Visiting Krakow

This winter I took a 12 day trip with my friend Frank. We met up in Madrid and hopped on our requisite cheap flight on Ryan Air (curse you, Ryan Air. Curse. You.) and landed in Krakow, Poland.

Neither of us knew anything about Krakow (or Poland, really) before we went on the trip except the bare bare minimum. Except that it was the cheapest place we could find a flight to and both of us had never been there.

We arrived to a dark and freezing rainy night. Luckily our hostel had given us good directions and it was easy to find our way there… once we figured out how to pay for the bus ticket and exactly what the conversion rate was for Polish Zloty. We arrived at the Mosquito Hostel (which was so so amazing and great and I HIGHLY recommend it) and after checking in went to get some perogi, a typical polish food. We were so happy with this choice. The perogies (like a dumpling or a large stuffed ravioli) were filled with anything from sauerkraut and cheese to mushrooms and meat. A large plate of them was ridiculously cheap, maybe the equivalent to like 3 euros. So we stuffed our faces and then headed out to grab a drink. We found a creepy bar called Jazz Rock Cafe with red lighting that was playing metal and had death-oriented decorations so after a drink there (6.50 Zloty for a pint of beer! like, 1.25 euros), we headed back to the hostel for some shut eye as we were heading to Auschwitz-Birkenau in the morning.

Going to Auschwitz-Birkenau was a really indescribable experience. I’ll admit, I really didn’t know that much about the Holocaust or the War before this trip. I’d read the Diary of Anne Frank and obviously knew the general atrocity of the Holocaust, but the things I saw and learned while visiting the largest concentration/death camp that existed were stunning and mortifying beyond belief and I will never ever forget them.

“Arbeit macht frei”
Work makes you free

A panoramic view of Birkenau, all that you can see in this picture used to be full of the “housing” for the prisoners, and various other buildings and chambers.

A beautiful sunset over the memorial site in Birkenau

Anyway, after an extremely emotional day, we got some traditional Polish food at a cute little restaurant, walked around the Market Square (where there happened to still be a Christmas market with delicious treats like waffles and hot spiced wine), pre-gamed with people from the hostel and went to experience Krakow nightlife.

At some bar

Panorama of Market Square
Polnish Dumpings, whit cottage cheese and whit meat.
The next day we did 2 different 2-hour walking tours so we saw all the important sights of Krakow. It was freezing cold but we had a lunch break between each tour to warm up a bit. After the 2nd tour, we went to Schindler’s factory, the inspiration for the movie Schindler’s List. The factory has been turned into a museum and it was really interesting, especially after having visited Auschwitz the previous day and learning so much more about the Holocaust. At night we hung out with people from our hostel again and ended up checking out some different bars to finish of the night.

The cathedral part of the castle

I love me a good sunset

A memorial to people lost during the Holocaust. They used to round people up in the square and tell them they were going to get transported out of Krakow, people would wait for hours and hours in the freezing cold with no food, and if they attempted to sit or rest, they could be killed.

Ornate churches

A row of colorful buildings in the evening

Market square at sunset

Fortress
Classical Concert. Cold, but beautiful.

Our last day in Krakow we spent leisurely strolling the streets, trying more traditional food and exploring a bit. We saw a temporary Andy Warhol exhibit, and even got to see a beautiful classical music concert in a church. The next day, we headed to Vienna, Austria via the Polskibus. Check back for a new post soon about how we rang in 2013 in style!

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One thought on “Visiting Krakow

  1. Pingback: Why Winter Travel is Better Than Summer Travel - Andalucía Bound

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