In December I had booked Krakow just a few months into Steffan and I being together and took a risk. I took a risk he would like it, I took a risk I would like it, I took a risk we would even still be together…. I mean booking a birthday holiday just two months into your relationship is hardly ‘normal’ right?
But, having always been slightly spontaneous and even hopeful I took a chance and booked it. I made a booklet and printed it out to present to him the week before his birthday and was super excited. But as it happens, one Friday evening due to a string of events and one too many glasses of wine I told him anyway and so the birthday surprise was no longer.
We weren’t sure what to expect. In all honesty, it has always been on my ‘list’ albeit not very high. But I wanted to pay for the trip myself (spending money and all) given it was Steffan’s birthday and Krakow does have a reputation for being cheap… cheap wine and food, after all, what more do you need on your birthday!? Krakow is generally spoken about in the UK, or at least amongst the people, we know as a stag and hen do destination. But I am so glad I didn’t let this deter me from booking this stunning city! Yes, there were a few rowdy groups around, but it really didn’t detract from the charm and friendly atmosphere we experienced whilst there. In all honesty aside from the cost of alcohol and food, I am not sure why anyone would choose Krakow as a hen and stag do destination. It is lacking in tacky bars and nightclubs from what we could see unless they’re just knowingly hidden away in order to retain the calm in the city. Who knows?
Rainfall, food, music festivals and Uber
We landed in Krakow and it was raining. Not ideal but nonetheless we were in a great mood to be going away again so we grabbed our cases, grabbed a taxi and got moving. It took around 30 minutes by taxi to reach the centre of Krakow where our apartment was based. We had pre-booked our transfer so I would imagine taxis would be cheaper. But after the lack of transport in Marrakech, I took no chances.
As we drove through Krakow, we stared out of the windows taking in everything as we do whenever we arrive in a new place. We passed old faded buildings, tall almost gothic-like houses surrounded by dark creeping trees and we both agreed it reminded us of what we would imagine Transylvania to look like. I mean we have never been…. But that was our first thought. Dracula in one of the windows wouldn’t have been out of place. But it was enchanting.
We arrived at our apartment and checked in. We stayed at Antique apartments which are based in the heart of Krakow’s Old town, walking distance to almost everything and is a beautiful 19th-century building. We were greeted by a gorgeous courtyard decorated with flowers, plants and benches.
Check-in was seamless. The lift was… interesting. It was the most antique thing about the entire place, and even Steffan seemed slightly dubious about getting in it. It looked like something out of an old film, clunky and unsure, decorated with red velvet and gold handles. It was an experience. We arrived in our room to a bottle of prosecco, birthday cake and balloons, much to Steffan’s surprise. I would have preferred it on his actual birthday but they weren’t sure they would remember to do it two days into our stay, so I took the safe option, better early than never right?
We immediately heard music outside the apartment and went out onto the balcony and covering the most beautiful square was a stage, barriers, security staff and a band doing sound checks and practising songs. We were initially a bit miffed they were blocking the fountain in the middle of the gorgeous square, but the music grew on us. It may have been the prosecco or just our optimistic attitudes. We realised after a little research we had booked during the film music festival which took place once a year and was rather pleased with ourselves getting front row seats from our apartment! In case you are confused like we were. It was a festival celebrating the music that is used in films. Think Disney’s orchestra and you’re on the right track.
Despite the pouring rain we decided to venture outside and explore the main market square which was a short walk away. I instantly spotted the most beautiful horse & carriage with a female rider dressed in a sophisticated top hat, brightly coloured jacket and smart trousers. I then spotted another and another…. I was in love.
The pestering began. I stared longingly at Steffan and started to explain how much I have always wanted a horse and carriage ride like this one, he promised we would on a drier day. Fair enough I thought.
We know almost every city offers some form of horse and carriage ride, but these were different. And with the backdrop of the square and tall majestic buildings, it was the perfect place to experience one. If you haven’t already had one, scrap that, even if you have, do it in Krakow! It is such a romantic city and in all the cities we have travelled to, we have never seen such gorgeous well looked after horses and fairy tale carriages! The horses are lined up in the main market square and you can’t miss them.
