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ECM 2001 Conference Diary - Krakow, Poland - Aug 2001 city Notes - and some common Krakow tourist rip-offs - rip-off taxis, etc

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ECM 2001 Conference - Krakow, Poland - Aug 2001 city Notes

Most of the following may be more or less obvious?

  • Note: Besides the crooked taxi drivers, Krakow was quite nice and mellow (still be wary of pick pockets, etc). People in the know were of the opinion that Warsaw is a dive of a city best to be avoided - not as nice. Warsaw taxi drivers, etc were considered much better at ripping off large amounts of money from tourists)

  • It is best to never take a Krakow taxi if you like minimizing on the tourist/visitor ripped offs.
  • If you do have to take a taxi:
  • It is best to book a Krakow taxi from your hotel or ring for a taxi (which is hopefully reputable - and where they can estimate how much a trip should cost.)
    • Local advice was to telephone 919 for a Krakow state taxi which are meant to be honest compared to everyone else - including the ones the hotels have an "arrangement" with..

  • The generic Krakow taxi driver you pick up at the airport or on the street may charge from 50% to 300% more than standard if their tourist detector is switched to the "On" position. (which it usually is - switched on)

  • However, if you don't have enough money to pay the taxi (if taxi driver is in mega rip-off mode - they can be quite receptive to take what you have to hand; even if less than the fare)

  • In theory (comment from a Krakow native), to go from one end of Krakow to the other should not cost more than 20zl via taxi(?) (1UK Pound is approx equal to 6zl - Aug 2001). But for tourists, even short trips from the city centre can cost double this amount.

  • The prices for hotel rooms near the Krakow city centre are extremely high priced (London or almost London prices) - for quite primative and basic rooms. Going a bit further out from the city can radically reduce the prices for hotel rooms. Being on a tram route is a big plus; but most trams routes stop for the night around 10.30pm to 11:05pm.

  • Daily tram/bus combined tickets cost around 9zl. Weekly tram/bus combined tickets cost 22zl (Aug 2001). Thus if doing more than 2 days of travelling around Krakow, purchasing a weekly ticket can be cheaper. You may have to go to one of the main ticket kiosks to get a weekly ticket.

  • From the experience of another ECM2001 participant:
    • Be wary about sitting in the front passenger seat of a Krakow taxi (after the normal ripoff on an overly expensive taxi fare) - it seems a con job some taxi drivers can do after you pay your taxi fare (putting your wallet back in your pocket and leaving the taxi) is pick the wallet from your pocket as you leave the taxi (where you are less likely to feel the wallet being taken out).
    • The taxi driver may or may not then (after taking all the money and credit cards out of the wallet) leave a note or message at the hostel/hotel offering to sell you back your wallet (claiming another passenger found it) - sell back prices like 3000zl (600 UK Pounds) despite the obvious Catch 22 that they have taken all your money - which would normally be in the wallet. (It seems to be the belief that western visitors breathe money?)
    • The Krakow police can be highly un-cooperative (to the point of kicking you out of the police station) if you try to report this and request a police report form for insurance purposes. Ring your insurance company telling them the problem and they will most likely give you an incident number.

What shopping was done

  • Wooden Chess sets can be relatively cheap to buy - medium sized folding chess sets for approx 20zl

  • For those in England, you may like to buy an extra umbrella? (though prices and quality can be highly variable - I got mine at 15zl in the Jewish quarter - while prices for the same thing near the square was 25zl)

  • According to those who did it - going outside the city to some villages can get you some very good deals on clothing, etc. Things made in Poland and not imported can be very cheap.

  • Purchase a Polish light jacket at the local Tesco Superstore next to the hotel. This will make an East European look far more authentic than what cheap Australian imitations can deliver. (Motto of the Polish Lingtong fashion company: "Best Fashion of Lingtong - trend to 21th century")
    (Note: remember to get washing instructions translated from the original Polish)

Eating out

  • A cheap walking breakfast can be to buy a traditional bread roll from the various street vendors for around 70 to 80Groszy (.7 to .8 zl).
  • Some cafes around the square and elsewhere in the city only serve drinks - no food. You may only find this out the hard way.
  • Some cafes and restaurants may have coin operated toilets so make sure you have that spare small changes (a few 10 to 20 Groszy coins)

Cafe Strips of Krakow

  • There is a good cafe strip near the central square along Thomasza. From the square go up SW Jana, turn right onto Thomasza (first street up). The best cafe for Hot Chocolate was found to be Cafe Maniken (best done with not more than groups of 3 or 4 as it is quite small - but great atmosphere). Cafe Maniken is a few small blocks along Thomasza after turning right from SW Jana. Cafe Maniken has a sign with an old sewing machine on it.

  • There are many outside cafes around and near the main Krakow square but travelling beggers, postcard sellers, musicians, etc wanting money can be annoying over time. The amount of this can vary on the day.

Wavel/Krakow Castle, city museum - and an art gallery

  • Entry to the grounds of the Wavel/Krakow Castle is free. Architecture is worth seeing. However, to enter anything costs money and you can end up spending more than 5 to 10 UK pounds(?) worth of Polish zl if you tried to see everything.

  • There was a report of one Krakow art gallery with a DaVinci painting. But it seems that of this time, this DaVinci painting was on loan to Japan but the foreign visitors would only learn of this after parting with their money. Lighting was also very badly done to give bad reflections plus the distance from which you could view the paintings was quite far.

  • City Museum was described as the best in the city but difficult to get into. No queues (almost deserted) - just unobvious closed doors that you have to open.

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