Travel Savings Alerts Newsletter, March 2020 Issue
Travel Savings Alerts
P.O. Box 877
Logan OH 43138
ISSN: 1542-801X, Copyright 2019
All Rights Reserved.
Editor: Nicki Chodnoff
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Cloth Market Tower, Rynek Glowny, Krakow, Poland
1. 33% Off at Red Reflet Ranch
|Red Reflet Ranch, a 25,000 plus acre working ranch and resort in Ten Sleep, WY, offers 33 percent off its rates until Apr. 4, 2020. The per night rate for the all-inclusive ranch, normally priced at $825 per person double occupancy, is now $550 per person double. Rates include all activities, meals, lessons, guided hikes, horseback riding, use of ATVs, dirt bikes, mountain bikes, and all beverages (beers, 100 wines and spirits).
Guests stay in private chalets with kitchens stocked to order.
Guests are encouraged to experience as much of the ranch as possible by horseback. You are matched to a horse that meets your experience and riding ambition and provided with all the tack and equipment. The ranch's training facilities include an indoor riding arena, outdoor riding arena, outdoor round pens, stables, and horse pastures. Lessons for roping, barrel racing, and improving your recreational riding are always available and included in the rates.
When there is cattle work to be done, guests are welcome to “cowboy” the herd by riding with the wranglers and moving them as needed. From cattle drives to branding, opportunities to experience the true western lifestyle abound at Red Reflet Ranch. Spring branding, checking newborns, giving inoculations, and sorting and pairing are a few of the daily activities.
In the winter, hiking trails, canyon trails and paths all around the ranch are filled with powder snow, providing opportunities for downhill sledding and tobogganing.
Red Reflet Ranch or 307/366-2340.
2. Scenic 2020 Offers
|Scenic Cruises offers free economy, premium economy and business class air, door-to-door airport transfers, and discounts on its 2020 ocean and river products. The offers are good on new bookings made by Mar. 31, 2020, and are combinable with past passenger and referral offers and vouchers. They are not combinable with group offers.
Sailing on the Scenic Eclipse can result in free business class flights (or $3,000 per person savings) on your way to Buenos Aires for a 20-day Antarctica trip that also stops at South Georgia and the Falkland Islands on the Nov. 20 and Dec. 8, 2020 sailings. Other offers on select departures in 2020 and 2021 include business class fares of $995 and $1,995 and free economy air (or up to $2,500 savings in lieu of flights). Earlybird fare savings of up to $6,950 per person, double, are also available on some departures.
For European river cruises you can receive free air or $1,000 per person savings on eight- to 10-day itineraries; free premium economy air or $1,800 per person savings on 11 plus-day sailings; or $1,995 business class airfares on select departures. Door-to-door airport transfers are included for people booking on Diamond Deck on the 11 plus-day sailings. Book any cabin on a 15-day Jewels of Europe itinerary, departing between July and October 2020, and receive free premium economy airfare and door-to-door airport transfers. Going solo? Scenic offers 50 percent off the Single Supplement rate on a few 2020 departures.
Scenic Eclipse has 114 suites across five decks, ranging from 345 to nearly 2,600 square feet, a spa, 10 dining experiences, butler service to every suite, a staff to guest ratio of almost 1 to 1, and two on board helicopters and a submarine offering discovery experiences.
All-inclusive fares include: private butler service, unlimited free beverages, gratuities, transfers, entertainment, regional cuisine and Western dining.
Scenic Cruises or 844/788-7985.
3. Aurora Expeditions Early Bird Offer
|Aurora Expeditions launched its 2021/22 program aboard the Greg Mortimer and the Sylvia Earle.
The program includes new itineraries and destinations, including Antarctica, the South Sandwich Islands, Ireland and Costa Rica.
Launching with the 2021/22 program is an early bird deal with saving up to 30 percent on new voyages booked and deposited by Mar. 31, 2020, or until sold out, whichever comes first. The offer is for select dates and cabin categories.
Some of the main highlights of the new Aurora Expeditions 21/22 program include:
South Georgia & Antarctica Odyssey – 25 days sailing on the Sylvia Earle. Explore the white continent, South Georgia, and the South Sandwich Islands, a chain of remote and seldom-visited volcanic islands.
