14 December 2010

Kold in Kraków

How should I describe Kraków, Poland? On the particular weekend of our visit it was COLD. A cold that burns your face and calls for a double layer of socks, pants, and scarves. Snow swirling in the atmosphere enveloped the city in an eerie haze, concealing the tip tops of Corpus Christi Church and the Wawel Castle. About every 20 minutes we popped into Ciasteczka z Krakowa, which became our favorite café, to thaw out and caffeine up.

Despite the snow and cold, people were out and about as on a beautiful spring day. Older women and men stood behind Polish bagel stands all day looking unfazed, and rather preserved.  The Christmas market was bustling with tourists and AMAZING FOOD- pierogi, potatoes, kielbasa, hot wine, and other warm Polish staples.

We spend a lot of time in the Kazimierz area, or the Krakow Jewish Quarter. There's something cool to see in every alleyway and square. It seemed to be a great place to find Polish nightlife. The ambiance and people found here reminded me of the Kreuzberg neighborhood in Berlin- young, chic, and willingly changing with the times. Pubs are around ever corner and Polish wódka or VODKA is a promising way to forget about the cold. I don't usually like vodka but I really enjoyed the famous honey vodka... and the herb vodka... and the mint vodka...

Moving right along. RELIGION was much more present than in Prague, even though both were communist for a time. Pope John Paul II, the first and only Slavic pope, has had a big influence especially in the southern region near his hometown. I willingly payed 6zl ($2) to take a peek inside what I think is the most beautiful church I've ever seen: St. Mary's Basilica. The inside isn't the usual concrete drab, it's an explosion of blue, red, and gold. At the time we went there might have even been more people praying than there were touring.

The Polish are serious about religion. There is a famous salt mine nearby where miners built an underground cathedral. Everything in the cathedral is made of (black) salt right down to the chandelier. This is somewhere I'd like to visit if I return in a warmer month. Yes, in the spring I would definitely consider returning for a longer visit in Poland to soak up a bit more culture in this large country bordering the CR to the north.


  1. Glad you enjoyed Krakow. Sorry it was so "kold" but I think you captured the essence of cafe life in the winter with your candle photo. You will have to come back in the summertime. It's the best time of year to see Poland and Krakow especially (but the hot wine or chocolate won't be as good). Enjoy Prague.