At the castle Namedy I got a crush on a boy, and decided to visit him in Krakow after hearing how awesome it was from Kuba, the boy, and bunches of other people. Pretty silly and spontaneous of me, because I wasn’t planning on really ever going to Poland but I did now and I’m glad I did and glad I recruited Jenn to be adventurous with me. ­čÖé

We arrived to Krakow from London at 830pm ish, and Kuba was waiting with a friend and a borrowed car right outside. He hasn’t passed his driving test after 2 tries now, but we couldn’t say no to a free ride.. He took us to his friends apartment to drop her off and we went in and met her boyf and kuba’s GIRLFRIEND. I know what you’re thinking. How could he have never mentioned this. But as much as I want this post to resemble something I would have blogged about in 7th grade I’ll just settle with this picture, and then say that I’m over it. obviously.

He dropped us off at one of the 300 bars krakow offers in the Jewish square, Kazimierz, which was called Baraka, and we had some traditional Polish drinks with a couple of Kuba’s friends, ┼üukasz and Mihow(Michael), while he left to take back the car. Both guys had really good english and we had some good conversation, and they introduced us to Zwiecz (the polish beer) and 3 popular polish vodkas:
Wisniovia (cherry vodka that tastes 100% like cherry cough syrup- VERY popular)
Zoladkowa (vodka made with herbs and such)

┼╗ubr├│wka (bison grass vodka) This one we didn’t try, but Silke told me you can find it in Luxembourg and that it really is amazing.

A couple hours later Kuba caught back up with us and we all headed to Piekny Pies, one of the many clubs Silke had told me about before coming, and it ended up having horrible music and Jenn’s phone got stolen, but we found a way to dance for an hour or so despite this. We left and headed to another club, down some stairs and into an underground room that felt a lot like it could have been an old dungeon back in the day. It was dubstep night which was fitting in this dungeon-like setting and we danced for hours feeling the bass shake our bones, and at one point I tried to teach Jenn how to 2-step.. I try. When we finally left (for Kuba’s sake) we stepped out to a new day, it was 7am and raining, and we had no idea. We walked back to Kuba’s getting soaked along the way, and people in the square were preparing and setting out things to sell for the sunday markets even though everything was getting rained on. We picked up some polish mushroom ramen on the way back, ate, and slept for hours.

When we finally woke up, Kuba left to take his girlfriend to the train station so Jenn and I went exploring and stumbled upon an old Jewish graveyard that was filled with gravestones. It was rainy which added to the creepiness and serenity of the walled in graveyard, and we tried to find the entrance without any luck. We kept walking until we found the market that was being set up those hours before and looked around and the rain soaked junk wishing we had money, or could at least pronounce what the money was called in Polish.. We went back to Kuba’s after we realized we had forgotten to lock it, and then met up with Silke’s friend, Anna, who I had talked to a few days before to arrange to get together. Anna was from Poland, but moved to the states with her parents and lived there 17 yrs and graduated from UT before going back. She was so cool.

We met up with her and walked to a big warehouse where the last day of a big photography exhibition was being held. It was really interesting and comprised of photos from Poland’s government archives. The photos were all over the place ranging from pictures of different turnips with rulers for scale, inventory pics of jewish belongings left behind, and old personal pictures of army boys goofing off. We took the tram to her neighborhood and walked through a carnival going on in the field next to her apartment. The biggest field in europe allegedly. We got some greasy potatoes and mushrooms, and drank some beer with raspberry syrup which is my new favorite, and followed it up with a carnival ride that spun us in circles and making a little girl cry, and the three of us almost throw up. I laughed so hard I was crying most of the ride. We walked the rest of the way back to the Jewish Square, stopping at the Collegium Maius, one of the last surviving medieval colleges. It was awesome how much Anna knew about the history of everythingÔÇöshe was an amazing tour guide.

We made it to Pauza, another nice bar, and Kuba met us and from there we went to another place where I got more berry beer and we got to see Adam, another Krakow kid from the Castle project. Then we met up with more kids from their Art school at cafe Dym. Everything was closed because it was Sunday so we went back to Kuba’s and stayed up talking about computer things and downloading cs4! The next morning we realized we hadn’t eaten since the potatoes the day before so we headed to Kuba’s favorite place to eat, a milk bar, which was just a grandma serving up home cooking, but we stuffed our faces with some polish specialties I’d never had before: pierogi, these fried potatoe and cheese patties, and stewed cabbage. My mouth is watering typing this.. We walked across the bridge to the other side of town that used to be a different city but merged a long time ago, and we walked all the way up to Krakus Mound, one of 5 man made hills legends say are tombs for kings where we saw all of Krakow in one rotation. It was really incredible, and we watched the hot air balloon full of tourists go up and down. We walked to the huge wawel castle through preserved medieval streets from there and saw the fire breathing dragon statue; one of Krakow’s coolest stories in its history. On the way back to Kuba’s we grabbed one of the Krakow must-haves, the Zapiekanka, a hot baguette sandwich with mushrooms, fried onions, cheese, ketchup and tzaziki sauce and chives. SO GOOD. We met up with ┼üukasz (from the beginning of the story) at a cafe with little secret rooms and couches and furniture, and followed him to his flat and met his girlfriend and had coffee and conversation about the fashion show he was putting on in a few days.

Last day. Jenn and I were on our own again the next late-morning so we nervously went to a restaurant for lunch, and used our tiny bit of polish and got lunch. We went back to the cemetery and found the entrance and while the rain started to pour and the lightning cracked we stood huddled under my umbrella standing in the middle of the graveyard and taking it all in..

It cleared up and we went to the Wawel castle with Kuba. Krakow was starting to grow on me and it was already time to leave. We met up with Anna again to say thanks and bye and give hugs, and then left for the airport. Kuba had seriously underestimated the time it took to get there with trains and trams so we ended up getting to the airport 20 min before our flight. Somehow we got in easily using our “we’re going to cry a lot if you don’t let us in” faces, and flew to london spent the night in the aiport then finally on to frankfurt in the morning.

Minus the Kuba sitch and me being too nervous to form sentences like a normal native english speaker, Krakow was a really interesting place and completely different from the obvious “pretty” europe I’ve been used to. Its a really well preserved old town, and we couldn’t have gotten shown around town any better way.

Krakow: the “hidden jewel of europe”.