After a short walk around and grabbing some food, we headed back to the apartment. We had a dinner reservation booked for 7 pm at a restaurant I had found on TripAdvisor where they promised a laid-back atmosphere, good polish food, and live music on a Wednesday evening. We were sold.
It was a fair distance from where we were staying, so we opted for our preferred method of transport, Uber. Travel tip, we found uber to be useless in Krakow. Perhaps we just had a bad experience but it was honestly more of a hindrance than a help. We tried to select four different Ubers and they all wanted us to walk at least 10 minutes to jump in despite being close to main roads. We opted for a taxi just across the road. Jumping to the end of the evening, we couldn’t find a taxi so grabbed an Uber and they dropped us off a 10-minute walk away from our apartment in the rain, as he said he didn’t know the way?! Needless to say, we didn’t choose uber again during our time in Krakow. Me huffing and puffing and complaining the whole way back to the apartment was not something Steffan wanted to experience on more than one occasion.
So back to the restaurant. It is called Starka restaurant (link at the bottom). It is located just outside the centre and took around 10 minutes via taxi. The restaurant was turning people away all evening so it’s advisable to book in advance if you want to visit. We walked into a cosy warm atmosphere, a couple playing guitar and singing, our table tucked away in the corner and greeted with friendly smiles meant we loved it immediately! The food was delicious. And, didn’t break the bank. We started with Pierogi which is a Polish dish of dumplings stuffed with meats or vegetables, a must-try in Krakow! We then went on to our main courses and by that point, we were stuffed, tired and ready for bed.
*Book your accommodation in or near the old town. You will be close to everything including supermarkets, restaurants and everything you may want to take photographs of or visit
*If you like festivals, look up the dates for their local events throughout the year. Krakow is the food capital of Poland so throughout the summer they have a lot going on!
*Don’t bother with Uber. There are taxis always fairly close by that will actually take you where you want to go and not drop you a million miles away and pretend they don’t know the way because they can’t be bothered.
*Take an umbrella! The weather in Krakow can be temperamental, warm one minute and raining the next so don’t get caught out!
*Check out TripAdvisor for recommendations on restaurants serving Polish food with good reviews. We found two amazing restaurants this way and it was so worth it.
Auschwitz, the Salt Mines and a million steps
We had booked to visit Auschwitz and the salt mines. Auschwitz, whilst we knew would not be the happiest of places to visit on a trip, we felt was important to visit to learn more about the country’s history and to ensure it is not forgotten.
It was an early start for us, around 6 am, which if you have read our other blogs you will know we enjoy our sleep. A lot.
We booked through Krakow Tours and the day was a combined tour and cost 355 PLN per person which is around £150 GBP in total. A link for Krakow Tours is on the bottom of the page and you can also check out their reviews on TripAdvisor.
Krakow tours collected us from our apartment, and we were on our way.
Our tour guide was chatty and friendly, and even amusing. A little loud for 6 am but then again, I guess he was trying to wake us the hell up and draw out some enthusiasm from our tired and solemn faces. He had his work cut out. With no time for breakfast, we sat on the coach, half asleep, munching dry chocolate cakes and sipping water whilst everyone else chatted loudly and enthusiastically. Earplugs would have been helpful. The next ten minutes consisted of Steffan and I complaining we are tired and tutting every time someone was too loud. It reminded us once again really are not morning people, no matter how hard we try. I was glad we were in this together.
We watched a DVD on the way, which was quite frankly, harrowing. We all know what happened in Auschwitz but seeing genuine footage was heart-breaking and quite shocking. It set us up for our tour and after about an hour and a half of driving, we arrived.
We were given a short comfort break and I mean short. It was like an episode of supermarket sweep, rushing to the toilet, rushing to get water, rushing back outside. It was much more fast-paced than we would have liked but we did appreciate we had two places to see in just one day. The toilets aren’t free to use, so make sure you have some small change for when you arrive.
Our driver introduced us to our tour guide, handed us an audio headset and she then went on to explain what the tour would consist of, do’s and don’ts for the tour and ushered us all to follow her.
