Wroclaw & Kraków

20 – 25 May

Our next destinations on our roadtrip through Central- and Eastern-Europe are two cities that promise quite some culture and history and we are curious to find out what else we will discover there…

The first one is Wroclaw (I still don’t know how to pronounce this name properly) where we meet our couchsurf-host Florian, a nice German guy who picked this city as his new home of choice. According to him, we are about to explore one of Poland’s nicest cities. During a first stroll around the beautiful center we quickly learn two things about this place. Firstly, it obviously is full of culture by means of pretty old buildings (houses, churches and a lovely city-hall). Throughout the centuries, there were times when it belonged to the Germans and others when it was part of Poland (like today). As a result, the city’s architecture is a remarkable mix of different influences.

However, all these pretty and colorful buildings have not always looked like they do now (back in the dark days of communism they were not quite as nicely painted and renovated) and this is the reason for the second thing we learn about Wroclaw: it is the city of dwarfs. At some point, a countless amount of little dwarf sculptures has been set up all over the city in order to memorize the protest against communism and to cheer up the people living here as well as the ones passing through. And it worked – and actually still does – at least when it comes to all the tourists that are trying to find these little fellas to take a photo of every single one of them…

Next to playing hide and seek with the dwarfs, Sami and I do some island hopping right here in Wroclaw. That is possible thanks to the Oder River that naturally creates a handful of small islands – one of them with a park, another with a church and all connected by little bridges that are only accessible for pedestrians and cyclists – and there are plenty of them on this sunny day. On our way back to the “mainland” we accidentally stumble across an old, large building that turns out to be the university, even though it feels more like a museum with some spacious rooms/halls decorated with incredible artworks on the walls and ceilings.

A three-hour drive further south-east, we hit the second city on the list – Kraków. Again, we have a couch to surf on waiting for us, this time at a place of a local couple, Tomek and Magda. They are funny and easy-going and even though they only have a tiny apartment and they are about to go on a trip themselves they have invited us to stay with them. Following their advice, the first thing we do in Kraków is to try a local street-food specialty called Zapiekanka. It basically is a long, toasted baguette that comes with various toppings like mushrooms, cheese, sauce other ingredients. It is fairly cheap and perfect after some drinks in the end of a night out in one of the city’s countless of “alko-holes”. Some of Krakóws most visited bars are even hidden underground (nowadays) due to several rebuildings of houses and streets. Once located at ground level they slowly but surely disappeared from the surface and thus turned into underground cellars over time.

After the energy boost we get from the Zapiekanka we start wandering around this very pretty city with its different neighborhoods, old churches, picturesque houses and a massive central square. The square is framed by restaurants and cafes as well as the St. Mary’s Basilica, one of Krakow’s landmarks. It has two towers that look completely different and our guide of the free-walking tour we join explains us that, according to a legend, the towers were built by two brothers. When the one with the smaller tower realized that his brother’s tower was a lot taller he got angry and murdered him. After that, the construction stopped and the size of the towers remains different ever since. Furthermore, the taller tower is venue of an hourly event that takes place every single day of the year. The windows in the top of the tower are opened and a trumpeter sends a trumpet signal in all four cardinal directions and waves his hands at the people watching him.

Tomek and Magda leave early in the morning on the day their vacation starts, however, we have arranged to meet up with Tomek’s sister later that day to exchange the keys, so that we can sleep in and take it easy in the morning – well, that is our idea at least. However, even before we are awake properly we suddenly hear someone entering the apartment asking us if we are ready to leave. This someone turns out to be Tomek’s sister who seems to be as confused as we are – something obviously went wrong with the communication… after a short phone call with Tomek the situation can be clarified though. While Tomek’s sister goes to university we turn around and sleep another hour and meet up with her in the afternoon. In the end of the day, we even hit some bars together and she introduces us to the local spirit – vodka – that is served in all sorts of different colors and flavors, before we say goodbye to Kraków and hit the road again…

2 thoughts on “Wroclaw & Kraków

  1. I don’t know if I ever told you the story of the Christmas night that I spent in Kraków. Everything was closed, so to get some dinner, I went to a five star hotel, as I knew that their guests would be eating a good Christmas meal. They were kind enough to let me into their restaurant and I had a fantastic meal and was able to keep warm, as it was snowing outside – my first (and only) White Christmas.

    1. Haha! You never told me that story but I love it and I can really picture it in my mind…
      White Christmas in Krakow – that sounds wonderful and magical!

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