2016 is almost over but before it ends, I want to share with you about my recent weekend trip to Poland.
Poland was never particularly high on my list of places to visit which is why I’m extremely passionate about sharing this post with you and all of the amazing things that the even more amazing city of Krakow has to offer.
One of the best things about life in London for me is how quickly and easily I can get to just about anywhere in Europe. Poland was no exception. Andy and I boarded our RyanAir flight one Friday morning and two hours later we were hearing the “RyanAir landing jingle” announcing that we had landed, on time and how they are so awesome (thanks RyanAir!).
My (lovely) Polish colleague had given me a list of places to go, things to see and phrases to know so we checked into our hotel and then hit the ground running. We stayed close to the old town and the main square.
After grabbing a lunch of filled dumplings at Milkbar Tomasza, we headed over to the Krakow cathedral. While beautiful inside, it was even more stunning outside.
We decided to work off the dumplings and climb to the top of the bell tower where we got a beautiful panoramic view of Krakow.
Did I mention how Poland is completely obsessed with Pope John Paul II? Rightfully so since he was Polish and an amazing person. Here’s a statue dedicated to him that we found right outside the cathedral.
Also, not too far outside the cathedral there’s a castle (which we didn’t get to see) and this guy.
That’s the Wawel Dragon Statue which is dedicated to the famous dragon in Polish mythology. Unfortunately for me, I wasn’t aware that he actually breathed fire and was only able to capture one short clip of him in action…
The second day of our Polish weekend getaway led us to Auschwitz. To be fair, this was probably one of our main reasons for wanting to visit Poland in the first place – we had learned so much about the concentration camp and knew we wanted to take advantage of life abroad and go see it ourselves.
I’m happy to share our photos below although out of respect for what happened there I won’t share too many words. However, I will say that it was one of the most emotional places I’ve ever visited. It was extremely difficult to see the reality of this concentration camp and to learn about and understand what actually took place there. I would highly recommend that anyone visiting Krakow make a day trip to Auschwitz although you must prepare yourself for what you’ll see.
Although our day trip to Auschwitz included a brown bag lunch, Andy and I were starving once we got back to Krakow. My colleague mentioned zapiekanka, which is a popular street food in Poland. It’s an open faced baguette sandwich traditionally served with mushrooms, white cheese and ketchup. We hit up Elebele, her personal recommendation, and ordered a Pierwsza (number one on their menu). I was so excited to try it (hence the face below) and it did not disappoint! The bread was fresh and the toppings perfect. I said I only wanted “a bite” and I’m not ashamed to admit that I ate the whole thing 😀
Afterwards, we ate (again!) at a restaurant called Starka which was not too far from Elebele. We were lucky enough to get the last table (be sure to make a booking. We overheard one group of Brits saying how they had dined there the night before and loved it so much they went back again. That’s how delicious this place is!). Andy had a pork dish while I had the goulash – both equally delicious. To finish, we had the walnut cake and sampled the homemade vodka. Poland is apparently known for making vodka out of fruits like strawberries, blueberries, apricots, etc. I’m not a vodka fan but this one (I tried the raspberry vodka while Andy tried the plum) was really good.
On the third and final day in Krakow, we spent the few hours before our flight back home at the Wieliczka Salt Mine. Located in a town just outside of Krakow and one of the oldest salt mines in operation, the production of salt discontinued there in 2007. Since then, it has operated as a tourist attraction. Several hundred meters below ground, the Unesco World Heritage site now conducts tours which explain to tourists what mining life was life (unlike most, the miners of this salt mine went back home after their shifts) and how miners got the salt from the mine to above ground. It is simply beautiful to see. The mine attractions include a cathedral, where actual wedding ceremonies taken place, and a statue of Pope John Paul II. It was well worth the visit.
I really hoped you’ve enjoyed this post about my weekend in Poland. I hope it encourages you to visit the city of Krakow as it really does have a lot of offer. I’m really glad I expanded my horizons a bit and explored a city I never thought I’d visit. Have you had any similar pleasant surprises? If so, I’d love to know. Share them in the comments section below.
Until next time, do widzenia! (That’s Polish for goodbye!)