Contiki Eastern Road
Entry into the motherland! It has been about 10 years since I last stepped foot in Poland; I didn’t feel any sense of familiarity, other than maybe the language and the food. It was nice to be a visitor and experience the country from the perspective of a visitor. In my youth I had only visited very small areas of Poland where my grandparents had lived, so to visit a city like Krakow, really gave some wonderful insight to the country.
What a beautiful city it is. So pristine and with character, no wonder so many people like it and characterize it as one of their favourites in Eastern Europe. It’s just a perfect place to sit back and watch the world go by. Along with that, it is a gateway to many historical sites, as well as one of the only major cities in Poland which was not flattened by the war. So basically, if you want to have a drink and just enjoy the city, you can do that. Or if you want a crash course of the historical events in Krakow and surrounding areas, this is one of the best places to do so. If that doesn’t work for you; castles and dragons are also an option for exploration.
Krakow is filled with great restaurants and bars, really to suit any taste. I quite like the restaurants in the Jewish quarter for a very traditional meal. For more contemporary though, the square has a bit of everything for everyone.
I wish we were here longer though. This is the one place I really feel was rushed. 3 full days at the minimum are necessary, especially if you do anything extra like the Wieliczka Salt Mines. Speaking of the mines, this is a really cool little gem, but I will say this, taking the full length tour is a bit much. An hour or two there are more than enough- any longer and you’re walking down winding tunnels of salt that never seem to end and eventually become a little tedious. Just a taste of the mines though will let you see beautifully carved sculptures, all made out of salt- an amazing example of craftsmanship. I will say though, only come here if you have a few days in Krakow, otherwise it will take out a huge chunk of the day.
Although it was great to see, and be able to say I’ve seen it and been there, with the time we had, I would have preferred to spend more time enjoying Krakow. Even just wandering the streets, doing some shopping, wandering through the castle grounds. I don’t feel i got enough of this city, and it is quite a shame.
If you get a chance to spend some nights out here, please do. Krakow is filled with awesome bars and clubs, many of which are just restored cellars. One that I had went to and thought was rather awesome was called “Alchemia”. One of the oldest bars in Krakow, which like many others, is really just an old cellar. The whole place is just dark, with small rooms and candlelit- might sound a bit creepy, but thats just part of the charm. It has quite the ambience that I haven’t experienced at a bar before. Although attracting its said share of tourists, the locals were out as well; a great way to start or end an evening.
No introductory visit to Krakow, or Poland for that matter is complete without a sampling of Perogies and Vodka- particularly Zubrówka. Where you do that? Basically anywhere. It’s Poland- its the staple dish and beverage. Come for a quick jaunt or have an extended stay. One thing is for sure, Krakow will be a very pleasant surprise on the itinerary.