Seasonal Festivities in Krakow:
Where are you doing your Christmas shopping this year? I was invited to visit Krakow, the Capital of the Malopolska region of Poland. Just 30 minutes from the airport, whilst there are many sights in the region, at this time of year the focal point of Krakow is the stunning Christmas Market.
It is definitely a place for couples to go together, choosing gifts and decorations to make Christmas their own.
The Christmas Market, located in the main market square, the Rynek Glowny, opens as the light goes down and doesn’t close until late into the night. The open square, under the watchful eyes of the surrounding churches is transformed into a festive wonderland as stalls are setup and shopping booths wheeled in and unlocked, their wooden fronts opening to reveal their unique contents.
This is a Christmas market for families to enjoy; full of gifts to hang on the Christmas tree or over the fireplace. Decorations for the house abound here, most are hand made regional items that are unique to Kraków, so carefully made and of such high quality that they would certainly be commented upon if they were in your own home.
Many stalls are full of brightly coloured wooden ornaments, toys and boxes, so typical of the Malopolska region. Christmas tree ornaments abound, all hand made and unique
Christmas Shopping is very much a social and family event in Kraków, and the market has plenty of food stalls where you can grab hot dogs and sauerkraut, potatoe waffles or the ever popular Pierogi. For those that don’t know, a Pierogi is a quarter-moon shaped dumpling made of unleavened dough that can be stuffed with almost anything. Traditional fillings include sauerkraut, cheese, mashed potatoes, cabbage, onion, meat and almost anything else. There are also fruit fillings; blueberries, cherries, orange and more, that make for a superb dessert dish (think Crêpes only better). With cream, syrup or ice-cream poured over them they are a superb hot snack to eat walking around the market.
The sweet stalls were a blaze of colour, full of traditional Polish sweet lollies. Almost every design was available, from cute frogs, smiley faces, Santa Claus and even a Gangnam Style lolly. Popular too were the cherry love-hearts with names hand piped onto them.
One stall was selling chocolates tools (only in Poland!) The quality of each item was astounding, and the antique rust look was achieved by dipping each in cocoa powder. They were so realistic that everyone was asking about them, and the queue to buy them never disappeared.
Rustic crafts have a strong presence and all sorts of wooden articles can be found, from toys to these amazing natural salad bowls.
Cheap flights are available to Kraków, Poland, from a number of carriers and will usually cost less than car parking in London (with the congestion charge), or a train journey into the centre of town. With flights under 2 hours there is nothing to stop you shopping further afield this Christmas.