...Ojców National Park features some of my favs.

 

This weekend, I visited Ojców National Park, which is conveniently just around a half an hour from Kraków. It is Poland's smallest national park, but it doesn't seem like it, as it is full of curiousities, and it's also hard to tell where the park begins and ends since the land around it is also very photogenic.  

For my first visit I got a good overview of the park and saw the main attractions, such as the two castles, the tiny village of Ojców and a famous rock called Hercules' Club, all pictured below, along with the other interesting things and sweeping vistas that I came across. I really liked the park and since there is always more to see there, I can't wait to go back again soon!! Even though the weather was great that day too (and tourists were minimal), I also would love to see the park in its full summer splendor with greenery and flowers and croaking frogs...there was actually a frog crossing sign on the road (didn't snap a pic, sadly) and lots of swamps/ponds, so I would imagine they can be heard loud and clear in the summer! Two frogs did make an appearance in a reservoir though.

Now, onto the photos!


The larger of the two castles in the park looms in the distance:

 

A sign at the foot of the hill welcomes visitors to the castle, which it thought to originally date from the 14th century:

 

The landscape in Ojców is full of hills and woods - very peaceful and pretty!

 

Time to get a little workout and make the hike up to the top!

 

Buds hanging overhead with the cool clock tower that features a moon in the center of the clock:

 

The nifty hedge garden next to the castle:

 

Entrance to the lovely arcaded courtyard:

 

The many faces of Pieskowa Skała...

 

Fancy letters on the wall...not sure what they say, but I don't think it's in Polish:

 

Some sort of wheel contraption in the courtyard - maybe for a well?

 

Old-timey pic! Excuse the bright flash...can't turn it off, haha!! (note: I figured out how to turn it off now - woohoo!)

 

These next three shots are of some of the castle's uniquely beautiful design details:

 

 

 

The outside courtyard:

 

What a fabulous view (from the outside courtyard)!

 

 

Vines climbing up the castle walls:

 

Below the castle, a large rock formation called Hercules' club emerges from behind the trees:

 

Wow, that rock sure was heavy to try and hold up..."try" because clearly it wasn't working and the club was leaning way to the left!! ;-)

 

An up-close view of the uneven limestone rock that has been shaped by wind and water over the years into odd shapes:

 

 

The castle looks extra commanding from this angle:

 

I think this is the Pradnik River:

 

Another shot of the idyllic river/stream:

 

Approaching the second castle, Ocjow castle, also from the 14th century:

 

Whoaaaa!! Thank goodness for the bars there - wouldn't want to fall down there!

 

Not a good place to loose your footing!! The path to Ocjow village is down below:

 

The three friends I was with - Kamila, Anna and Agnieszka - try to figure out the colored arrows that each stand for something. :-) At least they are all pointing in the same direction so we know which way to go! Ojców village happened to be that way too:

 

A wooden foot bridge over the stream:

 

The village of Ojców with Ojców Castle in the far background, as seen from the top of another hill we climbed:

 

This "stairway" was a bit steep and uneven...but then again it was basically just the side of a boulder. Thankfully the railings were there to help!

 

Kamila and I posing with some Polish Boy Scouts. They look exactly like American Boy Scouts, uniforms and all, and even have the same passion for hiking and the outdoors:

 

This was the only cave(?) I spotted that day unfortunately. There are hundreds in the park, but they must be quite hidden...and some of the main ones were not open yet for the season.

 

The quaint Chapel on the Water, which, besides looking like it's made of gingerbread, is also actually built "on the water" (over the river on a bridge):

 

Cluck, cluck, cluck!! These chickens live next door to the pizza place where we ate lunch. 

 

A tired but sweet puppy that was waiting for his owners to eat lunch...he was smart too and knew how to shake paw. He also was quite mesmerized by the chickens next door, haha!

 

I scarfed down my veggie pizza too fast to get a picture of it (both times), but I still got a pic of the cute take-out box:

 

And lastly, the Funny Pigeon Pic...the pigeons prefer to be fed by hand in Kraków. They find it to be more personal, friendly and sophisticated that way:

 

This coming weekend, it's time for a soccer game, finally!!! I'm going to watch one of Kraków's two teams (and Poland's oldest soccer club) that compete nationally, Cracovia, take on the northern Polish port city of Gdańsk in Cracovia's new, modern stadium. I'm hoping for good weather and some fierce competition, but with a win in the end for Cracovia of course!

Until next time,

Sara :-)

 

 

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