Krakow was our second destination in Poland after Warsaw.
We were more than a week into our Europe Backpacking trip and had mixed feelings. We had started the trip from Tallinn which is nothing short of postcard. After Tallinn, we visited Riga and Vilnius before reaching Warsaw in Poland. Warsaw gave us our first experience of being fleeced of money, among other memorable experiences, which made us careful while dealing with cab drivers and shopkeepers. We were learning at each step. With every new city, we were getting close to the end of our trip and that wasn’t a very good feeling, so we tried not thinking about it.
Warsaw to Krakow Journey
Getting back to Krakow, we were looking forward to this city and the experiences that we missed in Warsaw, namely Visiting Auschwitz and Salt Mines but that was for the second day of Krakow. First, we wanted to explore Krakow.
We had started from Warsaw early in the morning by Polski Bus and reached Krakow by Afternoon. The bus was nice, but we were missing the Ecolines Bus, TV and its Coffee machine. Luckily there was the working WC.
It was a pleasant journey with a picturesque countryside. After the last two overnight journeys to Vilnius and Warsaw, early morning travel was a welcome change.
Krakow Bus Station to Sobieski Apartments
Once we reached Krakow, we first got Euros converted in local currency. Even though it is a part of EU, Poland doesn’t accept Euro easily and thus its very difficult to deal with smaller places, such as using WC. After that, we booked a cab through Uber to reach our apartment in Old Town. After the Warsaw incident of being fleeced of money by a cab driver, we didn’t want to take any chances. But we didn’t know there are two exits to the bus station and Uber cabs are not allowed on the side we were standing.
After waiting for the cab and then explaining to the cab driver where we are standing with no success, he only came looking for us walking. And that is when he told us that Uber and such private cabs are not allowed on this side of the station because it affects the business of the cab drivers who are waiting for passengers and would charge exorbitantly high.
Can I tell you guys that the cab driver was quite a handsome guy and drove an SUV and he carried our big Bags like they were feather-light. He pulled two bags at the same time. And once we shared the address, he ensured we reach the location safe and sound.
The cab didn’t go till our apartment so, he parked the car and walked with us and dropped us till the apartment. It was quite heartening to see someone going extra mile and ensuring the comfort of travellers in the city… what a contrast from the Warsaw experience.
As we reached Sobieski apartment, the owner was waiting to receive us and give the keys. He showed us around, gave us the Wi-fi Password, very important in foreign land, gave instructions about locking of apartment and floor gates. The apartment building had an old-world feel with broad wooden steps and café on the way.
It was a quaint apartment, done up quite nicely by owner’s daughter. It had lot of artifacts, one being a table fan. We were very happy to see the table fan or rather a fan after so many days.
In Europe till now, all we had seen were ACs and heaters. And in fact, Table fan was all we needed in Krakow weather. Afternoons were very hot but switching on AC would make the room unbearably cold soon, so table fan was just right.
Old Town Main Sqaure
After putting our bags, we decided to go for lunch and take a round of the place trying to figure out what all can be done. For lunch, two of us had icecream and coffee, but vegan friends went around looking for a proper meal. The Old Town Main Square was being set up for a cultural programme in the evening.
Back to Apartment
After the lunch, we went back to the cute little apartment and spent some time there. The view from the balcony was nice as there was constant movement of people and also gave a top-angle view of the Old Town.
Once rested, it was time to explore the city further. We decided to take a round of the old town and get to know the city better. Therefore, we decided to take a guided tour of Krakow in an Eco-taxi rather than walking of the city. Walking tours were limited to Old Town and areas around it.
Eco Tour of Krakow
Here, we got to see various parts of Krakow which we wouldn’t have walked otherwise.
The tour included areas such as old town, Jewish quarter, ghetto and a stopover at Schindlers factory.
The recorded commentary was well timed and very intelligently scripted with lot of information in limited time. A street performance was going on in Jewish Quarter when we reached, so that was a bonus.
The girl driving our taxi was a young student from outside Krakow and suggested few nice but budget eating joints around Old Town. Two such recommendations were Glonojad restaurant and Rutojava restaurant.
Back to Main Square in Old Town
After coming back, we booked a tour to Auschwitz for the next day, which was on my must-visit list from the beginning of the trip. Out of 4, two of us booked as the others wanted to spend more time in Krakow and re-visit some of the places from the Eco-taxi tour.
We went to Rutojava after the tour for a beer but ended up having full meal. And we were glad to go with the recommendation of the female cab driver as the food was quite nice.
After that we went to shopping area right in the centre of the old town square. There were some nice accessories, souvenirs and gift items.
Strangely, while we were walking towards the shopping arcade, a woman walked up to us and asked if we are from India. On confirming this, she first praised India and then asked for money. When we refused, she demanded an explanation and got angry when we walked away.
After walking around a bit, buying souvenirs and exploring the place little more, we came back to the apartment.
Night Life of Krakow
At night, we went down again for a stroll and icecream. These are perks of staying right in the hub where action is. While walking around earlier, we had spotted some really interesting flavours of icecream, including vegan icecreams, and they seemed to be calling us.
Also, there was some interesting music that we could hear, so decided to check that out as well. We went down and bought the icecream first because shops had started closing and then came to the town hall square where a busking event was going on. A young girl was playing a beautiful song on violin.
We also became a part of the gathering and when the performance drew to a close, we tipped her along with rest of the audience.
Around the square, people had just gathered at different spots and were jamming and dancing in smaller groups. The air of Krakow suddenly had a different feel – youthful and musical.
In the town hall square, there was a huge mask which was lying sideways. It was so big that we could go inside it and so we went and clicked pictures through its nose, eyes, ears and mouth.
After enjoying the musical and fun Krakow, we decided to go back to our apartment, but how can a day end without a group picture.
Time for a Selfie
So, we saw a couple walking around and asked them to…. And before we could say any further, he completed the sentence… took our mobile, clicked few pictures from different angles, thanked us and left. Woah, what did just happen.
And that was a memorable end to day 1 but the music continued late into night, like 2 am. Every time, any of us woke up any time at night, we could hear music.
Krakow was turning out be the hidden gem of Krakow and we had no idea it will turn out so interesting… and mind you its just day 1 and half of the trip- the one planned back home was still pending. we were looking forward to day two, and so are you. Right!