A Love Letter to Krakow, Poland

This post is a long love letter to Krakow, full of photos of my adventures from the past 3 days. When I arrived in Krakow Airport, I have no idea what amazing food, sights and experiences I would have. To be honest, I booked the flight based on two simple things: it cost 50 euros and I wanted to leave France for cheap.

My one week school vacation presented the perfect opportunity to see a new country, and by pure coincidence Krakow popped up as one of the cheapest fares out of Paris. Without any planning of where I would go or what I would do, I found an Airbnb and it was official; I was going!

I had the pleasure of travelling with two friends from my program here in France, Noor and Lily. I'm so glad I did not take this trip alone, it was so much more fun with friends, especially when my phone connection dipped in and out as soon as we were stranded and needed Google Maps (haha). I'm a bit of an obsessive planner and scheduler, so I'm really glad I had friends there to not only live the experience with me, but also help me loosen up a bit and 'enjoy'. Still, I haven't managed to shake my bad habit of speed walking basically everywhere. 

The first day of our trip, we spent the night visiting local bars and walking around the area surrounding our Airbnb. Immediately, we were pleasantly surprised by the low prices. When compared to currencies such as the Euro or US Dollar, the Polish Zloty is weaker, meaning we could get drinks and food with the conversion rate in our favor.

People tend to talk a lot about cities like Paris, New York, Milan, etc, but I hadn't heard anything about the food scene in Krakow before arriving here. I think this was the best thing that could have happened, because I was blown away by the absolutely delicious food! This may be a little controversial, but despite living in France for 6+ months, some of the best food I've ever had in Europe I found in Krakow. 

If you're in the area anytime soon, I recommend Charlotte Bistro for French food, Pierogarnia-Krakowiacy for Polish dumplings aka pierogis, and Royal Curry for Indian food.  

And funnily enough, the BEST macarons I have ever had came from a small pop up shop style kiosk in Galeria Krakowska from Nakielny. 

One of the girls in my program, Kamila, is actually from Poland, and was able to meet with us and show us around, as well as explain a bit of history about each place we visited. We explored the Old Jewish town, as well as walking the grounds of Wawel Castle. 

The weather was beautiful and warm, I found myself taking off my coat and simply basking in the sun. The sun isn't known to make many appearances in Dijon these days, and I definitely missed the Vitamin D!

Everyone in Krakow was very kind and warm. It was such an interesting experience to speak in English again after being in a relatively 'small' city such as Dijon, where English isn't very present. If I were to go up to someone working in a store in Dijon and speak exclusively in English, the odds of them being able to talk back fluently are quite low. 

In a way, it was exciting and made me want to reach out and chat with more people. I was able to go up to someone in a shop and communicate without a second thought on how to say something.  I ordered vegan nuggets and sweet chili sauce at Burger King without a hitch! 

On the other hand, I was surprised to find that I kind of missed speaking French.

The next two days were a bit colder, but we still were able to walk around, hit the bars and eat well. We went to a couple of great, interesting bars throughout our stay.

If you're looking for a well priced and delicious cocktail bar, I recommend Modvia. This was the first bar we went to after dropping off our stuff at the Airbnb the first night, and we loved it. The drinks were super unique (try the Fragola Fig, which combines balsamic and strawberries) and the menu had a lot of vegetarian friendly food options.

If you're looking for something with a young crowd and smoky, speakeasy type of vibe, head to Eswezeria. To quote what I said to Noor as we sat at our candlelit table: 'It feels like people come here, smoke and talk about philosophy'. This was Noor and Lily's favorite bar in Krakow, they loved it from the moment we walked in. In the spirit of the artsy, hipster vibe I had to take some dramatic photographs of us all. Enjoy :)

My favorite bar was Pauza, I don't think the photos on Google Maps do it enough justice! 

We went there at around midnight until 2am, and while it was fairly empty, it had exactly the vibe I was looking for: very calm, chic and affordable. The moment we sat down on the navy blue plush seats, Lana Del Rey started blasting over the speakers, and I knew I had found my bar. As I ordered my drink, the bartender and I struck up a conversation, only for me to discover he used to live in Connecticut! 

He customized a drink just for me that was my favorite drink I had in Krakow.

I wish I could tell you what was in it! All I know is that it had orange peel, Fireball and only cost 23 zloty (around ~5.5 USD)

On our last full day in Krakow, we travelled by bus to visit Auschwitz. I do not have any photos of this visit, I thought it best not to take any. Originally, I didn't plan to take a guided tour of the grounds, but I am so grateful Lily and Noor convinced me to go for it. It was only the equivalent of 15 USD for a 3 hour guided tour, and it was worth every penny and more.

Our guide was incredibly knowledgeable, and a bit soft spoken. He walked us through multiple buildings, barracks, and even a gas chamber. I was surprised with how in depth the tour was, and how much information I didn't know about what so many people suffered through from 1940 to 1945. 

The silence during this trip was palpable, it hung in the air above us as our group of 15 stood together, huddled in the cold, dark barracks where thousands once slept, ate, and lived together. 

I highly recommend everyone to visit Auschwitz and purchase a ticket for a guided tour. It's an emotional trip, but it's so incredibly important that we do not forget the atrocities committed so that history never repeats itself. The Holocaust was less than 100 years ago, what may feel like a distant memory for some is actually a lot more recent than one might think. Educating ourselves on history, good or bad, is the responsibility of each and every person on Earth. 

As this post comes to an end, I would like to touch briefly on a prayer vigil for Ukraine we attended. It was a silent, candlelit vigil within a local church. Though I don't consider myself a fairly religious person, I sat in the pew said a few prayers.

Regardless of religion, race or creed, I ask that you please try to do whatever you can to support Ukraine and Ukrainians in these frightening times. In an effort to spread awareness, I'm sharing this post written by TIME Magazine on how we all can assist. 

As always, thank you for reading, and I'll see you next time.