First of all, before I start, I’d like to give a little mention to my friend Katie Shaw, for the cracking photo above… we call it the ‘one hit wonder’. What do you think?
It was taken on the first night and due to the 10/10 effort on this one, it was the only photo taken in Krakow to grace Katie’s Samsung; the rest were on mine, although not quite to the same standard, I’ll have to admit!
But, all jokes aside, I’ve just returned from an amazing weekend in Krakow – 11 hours’ sleep in three days suggests it was a pretty boozy, yet ‘educational’ visit. We were little tourists during the day, but as soon as night-time arrived, we were hooked on the addictive, vibrant nightlife! There were some great bars and clubs to explore, and the ‘wodka’ was so cheap! It would have been rude to turn it down right?
I had absolutely no idea what to expect from Krakow… unlike Amsterdam where I knew the culture involved space cakes and a certain red light district, the visit to Poland was very different.
Obviously I knew about Auschwitz, Birkenau, and the salt mines, but in terms of the actual place I wasn’t sure how it would look or feel.
Arriving at midnight on the Friday night, we dumped our bags, freshened up and headed for ‘Wodka’ bar which we had been told about. Now, anyone who knows me, knows that I can’t even handle an apple sour, never mind a fully blown, 9 million percent, vodka shot!! I managed about three, which I thought was pretty good going.
The first night was great, I found there was a real buzz, which is ideal if you’re looking for a vibrant night scene, and to top it off, surprisingly we woke up feeling relatively fresh… (She speaks too soon).
We had a plan, and as with every plan, it never goes accordingly. And so our plan to visit the salt mines on the Saturday was pushed back to the Monday, and instead we spent the day exploring the city, shopping, and of course drinking beer and watching three games of football, and one game of rugby!! Yes, this is coming from the girl who hasn’t watched a game in at least four years. I felt like a new woman by the end of the trip, I’m all about the sports bars nowadays! Ha – although asking halfway through the rugby match ‘what the actual aim of the game is’, wasn’t my finest moment!
Sunday was a special day and one we were really looking forward too; excitement mixed with apprehension mixed with a killer hangover – great combination. The night before had been HEAVY; it’s always the case when you make a promise to yourself to be home at a ‘reasonable hour’. Yeah right…
Anyway, the bus picked us up and we started our trip to Auschwitz, the German nazi death camp. Before I begin to tell you about the eerie and horrifying experience, I’ll just mention that half way through the journey, Katie decided she was going to VOM everywhere and had me pull the coach over! ‘She’s travel sick’ I tried to tell the others, however with a coach full of British bods, they knew exactly what was going on! LOL.
The only way to describe the experience at Auschwitz would be horrific. Our guide took us around both camps, detailing the horrors which these human beings were put through, and we saw first-hand where they lived (if you can call it that), and the carriages they were brought to the camp in. Walking inside a gas chamber was a little too much for me, my body felt cold, it was just awful. You could even see the vents in the roof, which they poured the gas through – 2000 people were crammed into these chambers, it was a military procedure of exterminating human lives. Disgusting.
I think until you actually visit the place yourself you cannot understand the complete tragedies which went on. Our tour guide made a statement at the end of the trip which has stuck for me – ‘Please remember, this is not a museum, this is a cemetery where over one and a half million human beings were murdered.’
Katie and I didn’t speak much after the visit; in fact, the whole coach was pretty silent. It was hard to comprehend what we had just seen, and I think it took a while for people to come to – I kept thinking over and over about the heartbreaking sights we had seen.
We went out that night for some food and as we had to be up at 7am to visit the salt mines all day and then fly home, we said we’d go to a few bars and be home by midnight. Of course, we rolled in at 3.30am (told you it was a good night out!)
Monday was a challenge, a three-day hangover complemented by a three-hour trek underground to see HUGE salt chambers whereby everything was made out of salt, was really interesting and inspiring, but the hangover made it hard to stay awake or fully appreciate the beauty of what we were seeing. Oooops.
And to top it off, the tour guide asked if anyone would like to sing to test the acoustics, as they were amazing in a place like this; fully expecting no one to commit, however a young foreign girl raised her hand and started blasting out ‘Ave Maria’ in front of a good 200 people. We couldn’t cope and had to stare at the ground the whole time, trying really hard to stifle the giggles– I blame the hangover!
Here’s a few pics, it was an amazing place, and to be 90 metres underground was pretty cool.
If anyone’s thinking of visiting Krakow, I would definitely give it the thumbs up. I think a long weekend is just the right amount of time, as it means you can do all the tourist bits but also enjoy the nightlife.
It’s a small city, and although it doesn’t quite have the same buzz as say London or even Amsterdam, there are some hidden gems of bars and cafes, and there’s more than enough to see and do over a weekend.
A cracking weekend, with a cracking bird!