As far as we could see, having a tour guide at Auschwitz is not optional. The tour guide talks quietly through a microphone which you listen to on your headset and despite there being numerous tours all going at the same time, it is extremely quiet.
Our tour walked us through various buildings and outdoor spaces whilst our guide advised us as well as she could what we were looking at and the history behind it.
Seeing the buildings and photographs was extremely touching and it made us both feel emotional. As we walked through the memorial there was a choir and band playing music and it really was such a reflective moment of everything we had just seen and learnt. It also made us realise just how lucky we had been in both of our lives so far.
That said, we really did struggle with our tour guide much to our disappointment. Before Steffan and I had met, he had never really been on tours. I sold them to him. Explaining how much you learnt that you wouldn’t do had you not been guided around and how helpful and informative they were. Unfortunately, this tour guide did not do my argument any favours.
She constantly told people off for not keeping up, repeated herself and I mean to the extent it was if she was on loop. She was not engaging at all and seemed cold towards the entire group. It was slightly off-putting, to say the least. But still, she didn’t completely ruin the tour and we did a lot of reading of the boards and took everything in independently when we had to.
At the end of the tour, she gave a speech about how we should all realise how lucky we are. Absolutely agree. And that it wasn’t that long ago that these awful events had happened and that we should all love our friends and family every day. Again, true. She then finished by announcing that history has a tendency for repeating itself and so to make sure we all make the most of our lives whilst we can. What???
Was she saying she thinks this could happen again?
We left the tour feeling a little confused and bewildered and quite frankly on a complete downer. In all the tours I have been a part of I have never heard anything like that! I am sure she was a lovely lady, but I am not sure a being tour guide was her calling in life.
We got back on the bus and we were both exhausted! To the point we were falling asleep sat upright. A quick scan of the bus made it obvious we were not the only ones. I had done a typical Emma and had opted for non-walking shoes. Big mistake. The ground is uneven and there is a lot of walking. My feet were horrendous within an hour, so make sure you are more sensible than me and wear something you can comfortably walk in for a long time.
It was a further 2 hours to the salt mines and we were pleased as punch, sleep time!
We arrived foggy-headed and bleary-eyed after sleeping almost the entire way. But after waking up a bit we were ready to go.
If there is one word we could pick to summarise the salt mines it would be steps. A truckload of steps. It is over 800 steps down to reach the mines… spiralling and constant. My favourite. You then explore various chambers connected by a 1.5-mile walk. I cursed myself again for not wearing appropriate footwear. Will I ever learn?
We both reached the bottom dizzy, with calf cramp and mildly sweating. We were exhausted again. But we cannot emphasise enough, it is so worth it. The salt mines are like nothing we have ever seen, dark tunnels supported by thick wooden arches, huge black chambers with intricate statues all carved from salt with mood lighting in every room. The belle of the ball is The Chapel of St Kinga and honestly, it must be seen to be believed! Decorated with crystal chandeliers, an intricately carved floor and salt statues along every wall. Just wow! The chapel is 101 metres underground and is an absolute work of art!
It is worth mentioning if you want to take photographs in the Chapel you will need a permit, which you can buy right at the entrance to the chapel so no pre-planning is required. The cost is 10 PLN which is only around £2 and is worth it!
The room is mesmerising and whilst you will struggle to get any photos that do it justice, you can have fun trying! Steffan was annoyed that he hadn’t brought his wide-angle lens which meant he couldn’t get the full chapel into his frame. The complaining fell on deaf ears at the time but when we got back to the UK and looked at the photos, I could see why he was disappointed. They do however allow the use of tripods, which is unusual for a tourist attraction. If you’re a photographer be sure to bring one as it’s very dark.
The rest of the walk takes you through the most amazing conference room. A conference room in a mine. Such a cool idea. Then through cafes and restaurants and finally the old miners lift back to the top. Which was again an interesting experience.
I am not a lift lover if ever there is one. I wouldn’t say I’m afraid of them, but anything that looks older than my Grandparents, I really don’t feel comfortable trusting to work in an efficient and safe manner. Especially when you are crammed inside with another 15 plus people all of varying weights, and your face is pushed so close to the glass you can see your breath condensing on it.
Not fun. But an experience, and one I can add to the list of things I would do again if I had to, but I would ideally like to avoid.
