In today’s #TravelTuesday post I want to talk about Krakow. I decided at the ripe old age of 26 to FINALLY treat my dad to a holiday for a change. With his birthday and Father’s Day only a few weeks apart, I decided the perfect gift was a trip away to Krakow, a place neither of us had ever been to before.
We flew from Stansted on 11th October, and yes…we had a Ryanair flight booked. Let’s just say I probably checked my emails a thousand times to check our flight hadn’t been cancelled. But to be fair to the airline, it was very useful and kept its website up-to-date daily with any flight changes/cancellations.
A nice and pleasant two-hour flight later, and we had arrived. I booked our stay at Hotel Legend, a seven-minute walk from the old town square. Hotel Legend, you really were legends, and this is a shout out to you for making our stay in Krakow even greater than it already was. The staff were so accommodating, the breakfasts were immense and the beds were a dream. So, thanks! (link to their website here)
The first evening was spent exploring the old square, (oh and stupidly exchanging our pounds for euros… I’m ashamed! We quickly realised the currency was Zloty when we sat down for something to eat). Then our first full day was a trip through history:
- -Oskar Schindler’s Factory, which is just a short tram ride from the old town. The museum is an incredible interactive walk through history, that made me cry at least three times. It covers the entire German occupation of Krakow in WWII. What makes it even better, is knowing you’re walking the same steps as a wonderful man like Schindler, who famously saved the lives of Jewish members of his labour force during the Holocaust. It’s literally based in the factory he owned…
- -The Jewish Quarter – mine and my dad’s FAVOURITE part of Krakow without a doubt! It was the centre of Jewish life in Krakow for over 500 years, before it was destroyed during WWII. However, it is now undergoing a major renaissance. Its Jewish heritage seems restored, and we loved nothing more than wandering through the little twists and turns of this tucked away quarter. (It helps that it’s clearly the trendy spot with the city’s best bars and cafes too). Here’s my Dad being hip with his coffee:
- -Finally we returned for dinner in the square in Old Town. The square is fantastic. It feels frozen in history, with white horse and carriages trotting round the square. It’s not hard to imagine an occupied Krakow in the early 1930s-40s at all. It was easier to sit there and reflect on its history
On the Friday, we woke up early and headed to the most important landmark I will probably ever visit in my time; Auschwitz.
I have ONE photo from this trip. Just one. The rest will be imprinted in my memories forever. Note to everyone taking selfies in the camp: you suck.
I don’t want to talk too much about Auschwitz, but I really recommend that you go. The museum has done a sensational job of keeping it as authentic as possible, but it is getting busier and busier each year (which is a good thing really), but it means our tour did feel a little rushed, and my dad and I would have liked more time to take it all in. Here is a photo of Birkenau, the second camp, where millions of jews and other ‘minority’ races were brought in on cattle trains, to a camp they thought would provide work, fun and freedom… Makes me upset even writing about it.
Our final day was spent at Wawel Royal Castle. Built by King Casimir III the Great, it consits of a number of structures situated around an Italian-styled main courtyard (or Romeo & Juliet’s idea of heaven). Look at these beautiful balconies!!
It was a beautiful day to visit the glorious buildings, including their cathedral which had the most intricate stunning interior. I think it was just what Dad and I needed after the previous day.
Basically, you MUST go to Krakow. If for no other reason than it is the cheapest trip I’ve ever been on. A pint of beer costs you below £1 and the polish vodka is like no other. It’s certainly a trip I’ll never forget…