Friday, July 11, 2014


Our last city to visit was Krakow. We wanted to visit Krakow four years ago, but didn't get to it. We are really glad we did now as this is a great city that we really enjoyed. We arrived in the afternoon in time to get to the hotel and get out for pierogi dinner. The first place we had read about was not open during July, and the second place was a bit hard to find. But U Babci Maliny was pretty good. A small place where you order at the window and wait in the little upstairs or downstairs for your number. It was pretty tasty, but three plates wasn't enough and we headed back to something we spotted earlier, a summer festival at Mały Rynek square. I asked the girl at the beer tent (as her english was quite good) and it was a food and misc festival that was there all week. Awesome! We ended up here every night! We had pan fried pierogi, sausage, beer, kraut, potatoes, kebabs, and grilled oscypek cheese.

Our first day we scheduled a tour of Auschwitz-Birkenau and the Salt Mines. We knew this would be a long day, but we had a private driver who took care of everything and made it a doable day. We started at Auschwitz for 1.5 hours and then headed to Birkenau for an hour. Our tour guide was from the area and she did a great job taking us through. All I really want to say is everyone needs to visit here. Thoughts of this place are permanently engrained in my head. (Pictures from Auschwitz are here). After these tours, our guide took us to Wieliczka to tour the salt mines. He dropped us next door for lunch (pierogi and a delicious Mocno Dojrzale polish porter) and we started that tour at 5pm. This place is pretty interesting and an UNESCO world heritage site. The miners took a lot of pride in their work and carvings, especially the cathedral! After the main lift breaking and walking out to another lift, we didn't get back to Krakow until 8pm. And guess where we ended up for dinner...

The next day our plans were to talk around Market Square and just take in the sites, and then walk around Kazimierz (Jewish quarter) a bit. We watched the opening of the alter in St. Mary's Basilica and this church was quite interesting. We also visited the little church next door (made from left over bricks from St. Mary's), which contains the tomb of Jakub Wujek, who translated the Bible to polish. I took a quick trip up the Town Hall tower, but the view is obstructed as you can't get outside; you only look through 3 small windows. After eating some food at, guess where, we stopped at the hotel for water and toilets and then walked to Kazimierz. We checked out a couple synagogues and got some ice cream (lody) at the place our guide said was the best in Krakow. The place is possibly called 'Pracownia Cukiernicza Stanisław Sarga'. Lines form in the summer, but our line was only about 5-7 minutes. They use real fruit and it tastes great! For dinner we went to Zapiecek for pierogi. Another great place!

Our last day we went to Wawel Castle. The ticket process is a little cumbersome, but we bought several different tickets and spent the afternoon visiting places. Getting food here is a bit tricky unfortunately. Some of the sites sell out, so don't come up at the end of the day. I think I liked the cathedral best of all, which doesn't sell out at all. The views from the Sandomierska Tower was not that great as you only get to look out a few small windows. We finished our day by walking out through the caves, known as the Dragon's Lair, which lowers you down to the river. At the end once you are outside, there is a stone dragon statue that breathes fire! We finished by going back to Zapiecek and then the food festival again. Then, it was time to catch our night flight back to Dublin.

Krakow was our favorite, and I think Poland is a place we could drive around for a week. Nice people, yummy food, a tough history with resilient people, and beautiful countryside. Also, it is easy on the pocket book!

Pictures from Krakow and the Salt Mines can be found here.

Thursday, July 10, 2014


Our second city on holiday was Stockholm, Sweden. We had two full days and our plan was not to run around too much and just enjoy walking around. The first night we arranged to fly in to have time to eat dinner there. We asked for a recommendation at the hotel and ended up at a place that had the food we were looking for, but a bit touristy. The food was ok but the atmosphere was not quite right. We stopped by a bakery/coffee house still serving some dessert and had a little treat.

Our first day, the plan was to tour the City Hall (where the Nobel Prize Banquet is held each year) first. There were some nice views of the city across the islands from there. The tour is pretty average, but some places of the hall are quite interesting. I climbed the tour for more views of the city and it was a good viewpoint. Next we walked toward Kungsträdgården to just walk around the park. Along the way we stopped along the Drottninggatan pedestrian walkway and ate at the Pickwick Irish bar, as they also had some Swedish food. Kacey got a delicious Jansson´s temptation, sliced herring, potatoes & onions baked in cream. We were considering a canal tour and while walking around we read more about it and booked a boat tour of the city for later in the day. We walked around the park a bit enjoying the sites before getting on the boat. The boat tour was good. It was nice to see lots of islands and different parts of the city. We even saw the two beaches they have. Not having done many of these tours before, I learned that I much prefer live guides as opposed to electronic headphone-only guides. After the tour we were going to walk the pedestrian way back toward the hotel and find food along the way. We couldn't find any local cuisine so we ended up at an Italian place for pizza.