Guanacaste, Costa Rica – seven days sailing on the Greg Mortimer. Explore a part of Costa Rica rarely visited by expedition vessels including the Guanacaste Conservation Area, hiking in rain forests and venturing to peaks in Rincón de la Vieja National Park.
Ireland’s West Coast – 13 days sailing on the Greg Mortimer. Ireland’s rugged west coast is a journey through hundreds of islands, peninsulas and fjords, cliffs, and crumbling castles.
Sub-Antarctic Safari – 17 days sailing on the Sylvia Earle. The Falkland Islands are a beacon for bird lovers. Marvel at the penguin species including king, macaroni, rockhopper, magellanic and gentoo plus black-browed albatross.
Solar Eclipse in Antarctica – 16 days sailing on the Sylvia Earle. In December 2021, experience a full solar eclipse in the Weddell Sea region, plus visit Antarctica and the island of South Georgia.
To confirm your booking, a completed booking form and non-refundable deposit of $2,500 per person is required within seven days of reservations.
Aurora Expeditions or 800/826-8150.
4. 7 Nights in Italy from $1,699
|Citrus Holidays offers a seven night trip with airfare from Canada to Lake Como and Milan, Italy from $1,699 Canadian or about $1,300 U.S. dollars.
The price is for travel from Toronto and includes all airport and pre-paid taxes for trips through Mar 31, and again Oct. 1 to Oct. 31, 2020. Additional airport departures and dates are available upon request.
The trip includes:
- Roundtrip airfare Canada to Milan and return
- Train from Milan Malpensa Airport to Como Nord Lago
- Four nights at the Hotel Metropole Suisse, Lake Como
- Train from Como S. Giovanni to Milan Central
- Three nights at the Four Points By Sheraton Milan Center
- Train from Milan Centrale to Malpensa Airport
- Daily breakfast.
Accommodation are on a twin sharing basis. The package is non-refundable for any inclusion items not used/taken. City local taxes apply and cannot be prepaid.
Exclusions: Anything not included in the package will be charged separately such as tips, bar bill, travel insurance, laundry, telephone calls and other personal expenses not specified above.
Citrus Holidays or 844/838-5318.
5. Internet in NYC
|Access to the internet is available in many places so you’ll have no trouble keeping connected in New York City. If you’re staying at a hotel, chances are that it has a business center with computers and printers available for guests.
International visitors should remember that U.S. power sockets deliver 120 volts at 60 hertz; you may need an adapter and possibly a voltage converter to use your laptop and phone chargers and any other apparatus here.
Wireless Internet is available throughout NYC, including in many hotels, coffee shops, parks and libraries. At some locations, you have to pay for WiFi. At others, such as Starbucks and all branches of the New York Public Library, you can surf the web for free. At the library, you can use your own phone or laptop; use of the on-site computers generally requires an NYPL card. Out-of-towners can request a guest pass for 15 minutes of computer use.
The Downtown Alliance website has a list of spots with free wireless internet in Lower Manhattan. Thanks to City and community initiatives (and some localized help from Google), some neighborhoods, including Brooklyn’s Dumbo, are fully connected, as are parts of southwest Chelsea, Harlem, the Flatiron District and downtown Brooklyn.
In an effort to help visitors and locals, the City has free WiFi hot spots at the LinkNYC kiosks on sidewalks all over town. In addition to supplying free WiFi from up to 150 feet away, they also provide free phone service within the United States and USB ports to recharge your smartphone. You can also use the built-in tablet to access info on city services, maps and directions. More than 1,700 Links have been installed so far; another 5,700-plus kiosks are on the way.
Use caution at wireless hot spots.
6. Free/Reduced Airfare on Emerald Luna
|Emerald Waterways announces a new Star-Ship to their fleet: Emerald Luna. When she debuts in Spring 2021, Emerald Luna will become the line’s sixth Star-Ship to sail the Rhine, Main and Danube rivers. Luna will feature an indoor pool that converts to a cinema at night and all-weather indoor balconies with floor-to-ceiling windows.
Emerald Waterways will add a new itinerary to their April 2021 season, a 10-day roundtrip sail out of Amsterdam through Holland and Belgium entitled Springtime Delights. The itinerary will include stops in Maastricht, Holland’s oldest fortified city, Harlem, the heart of the Dutch flower growing industry.
