My overdue write up for 5 nights in Kraków, Poland
Day 1 –
Grabbed a nice cheap early flight with Ryanair from Leeds to Kraków and boom, 2 hours later I’m in Poland. Arriving at the airport I found the place to be very small but easy to navigate, I followed signs for the other terminal where I could catch a bus to Kraków city centre from.
As I was sat on the bus, an old English couple were sat in front of me, clearly keen not to get lost they had GPRS on their phone and were tracking exactly where the bus was going and how far along we were. Whilst I was going to just wing it anyway it was a nice reminder that I was on the right track.
When I arrived at Kraków I headed for my hostel through the mall next to the bus station, ended up stopping at a fancy McCafe for an Iced Chocolate.. Little did I know I’d soon be in here everyday..
Arriving at the hostel it was very quiet. I guess it could have been the time I arrived but in comparison with Riga it was so very different to being greeted with a free shot. That aside, the staff were very friendly and they showed me around the place. For the first time ever I had booked a mixed dorm! 10 bed! Figured I’d take the plunge since I’ve now got used to being surrounded by randomers. As I entered my room, I met Amanda. She was from Sweden and had just moved to Kraków from Liverpool! She was planning on finding a job and an apartment and settling in Kraków. After meeting her and unpacking I decided to venture out, grab some currency and have a general walk around.
It was a nice day and as soon as I started walking I felt like I’d gone back in time. Surrounded by castles and paintings hung over walls in the street, street artists performing, it was genuinely like medieval times or something! There was also so many shops that were reeling me in. It was awesome. I immediately took a like to the city. I even grabbed Mexican food at a cute little restaurant that served the best strawberry margaritas ever.
After I got back there were more people in the hostel and I was told I could grab some booze and drink it in the common room, so that was pretty cool, so I met 2 girls from the U.S. And we headed to the shop to grab some bottles. It was free vodka shot night tonight but this is when I became a party pooper. Had no idea I was about to be hit by a mega cough that will ruin my week. And even now when I’m writing this up 2 weeks later I’m battling this cough with antibiotics. So I hit the hay for an early night and woke up coughing my guts up every hour all the way through the night.. The negative part of hostels.. Feeling like everyone hates you as your waking them up coughing at 3am.
Day 2 –
The next day, despite going to bed earlier than everyone else, I still was last to wake up. (Something that doesn’t surprise me anymore with the fact I’m always ill).
Today, with it being Poland’s public holiday so all the shops were shut, I planned to visit Auschwitz. For those who don’t know, it was a concentration camp during world war 2 and definitely not for the faint hearted. Whilst my hostel were offering 6 hour trips costing 120 PLN, I made my own way there costing me a whopping 28PLN and it took me 11 hours overall so I had much more time to explore the camps.
As I arrived, Auschwitz 1 was so busy I decided to head for birkenau first. It took me 3 hours to walk around the place but I really did visit everything, even the outskirts of where they were building the extra camp named Mexico. I also sat on the grass for 30 mins to read through all the history of the camp in a guide I purchased for less than £1. It was an emotional visit and I had a little cry when I visited the sleeping quarters. Made me regret all the times I’ve ever complained about things.
I grabbed lunch at a pizza place nearby then headed for Auschwitz at 4pm meaning it’d be less busy with the tour groups not being there. By this point I was quite exhausted but didn’t want to leave without seeing some of the crucial parts. I visited every block and as I entered one of them it was quite emotional as a large group of Jewish guys were stood around in a circle singing a song in another language, feels flying left right and centre.
As I got back to the hostel nearly 12 hours later and super tired I decided it would be the perfect time to go out with some randoms I’d just met in the hostel. 1 guy from Germany but living in Spain, another from Somewhere in Central Europe and a girl from Asia. We went to a few bars including a rock bar that had the most peculiar decor. I was surrounded by dead babies and dolls. So strange. We then headed for Poland’s equivalent of takeaway at 3am – pierogi! The only way to describe this is dumplings with whatever filling you choose. I went for meat.. No idea what I was eating to be honest!
Day 3 –
This day I decided I’d just take it easy and do the walking tours. I visited the old town and walked around all the square and city learning the history from the guide. I ended up chatting with a guy from Australia who was also staying at my hostel, we spent the entire day together just chatting about life and travelling. He had left his job as he hated it and couldn’t find another so he brought all his money to travel Europe for a few months. Something I’d always love to do but not whilst I’m happy with my job.
