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Welcome to Lachlan Cranswick's Personal Homepage in Melbourne, Australia
ECM 2001 Conference Diary - Krakow, Poland - Aug 2001 city Notes - and some common Krakow tourist rip-offs - rip-off taxis, etc
Lachlan's Homepage is at http://lachlan.bluehaze.com.au
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)
- 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
- Some cafes and restaurants may have coin operated toilets
so make sure you have that spare small changes (a few 10 to 20
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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