Book any 2021 European sailing by Apr. 30, 2020, and receive up to free roundtrip air and drinks package depending on the length and cabin category you choose. Sail 15 days or longer and receive free, roundtrip air and a free premium drinks package for booking in a Category C cabin and above, or $295 roundtrip air and free drinks package for Category D, E, and F cabins. When booking sailings between eight and 14 days, you receive free roundtrip air for Category C cabins and above, and $295 roundtrip air for Category D, E and F cabins.
Emerald Waterways’ river cruise fares include all transfers; all port charges; all onboard (and some on-shore) meals; unlimited specialty tea and coffee, wine, beer and soft drinks with lunch and dinner; bottled water in the cabins replenished daily; continental breakfast, pre-dinner canapés and after-dinner sweet treats served in the top suites; free Wi-Fi onboard the ship; most shore excursions and all onboard and excursion gratuities. On touring days, hotel accommodations, internal flights, and transfers are included.
Emerald Waterways' ships offer river sailings in Europe, the Mekong River, the Volga River, the Adriatic in Croatia; and the on the Nile.
Emerald Waterways or 844/428-8389.
7. Riviera River Cruises Deals
|Riviera River Cruises offers savings to $1,500 per cabin or suite on European river cruises aboard its ships for bookings made through Mar. 31, 2020.
Discounts include up to $1,500 on 15-day cruises, up to $1,000 on most eight-day cruises and up to $500 on select cruises shorter than eight days. All discounts are per cabin or suite and based on double occupancy.
Example: 15-day Budapest to the Black Sea river cruise the MS Thomas Hardy on June 12, 2020:
- Diamond Deck normally $6,729 per person based on double occupancy discounted to $5,979, for $1,500 total savings per cabin;
- Ruby Deck normally $6,319 per person based on double occupancy discounted to $5,719, for $1,200 total savings per cabin;
- Emerald Deck (Lower) normally $4,999 per person based on double occupancy discounted to $4,849, for $300 total savings per cabin.
Example: eight-day Blue Danube River cruise aboard the MS Oscar Wilde, May 23, 2020:
- Diamond Deck normally $3,879 per person based on double occupancy discounted to $3,379, for $1,000 total savings per cabin;
- Ruby Deck normally $3,609 per person based on double occupancy discounted to $3,209, for $800 total savings per cabin;
- Emerald Deck (Lower) normally $2,699 per person based on double occupancy discounted to $2,599, for $200 total savings per cabin.
Discounts are valid on bookings made through Mar. 31, 2020, with a $400 non-refundable deposit required to confirm a reservation. Discounts are based on availability and are not valid on single-supplement-free cabins or solo departures.
Riviera River Cruises offers 15 itineraries on 10 rivers and waterways, including departures for solo travelers with no single supplement.
Riviera River Cruises or 888/838-8820.
8. When Flying Private Makes Sense
|Launched in 2013, Surf Air is a private air travel club that offers all-you-can-fly monthly memberships for one monthly fee. If you fly the same route often, flying on Surf Air can make financial sense.
Unlimited membership rates start at $1,950 per month in California (Hawthorne, near Los Angeles; San Carlos, near San Francisco; Oakland; Santa Barbara and Truckee) and $995 monthly memberships within Texas (Austin, Dallas, and Houston).
For infrequent flyers rates are $2,500 per year $500 per one-way flight with access to all routes.
No waiting in lines. Arrive 15 minutes before your flight’s departure time at the private terminal or wait in the private member lounge with free snacks and alcohol. Once onboard, the same amenities are offered at no cost and baggage check is free.
You can share the experience with friends and family as Surf Air offers guest flights for purchase and some guest flights are included with some membership options. Your can earn guest flights once you are a member by referring friends. Get one free guest flight for every referral that joins Surf Air.
Surf Air or 800/365-6179.
9. Aqua Expeditions Early Bird Savings
|Aqua Expeditions’ Mekong River cruise on the Aqua Mekong offers an early bird bonus of 20 percent when you book early. You can save up to $1,890 per person (or $3,780 per couple). The discount is limited to design suite 101 and 103 on the Aqua Mekong. All suites on the Aqua Mekong have the same size and facility standards.
The all-inclusive cruise includes Southeast Asian cuisine, premium wines and beer, tailor-made shore excursions, free laundry and internet.
