It’s been almost 2 weeks for me in Poland. Having spent 5 nights in Warsaw, I was almost kicking myself after arriving in Krakow because of how much I adore this beautiful city. It was a genuine case of love at first sight when I got off the train last week and ventured out for my first stroll into the main square – my jaw was literally on the ground.
But Warsaw was definitely not a waste of time. Whilst not as beautiful as Krakow (due to being completely destroyed in WWII) – I did have some awesome experiences there. I visited the Rising Museum and learnt about the history of Warsaw, particularly the ‘Polish Rising’ and was really moved by what happened as well as the resolve of the Polish people. Most memorable experience was viewing a 6 minute short film in 3D showing an aerial view of Warsaw shortly after WWII – the city was completely levelled and it was really sad to see 🙁
I did also attend a few CS meetings in Warsaw – the community there is thriving with a great mix of both locals and travellers. I guess for the locals its a good way to brush up on english skills and for travellers we get a more ‘authentic’ orientation to the city. Through these meetings I quickly discovered the hip local bars and clubs, ate some local delicacies such as Bigos and Pierogi and met some seriously cool peeps.
On my final night in Warsaw I met one individual in particular named Sunny. After I told him I was planning to travel to Krakow the following day I asked him to join me (not expecting him to accept). Well, accept he did and it turned out to be one of those spontaneous decisions you make when travelling that just make a trip so much more awesome. I had also lined up some meetings in Krakow via CS, with a great German guy called Christian and a local Polish girl called Ola – what a winning combination!
I am seriously in love with Krakow. I have been here for 9 days and don’t want to leave. The architecture is breathtaking and walking around the main square at night is one of my most favourite pastimes. Regardless of how touristy it may be, I just can’t get enough of the trumpet player at St Mary’s Basilica – It is played every day, successively four times on the hour, by a trumpeter on the highest tower of St. Mary’s Church. Once a day at noon it is transmitted by radio to all of Poland and the world. Check it out on youtube
There really is nothing like local knowledge. Mr friend Christian has been to Krakow a few times and has some great little secrets that many locals are not even aware of – one of which is Zakrzowek Lake about 45 mins walking from the main square. This former limestone quarry in WWII has now been turned into a lake and is mainly frequented by a diving school as it has a depth of 32 metres and apparently has a few wrecks below. The views are absolutely stunning and even though swimming is forbidden – I just couldn’t help myself.
Polish food has been a real eye opener for me, being a cuisine that I have not had much experience with previously meant that much of my trip has been trying to seek authentic versions of the staple dishes. Whilst most are familiar with Pierogi (Polish style dumplings) and Bigos (Cabbage and meat stew). I have enjoyed Zurek (sour rye soup), Pyzy (Potato dumplings) and Sałatka Burakowa (Beetroot salad). Polish street food is also highly addictive with Zapiekanka being my post alcohol food of choice (halved baguette or bread topped mainly with mushrooms and cheese, also ham or other types of meat, and vegetables)
With most of my friends now having moved on to new places, I have a few days left before I depart for my next adventure. Krakow is a real gem of a city and will always have a special place in the solo world tour archives. I’ll be genuinely sad to leave on Sunday, but as I’m quickly learning on this tour, the sadness very quickly turns into fresh excitement upon arriving at my new destination.
My next update… Budapest!