Part 1 - Krakow
Krakow Travel Blog› entry 1 of 2 › view all entries
My very first, inital reasons to visit Poland and Krakow in particular were to experience Auschwitz as it stands today. For reasons unknown, the Holocaust is a part of history that I have always been intrigued and moved by, hence my expression of intrest to the most notorious of all Nazi deathcamps. Of course any keen traveller will rejoice in the excuss to research a inpending foreign destination; I for one love nothing more than spending hours on the internet looking at blogs, photos, videos and any other random documentation of a place I can find. This was when the love affair with Krakow began.
I had never even contemplated the city as a popular tourist destination, nor any of the historic beauty that is portrayed in abundance.
Dispite my avid researching, I was still somewhat confused by what to expect of Poland, and was figiting in my seat for the entire duration of the flight over. Once me and my sister had arrived at the airport we hauled down a taxi (after an obligitory fag break) and set off for Kurniki Street to locate our buget accomodation at the Maly-Krakow Apartments. The first thing I noticed was how Poland simply wasn't what I was expecting, not in a bad way though....I was just surprised to find a kind of landscape subtley different to anything I'd seen before in Europe.
Now, I had always thought that Amsterdam was possibily the craziest place on the planet - traffic wise, but krakow sure gives The Dam a run for its money! To say I was a bit distrubed by the erratic driving from the taxi man is a bit of an understatement; not only do they have lanes for cars, but there is also a tram system running through the city as well as numerous cyclists, all of which seem to merge together seamlessly.
The hotel itself was extremly basic, but perfectly formed and the staff in particular were of out-standingly helpful, friendly and well spoken - something I soon realised was quite the ordinary for Polish people.
Just round the corner to our hotel was The Barbican, an eye catching building which has stood for some 500 years - certainly worth a look! Directly behind this attraction beggings a narrow cobbled road - , awash with yet more kebab shops, several night-clubs and many clothes retail outlets, of both designer and street fashion. This is where you will find the MacDonalds in case you were wondering!!! Eventually this road will lead you all the way to the Rynek Glowny Square. It is, in my humble opinion, the best square I have ever been to; my first visit was during the day and with the sun still blazing down on us we decided to sit for a cold drink in one of the many cafes and resturant that line the square. Its the kind of place where from your cafe of choice, you could sit happily, people watching for hours and hours - something that I like to think the locals take full advantage of! Myself and my sister did exactly that for some time, sipping on our diet cokes and soaking up the bustling atosphere of the ancient square.
Later that evening, we returned to the square for dinner; The Polish Zloty goes a long way in Krakow allowing us to eat in a lovely selection of resturants across Rynek. As we sat on our table (outside in the fresh autumn air) I noticed a middle aged man, who was obviously homeless, winding his way through the tables towards us.
Another area of particular interest for me was the Kazimierz district of Krakow, the old Jewish quarter which was in its prime prior to the Nazi invasions in 1939. Today a lot of the area is gradually being restored (both the jewish and christian heritage) to its former glory. Though even now is a wonderfully quaint place to wonder the streets, admire the unique buildings, synagogues and churches and if its your thing.
Other than happily wondering the streets for hours on end, the only activity that enticed us greatly was of course...shopping!!!! The Galeria Krakowska was obviously brand spanking new when we first arrived.....and it showed. The cafes were absolutely imaculete, the food courts offering an unbelievable selection of foods, and the clothes shopping in particular just blew me away!!!!!!!!!! Its amazingly cheap compared to London, so anyone with even the slightest bit of cash to blow is going to have a fantastic time at this Mall. Also there is a definate unique style to the clothes, a little bit different to what else you come across in Europe - this for me was the best point - Krakow does individuality like KFC does chicken.