Savings are on a limited capacity on select departures and available on a first come, first serve basis. A fully non-refundable payment is required at the time of booking and no changes or exchanges are allowed.
Booking must be confirmed at least 60 days prior to departure and cruises must be book by Dec. 31, 2020. Savings are not valid for departures during the Christmas and New Year’s holiday season.
This offer is not applicable for a child traveling as the third guest in the room as that rate is $500 per night with no additional savings.
This offer cannot be combined with any other promotions, offers, or discounts.
You can also save 30 percent on summer Mekong River departures on the Aqua Mekong from May to August in 2020.
Aqua Expeditions or 866/603-3687.
10. Poseidon North Pole Early Booking
|Rates will not increase for trips to the Top of the World with Poseidon Expeditions in the summer of 2021. Rates will mirror those in 2020 for the same journey.
Three departures are scheduled in July and August 2021 aboard the 128-passenger 50 Years of Victory, a nuclear-powered icebreaker. This icebreaker was purpose-built to pilot scientific and cargo ships to hard-to-reach areas of the Arctic and along the Northeast Passage.
This will be Poseidon’s 20th season of operating icebreaker voyages to the North Pole. Travel to 90º north latitude and the North Pole in 2021 will be on: July 10 to 22, July 21 to Aug. 2, and Aug. 1 to 13. Early Bird discounted rates (for bookings confirmed before Oct. 31, 2020) start at $29,445 per person with the discount. In addition to no price increase, gratuities for the crew and expedition team will be included in the 2021 rates.
The 13-day program includes a full day of activities on the ice at the North Pole where the crew drops the anchor on a sturdy stretch of ice so guests may disembark onto the frozen sea. Part of the fun is joining hands with fellow passengers and walking around the world during a International Round Dance and a barbecue meal on the ice. There’s a traditional (but optional) polar plunge into the icy water.
Later in the cruise come Zodiac landings on Franz Josef Land, an archipelago of 192 islands in the Russian High Arctic. The program includes one night pre-cruise hotel accommodations in Murmansk and all transfers to/from the airport and ship. Helicopter sightseeing tours are included.
The Poseidon’s 14-member expedition staff includes a marine biologist, geologist, glaciologist, historian, geographer, Zodiac master, visual artist, Citizen Science organizer and musician.
Poseidon Expeditions North Pole journeys or 347/801-2610.
11. Up to 60% Off South America/Amazon Cruise
|Cruise and Maritime Voyages discounts its 84 night Grand Round South America & Amazon Discovery cruise aboard the 1,250 passenger Magellan up to 60 percent. The cruise departs from London/Tilbury on Jan. 7, 2021, and the cruise fare for an inside cabin drops to $3,274 per person from $8,929 while the ocean view cruise rate drops to $12,759 per person from $46,779. Rates are based on double occupancy and the cruise code for booking is G105.
Cruise highlights include: sailing on the Amazon and Manaus rivers and an overnight in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Buenos Aires; Ushuaia in Patagonia’s Tierra del Fuego; sailing through the Straits of Magellan, Chilean Fjords and the Panama Canal.
The offer is subject to availability at the time of booking and based on the first available double-occupancy cabin. The offers is for new bookings only and does not include airfare, transfers, and/or hotel or gratuities of about $8 per person, per night, debited to on board account.
Cruise and Maritime Voyages or 855/206-4897.
12. Kids Sail Free
|Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line has a Kids Sail free offer that applies to all staterooms.
Book a two-night getaway to Grand Bahama or Nassau from $99 per person. Kids sail free regardless of which stateroom you choose. The offer is for new bookings only for sailings through June 30, 2020 and is not combinable with other promotional offers.
The free fare for kids does not include taxes and fees.
As a bonus, when you book an ocean view stateroom, you’ll receive a $20 onboard credit, 20 percent off specialty dining, 20 percent off WiFi, five drinks for $20, and 20 percent off spa treatments.
Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line or 800/995-3201.
13. Heat Causes Vehicle Breakdowns
|As spring gives way to summer and the weather heats up, AAA expects an increased number of vehicle breakdowns. AAA responds to hundreds more calls on a hot, humid summer day than on a cooler day. Most of these calls are during the hottest part of the day, between 1 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Automotive experts say heat related breakdowns can be prevented with the following routine maintenance:
Check battery twice a year: During extreme heat, the majority of AAA’s roadside assistance calls are for dead batteries. Vehicle batteries typically last three to five years. Heat degrades a battery’s interior components and shortens its life. Depending on the demands of the vehicle electrical system and driving habits, prolonged heat can be harder on a battery than cold.
