After spending a weekend in Poland recently I returned to London with mixed emotions. Check out my experience of Krakow - the good, the bad and the ugly.
Greg and Tom Hostel
This bright, funky hostel not only has friendly Polish staff but it offers free breakfast, free dinner and free internet. A four-bedded room will set you back 70PLD (£15) a night. The rooms are set out like mini apartments with communal kitchens, lounges and bathrooms and the beds are singles – no bunk beds!
On top of the homely feel, there is something sociable happening every night so it’s perfect for the solo traveller who is in need of some company. Although Greg and Tom sit highly in my good list there were two disappointments: 1 shower between 12 people and creaky beds.
Virgin Mary trumpeter
A very cool tradition in Krakow is the sound of the trumpet which echoes over the central grand square every hour. A well known melody comes from a trumpeter who stands at the window of the St. Mary Basilica which plays for a minute before ending abruptly. The tradition dates back to the middle ages when it was played to alarm citizens whenever there was a fire or enemies were close by. The abrupt ending is said to commemorate a trumpeter from Krakow who was shot through his throat by a Tatar archer in 1241 when the Mongols besieged the city.
Peirogi, or dumplings, are the perfect way to fill the belly after a day exploring Krakow in its icy temperatures. The Polish dumplings are simply hot hearty goodness with amazing flavours to choose from such as mashed potatoes, cheese and fried onions.
Please note I haven’t placed Auschwitz in the ‘good’ category for the same reasons as pierogi or the hostel, but more because it’s something I recommend all visitors should make an effort to see. The disturbing reality of what happened in this concentration camp is part of Poland’s history that can only really be understood once you’ve stepped inside the grounds of Auschwitz.
Nothing usually stops me from having a few drinks and tasting the nightlife, especially in foreign countries. But when the taste of everyone’s second-hand smoke is stronger than the vodka I'm sipping on then I will hands down opt for a night in with a DVD. The fact smoking is still acceptable and legal in Krakow was a huge let down for me.
When you’re wearing thermals, two pairs of leggings, a winter coat, a scarf and gloves and your natural body movement is to shiver then I think it’s fair to say the weather in October is ugly. Don’t get me wrong, autumn in Krakow is still a stunning time to visit with the tones of gold, orange and yellow littering the pavements from the shedding trees above, but the icy chill is something you must be prepared for.
Written and Submitted by Chloe Johnson