Krakow, Poland

17-19th June 2017

Although I’m only a few countries in, I’m already blown away by the beauty that Eastern Europe has to offer. The history of it is so rich, varied and emotional, that it is a trip that I really needed to do to rid a tiny bit more of my ignorance away!

When I arrive in the morning, I drop my bags off at the hostel and walk around town. After exploring the Jewish quarter of Krakow, I stumble across this…

A historical re-enactment. I’d heard stories of these dress up events but never seen one myself before. Looks like today is the day that changes that. After a couple of local small-batch ciders I check out the local castle.

The architecture here is fascinating. A mish-mash of different centuries of styles. Supposedly, over the years, the castle was built upon, receiving extensions and additions in the most contemporary style. It’s like looking at a historical timeline right in front of your eyes.

I googled cheap places to eat and amongst the suggestion was one of the “cheapest” Michelin starred restaurants in the world. I couldn’t miss the opportunity.

It started with a vodka-oyster-chilli aperitif, followed by mushroom-truffle pate and local breads before an absolutely delicious serving of black ravioli filled with salmon. Finally finished off with a rhubarb sundae of the seasonal menu.

When I eventually find my way back to the hostel it turns out that tonight is a free beer night. Fantastic! We play a few drinking games, make a bunch of new friends and hit the town for the night.

Come morning I’m feeling the effects of last night. We take it easy and go to one of other cheap eat suggestions I found. This takes us to the Jewish quarter, which was a fair walk!

Inside, it turns out that the walk was well worth it.

Steamed milk with honey was just wow. The café had lines of bookshelves filled with Jewish literature. On the side there was a carpeted area to lay down, read and relax. One of the customers had a dog and the café provided a dog bowl which read “good dog” on it. Overall, it was very hipster! An absolute gem of a find.

After losing track of the time we find ourselves running towards the free walking tour back in town. We make it in time and spend a laborious 3 hours wandering town. Perhaps it’s the effect of vodka at lunchtime, or perhaps it was all the walking. I guess I’ll never know.

The hanging knife was supposedly to warn people against stealing at the market. The punishment was that you would have your ear chopped it. Unfortunately, the knife was stolen so they had to make a replica(!). It’s also the biggest square in Europe and the town was amazingly preserved during the invasion from Nazi Germany, whereas places like Warsaw were totally destroyed. This was because when they constructed Krakow it was based on the Germanic blueprints for architecture. Naturally, Germany couldn’t ring itself to a bomb a city which was already to its own liking.

On this night there’s free vodka at the hostel. I stay for the first few rounds of drinking games but feel myself getting progressively worse. Eventually, some of the guys go off to a local pub crawl whilst I head up to bed.
The Irish residents decide to come back in the wee hours, bringing men, pizza and an insatiable sexual appetite. Thankfully, it appears I was the only one whose sleep they didn’t particularly disturb. Yet when I wake up, I find the remains of pizza on the floor and a number of people who I’m sure will come to regret many of the decisions they made last night.

Let’s be honest, we’ve all had those nights though.

More unfortunately, when I arrive at the train station I find the train I booked months ago has actually been rescheduled to ten minutes earlier and I’ve just missed it. The next train is twelve hours later. The silver lining is that at least train reservations are cheap here and I can afford the time to write up this blog post as well as a number of other things.