Maintain engine cooling system: Cooling systems work extra hard during hot weather to keep engines from overheating. Coolant protects the radiator and internal engine components. Over time, coolant degrades and needs to be changed. Neglecting this can lead to long-term engine damage. Rubber cooling system components will also deteriorate in extreme heat. Inspect hoses and drive belts for cracking, bulges, soft spots or other signs of poor condition.
Top off fluids: Most fluids not only lubricate, but also serve as coolants by carrying heat away from critical engine components. When fluid levels are low, this cooling effect is reduced, and the probability of overheating increases. Keep current with routine oil changes, as reputable shops will also inspect other fluid levels when changing the oil.
Check tire pressure and condition monthly: Changes in temperature can affect tire pressure, which can cause uneven wear and shorten the life of a tire. In addition, worn tires can’t grip the road during wet weather conditions, which can lead to hydroplaning.
Even with proper maintenance, summer breakdowns can still occur. AAA recommends every driver have an emergency kit in their vehicle, which includes a mobile phone charger, water, non-perishable food items, jumper cables, a flashlight with extra batteries, emergency reflectors, basic hand tools and a first aid kit.
14. Vagabond Specials on Ireland Tours
|Choose an active Vagabond Small Group tour or relaxed Driftwood tour of Ireland, for an authentic and memorable Irish cultural experiences. The company guarantees departures and full days on tour, and offers the following discounts.
Free Dublin Tours and Museum Entries - Book for June/July 2020 to get free experiences in Dublin including a Hop-On, Hop-Off Dublin bus tour.
10 percent off on all scheduled Vagabond and Driftwood tours departing in March and April 2020.
10 percent off all scheduled Vagabond and Driftwood Tours departing in October 2020.
Up to 10 percent off all scheduled Vagabond and Driftwood Tours for past guests.
Tour Combo Discount: Get five percent off when combining two tours.
Vagabond Tours or 833/230-0288.
15. AdventureSmith Explorations Discounts
|Considering a cruise to commemorate a life event? AdventureSmith Explorations can make that dream come true.
Here are a few suggestions with perks or discounts to celebrate anniversaries and mileposts.
Graduation: Book by Mar. 31, 2020, and receive free roundtrip airfare from Miami on the National Geographic Endeavour II Galapagos Cruise. This 10-day cruise is tailored for 96 active travelers.
Vows: Get married in front of a glacier and save $300 per person on the May 16, May 20, June 13 and July 4, 2020, departures of the Sea Wolf Glacier Bay Adventure small ship cruise that focuses on Alaska’s Glacier Bay.
Forever Birthday: Charter a ship for family and friends to celebrate a special birthday. Generally, chartering a ship saves 10 to 30 percent off the standard per-person cabin rate. AdventureSmith’s charter ships range from eight to 22 guests. Or you can book as a small group to take advantage of savings.
Just Gotta Go: Book by Mar. 2, 2020, to save up to $1,700 per person on select cabins on the Antarctic Latitudes cruise aboard the 112-guest Island Sky and 114-guest Hebridean Sky expedition ships.
AdventureSmith Explorations or 866/575-2875.
16. Ireland Villa Vacation
|Aer Lingus Vacations offers a six night villa vacation in Western Ireland from $1,087 per person, based on four people traveling together, for March or November 2020 departures. Package ID: PK-AER-SH-AVG-SNNAIR.
The trip includes:
- Roundtrip economy class airfare to Shannon, Ireland on Aer Lingus
- Airport taxes
- Manual shift full size car rental - upgrade to automatic for additional cost
- Six nights in Adare at the Adare Villas (three-bedroom villa, self-catering)
- Admission to the Cliffs of Moher
- Admission to Bunratty Castle and Folk Park.
You can view the rural landscapes and rocky coastlines at your own pace with your own rental car.
Villas in Adare have kitchens with stoves, refrigerators, microwaves, dishwashers, coffeemakers plus washers and dryers. Electricity is 110v as in the U.S.
Sightseeing can include the village of Adare with its thatched roof houses, medieval Bunratty Castle in County Clare, the Cliffs of Moher, drive through the Ring of Kerry and Killarney National Park.
