Krakow marine traditions - things to know before you come
Krakow is probably the best-known Polish city in terms of tourist popularity. Located at both banks of the Vistula river, it is still separated from the closest sea (the Baltic) by approximately 600 kilometres. This beautiful royal town, with its bustling Main Market Square (the largest sturture of this kind in medieval Europe) and countless attractions (not only meant as art galleries, museums, palaces or castles), used to be an important commercial hub of this part of the Old Continent. If you decide to vist and discover Cracow, you will definitely find Rynek Underground museum more than worth your precious time. The museum shows that the marine-related trade was also practised in Krakow, with its rich multimedia-propped exhibits displayed a few metres under the surface of the Main Square of Krakow.
Not many people know that Lajkonik - one of the symbols of Krakow - could not have been one if not for the local "wloczkowie" lightermen, floating wood down the Vistula. According to a popular legend, they were the first ones to notice the Tatar units camping near Krakow in 1287, with the obvious intention to attack the city the following morning. The wloczkowie took the Tatars aback, killed one of their leaders and entered Krakow as dressed in the outfits captured this way. The joke, meant to frighten the residents of Krakow early morning, soon became a local custom. You may come across a bearded man dressed as a Tatar and running around as riding his artificial horse around the Old Town of Krakow up to this day, especially on the Corpus Cristi holiday.
Krakow has always been important for Polish culture. It should not surprise you then that Joseph Conrad, presumably the most skilled and influential author of maritime-related novels (like Lord Jim or Heart of Darkness), was born as Jozef Korzeniowski to a Polish family. Krakow was the last Polish city Joseph Conrad would reside in before he started his journey looking for sea adventures. His often interrupted stay in Krakow between 1869 and 1874 was full of sad events, including the orphaning of the future author of renowned masterpieces of literature. Due to this, Krakow may be called the formative place for the carrer Joseph Conrad decided to undertake.
When you decide to explore the boulevards of Krakow, just at the level of Rybaki street (Kurlandzki boulevard) there will be Marina Krakow operating, with motor boats and kayaks/canoes available for rental. However, the city of Krakow also has a new promising investment being executed right now: Port Plaszow. With the investment due to be finished within a year or two, Krakow will have another excellent facility of this kind operating, with 50-75 mooring places, the harbour master office, a hotel and mooring bridges. It will give you a great chance to visit Krakow with no necessity to spend a night outside you your beloved yacht.
While Krakow has a lot of sea-unrelated attractions and historically important sites to sightsee (like Wawel Castle, Sukiennice Cloth Hall, St. Mary's Basilica, fortified structures along the Vistula, Auschwitz Concentration Camp or marvellous Wieliczka Salt Mine), you can still spend your evenings in the company of people like you. Stary Port tavern ["Old Port" in English], located at 27 Straszewskiego street in Krakow, is a cult-followed place where sea dogs and novice sailors will forget of the distance that separates Krakow from the sea. Shanties nights, a great selection of beer, numerous marine souvenirs and artifacts filling the cosy tavern will be something impossible for you not to enjoy.
In case you want to sightsee as much of what magical Krakow offers as it is only possible, think of providing yourself with KrakowCard tourist pass - 40 museums and unlimited public transport are great features coming along with the purchase. Have a nice stay in Krakow and remember to check the sites that prove there is some sea spirit in this seemingly landlocked city.