Anyway, we joined the Jewish quarter tour and explored the ghetto before finishing the tour and heading for ice cream. We even had dinner in the market square where I ate pasta and a frozen strawberry daiquiri before we headed for a concert in a church we’d passed earlier. All very romantic when you think about it actually.. Haha but no.
Headed back to the hostel and then I went for another early night with my stupid-ruin-my-holiday cough. That was just after I joined Joe from Chicago and his team for quiz night. He was very smart and we won so I got to keep the champagne! That would do me for tomorrow.
Day 4 –
This was possibly my favourite day. Funny because I spend most of the morning trying to figure out what I would do today. I knew there was a food tour in the afternoon but also a bike tour in the morning and I wasn’t sure I’d be able to fit both in. So I opted for hiring a bike instead for an hour then returning it and going on the food tour. This did not happen.. I ended up getting so excited by the cycle paths and the fact it was nearly 30 degrees and the views were beautiful that I just couldn’t stop cycling.
I cycled along the river and couldn’t stop. Apart from for Oreo ice cream for a brief 10 minutes..
When I got to the end of the cycle path along the river I turned around and went the other way instead. When this ended I decided to wing it and ride around the backstreets of Poland. It was so much fun and somehow I didn’t get lost. I even got to view the mound from afar that I’d been recommended to visit by the hostel.
I spent 5 hours with my bike and cycled 33km. I do love a good cycle around a new city and country.
After my ride i soon realised just how burnt I’d gotten along the way. I headed to the pharmacy and stocked up on after sun and suncream. Definitely taking these with me on my next trip! I looked like a tomato, loving it now though since I have such a good tan.
I headed for a Polish dinner with the hostel at a local restaurant. It’s strange how they do things there, you order your food then collect it when your number is called, afterwards you take your plate back to them. I got soup of the day in a bowl made of bread!
When I got back to the hostel it was Polish chocolate day! The hostel had baked a chocolate cake, milkshakes and all kinds of chocolate goodies, I scoffed my face then played flip pong- a combination of beer pong and flip cup. It was a lot of fun! Then I headed out for a quick drink, tiredness had be heading home early again though. Definitely didn’t have any wild nights out in Poland- illness and tiredness got the better of me!
Day 5 –
My final day in Poland and I was incredibly sunburnt.. Everyone was asking me where I’d been as today it was pouring down with rain! I couldn’t decide what to do but I knew I wanted to visit the salt mines. I decided to book this with the hostel to prevent me attempting to find the place in the rain and getting there and having to queue up. So I booked the tour for 4pm and headed out in to the torrential rain to go shopping.
There were so many things I wanted to buy! What I love about Poland is the beautiful sculptures they have everywhere designed by polish artists. I wanted to buy so many of them! In the end I just bought one but I love it.
Headed for the salt mines and it was an experience but not as good as I was expecting although it was very interesting. All the sculptures there are incredible and made from salt. You can also get very cheap souvenirs. I bought bath salts from the mines!
Final night in the hostel and I met Aaron, an American from Washington travelling Europe for a month and Joe from Chicago who I’d met a few days ago. Aaron spoke about a couch surfing event and asked me if I wanted to come with.
Now if you’ve never heard of couch surfing that’s okay.. I’m going to do a separate blog entry on that very shortly as it is slowly becoming a part of my life.
So before heading to this event, we went for zapiekanka in the Jewish quarter. This is also a polish dish, looks a lot like a pizza. After a while I realised I had no idea what I was eating. I’d got an extra cheese zapiekanka with hot sauce so after a lot of laughing at the dodgy brown meat that appeared to be under the cheese, I threw that away and we headed for couch surfing!
The amount of people at this event was crazy. So many. We arrived too late to really mingle but it was an eye opener to the fact that these events happen all over the world and travellers are always willing to meet other travellers.
So that was Poland. The city was great and had i of felt myself I’m sure I would have had an amazing few nights aswell as days. Overall I did have a great time but it has taught me I definitely prefer my 3 night breaks over 5, it encourages me to cram more in and fully make the most of the days even though I might not get everything done in 3 days.. I can always revisit. That’s what cheap flights are for. 😉