students, pierogi, piwa? Five days in Kraków
In a former post I announced an entry about the awesome city of Krakow. Somehow I forgot, but better late than never.
After arriving at the central train station (Krakow Glowny), our first impression was the profile of the crowds running through the city: you recognized a lot of young people and a lot of tourists.
Krakow is one hell of a student city with about about 200 000 people going there to universities (by a total population of 800 000 people). And also, Krakow is one of the most popular cities of Eastern Middle Europe with a lot of history stuff like formerly being the capital of Poland for decades.
We did a city walking tour in Krakow which was a Free Walking Tour which was financed by tips and is specially made for young people, so it wasn’t that boring like many other city tours!
The Main Square (Rynek Glowny) of Krakow is the biggest square of Europe, there would have been enough space for several soccer fields, but Krakow was not even chosen to host the UEFA Euro 2012 which started one week later. Another famous spot is the Wawel hill close to the Wisla River on which the castle of the former Polish kings is situated, so it’s a sanctuary for Polish people.
More interesting than old castles is the quarter of Kazimierz which was formerly dominated by jewish people. Today it’s very crowded there, a lot of interesting bars and even concert locations. One evening we were looking for a toilet and discovered a concert of a Russian band downstairs which was quite awesome. While drinking piwa (beers) in Kazimierz we met students from all over Europe.
Food is another interesting topic in Poland, we were going to restaurants at least(!) once a day because it was so cheap for German standard! Getting an awesome meal and a drink normally wasn’t more than 6€. I really liked Pierogi - some kind of dumplings or “Maultaschen”. A nice kind of snack we discovered was a Zapiekanka which was a baguette with mushrooms, cheese and several other stuff by choice which costed about 1,50-2€.
In the east of Krakow there’s a large quarter that was built by socialist ideals and is called “Nowa Huta”. Interesting about that is how that city was planned symmetrical and how the atmosphere is today.
We also did a day trip to Auschwitz by bus to see the very large areal of the former concentration camp. While walking though houses, barracks and gas chambers you’ll get a really strange and depressing feeling, but this feeling is deranged by something you are part of: Auschwitz has become a huge tourist destination and the areal is too crowded by thousands of people who visit it every day.
Public Transportation in Krakow is really cheap (about 1€ per ride) and there is a really dense tram network. There are some modern low floor vehicles which are more familiar to me, but riding with very old tram vehicles was somehow a bigger adventure when everything is shaking and you think it might derail any second.
Visiting Krakow and mountains of High Tatras (2 hours south from Krakow) with two friends was a pleasure that I could recommend to each of you! And I might go there again some day! :)