Once out in the open, we were on our way again and it took just over an hour to get back to our apartment. We both agreed the day was wholly worthwhile but fitting everything in on one day was a big push and our calves and feet were certainly feeling it!
We decided to head back to the apartment, have an early dinner and try and be sensible so we were not hanging on Steffan’s birthday. I quietly mentioned the horse & carriage ride again, but alas today was not my day either. We had a few glasses of white wine in the apartment and headed just two doors down for an easy meal, another glass of white wine and then decided to crawl into bed. Our heads were full of the days events and our legs were cramped and ached from the 4 miles of walking and 800 plus steps we had endured. We slept well.
*If you have the time, go to Auschwitz and the salt mines on separate days. It’s a long day and whilst brilliant for people like us that have very little time, it would be more enjoyable had it been at a slower pace.
*Wear walking shoes or boots, and this goes for both places! There is a ton of walking and a ton of steps. Your feet will thank you.
*Take small change for the toilets as you will need to pay to use them.
Birthdays, castles and posh dinners
So today was the day I had been excited about since December. Steffan’s 31 st birthday. I was intending to try and make it the best yet. I woke up extremely excited to a sleepy Steffan who didn’t quite share my level of enthusiasm and started to quietly sing Happy Birthday in his ear. When that didn’t work, I ran to the fridge, made a ‘birthday cake’ made from nothing but cheese and meat, put a candle in it and proceeded back into the bedroom singing even louder. He was awake and looked as happy as he could be having been woken up to my voice which slightly resembles the noise a screaming cat makes. But I did my best.
Presents opened, we decided to go next door for breakfast to a little restaurant called Scandale Royal overlooking the square. A vodka bar (believe it or not), but also serves breakfast (minus the vodka) and has a dinner menu also. The latter we didn’t get a chance to try.
The food was gorgeous, from interesting fruit-filled omelettes to a Polish take on an English breakfast and the most delicious fresh juice.
We both commented on how badly our legs were hurting after yesterdays epic events and we opted for a taxi to take us to our first destination. Wawel Castle.
Wawel Royal Castle is seen as one of the most historic and cultural sites in Poland. For centuries it was the residence of the Kings of Poland. But it is now a tourist hot spot and museum to what once was.
It was built in the 13th and 14th centuries and in 1978 it was declared a UNESCO world heritage site. Impressive right?
Between Steffan and I we have seen our fair share of castles. We live a stone’s throw from Warwick Castle, have a habit of visiting every castle in every city we have ever visited and if you have read our Lisbon blog you will know we wouldn’t say we are ‘castle lovers’ or history buffs. But Wawel Royal Castle is quite magnificent. It is not just a castle, it is made up of various outbuildings, gardens, chapels, statues and viewing points. We were mesmerised.
At the entrance, you buy your tickets for the areas you would like to see, and this is where we slipped up. We assumed we could buy further tickets inside if we changed our minds and wanted to see an additional part, but we were wrong. And after being marched back to the entrance by the security lady on the door to the treasury we vowed to include this in our blog, so you too don’t waste the time we did! Do some research before you go and decide what you would like to see and buy all your tickets at the door. It will save a lot of hassle when you are inside!
The link for the castle is at the bottom of the page so you can plan your trip better than we did.
You are welcome.
After making our way up one of the towers and taking in the views, Steffan announced he would like to visit the treasury. He has always had a thing for seeing what treasures other countries have, it doesn’t float my boat, but he was the birthday boy, so we bought tickets and headed inside. Much to his disappointment, he wasn’t allowed to take his camera in, and we had to leave our luggage in a lock-up. What ensued was the heavens opening, us sprinting back and forth from the treasury as we were told we couldn’t take in cameras, we couldn’t take in bags, we needed additional tickets. I am sure the lovely lady on the door was just messing with us.
Finally, we were in. Inside the treasury, the staff do take their jobs very seriously. There are staff in every room ensuring you don’t take a sneaky pic of anything and they do watch and follow you the entire time which really got my goat. I know they have a job to do, but I was hungry and tired and to be honest I am not sure why they felt I would even waste my energy lifting my arm to take a photograph of a medieval sword. Not my thing. I just walked around in circles amusing myself with the fact she was trying to keep up with my every move whilst Steffan was completely enthralled in every treasure and every weapon he could see through the glass cases.
