Stu's DIBB Photo Blogs
At the end of June we did a 4 night city break to Krakow. We flew from East Midlands airport on Ryan Air, now this was my very first flight with Ryan Air and the only thing that kept going through my head all through the booking process and flight was the song "Flights for 50p" by facinatingada, if you don't know what I am referring to then do a youtube search for "Flights for 50p" and watch this hilarious parody of Ryan Air.
Anyway all in all the flight was uneventful and I was pleasantly surprised, I know Ryan Air get a lot of stick but if the flights are all like the one we did then I would be more than happy to use them again in the future.
We stayed at Andels hotel which is just a short walk from the main square, we have stayed here previously and love the modern contemporary style of this hotel and the friendliness of the staff. We used their airport transfers which were cheaper than the taxis.
This is our second visit to Krakow, the first time we didn't do any tours, just spent our time around the old town, drinking, eating and watching the world go by.
This time we decided to do some tours, we did a horse and cart tour of old town, a golf buggy tour of old town, Jewish quarter and schindlers factory. We also did a full day semi guided tour to Auschwitz and the Salt mines.
Over in the Ghetto there is a very poignant monument made up of 70 over sized bronze chairs. The monument symbolises the persecution of the Jews in Krakow who were ordered in to the Ghetto. The chairs represent the furniture that the Germans threw out of the windows in the liquidation of the Ghetto in 1943, where Jews fit for work were deported to labour camps and those unfit were killed in the streets. The chairs face in different directions symbolising the deportation routes from the Ghetto.
I was in two minds as to whether I wanted to take photos of Auschwitz, I always feel uneasy taking photos of places where atrocities have happened. We went to ground zero in New York a couple of years ago and I couldn't bring myself to use my camera. However it is encouraged that you take pictures of Auschwitz so that people don't forget what happened here.
If you haven't studied Auschwitz in any detail then like me you may not realise that Auschwitz is made up of 3 main camps.
Auschwitz 1 was a Polish Army Baracks that the Germans took over and converted it into a concentration/death camp.
Auschwitz 2 (Birkenau) was a purpose built concentration/death camp. It was 10 times the size of Auschwitz 1
Auschwitz 3 (Monowitz) a smaller sub-camp built to house prisoners as slave labour for the Buna Werke industrial complex.
There were quite a few areas that I still couldn't bring myself to photograph, so I post some of the photos I did manage to take during the tour.
Moving from Auschwitz 1 to the large Auschwitz 2, the first thing that strikes you is the entrance. This is where the trains carrying the Jewsand others came through. The only thing waiting on the other side of the entrance was torment and death for the prisoners.
Auschwitz 2 (Birkenhau) was designed by the Germans for one purpose and that was to eradicate the Jews on an industrial scale.
Remains of one of the Gas chambers situated right at the end of the train line.
The Germans destroyed the chamber at the end of the war to try and hide the evidence of what happened here.
One of the huts that housed hundreds of prisoners.
Inside the huts the prisoners slept in these small uncomfortable beds, there were several prisoners to each of the beds,
Most of the huts were destroyed by the Nazis at the end of the war to hide the evidence.
After an emotional tour of Auschwitz camps our tour guide took us to Wieliczka Salt Mine.
The Salt Mine is one of the most valuable cultural monuments in Poland, visited each year by over a million tourists from around the world. It is also a world class historical monument and as such is inscribed in UNESCOs First World list of cultural and natural heritage.
When you enter the mine you have a very long walk down hundreds of wooden steps to the bottom of the mine, some 130 meters straight down. Luckily there is a lift back to the surface.
The pictures don't really do the mine justice as they don't give a true sense of scale. The mine is massive, the tour only covers 1% of the actual mine but it still takes a couple of hours to se what is in that 1%.
The main attraction of the salt mine is all of the intricate carvings that the miners have created in the mine. In their spare time the miners carved out of the Salt Rock, many statues and carvings depicting battles and religious scenes. There are full churches and a cathedral carved out of the rock.
One of the many chandeliers created from Salt Crystals
I was in Prague last week and thought I'd share some of the pictures taken during the trip.
These photos were all taken on my iPhone so may not be the best, but for those that haven't been to this beautiful city it will give you a glimpse of some of the wonderful architecture.
We were expecting it to be snowing but unusually for this time of year it was dry and overcast most of the days with the sun occasionally breaking through.
