Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Krakow and the 24hr Pierogies

Krakow- old town
After Brussels, Gemma, Josh and I arrived in Krakow. The capital of Poland from the 11th until the 16th century, this beautiful city remains an important cultural, academic, and economic centre in the country. Unlike Warsaw and many other Polish cities, Krakow was not destroyed at the end of WWII. It is therefore possible to explore well-preserved historic buildings including some dating back to the middle ages and remnants of the Krakow Jewish Ghetto. This is all according to our amazing tour guide, Ella. She was fantastic! We did the "Krakow" and the "Kazimierz/Jewish district" free walking tours with her. I highly recommend doing at least one of those to get an overview of the city's history and to check out the main sights. Visit their website here for more info.

While in Krakow, Gemma and I had the opportunity to visit Auschwitz (Josh had been before). It is a must for anyone interested in learning more about the holocaust and WWII. I wouldn't plan on doing anything too crazy afterwards because it is quite overwhelming, as it should be. We left this for our last day. It  is a solemn experience.

In addition to all the historic sights and cultural activities, Krakow is well known for its amazing nightlife. To make the most of it, I would recommend staying at a small party hostel -- especially if you're travelling alone. We stayed at the Pink Panther's party hostel and they offered free vodka tasting, soup, fondue and champagne on the nights we were there. I guess the downside of a party hostel is the noise but just bring some earplugs and suck it up, it's well worth it for a very good time.

Organized fun might not seem like a very intrepid thing to do but we decided to go on our hostel's pub crawl and had lots of fun! The two staff members leading the pub-crawl were young and fun and without them, we probably could not have found the bars they took us to. Touristy? Yes, but unless you speak polish or are staying with a local, a pub-crawl is not a bad idea! It only cost us around 50 zloty (about 12 EUR). Unfortunately, everyone in our group got super wasted so we only got to do 2 out of 5 of the bars and clubs we were supposed to party in. Oops. My happiest memory remains the delicious 24hr pierogi Josh and I got at the end of the night...YUM.

I recommend you...
  • Take the Krakow Free Walking tour! Our tourguide Ella was awesome, check out their website here
  • Go out in Kazimierz, the old jewish district
  • Go to Plaza Nowy in Kazimierz where you can check out the market on weekend mornings or go for a drink at a nearby bar. Definitely don’t forget to eat a Zapiekanka!
  • Try polish soup, our favourite was the mushroom soup served in a bread bowl
  • Eat some 24hr Pierogis at Zapiecek (only 12 PLN)
  • Hang out at Rynek Główny (Main Market Square)
  • Go to the Wawel Castle
  • Get drunk on Zubrowka Vodka with apple juice
  • Visit St. Francis of Assisi's Church; it was Pope John Paul II’s favourite church

Fotos (all by me so please ask if you want to use them on your site)

Main Market Square

Mushroom soup!
Main Square - monument for the 19th century poet Adam Mickiewicz 

Inside the Sukiennice (Draper's Hall)

The Church of St. Peter and St. Paul 

Old Town Krakow

Old town Krakow - note the fake stone, apparently stone was the shit and really hard to find

Wawel Cathedral at Wawel Castle

The Wawel Castle

Where Pope Jean Paul II used to live before being pope 
Outside of Pople Jean Paul II old dwelling
Zapiekanki rotunda


Some trendy bar in Kazimierz, old jewish district now hipster gem 
Memorial to Jews from the Krakow Ghetto on their deportation site. There are 12 chairs and each chair represents 1000 victims
Remnant of the Krakow Ghetto 
Memorial to the Jews of the Krakow Ghetto
The old Synagogue in Kazimierz


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