I was becoming increasingly aware we were going to miss our lunch reservation I had booked on the river, so I switched it to a little later with a quick fired email to the manager. The ‘security lady’ stared intently at me whilst I got my phone out. I just rolled my eyes. Calm down I am not going to sell photos of the pottery cups I can see behind you.
Another 15 minutes passed and Steffan was still as interested as he was when we first arrived. My blood sugars were running low. I checked my watch. We had now missed our lunch reservation for sure. And not just the first one time scheduled, the second one too.
Steffan suddenly snapped out of his trance realising he was hungry, and we rushed to the little stall selling pastries in the castle and grabbed a croissant each. There is another huge restaurant, but it was full, and we had the intention of still trying to get to our lunch reservation. But after 10 minutes of speed walking and realising we had no idea where we were going, we called it quits and sat down at a nearby restaurant.
After filling up on more pierogis, beer and Aperol spritz we meandered back to the apartment for a few hours chilling out before I took the birthday boy out for a dinner. And this was a reservation we did not want to miss. I planned to treat him like a princess all evening.
I had booked a table at Szara Gez which I had also found on trip advisor. It was meant to be one of the nicer fine dining restaurants in Krakow, serving polish cuisine (not just food don’t you know) in elegant surroundings. I know how much Steff was dying to wear his new suit so I thought it sounded perfect.
Walking through Krakow we had some strange looks. We were dressed up as though we were attending a wedding, but we’d had far too many glasses of wine to care and after 10 minutes we arrived.
If you want to eat here definitely book prior. They take reservations weeks and months in advance and when you arrive you can see why.
The restaurant was beautiful. Tall ceiling, eye-catching paintings, glittering chandeliers and the icing on the cake was that we had the most amazing waiter. Going all out, we opted for champagne to start. We don’t even like it. But it felt fitting. And we were celebrating! We then decided on our meals whilst drinking yet more wine. The restaurant was probably slightly too posh for us, but we can put on a good act. No complaints were made on account of our behaviour. The restaurant’s menu is focused on the goose, and this became apparent when my dessert came in the design of a goose nest with an egg in it. 10 out of 10 for creativity and it tasted pretty good too.
After way too much wine we headed back to the apartment. If my memory recalls I think we may have drunk more wine once back ‘home’ but that may have just been a dream.
*For all you perfect Instagram shot lovers, there is a courtyard outside the treasury at Wawel castle that could get you all the likes you’ve ever dreamed of. Get there as soon as it opens, superman into the maxi dress in your purse in the bathroom. Then sprint to the courtyard before anyone gets there to nail it. Sadly, when we were there it was under construction (a running theme with our travels so far) but once finished you’ll have the perfect backdrop for your best Krakow portrait.
*Research the castle and make sure you buy all the tickets you want at the entrance unless you want to be jogging back and forth all afternoon
*If you want to visit the treasury, put your things in the lockers which are signposted before you get there. Also, you can’t take photos inside the treasury
*We got a taxi to the castle but it’s an easy walking distance from the Old Town and a fairly pleasant one at that
*If you want a fancy meal for half of what you would pay in the UK, book Szara Ges. Its beautiful and the food is to die for.
e-bikes, sunsets and sore bums
On our last full day in Krakow and we awoke with slightly fuzzy heads but considering the alcohol intake, we were both very pleased with how we were feeling.
We had planned to hire bikes today and visit Krakus Mound which was a 30-40min from the Old town. As per our usual routine, we had woken up much later than planned and by the time we made it to the bike rental store, there were no bikes left. Except for just two electric bikes. I wasn’t sure.
I am the clumsiest person in the world, bar none. I could see how this would go. Me losing control and crashing into a tram, or worse a small child. But we had no choice and not wanting to ruin the entire day’s plans we agreed to the e-bikes.
The guy explaining how everything worked repeatedly warned us to ensure we turn them off when we get off them as they will shoot off. Not what I wanted to hear.