Our second day was spent in Gamla Stan, the old town. We started off going to the Cathedral. Then our plan was to visit the different areas of the palace most of the day. We went to the royal chapel, apartments, treasury, Gustav III's Museum of Antiquities, Tre Kronor Museum, and the Royal Armory. We also visited the Royal Coin Cabinet next door. Most of these places were no photo, but there was nothing super special here. It rained a bit while going in the first few places, but we were fine and it stopped by time we were done. We walked toward Stortorget square to find some dinner. We stopped in a bakery and had a delicious hazelnut cream cookie. We ate dinner at De Svarta Fåren and we had pretty good food. I had a moose burger and Kacey's delicious raw spiced salmon with Västerbotten cheese, fennel, red onion, dill, horseradish and Swedish mustard sauce. The kids and Kacey got ice cream afterward at Lejonet & Björnen. We slowly walked back to the hotel along the pedestrian street, and I once again went to the bakery nearby the hotel for my treat.

The next morning we got up for a long bus ride to the far away Skavsta airport to get to Krakow. Stockholm was an ok city. It is pretty in parts, and the food is good if you are lucky enough to find a good place (but we found this was hard), but once again expensive. There are some nice outdoor areas which we didn't have time to visit.

Pictures from Stockholm can be found here.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014


For our big summer holiday, we picked three cities to visit. We started first in Copenhagen, which is rated as one of the top cities to visit in Europe. We got a hotel close to the station and Tivoli, which is a decent location. Copenhagen is expensive (worse than Paris I think) so just be prepared if visiting. Everything is about double what it should be.

Our first day there we went to visit Rosenborg Palace. This is a little castle with nice gardens and a treasury in the basement. When we were done, it started hailing and didn't stop for a while. We got quite soaked making our way to some lunch. After struggling to figure out how to spend the rest of the day, the sun had some back out and we dried out a bit. We walked through Nyhavn a bit and made our way to Amalienborg Palace and the Marble Church. We were able to visit Christian VIII's palace, which is a little museum now. The church was different and interesting. We then headed toward Strøget, Europe's longest pedestrian only shopping street. We took in some sites and shops and kept an eye out for dinner. I went up the Round Tower for views while Kacey and the kids watched a street performer on a unicycle. Next on the street was the Lego store! Nolan played for a bit in there while Kacey shopped some. We could not find a good restaurant with food for kids, so we ended up getting Chinese takeaway for the kids and Kacey, and I watched the US world cup game against Germany at a bar filled with Germans. I had some Jacobsen Brown Ale (from Carlsberg) and quite enjoyed it.

The next day we went to Christiansborg Palace first and visited the palace, ruins, and royal stable. We ate a little lunch near Nyhavn and then decided to take an "under the bridges" canal tour. It was nice and the city is quite pretty in places. We even saw the royal family out on their ship (the tour guide was convinced the family was on board due to staff and flags at use). We also saw the famous Little Mermaid statue. Once done we walked Strøget some more and found an Italian place for dinner; probably a little touristy, but really one of the best options we could find. I tried a drink (can't recall the name) where beer is mixed with sprite. I would not order it again.

The next day was our day at Tivoli, an amusement park right in city center. But first we stopped in the City Hall (next door) to see Jens Olsen's astronomical clock. Pretty impressive craftsmanship. So next we walked next door to Tivoli. It isn't huge, but the big prices keep it from getting too ridiculously busy. Once you pay to get in, you quickly realize you should just buy an unlimited pass for rides. We were able to buy a child plus adult ticket, which meant that either Kacey or I could go with Nolan on a ride (but we couldn't do one by ourselves). Nolan had a lot of fun, and Liana got to play at the little kids area for a while too.

The next day, craving some big breakfast, we actually went to the Hard Rock for their American brunch. It was good for Nolan and now it was time to fly to our next city, Stockholm. Copenhagen isn't as great as we were expecting; more expensive than Paris without the sites of Paris. Yes there are some pretty streets, palaces and museums, but we didn't quite understand the hype.

Pictures from Copenhagen can be found here.