

If you are thinking where to stay in Warszawa, Joanna suggests these areas:

1)Śródmieście

2) Mokotów

3)Wilanów

We are looking forward to your feedback after visiting the capital city of our country!

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GOSIA’S TOP 5 SPOTS IN HER HOMETOWN – KRAKÓW

It’s this time of the year when Shanghai will lose big number of its inhabitants for at least two months.We don’t blame them!There are obviously more well – being –friendly places out there than our lovely city during summertime!

If your heat escape happens to be in Europe, then you might want to pay a visit to Pierogi Ladies’ hometowns. Their size cannot compare to Shanghai but they still have a lot to offer! Here come a few suggestions based on our very personal preferences!

Kraków

 

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That’s where I (Gosia) was born and raised. Although just like any other city, Kraków is constantly developing and transforming, there are a few spots that hopefully will stay forever! Before I tell you which ones, first a few key facts about Kraków !

Key info to remember about Kraków!

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1. According to a legend, Kraków was founded by the mythical ruler Krakus,who built it above a cave occupied by a dragon – Smok Wawelski (and you can still visit the cave today as well as see the statue of the dragon right outside of it!)

 

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2. The first written record of the city’s name dates back to 965,when  Kraków was described as a notable commercial center.

3.Kraków used to be the capital of the Crown of the Kingdom of Poland from 1038 to 1569.

4.Kraków was almost entirely destroyed during the Mongol invasion of 1241,but then rebuilt identical.

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5. Establishment of new universities and cultural venues at the emergence of the Second Polish Republic in 1918 and throughout 20th century, Kraków reaffirmed its role as a major academic and artistic centre.

6.It has been cited as one of Europe’s most beautiful cities thanks to its extensive cultural heritage across the epochs of Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque architecture that includes the Wawel Cathedral and the Royal Castle on the banks of the Vistual river, the St.Mary’s Basilica and the largest medieval market square in Europe, the Rynek Główny.

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7.  Kraków is home to Jagiellonian University,one of the oldest universities in the world and traditionally Poland’s most reputable institution of higher learning (and that’s where my Master’s degree comes from!).

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7. In 2000  Kraków was named European Capital of Culture.

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That – I would say – is the bare minimum that could give you the general picture about the place where I was born.When you visit, the landmarks I mentioned in # 6 are MUST (FYI – don’t tell the Wawel Staff you know it from me, but unofficially unendorsed legend has it that Wawel hill,specifically,beneath the Chapel of St Gereon – hides one of the 7 sacred stones giving off strong cosmic energy. My mom claims it works for her, so if you want to try, head towards the northwest corner of Wawel’s Reneissance courtyard,directly left of the courtyard entrance).

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However! If you ask for Gosia’s personal guide, here are my top 5 favorite spots you can’t miss when in Kraków !

   1. KAZIMIERZ – THE JEWISH QUARTER

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I spent almost 5 years of my life thoroughly exploring this magical area. Simple reason – I was lucky enough that the headquarters of my university’s major – Jagiellonian University’s Applied Psychology Department – was located in the very heart of the Jewish Quarter.                                                   Between 14th and 19th century it used to be an independent royal city –  a royal city of the crown of Polish Kingdom, located south of Kraków old town and separated by a branch of the Vistula River.For many centuries, Christian and Jewish cultures would coexist and mix with each other. Today it is an important center of cultural life of the city.In a way, French Concession in Shanghai reminds me a lot about this place – clash of two cultures, lots of little lanes hiding historical churches and synagogues, tiny shops and uniquely designed cafes as well as some of the best restaurants and bars in town! Not to mention the Wolnica Plac which sells legendary ‘zapiekanki’ (Polish grilled sandwiches) and holds famous flea markets, concerts and various popular events.

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2.VISTULA RIVER BANKS

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Although I love Shanghai, there is one thing that my hometown excels at – cycling lanes that in 15 minutes can get you from downtown to completely green areas in the outskirts.

If you visit my hometown in spring, summer or autumn, definitely rent a bike and start your tour from the Wawel hill.Just cycle down the river, passing lots of smaller and bigger bridges, you will get to the picturesque outskirts.At the end of the route there is Kraków Kayak Club as well as a big area with various sports activities.

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FYI – Kraków is known for having some of the best whitewater kayaking facilities in Europe!

3.TYNIEC

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When you are at Kraków Kayak Club venue already, don’t forget to  visit my peace oasis – Benedictine abbey in Tyniec, as it is only 10 minutes away by bike.

Tyniec is a historic village in Poland,right on the banks of the Vistula river and since 1973 it’s been a part of Kraków. It was founded by King Kasimir the Restorer in 1044 and its name comes from a Celtic language word ‘Tyn’,which means ‘wall’ or ‘fence’, referring to the history of Tyniec as a fortified settlement in the pre-Slavic times.

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Today the abbey with Baroque and Gothic constructions overlooking the river and surrounding fields is a great place to just sit down and take a deep breath as you admire the landscape.At least that’s what I used to do when I lived there!

4. LAS WOLSKI – THE WOLSKI FOREST AROUND THE ZOO

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Kraków zoo’s location is very peculiar as despite close proximity to the downtown area, it is situated amidst the vast 500-hectare Wolski Forest.As a kid I used to enjoy the hike up the quite steep hill before entering the zoo.

