KRAKÓW MY INFINITIVE LOVE
Let me say first why I write about that city… I have born there long time ago. I grew up (yes, yes I’m stil growing up) just outside this city in the countryside, but all my adolescent adventures happend in Kraków. France has its Paris, UK has London and we, Polish, we have magical Kraków…
I have been always coming back here from my travels discovering something new, extreme, fascinating and I was apreciating it more, missing it from other side of the world. I’m not homesick it, is just magic. That city never disappeared from my ‘best three’.
Imagine home of the kings in the history, artists capital, business and industrial center and students concentration place. Sounds pretty much like every big city at least in Europe? No ! Let’s find out what gaves it unique character. Of course since Poland enter to European Union it became more turistic, year by year we are beating record of incoming foreigners. Our airport just explodes every summer like a legendary dragon “Smok Wawelski“
Any guests are visiting me I would never do the same trip as free walking tour, but they are good storytellers, it’s worth to check one of it. Optionally your typical guides and websites will recommend you museum and memorial of concentration camp Auschwitz – and beautiful Wieliczka Salt mine. They are around Kraków area. My way of showing city would be diffrent…
1. Zakrzówek – Blue lagoon in the middle of the city.
Just 4 km from the city center there is amazing piece of nature. It’s created after previous stone-hit. Nowadays is a wild nature, where illegally people love to spend their free time. There is no funds for organising it properly, it is a reason of city hall conflict. It is dangerous for the people who due to their recklessness are jumping from highest peak down to unknown bottom. However is it worth to see, and I hope one day it will be open to everybody.
2. Kazimierz and Podgórze – Jewish district and modern art spirit.
There are 2 main parts of the city – Rynek Główny and Kazimierz – where is concentrated most of the buzzing night and art life. Me personally I prefer Kazimierz. It is more unknown and not full of commercial tourist attractions, it is only 10 min walking from Rynek. You can spend literally 24 hours moving from pub to pub, listening some good music, wide variety, and meeting many interesting people from all over the world. You should eat “zapiekanka” which you can buy even in the middle of the night during weekend in Plac Nowy.
Podgórze – Zabłocie. Just when you across the river Vistula “Wisła” in polish, you will end up in the Zabłocie part. It has MOCAK – Museum of Contemporary art and Oscar Shindler’s factory Museum. Both are worth to see, you don’t need to be fan of art and history.
3. Rynek Główny – Main Market
The second base of this lively city is Rynek. Tourism center, where you can find historical building and monuments. You should visit Wawel, Rynek undergound. You will find some alternative way of spending free time. Such as escape rooms, mirrors labirynth and haunted house Lost Souls Alley in which I used to work. I truly recommend it. The night time, you will never get bored. Karaoke bars, music from 60’s, 70’s… electro, house, jazz etc. There is everything. Full of small concerts, good beer and lovely people.
4. Nowa Huta
Forgotten, utopian city of Joseph Stalin. Became our small hatchery of talents, alternative theaters, dancers, artist. It takes 20-30 min by tram to get there from city center. You will feel the spirit of our comunism history even so many years past from that moment. I recommend to take a guide if you want to get more informations.
5. Kopiec Kościuszki
Mound outside the city centre from which you can see the panorama, you can sum up and localize all the places you have seen before. The opening hours and other attractions around check here. You know the highest australian mountain – Mount Kościuszko? Is it accidentally named so? I don’t think so. It was named by the Polish explorer Paul Edmund Strzelecki in 1840, in honour of the Polish national hero and hero of the American Revolutionary War General Tadeusz Kościuszko, because of its perceived resemblance to the Kościuszko Mound in Kraków.
6. Street art
Is everywhere in main centre and not only, as many times as there is ugly dirty piece of wall which nobody can renovated because obviously financially is not profitable than some artist appear to create good stuff. When walking in the city just be perceptive and have your eyes wide open. If interested one of the free walking tours has a theme tour once per week. Check it here.
7. Polish people and food…
Everywhere you go I advise to ask for recommendations the local people. Most of youngsters speak well english, you won’t have any problems to communicate. Hospitality and helpfulness is a polish attitude as well. If you would visit real polish family at home, you will never leave this place hungry. We use to say: “Guest home, God home”. You shouldn’t feel unsafe anywhere, but in the trains and crowded places always take care. If you are already in Poland you should obviously try PIEROGI,BIGOS, ŻUREK and OBWARZANEK.
December: Long time before 24th you can find christmas market on Rynek Główny, you can try typical food from all over the country. Find some handcrafts af local artisans. Around 6th of December is organized Kraków’s Nativity Scenes competition. New Year’s Eve is organized by the city hall in the main market with open air concerts and fireworks.
May: Students’ festivals – Juwenalia. Each of universities in Kraków organized his own festival. It all takes around 10 days of neverending party which includes a parade of crazy dressed up students.
Art Boom Festival yearly in diffrent month, has a theme, engaged other part of the city each year. Check it here.
Summer: Off Plus Camera Festival of independent cinema, Coke Life Music Festival, Wianki – legendary events commemorating old tradition of making wreaths by young girls They were also symbols of virginity. A girl who floated a wreath hoped that it would be fished out by the one … closest to her heart who would be able to reach her hand together with … the wreath.
and many more of which the full calendar you will find right: here.
ABSOLUTELY YES ! I would give it high rate of backpackers friendly city 8/10, as Poland is cheaper country than western europe, it is not difficult to survive for a little money. There is plenty of free tours and have a look for days when museum have free entrance, student’s discounts work in transport. Couchsurfing works really well.
- Dzień dobry – Good morning
- Cześć – Hello!
- Proszę – Please
- Przepraszam – Excuse me/sorry
- Dziękuję – Thank you!
- Na zdrowie – Cheers!
- Buziaki – Kisses!
- Do widzenia – Good bye!
- KOCHAM WAS – LOVE YOU ! (plural)
It’s undeniably a place to visit!