You can head to Cork and visit Blarney Castle and Stone, then to Limerick and King John's Castle with a stop in Viking-founded Waterford, Ireland's oldest city.
Aer Lingus Vacations or 800/495-1632.
17. Rollin on the Rivers Promotion
|The American Queen Steamboat Company has a limited time sale where you can save up to $2,500 per stateroom on select dates. The offer is valid on new bookings made by Mar. 31, 2020, for travel through Dec. 29, 2020.
Full payment at the time of booking is required to redeem this offer and the offer is based on cabin availability. Cruise fares are per person and do not include government taxes and fees, port charges, airfare, insurance, personal expenditures or transportation costs to and from embarkation ports. Gratuities not included in cruise fares for American Queen, American Empress, and American Countess. Mention Offer Code 2020 STEAM AHEAD.
The offer excludes American Countess cabin category SO, American Duchess cabin category OS, American Empress cabin categories SO and LS and American Queen cabin categories SI and OS.
Included in your cruise fare:
- One-night pre-cruise hotel stay to begin your journey (excludes American Countess voyages.)
- Guided Hop-On Hop-Off shore excursions in each port of call
- All onboard meals, with regionally inspired cuisine
- Non-premium wine and beer with dinner
- Coffee, tea, cappuccino, espresso, filtered water, soft drinks, ice cream, popcorn and freshly baked cookies
- Wi-Fi Internet service
- Daily lectures by the Riverlorian, resident history and culture expert.
American Queen Steamboat Company or 833/971-1120.
18. Pigeon Forge Discount Coupons
|Get more out of your next vacation to the Greater Smoky Mountain area in Tennessee. The Pigeon Forge Chamber of Commerce offers discount coupons from attractions, lodging and shopping businesses in the area including Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg, and Sevierville, TN.
Here are some of the lodging coupons.
American Patriot Getaways – Buy five nights at a cabin or chalet and get two nights free. Applies to certain properties and holidays are included. Offer valid through Jan. 1, 2025.
American Patriot Getaways – 15 percent off early bird special when you book a cabin or chalet 30 days or more in advance. You must stay at least two nights and longer for holiday stays. Applies to certain properties and holidays are included. Offer valid through Jan. 1, 2025.
All Season Suites – Stay two to three days and receive 10 percent off and stay four or more days and receive 15 percent off. The offer expires Apr. 8, 2020 and is not valid with other offers, coupons or discounts. Early departure voids discount.
Ski Mountain Chalet and Condo Rentals – Pay for two nights and get the third night free. The offer is for new reservations only, cannot be combined with other discounts and is not valid for holidays. Offer valid through May 22, 2020.
Pigeon Forge Chamber or 855/716-6199.
Consider Krakow, Poland by Nicki and Harold Chodnoff
|You know that a city is old if its mythical leader slays a dragon. That’s the origin myth for Krakow, one of the largest and oldest cities in Poland. Krak the cobbler became Krakus the prince and king by killing the dragon, Smok Wawelski. Krakow was built above a cave where the ravenous Smok lived. Many knights tried to oust the dragon by force. Clever Krak fed it a poisoned lamb, which killed the dragon. Dragon bones, most likely that of mammoth, are displayed at the entrance of the Wawel Cathedral on Wawel Hill. A statue of Smok Wawelski stands at the foot of the Wawel Hill were every five minutes or so it breathes fire. We were told you can request the flame by sending a text to 7168 with “SMOK.”
Krakow dates back too the 7th century and the earliest known settlement on Wawel Hill dates back to the 4th century. Krakow was the capital of Poland from 1038 to 1596 and reference to the city first appeared in 966 records, when a Sephardi Jewish traveler, Abraham ben Jacob, described Kraków as a notable commercial center under the rule of the duke of Bohemia (Boleslaus I the Cruel).
Medieval Kraków was surrounded by a 1.9 mile defensive wall with 46 towers and seven main entrances leading through them of which St. Florian's Gate and Kraków Barbican still stand.
Today, Krakow attracts around 10 million tourists every year, many explore its fairy-tale like medieval old town, Stare Miasto, a dedicated UNESCO World Heritage Site. Off a central town square, is a network of cobbled streets, historic architecture and Polish monuments. We were told the old town has more pubs and bars per square meter than anywhere else in the world, even Dublin, Ireland.