A view from the Astronomical clock tower looking over the old town square towards our hotel, we were staying in the Ventana hotel just off the square, it the one set back slightly middle right of this photo.
If you are planning a trip to Prague, then I can highly recommend this hotel, it is 5* very friendly and the location couldn't be any better.
The Astronomical Clock
Prague Castle and Cathedral
Today is our last full day, but being parked out we have a relaxing day by the resort pool, there is a quiet pool near our room and we have the pool to ourselves.
Later we have Citricos booked for dinner then off to EPCOT for illuminations
Our Table is located directly opposite the kitchen and we are treated almost to a chefs table as the executive Chef is next to us and giving us a personal experience of the dishes his team are preparing.
Served with the bread is an extra taster dish of Pork Belly and slaw.
My starter is Roasted Beets with Goats cheese
Tracy has the 'Crispy fried yellow tomato and buffalo mozzarella' to start.
We both have the Oak Grilled Fillet which was to die for, succulent and very tasty.
A creme brûlée with fresh fruits for me to finish the meal.
Tracy has the Tiramisu.
Citricos is an excellent fine dining restaurant which I couldn't fault in anyway.
The Staff are very friendly and explain the menu extensively. The Head chef and his staff give a personal service to what they do and that shows in the quality of the food.
This restaurant is now at the top of my list of fine dining restaurants available with DDP.
Off to EPCOT for Illuminations to spend our last night here.
Today we are at Blizzard Beach then this evening we have booked Cirque Du Soleil and Ragland Road for Dinner.
The DIBB Busy Day Guide has Blizzard Beach down as a recommended park and the park happens to be the quietest I have ever seen a water park, as you will see in the following photo tour of Blizzard Beach it is virtually empty.
Empty Private Cabannas
Empty seating area
Spot the guest
Not so hidden Mickey
Another empty seating area
The day started a little overcast which may have kept some people away but I have never seen a water park this quiet.
These photos of Blizzard Beach were taken after lunch between 1-2pm.
On to Downtown Disney for the 6pm showing of Cirque Du Soleil.
Last time I saw La Nouba was several years ago so I was looking forward to the show and it didn't disappoint, the show was fantastic.
On to Ragland Road for Dinner
A Guinness to start the evening meal
Tracy opted for the Fish and Chips which she said was delicious.
I opted for the "Bangers and Booze"
Sausage and Mash with Guiness Beef Stew.
This was very tasty, I have had some great meals on this holiday and this was one of the best, if I could got away with licking the plate I would have done :-)
For dessert Tracy had the "Dundon's Delight" Raspberry Pavlova with ice cream and raspberry sauce.
For me, "Fluffy Lemon Clouds", Lemon Curd Tart with Meringue.
Ragland Road is a great place to eat, the restaurant is very lively with a live band playing and table top Irish Dancers.
The food is great quality with good flavours and friendly staff.
I think with this restaurant it will depend on where you are seated as to your experience, some seats are quieter than others and some are tucked away so you can't see the entertainment.
Because of the music and dancers it does attract people standing around just watching which again depending on where your table is could mean you have people stood blocking your view of the stage.
The music, dancing, live band and the good food make this a great choice for evening entertainment.
Well it is Columbus Day today and we are going to The Magic Kingdom, now this may seem silly but there is a reason the DIBB recommends the Magic Kingdom today, I am not sure why some other guides don't recommend MK today.
We were actually scheduled to go to Kennedy Space Center today, we even had complimentary media tickets, however with the US Government still in partial shutdown this meant that no tours were available at KSC, so we decided Magic Kingdom for today instead.
We had a late start and arrive at the Magic Kingdom around 10am.
Checking the wait times everything still seems ok, splash mountain and thunder mountain state 5 minutes, space mountain is currently down.
We head for thunder mountain
The crowds seem light at the moment
The spitting Camel, squirting water at unsuspecting guests :-)
BTMR says 10 minute wait time
Thunder mountain said 10 minute wait but it was nearly a walk on, probably less than 5 minutes in reality.
Next to Splash Mountain, again the posted wait time is 10 minutes.
Wait time was again less than the 10 minutes posted.
Park is still quiet
Pirates of the Caribbean posted wait time 5 minutes
Mickey and Minnie, all in Green.
Called in at Cosmic Ray's Starlight Cafe for lunch.
Disney Quick Service Park food is dire at some of these places. Anything other than standard burgers and fries and it really is bad.
