It was my third time in Krakow but, for random reasons, in my previous visits I had not really fall in love for the city. But this time was different! This time I almost entirely skip the old town (impressive but very touristy) and got myself lost on what was once the biggest centre of Jewish life in the whole Europe: the neighborhood of Kazimierz, and it was awesome!
Kazimierz has it all: the run down glamour of Budapest, the outside warmed up bars like you are in Paris, the local feeling of Barcelona old barrios and the history of… Europe. (discloser: going to Kazimierz does not replace proper trips to the mentioned cities!)
The funny thing is that the very first feeling this time wasn’t the best too. After six hours of travelling from Prague, Ola and I arrived to Krakow and it was pouring; it took us ten minutes walking under the rain to find the tram stop we wanted. But this was the first and last thing that did not go well during this weekend. One hour after us, Piotr and Ania (Ola’s brother and his pregnant wife) arrived from Gdansk and we could get the party started. Instead of going out and partying like the old days, we played a lot of board games (fun for four) and drank a lot of beer (fun just for three, in this case). We discovered a nice place with an impressive board game library and a decent beer choice and became frequent clients (for the weekend!)
Apart from the board game/bar hopping, we also had some good food. Ola found a little truck food yard that offered some nice stuff and, on other morning, we might have had one of the best breakfast from this year in Hamsa (not surprisingly, a Jewish restaurant). We wandered around the neighborhood, checked a flea market that stopped sometime in nineties and got lost in the little streets (while trying to avoid the tourist touts that, for once, were a bit annoying).
But, ok, we did not spend three days within Kazimierz. On the rainy Saturday evening (after a walk around the city, and some board games at our new favourite place), we crossed the Wisła via the new and pretty Kładka Bernatka bridge and admired (just from the outside) the Cricoteka*. On Sunday we went to Wieliczka salt mine where we did a tour… in Polish! Even thou my Polish needs a bit of an improvement, I still enjoyed a lot the ten kilometers (and about 90 floors) underground walk where we explored impressive chambers: some of them are high as cathedrals, others were flooded due to mining creating some good opportunities for pictures (if only I had talent for it!). However, the majority of the chambers was carved into chapels (were we not in Poland, eh?); of course, that even Karol Wojtyła was carved in rock salt!
For our last hours, we did what we always like to do when we are in Poland: grocery shopping. Why did the market in Krakow seemed to be in a different season than Tržnice here in Prague? We also bought some nice bread! To finish on a high note, we went for the ultimate Polish experience: lunch at a bar mleczny that had a queue until the door (well, the place had just six tables!), but had the best pierogi ruskie I ate in quite some time (for about one euro!) And that is all I need to be happy =)
And, that’s more or less it; the report of a weekend well spent. Now that Ryanair will fly from Prague to Krakow, maybe I will lose myself again in Kazimierz soon!
* If you are asking what the hell is a cricoteka, you are not the only one! It is an art and documentation centre created by Tadeusz Kantor**
** Yes, I know, you are probably asking who is Tadeusz Kantor… He was an artist and theatre director that had a group called Cricot 2. Unfortunatelly we did not go to the museum, so I cannot tell you more; let me know if you visited!
P.S.: Vintage looking-zenith pictures will be uploaded shortly too!