Kraków is the best preserved city in Poland. During WWII, German forces of the Third Reich proclaimed it the capital of the General Government. Because it was a Nazi supply base there was no reason to destroy its infrastructure. So Stare Miasto escaped the destruction that befell the rest of Poland.
Narrow, cobbled streets radiate off the impressive 13th-century Market Square in Stare Miasto where medieval houses jostle with 18th- and 19th-century palaces. Culture dominates the city’s existence from the Royal Castle and Gothic cathedral perched high on Wawel Hill to the 16th-century synagogues in the Jewish Quarter, made famous in Schindler’s List, to Leonardo da Vinci’s 15th-century Lady with an Ermine (stolen from Poland by the Nazis but since returned), as of 2018, housed in the National Museum here.
Wawel Hill is the most visited sight in Poland. Poles considered it sacred ground, a symbol of Polish royalty and independence. The castle has stood here since the 11th century, a mish-mash of architectural styles, divided into five separate sections: the Crown Treasury and Armoury, State Rooms, Lost Wawel, Exhibition of Oriental Art and the Royal Private Apartments with their opulent décor and tapestries, some containing about 11 pounds of silver thread. Many consider Wawel Cathedral the Westminster Abbey of Poland, the highlight of Wawel Hill as it houses the tombs of the country's greatest rulers and historic figures.
In addition to the old, there is a young at heart element as this is a univeristy city packed with lively bars.
Our guide told us that the history of Poland and Krakow is intertwined with the history of the Jews in Poland. Jews settled in Krakow, near Wawel Hill in the 11th century and records from the mid-13th century indicate a Jewish street, Judengasse, now St. Anne Street. Most of the first Jewish settlers were from German territory, fleeing persecution. In 1334, king Casimir the Great granted a privilege for Jews which guaranteed fundamental rights, including the right to trade and the freedom of religion. In 1335, King Casimir founded Kazimierz as a separate town on the Vistula River.
In 1939, when World War II erupted, Krakow was home to 70,000 Jews living in Kazimierz district. In 1495, King Jan Olbracht expelled Jews from Krakow to Kazimierz. Jews converted Kazimierz into a prosperous town with synagogues and markets. Wealthy Jewish immigrants from Germany, Italy, Spain and Portugal made a beeline to this commercial haven.
For 500 years, Kazimierz was the bustling center of Jewish life and culture – until it was destroyed and its inhabitants were forcibly moved to the Kraków ghetto across the river in Podgórze by the Nazis in 1941.
The Jews who weren’t deported to the death camps were forced into hard labor in the factories around the ghetto. During the Nazi rule, Oskar Schindler’s Deutsche Emailwarenfabrik produced enameled goods. The Jews who worked for Schindler were given refuge and escaped the horrors of Plaszow concentration camp. Schindler risked his life to save 1,200 Jews, which was chronicled by Thomas Keneally in his book Schindler’s Ark. Schindler’s museum tells the horrific and sad story of what befell the Jews in Krakow. Nazi posters, pictures of the Jews in the ghetto, short videos of the horrors of the German occupation and quotes from Jewish survivors and victims make the museum sombre and brooding.
After the Nazis left, the communist came and during the communist era, Kazimierz was a rundown quarter that most people avoided. In the 1990s, when Kazimierz was in the spotlight with Steven Spielberg’s movie Schindler’s List, it transformed into a bohemian neighborhood packed with bars, cafes and historic sights. There are several free walking tours of the neighborhood, which is compact and easy to walk around. Along Szeroka Street you’ll find the 16th-century Old Synagogue, the city’s oldest which serves as the Jewish History Museum. The Remuh Synagogue is a functioning synagogue that traces its roots back to the 1550s, as is Kupa Synagogue which dates back to the 17th century. Kosher meals can be had at the 17th-century, Isaac Synagogue, which runs the Szalom Falafel kitchen.