We began the journey and despite the Electric bikes being twice as heavy as a standard bike I was far too terrified to switch on the electricity and lagged behind Steffan like miss Daisy feeling terrified I would crash into someone at any second. It was a lot.
Once we got out of the centre and reached the river, the ride was far more pleasant, and I decided to be a daredevil and turn the power on just to level 2. My legs were burning, and I was exhausted but level 2 was certainly helping. Steffan looked super excited by the whole thing and exclaimed how easy it was. He had been on level 4 the whole way. The boy is smart.
The temperature was up today, and it was around 25 degrees C so the bike ride to Krakus mound was a sweaty one. But we were soon pleased we had electric bikes when we had to make our way uphill towards the mound.
If you are planning on visiting the Krakus mound by bike, we would 100% recommend e-bikes. They are not as scary as I, or the man in the shop made out. And they really help when going uphill or just in the heat if you want to preserve some energy. The bikes cost us 30 euros each for 24 hours, so we kept them until the next morning.
We arrived pretty hot and thirsty and after a difficult conversation with a local lady selling both still and fizzy water, (we couldn’t work out how to say still, so we kept pointing at coca-cola and shaking our heads, probably not the best approach!) we got our water. One still and one sparkling as I think we had confused her even more and we made our way up the hill.
Krakus Mound is a small hill thing, that’s the technical term or at least that’s what I’m going with.
It is thought to be the resting place of the legendary King Krakus and is located approximately 3km from the city centre. But why did we go? The views! Here are a few fun facts, it has an altitude of 271 metres and an additional height of 16metres, so you have an awesome view of the city from up there. It’s also boiling if it’s hot. With no shade. So, you kind of run up there, take photos and make your way back down to the safety of a tree. Still worth it for the view though. Once we were happy with our photos, we started the jaunt back with a short stop off at ‘Lovers Bridge’ which connects the north and south Krakow and as you can imagine is shrouded in love. Well padlocks with initials on them anyway. The bridge is 145 metres long and has a cycle path hoorah! That absolutely no one pays any attention to. Damn it.
The way back was far less stressful than the way there. It was quieter and I was comfortable using level 3 now, which saved my aching legs…check me out. But we had a new problem…. Our bums were killing! And I don’t mean a little bit, I mean so painful that every time you sat on it took a good few minutes for the pain to subside into a numbness… it was bad. Every bump we went over felt like agony and we enjoyed moaning about it the whole way back whilst enjoying the views. We grabbed a polish ice cream on the way back, known as Lody, which was amazing!!! So many flavours to choose from and it was delicious. I was just starting to feel relieved we would soon be back and I would be able to sit on something other than this rock hard saddle when Steffan announced that the sunset trip he had suggested for this evening, well we needed to go by bike as it was a little way out of the centre. Man. Alive. I smiled as well as I could, but he could tell I wasn’t overjoyed. He promised me a pub stop for an Aperol spritz before we went, and I caved. If there is one way to get around me it’s alcohol and food!
A small sit down, a snack and an Aperol spritz later in what felt like the space of ten minutes and we were back on the bikes. Steffan had told me all about this spot, the pictures looked beautiful and it sounded perfect for us to sit down, cosy up, drink a beer and take some photographs.
After 15 minutes of riding, we went off-road and down a small muddy track lined with stinging nettles. It was getting dark or at least the crouched trees made it feel that way. There were muddy puddles from yesterday’s rain. I hit a few bumps and splashed mud up my legs and there it was. The sign. The sign that this was not going to be the romantic sunset trip I had imagined and that had been sold to me.
We cycled on through woods, got lost. Turned back. And eventually, Steffan whilst examining his phone pointed up a muddy hill.
“It’s that way”
Oh god. We decided to abandon the bikes, there was no way they were making it up that hill. After chaining them to trees we started the ‘climb’. Once again, I was not wearing sensible footwear, but in my defence, I thought we were visiting a beautiful lake for a romantic evening. Not going cross country.
