part 2 of our poland trip! kraków!
we arrived fairly late in the afternoon (after a really comfortable train ride, mind you–poland’s rly got their public transport down ??) so we wandered around the centre of town and had dinner.
we walked around the cloth hall and did a spot of souvenir shopping–i got some really nice jewellery and such nice wooden trinkets! we also visited rynek underground, which is a sprawling museum/archaeological site under the cloth hall.
we decided to treat ourselves for dinner and had a three-course meal at pod aniolami! i had venison dumplings, wild boar steak, and homemade apple pie. it was honestly the best meal i had during my entire trip to poland! all their food is based on polish culinary tradition but elevated to another level. the interior of the restaurant is so beautiful too–we dined in the gothic cellars and the ambience was so unique!
we decided to book in for a guided tour and i really would recommend it. i often find if i’m spending my whole day at museums, i start to zone out when reading information panels and i really didn’t want that to happen.
the trip to auschwitz-birkenau was really interesting but also really harrowing–you definitely need to mentally prepare yourself before going. i didn’t take many pictures but one thing that remains seared into my mind is the pile of glasses taken from the prisoners. seeing them cracked and bent and heaped up was honestly haunting. i’m not sure why it was this display particularly that stuck with me but maybe it’s to do with how vulnerable people are/feel without their sight?
we were then taken to wieliczka salt mine and had lunch at karczma halit, a restaurant nearby. the portions are really hearty and they gave me such an absurd amount of bread with my meal.
the salt mine was one of the sites on the first-ever unesco world heritage list and it’s truly incredible. there’s an underground lake, statues carved from the salt rock and even entire chapels! st kinga’s chapel is the biggest and contains a wall relief of the last supper as well as salt crystal chandeliers ?? who even knew salt could look this pretty??
when we got back to central kraków, we decided to go to the pinball museum. all the machines are free to play! they range from vintage machines from the 50s to a modern guardians of the galaxy one. they also have other classic arcade games too–i spent an absolute age playing asteroids!
kraków’s historical center, including wawel hill, was another one of the sites on the first ever unesco world heritage list! we started our day with a guided tour of the state rooms in wawel royal castle–the ceilings and the wall tapestries are particularly gorgeous.
we also visited wawel cathedral and the entry ticket included access to the royal tombs as well as sigismund tower, which houses a bell that weighs almost 13 tonnes!
we had lunch at judah food market in the district of kazimierz, kraków’s historical jewish quarter. we got the most amazing pulled pork burgers from andrus food truck! highly recommend–their menu is so extensive!
we then went to the celestat which is maybe one of the nichest museums i’ve ever been to? it contains a collection showcasing the history of the cracovian fowler brotherhood, a group of hunters and marksmen that worship a silver fowl (??), but every year, it also houses the entries for kraków’s annual szopka (christmas crib) competition. the practice of making these cracovian szopkas is so unique that it’s on the unesco intangible cultural heritage list! you can see some incredibly detailed displays made by craftspeople as well as cute nativity scenes made by children.
we had a little rest in cafe camelot and had some hot drinks and a slice of tart.
then we went for dinner at chłopskie jadło. i had gołąbki, which are cabbage rolls stuffed with pork and rice. they really remind me of romanian sarmale (which was my all-time favourite food when staying with my host family in baia mare).
our flights were in the late afternoon so we took the morning to visit one more museum and snap some final pics of the city.
we went to st florian’s gate and the barbican and grabbed some doughnuts for breakfast.
we visited the museum of pharmacy– yet another niche museum!
we swung by the collegium maius, which has a little museum that includes some of copernicus’s equipment in its permanent collection. the highlight, however, is the clock in the courtyard–it displays a procession of historical figures accompanied by music at certain times in the day!
we visited the wawel dragon statue (it breathes fire!!) and we wrapped up our trip at bar mleczny pod temidą, another milk bar. you can’t beat cheap and cheerful food!
i really had such an amazing time in poland across both cities (you can see the warsaw trip here) and i really can’t wait to explore more of eastern europe soon!
i will say, though, i found most of the food quite stodgy (i don’t think my body is built to process any carbs apart from rice) but nevertheless, the vibes were immaculate!