The Jewish Memorial with its empty chairs in Zgody Square, also known as Ghetto Heroes Square, honors Krakow’s Jews. During the Holocaust Jews selected to leave the Krakow ghetto boarded trains from this square and sent to their deaths or forced labor at Płaszów, Belzec or Auschwitz Birkenau. A visit to the Jewish cemetery and the Galicia Jewish Museum chronicles the sobering history of Polish Jews. Plac Nowy, the heart of Kazimierz, is home to weekend flea markets with antiques, books and food stalls. Grab an open-faced zapiekanka (pizza bread packed with mushrooms and cheese) from one of the stands in the square. Cheder, opened by the Jewish Culture Festival Association in a former prayer house, is a cafe that serves Israeli-style coffee alongside traditional mezze and the cultural center for lectures, film screenings, concerts and other events. The Jewish Culture Festival Association organized the yearly Jewish Culture Festival.
Krakow’s historic center in Stare Miasto is at its heart, Rynek Główny, or the main square. Day or night Europe’s largest square is a spectacle. Rynek Główny is abuzz with activity: street performers, horse-drawn carriages, festivals, concerts, parades and diners galore.
The square’s centerpiece is the 14th-century, Gothic-style St. Mary’s Basilica, featuring stained glass windows, gilded interiors, and a wonderful choir during the evening service. During the day you may suddenly hear a bugle call and notice a trumpet poking out of the tall red-brick tower of St. Mary’s Basilica. This plaintive melody, "hejnal mariacki," is performed every hour on the hour and the tune stops midstream. It commemorates the bugler-watchman who saw the Mongol enemy approach and sounded the alarm. Before he could finish, an arrow pierced his throat, which is why today the music stops partway through.
Across the square, the beautiful 13th-century Cloth Hall, a fine example of renaissance architecture, is the city’s oldest commercial centre and a great place to pick up souvenirs. On the upper floor of Cloth Hall is the Sukiennice Museum division of the National Museum which holds 19th-century Polish painting and sculpture, in four exhibition halls.
For a quick snack or meal, grab a fresh obwarzanek, a ring-like Polish bagel topped with salt at one of the many pushcarts in Rynek Glowny that sell them.
The seven-mile-long Royal Route was the coronation path of Polish kings and is the main sightseeing artery. Most of the Old Town’s prime sights lay along this route from the Florian (Floriańska) Gate to Wawel Castle.
Floriańska Gate officially began the Royal Route and it dates back to 1307 and it leads you Glowny Rynek. Leave the Rynek along the route followed by the kings down ul. Grodzka to Plac Wszystkich Świętych. To the right is St. Francis’ Basilica with an Art Nouveau interior by Stanisław Wyspiański, and three Wyspiański stained glass windows. Pause at the Church of Saints Peter & Paul with its striking sculptures of the 12 disciples who adorn its grand frontage. Walk through leafy Jagiellonian University, where Copernicus studied in the 15th century. One of Kraków’s most handsome streets is ul. Kanonicza where Pope John Paul II’s former residence is at numbers 19-21. It is now the Archdiocesan Museum. Kanonicza lets out at the foot of Wawel Castle, the city’s defining landmark.
There are many free walking tours in Krakow including tours of Old Town, Jewish Krakow, macabre Krakow, World War II In Kraków and street art.
Krakow is a convenient starting point for two must-see places: Wieliczka Salt Mine and Auschwitz-Birkenau, the terrifying place where Nazis carried out the 'final solution' plan during World War II. A visit should be on your list to pay respect to the victims of the Holocaust. Historians estimate that between 1940 and 1945, the Nazis sent at least 1.3 million people to Auschwitz. About 1.1 million of these people died or were killed at Auschwitz. There will be articles about both places in upcoming issues of Travel Savings Alerts.
Polish National Tourism Office.
20. Stay at a University Room
|You don't have to be a student to get value by staying in a university room. UniversityRooms.com has more than 400 university colleges and student residences available to book in more than 100 cities around the world.
At select times during the year, when students move out, many university-owned and independently-owned student residences are empty. Travelers can fill those empty rooms and can get affordable accommodations. For universities, this extra revenue may subsidize student tuitions.
Availability is mainly in the summer (June, July, August, September), when students are not using their rooms. Rooms typically become available two to three months in advance. Depending on the university, rooms can be a mix of single, twin, some double and family rooms. Many have ensuite bathrooms and some are available with breakfast.
For instance, in Laredo TX, university residences start at $20 per room, while in Worcester, MA residences start at $50 per room.
University residences are available in Australia, Austria, Canada, France, Ireland, Italy, Malta, Portugal, Spain, Turkey and the United Kingdom.
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