In early July, I made a trip to Poland. Krakow to be more specific. Originally I was going to fly to Warsaw but a friend of mine told me to skip it and head to Krakow instead. Boy was that a good decision. I had no idea where Krakow was in Poland or what it even represented. After a quick Google Search, I found out that it was not very far from the infamous Auschwitz. I’m sure if you’ve seen a World War II movie in the last decade you’ll know what it is. For those who don’t have an idea though, it was the Nazi’s largest Jewish internment (concentration) camp. It’s by far one the worst moments in human history. If you have a huge fascination for world history this is for sure a must-see, must-visit location. If you’re not as interested in that, there’s still something here for the foodies!
I spent about 3 days here. I landed in the afternoon on a Friday; at around 4 pm. I recommend getting a private taxi pick you up from the airport and drive you to your hotel or Airbnb. It definitely won’t break the bank, and you’ll save some extra cash if you pre-book it. After dropping off my bags and setting up my camera, I took off for the city centre. It was only a 10 minute walk from where I was staying. I joined an evening walking tour around an area called Old Town. The tour itself was only a couple hours but it was a great way of getting to know the area, especially if you don’t know where to buy essentials like toothpaste, soap, etc. It’s also a great way to get suggestions of what to do for the rest of your time in the city. I’ll leave a link below for the tours available.
The tours I tried out were the Old Town, Foods of Krakow, and Communist Krakow. For me the best was the Food Tour! I love food too much. Although the other ones are highly recommended if you can find time to do them. I did the Food Tour and Communist Tour the second day. The Food Tour takes you to a number of restaurants around the city. The group tried everything you’d expect from a trip to Poland. There were pierogies, pretzels, other local breads, pickled vegetables, sausages, various deli meats, meat soups, apple pies, ciders, local beer, and herrings.
Actually on the first day right after my evening tour, I asked my tour guide for recommendations for dinner. I ended up eating at this place that does really good pierogies. There were a couple choices, but more importantly there was one with bacon toppings; Polish bacon bits. They were little cubes of bacon that sat on top of the pierogies. It made everything delicious. While I was there though I ended up meeting and having dinner this family from California! We ended up sharing stories about what I was doing there and what they were up to. It was definitely the mention of bacon that brought us together. It was so random but had a lot of fun random having dinner with them. I’ll probably bump into them again when I make that trip across the West Coast! This is probably the best part of travelling alone. You end up meeting so many random people along the way and make tons of friends along the way.
The last day I spent it doing a super packed tour of both Auschwitz and a very famous salt mine in Wieliczka. You can search on TripAdvisor and find a number of private tour companies that’ll take you to both sites in a day. It’s about 12 hours in total from when they pick you up to when they drop you off back in the city. It’s roughly around €60. You can try and make your way to both on your own but when you factor in how long it takes to get there, it isn’t really worth saving that little bit of cash. I definitely recommend doing the tour when going to Auschwitz. It’ll help to understand the history in as much detail as possible. Also, you’ll avoid accidentally doing anything disrespectful. Remember this site is basically a mass grave.
The Salt Mine is probably of the greatest architectural structures I’ve ever seen. Literally an underground town with over 40 churches, living quarters, and ventilation system that works. The place isn’t only for tours though. It’s still actively used to host events like weddings, and dinner galas. Being over 100 metres underground, it’s surprising that there’s working wifi and cell phone signal. All of the rooms in the underground cave are carved out of the salt. There’s some really beautiful art carved out of it too. There was one main church space that the tour takes you on, and there’s a number of salt portraits that depict biblical stories like the last supper.
That was the last bit of my trip in Krakow. After I was done with the Salt Mine, the tour company drove me straight to the airport to catch my flight. It was by far the most productive weekend trip I’ve had. Three walking tours, 2 out of town tours, and minimal sleep. I was so exhausted going into work the next day but it was so worth it!