Steffan helped me up as I was doing an accidental Bambi on ice impression and slipping and sliding everywhere. We got to the top, sweating and out of breath. We were then faced with a metal fence, kind of like a prison fence but less dramatic. On the other side of it, there was a cliff edge, maybe 4 metres in depth and it ran maybe 7 metres before it disappeared into bushes. Steffan explained that was the spot. And that we needed to jump the fence. Trying not to be a miserable cow I agreed and went for it. Jumped up, went to swing myself over the fence only to realise my toe was stuck in the fence and my trousers were hooked onto the wall. Onlookers watched on amused as Steffan had to release my toe and trousers and I finally made it across.
I stood there, hot, sweaty, flustered and surrounded by flies. But we had made it. We settled down and Steffan took some photos. But he began pacing and looking around.
‘I think over there will be a better spot’ he exclaimed.
I went in full moaning cow mode. I couldn’t help myself.
‘I’m not walking halfway around this cliff, this side looks way better, lets just stay here. You promised me a romantic sunset and I am boiling hot and exhausted with a half-broken toe!’
He pleaded with me for 30 seconds which is generally how long it takes him to get around me, and we began our journey starting with climbing back over the metal fence of death.
We reached the other side, hunched ourselves through more barbed wire and were greeted with groups of kids sat around listening to music and drinking. I wanted to join them. But alas there were photos to be taken. Steffan after examining the area said that he thought the spot back up the top of the cliff had been better all along. You know, the one we had just left.
We made our way back, and by this point, I had lost the will to live. I genuinely thought that this was going to be a romantic sunset evening. Not a muddy hike in sandals, sweating, climbing barbed wire fences and being bombed by flies every 2 seconds. Even so, we had two beers in our bag and so I opened one.
Steffan took his photos and we started our journey back to the city centre in search of food and wine.
The photos he took are on our Instagram page and to be fair, he did an amazing job. And I am honestly not a spoilt cow. It was just the expectation vs the reality that couldn’t have been further apart.
Then again that’s travelling and life in general sometimes and the result far outweighed the inconveniences and minor traumas.
The lake is called Lake Zakrzowek. It is about a 15-minute bike ride from the centre, fairly easyish to find and the view over the lake is gorgeous. But wear walking boots, prepare to climb things and take a fly swatter. Top tips right there.
On our final evening, we decided to have dinner on the main market square so we could see the horses & carriages lined up in front of the church. It was a full moon and it really did look magical. Sat there, drinking wine and eating a mediocre meal was surprisingly special. The restaurant was nothing to write home about, but it was on the main square and the atmosphere was buzzing so we still enjoyed it. After trying to get slightly tipsy on our £28 bottle of 9% wine (yes it was that overpriced) we decided to have a glass of wine back at the apartment before getting some rest.
*If you are going outside of the city, rent E-bikes. They are only marginally more expensive and with some of the hills, they are worth their weight in gold. Just don’t be afraid of using the power like I was and save your legs from the trauma.
*Visit Krakus mound if you have time, the views are amazing if you want to see a decent cityscape.
*Don’t eat in the main market square just for the view, have a drink and then move on. We may be judging all restaurants based on one, but even so, they are all overpriced and you can eat somewhere easily for half the price just a 5-minute walk away.
Early mornings (For one of us) and saying goodbye
Steffan had been dying to get up early all holiday to get some shots first thing in the morning. And this was his last chance. So up he got. I really didn’t fancy getting up at 4.30 am and so I remained asleep. That boy’s commitment continues to astound me.
When he got back, he got straight back into bed but once we were both up, he said it had been an interesting morning. There were plenty of people around much to his surprise. But they were people that hadn’t been to bed yet. Street fights, people approaching him asking for beer and groups staggering across his pictures is pretty much what his experience was. I commended myself for staying in bed. That did not sound like fun at any time of the day let alone 4.30 am.
Once packed, we checked out and we headed back to the airport. Krakow impressed us immensely and it is hugely underrated as a beautiful city break destination and is easily on par with the likes of Prague and Budapest and some Italian cities we have visited. It is cheap, it has its own charm, beautiful architecture and a bunch of friendly locals. What more could we have asked for?
Oh, I know, a horse & carriage ride.
Maybe next time.
Helpful Links if you want to check out some of the things that we did on our trip
Szara Ges Restaurant
The Salt Mines