Later on,especially that just before leaving for China I used to live in the nearby area, it was my regular cycling track that would be one of my favorite workouts.

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There is also a possibility to reach the forest by bus and then just enjoy the stroll. However, if you are looking for a great outdoor activity then go there by bike! Warning! At one point the road gets really winding so be careful!

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5.  KOŚCIUSZKO MOUND

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There are 4 mounds in Kraków dedicated to prominent Poles (Krak , Wanda,  Piłsudski and Kościuszko), however the grandest and my favorite one is  Kościuszko mound.

The relentless freedom fighter earned earned himself 34 metres high mound, standing 326 metres above sea level, officially completed in November 1823.

Due to Poland’s tumultuous history, it even used to serve as an Austrian fortress for a while.

Today it is a great spot to get the panoramic view of the city as well as some good exercise climbing or riding a bike to the top.

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The surrounding area contains radio station, exhibitions, cafes and museum, so you might easily spend 2-3 hours there.

Obviously, Kraków and surrounding areas have dozens worthwhile places to offer, however if you ask me these would be my first choice.

Best locations to stay in Kraków

If you are deliberating where you should stay during your vist to my hometown, here is what I suggest:

  1. Jewish Quarter
  2. The Wawel Castle surroundings (Rondo Grunwaldzkie,Podzamcze)
  3. Wola Justowska
  4. Błonia Krakowskie ( just before Wola Justowska)

If you have more time to spend in my home town, check out this website to plan your days in the Polish Dragon land!

http://www.inyourpocket.com/krakow/Old-Town

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ENJOY YOUR STAY AND GET BACK TO ME WITH YOUR IMPRESSIONS!

5 FOODS BESIDES PIEROGI THAT YOU MUST TRY IN POLAND!

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I have already mentioned in one of my previous articles that our small country of Poland prides itself in quite a few peculiar dishes found nowhere else in the world.

Let me introduce the top 5 that we – Poles –  consider our national treasures.

1.Obwarzanek Krakowski aka  precel

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This one is particularly special to me as it is the symbol of my hometown-Krakow.It is a ring shaped bread,woven from two strands of dough.It has a diameter of 4.7 to 6.7 inches,weighs about 4 ounces and has a ‘sweetish’ taste.It can be sprinkled with salt,sesame seeds,poppy seeds(my all time favorite!),mixed herbs or spices,cheese or onion.They are dense and chewy. Street food vendors sell these twisted ring breads from colorful carts throughout Poland ,but especially in the Main Market Square of Krakow(to get still warm and crunchy obwarzanek,best get them between 8 and 9 am!)

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The reputation of obwarzanek Krakowski has been cultivated by bakers from Krakow and the surrounding areas,who have been making this exquisite and unique product for the people of Krakow for the last 600 years.The Krakow bakers have been even lobbying Brussels to recognize the obwarzanek ever since Poland joined European Union in 2004.

2.Oscypek

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It is not only a type of smoked cheese, but in the first place – part of the national heritage,as its production is said to date back to the 14th century at least.

This Polish national treasure is made using salted sheep’s milk ,with the addition of cow’s milk, strictly regulated by the protected recipe.

Since 2007 Oscypek is a protected trade name under the EU’s Protected Designation of Origin Geographical indication.

There are different sizes and colors of Oscypek,and it usually comes in white (less salty) and amber color. If you ask me for any recommendations, every foodie should try warm oscypek with cranberry sauce – you will thank me later!

3. Żurek

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English translation of this one would be ‘The sour rye soup’.It is a soup made of soured rye flour and meat (usually boiled pork sausage or pieces of smoked sausage,bacon or ham).There is also a variant made with wheat flour instead of rye and we call it then ‘barszcz bialy'(white borscht).

It is traditionally eaten at Easter, but big fans like me will eat it at any time.Some will serve with bits of sausage and eat with bread or buns.I personally love having it with hard boiled egg! The most spectacular form of żurek  comes in a bowl made from bread!

4.Bigos

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All time favorite of Polish weddings’ guests and other local gatherings. When the percenetage of alcohol intake is rising, it is usually served around midnight to help the participants survive till morning hours.

The English name for bigos is ‘hunter’ stew’.Typical ingredients include white cabbage, sauerkraut,various cuts of meat and sausages,whole or pureed ttomatoes,honey and mushrooms.It may be seasoned with pepper, caraway, juniper berries, bay leaf,marjoram,dried or smoked plums.

It is really rich in vitamin C and its flavour intensifies when reheated.

5. Gołąbki

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The name  ‘gołąbki ‘means exactly ‘pigeons’ but worry not! We don’t go bird hunting in Poland to prepare this dish!

They are cabbage rolls made from lightly soft – boiled cabbage leaves wrapped around minced pork or beef,chopped onions and rice or barley.They are baked in a casserole dish and usually served with a creamy tomato sauce.The flavor is quite peculiar and not everyone might be fond ot them, but try at least one when in Poland !

However, if you are not heading  to our small country in the near future, come over to SEE Marketplace at 890 ChangNing Road Metro Town B1 (Zhongshan Park) on  July 9  try the world famous Polish food staple – PIEROGI – served by Pierogi Ladies! See you there!

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