I had the chicken sandwich, ok to fill a hole but completely uninspiring :-(
Tracy went for the chicken lunch to try something different to burger and fries, I just asked what she thought of it, she said "Not a Lot". Even the coffee was terrible.
This ranks as the worst meal we have had all holiday :-(
Some construction pictures of the seven dwarfs mine train ride opening next year
Move it Shake it
We left MK mid afternoon to go for a dip in the pool back at CSR.
The Magic Kingdom was still relatively crowd free as we left, about the only time we saw much of a crowd was when we passed Be Our Guest Restaurant, there was a 30 minute queue waiting for lunch.
Later this evening we are eating at the Boardwalk's Flying Fish Cafe.
Time for Dinner
We started with some great flavoured bread, the bread alone was better than the quick service meal we had earlier in Magic Kingdom :-)
Appetiser, we both had,
Roasted heirloom beets and fresh Vermont Goat Cheese
For Entree Tracy had
Oak grilled Faroe Islands Salmon
Duo of Char crusted Angus New York Strip Steak and Potato Wrapped Red Snapper
seasonal House made Sorbets with fresh berries and crisp tuile
Tracy had the same except we asked them if they could swap one of the sorbets for ice cream, so she had two sorbets and ice cream where mine was a trio of sorbet flavours.
The Flying Fish restaurant is quite noisy, almost cafeteria like and lacks atmosphere. However the food is top notch and the servers were great, willing to help in any way they could.
Overall this signature dining experience was excellent, if you are looking for romantic or quiet then go elsewhere, maybe next door to Kouzzina, The Flying Fish has great food but it comes with lots of restaurant noise.
End of a great night
We had a restful day today with Le Cellier booked for early Dinner.
After a well deserved lie in we took a drive around the area and filled the car up then headed back to CSR to catch the Disney Bus to EPCOT, don't want to drive as too many wine and beer stands to tempt me :-)
The Scotland Festival Stand
EPCOT is a lot quieter today, the only festival food stand to have a large queue was Belgium, not sure what makes Belgium so popular but was certainly drawing in the crowd.
We are a little early for our reservation so take a look around Canada before checking in.
Crowd gathering for Off Kilter
Time to check in for Dinner,
I am looking forward to this to see if things have changed. This is the only Disney Restaurant where I have complained. The last time I ate here was in 2007, I had to send the desserts back as they came out 5 minutes after the entrees, the staff seemed to be overworked or they were just rude. So I am giving the restaurant a second chance.
New York Strip
White Chocolate Cheesecake.
Well the restaurant has reprieved itself, the staff were very friendly and accommodating. The food was delicious.
The dining experience was relaxed and very enjoyable, my only criticism is it isn't worth signature restaurant status, it is good but not good enough for it to be 2 TS credits.
Now for some shots around the park.
there's something about Mary
The Manhattan Transfer playing in the Eat to the Beat concert.
Time for a beer, this was beer flight #1 from the Craft Beer stand, Tracy had some wine from the Australia stand.
We did sample Soft Drinks too, Tracy's first taste of 'Beverley', I have a sneaky suspicion it may well be her last, I didn't bother taking a picture of the face she pulled when the flavour (if you can call it flavour) hit her taste buds as I knew full we'll there would be no way she would let me post it :-)
Sun setting over the Disney Bus Station at EPCOT.
Today we spent at Disney's Typhoon Lagoon water park.
Normally I wouldn't go to a water park on a weekend but with this being Columbus Day weekend I had a hunch that it would be quiet and luckily my hunch paid off. There was only 5 minute waits on all the rides for most of the day and the park was the quietest I have ever seen it.
Later we are going to try Paradiso 37 in Downtown Disney for dinner tonight.
Following are a few random shots from around Typhoon Lagoon.
Water, Sand, Sun and Funnel Cake :-)
As you can see from the photos it is very quiet. Most of these pictures were taken around 2pm.
Time for Dinner at Paradiso37
Parking at Downtown Disney is a nightmare this evening, we eventually get parked in the cast members building across the road from downtown disney
Paradiso37 is a lively restaurant with a great atmosphere, it is very busy and the music is great.
A couple of beers to start with
We both go for the BBQ Pork Ribs and they are delicious melt in the mouth.
Creme Brûlée for Tracy
Lime Sorbet for me
Some pictures as we walk through Downtown Disney.
▼ Scroll down to load more blogs... ▼