My kids love sausages. It’s nothing to do with the taste and everything to do with the shape. If it’s long and thin – chips, breadsticks, seaside rock – it’s eaten eagerly by the six-year-old twins; give them carrot sticks, and they’ll devour them. Give them carrot chopped into rings, and two upper lips will turn up in disgust.
So Poland – home of some of the world’s finest sausages – seemed a fine foodie holiday destination for our family. But which Polish sausage-making centre? Krakow is often regarded as the culinary capital of a country that, to be honest, is also known as the proponent of stewed stuffed cabbage (not a dish my kids adore). So we set out for Krakow, wrapped up like mummies against the cold.
Unlike many European cities that sprawl like a collection of loosely connected villages, Krakow is family-sized. There’s the central Market Square with a Royal Castle a brisk 20-minute pushchair-ride away. You can walk everywhere and see everything within a couple of days.
An although we usually haughtily resist such activities, in Krakow the horse and carriages parked up in the square didn’t seem such a tourist trap, and yesterday we trotted up to the castle like a tribe of princes and princesses. Then we warmed ourselves up with a cup of mulled wine in the square’s Christmas market, filled with head-scarfed women handpainting glass baubles and decorating gingerbread.
And – this is very important to us as a family – we’ve been eating well and cheaply. The street food keeps us satisfied between our lunch and dinner of different sausages: round balls of ewe’s cheese, like a Polish mozzarella; pretzels sprinkled with salt crystals or poppy seeds; peirogi (Polish ravioli) filled with meat or cheese.
If you had to write a blueprint for a family city break it would be to a place of manageable proportions with a big old castle, a big old central square and stick-shaped food. If you can think of other cities that fit this bill apart from Krakow, do let me know.