We survived our last overnight train, hallelujah! After 8 excruciating hours in our “super comfortable” couchettes, we finally touched down on Polish soil. I’m going to be honest, when Maggie suggested going to Poland for a few days I wasn’t very thrilled. I knew absolutely nothing about Poland and never heard any stories of people visiting Krakow. Since day one of our trip, every single person we’ve met who has visited Krakow has raving reviews and after visiting myself I can’t blame them.
I said it before and I’ll say it again, Krakow was the biggest underdog of our trip. Every other place we went/are going we knew/know exactly what to expect. In Krakow we knew nothing, well other than the fact that we were going to gain 15 pounds from shoveling pierogies in our mouths.
We checked into the Little Havana Party Hostel around 7 a.m. and slept on the couches for a good two hours until our trip to Auschwitz was departing. As I’m sure you could guess from the name, Little Havana was one big party. The bottom floor of the hostel has a popular local bar and inside the hostel there was a “Little Havana” bar. The employees walk around with trays of shots during all hours of the night and they better NOT catch you sleeping. One of our roommates was still snoozing when they came in the first night and they pried open his mouth as they force-fed him a shot. The hostel gave us two free breakfast passes, free beer cards and a free burger card from the downstairs restaurant Papitos. The rooms were no disappointment either, they were clean and had the perfect amount of privacy from our other roommates. Our favorite part about this hostel by far, however, was the hostel dog, Frodo! We all miss our pets so much and being able to have this little guy wandering around brought a lot of joy to our hearts.
A month prior to staying at Little Havana we booked a trip to Auschwitz. The trip cost us around $38 including transportation, entry fee and a paid tour guide. It’s much cheaper to venture to Auschwitz without a tour guide or transportation, but where’s the educational value in that? The tour itself was around 5 hours long and very informative. Our tour guide has been running these tours at Auschwitz for over 25 years now. We started at Auschwitz and ended our tour at Birkenau.
Auschwitz was an extremely emotional experience for me. I learned so much about Auschwitz in school but seeing the concentration camps in person was a whole different ball game. As you tour the facility you see the luggage, shoes, hair and pictures of prisoners that were found during the liberation of the camps. It was a very emotionally moving experience being able to slightly grasp the intensity of living in these camps. I have an even bigger respect for survivors of Auschwitz than I did before and even though I’ve already done the tour once, I would go back in a heartbeat.
After our trip to Auschwitz, we went for dinner at Resauracja Karmela. I had the white borscht soup and meat pierogies covered in grilled onions and butter. YUM! The white borscht soup is a sour soup with polish sausage and hard-boiled eggs. It sounds extremely disgusting, but I can assure you, it is fantastic! I have to say for just walking down the street and choosing a random restaurant, we did pretty damn well.
After eating ourselves into a coma, we took a nap then decided to check out Krakow’s bar scene. If it were anything like our hostel, we were assured it would be pretty crazy.
Every night the Little Havana staff organizes a bar crawl for around $12. The bar crawl includes an hour of free drinking at the hostel, free entry into 3 main clubs/bars and a free shot at each place you go. We accidentally stumbled upon this bar crawl our first night out and were able to skip the line at two big clubs in Krakow, Prozac 2.0 and Lokal. Prozac was actually a club my sister recommended to me before coming to Poland and I definitely got to see why. Prozac was a techno dance club with predominantly all local Polish people, while Lokal had more of a disco feel and many tourists. We had a blast at both despite their extreme differences and probably would’ve gone back to both the next night had we not been so hungover.
The night ended with Bianca tearing through the streets of Poland at 3:30 a.m. on a mission to find her and Maggie kebabs. At the same time, Maggie finding a random pair of shoes in her bed, a key card that didn’t belong to our room and 10 PLN. After the kebabs were eaten and remnants were scattered all over our dormitory floor I found Bianca in the stairwell running around in her Cubs shirt screaming about their entry into the World Series. The night sure went off with a bang, but hey at least we got a new pair of shoes and found 10 PLN. It’s the little things.
Day two in Poland we ate way more pierogies and went on a free walking tour all throughout Krakow. Since we were too hungover to make the early tour we started the day at Czarna Kaczka, The Black Duck. This Polish restaurant was a little different from the night before, because it had oven roasted pierogies. What’s the best thing for a hangover? Fried food. Now we couldn’t have that but oven roasted is close enough, so I ordered 12. The oven roasted pierogies were pretty great, but I must say I’m a bigger fan of the traditional ones.
Around 4 p.m. we made our way to St. Mary’s Basilica to start our free tour. Our tour guide was awesome, as they always are on Sandeman tours. The main sights we got to explore were St. Mary’s Basilica, Barbican, Slowacki Theatre, Town Hall, Cloth Hall, Franciscan Church, John Paul II’s Window and Wawel (The Royal Castle). Unfortunately, the sun set halfway through our tour so my pictures of our tour are severely lacking.
Embarrassingly enough, we worked up an appetite, yet again and went to dinner following our tour. We found a typical Polish restaurant called Goscinna Castle on TripAdvisor. This restaurant was our favorite by far. We had typical Polish foods during our entire stay, but from the atmosphere to the wait staff, Goscinna Castle was everything we wanted and much more. I tried the white borscht soup here as well which came in a bread bowl and one last order of Russian style pierogies. For whatever reason after cleaning both plates, I still had room for dessert. Maggie and I ordered the chocolate pear dessert that was accompanied with vanilla ice cream and a cherry sauce. Normally I’m an all chocolate everything gal, but I think this chocolate pear, ice cream combo might have changed my life forever.
I spent the remainder of the night in my room shoving my 40 items of clothing in my two little packing cubes in hopes that I would be able to get my backpack closed once more. It seems as if this task keeps getting more and more difficult even though I haven’t bought one single article of clothing on this trip. After an hour I somehow managed to make it work and started prepping for the Netherlands.
Two days in Poland absolutely wasn’t enough for our liking. This seems to be a common theme here, but that’s what happens when you only have a little amount of time and such big dreams. For pierogi and pants fitting purposes, it’s probably best that we left after only two days though. Next, we will be heading to Amsterdam to see what this infamous city is all about. I can’t wait to experience such a different style of living.
Thanks for the endless supply of dumplings, Krakow, you’re truly the MVP.