The friend I’m traveling with, Alex, is Polish, so it was really important to her that we incorporate Poland into our European endeavors this summer! I obligingly agreed to do so, if only because I love adding countries to my “have seen” list. We took a flight from Paris to Warsaw, and then took Polskibus from Warsaw to Krakow. It was BEAUTIFUL! I don’t know what I was expecting, but it was so quaint, the locals were friendly, and Krakow totally has a college-town vibe.
Warsaw and Krakow have distinctly different vibes. Warsaw is more modern, as it was nearly completely (95%) destroyed during the war. Ironically, though Hitler’s invasion of Poland left Warsaw in ruins, Krakow remained nearly completely intact. Krakow is a medieval town, with small streets, close proximity to everything, and a college-town vibe that stems from the fact that there are clubs and bars on every corner! I wasn’t expecting that at all. I preferred Krakow to Warsaw, as we found that many do.
Eastern Europe doesn’t get the recognition it deserves, which is such a shame because it has so much to offer the world! Some of my favorite cities have been in eastern Europe (like Budapest), and they are so inexpensive, it’s worth a side trip to these places while en-route to more well-known places, such as Berlin. And Polish food is amazing! If someone had told me before this trip, “Ay, gurl. Wanna go try the new Polish restaurant in town?” I probably would’ve given them a cray look. But knowing and tasting what I have in Poland, I’d choose it in a heartbeat! In fact, there’s a huge Polish population in Dublin right now, so much so that there are specialty Polish shops setting up camp throughout town. I wouldn’t have ventured into one before, but now I think I may stop in! There were also ice-cream (lody) shops on every corner in both Warsaw and Krakow, which I adored.
While in Warsaw, we just explored the Old Town and sampled Polish cuisine. In Krakow, we took a day trip to Auschwitz, explored their medieval city center, and also ate a lot of ice-cream. What’s great about these smaller cities is that there are less tourists, and they carry a more relaxed feel. After being go go go in Paris and London, it was a relief to get to explore leisurely and binge on cheap eats. My favorite eatery while in Krakow was filled with nothing but Polish people, was down in the basement of an unmarked building, and served a whole meal for $5! Dumplings stuffed with cabbage and mushrooms, sausage, and mashed potatoes. YUM. I even went back for sweet strawberry dumplings topped with cream before our Polskibus took off for Berlin in the dead of night. Great trip, can’t wait to come back!