Krakow / by Anthony Brooks

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I'm so freaking behind on blog posts. I've been so busy trying to see what I wanted to (both in cities and what those cities have to offer) and as a result, I've seriously neglected both my drawings and keeping anything blog related up to date. So, now that I'm in Belgrade, Serbia, I'm going back and getting things back up to speed!

 

Krakow. A place that wasn't on my list as nothing about it initially struck me as interesting. When I planned out a route back in May, I honestly ignored Poland altogether. It wasn't until I was in Turin, Italy at a friend of Luca's watching a football (soccer) game that I was given the suggestion of seeing Krakow if I was anywhere nearby. To be exact, I was told that Warsaw isn't worth seeing since most of it was destroyed and rebuilt within the past century and that Krakow is A-MAZING. Which led to me doing a quick google search and then adding it to my already tight-for-time schedule. 

 

The Polski Bus from Prague

Since I'm already being honest, I can say that Krakow and I have a very love-hate relationship. Their air quality is absolute garbage and by the second day there, I was sick. A migraine, hacking up a lung, sinuses so congested that I couldn't hear sort of sick. It was a miserable experience. Not to be deterred, I still went out with my host, Andra, to see the city as she was only free on the weekend and I wasn't about to waste a nice day. We went to see the castle, the old town, the old Jewish Ghetto, and some murals painted there. I hated to end it as I wanted to see it all, but I walked as far as I could with her before we stopped for some Zapiekankas and then I pleaded her to head back home (in my defense, we had been walking for the greater part of 8 hours and I felt like crap the entire time).

The following day was spent face-down in my bed trying not to think too hard. Because it freaking hurt. I did however get up long enough to go get some food (and take a photo of the lights/colors reflecting in the rain). 

Rainy Sunday Blues

 

The next day (a Monday), I wandered around the city a bit by myself and then met an extremely friendly and awesome person, Michalina. She and I went out for some pierogis in a hidden restaurant that was underground and ensured that you wouldn't be on your phone during dinner (there was no reception lol). She showed me some other places in the city and then we went to an event that Erasmus ran. There were people from all over the world and though I was still slightly sick, I ended up being out until around midnight (and I drew a random person and then gave them the drawing). Spoiler, I woke up the next day with no voice and a raw throat.

 

On Tuesday, Andra had to leave for a business trip so I dropped my bags off at Michalinas place and headed for Auschwitz for the day. I spent over 5 hours at Auschwitz I alone and didn't make it to the second camp or Birkenau. I will definitely go back the next time I'm in the area because I feel that history is extremely important and to take it in in person is much less superficial than simply reading about it. You absorb the pain, so to speak? For me, it felt even more real as I took the train there and it was a very smoggy/foggy day and it made the entire 2-hour ride feel ominous and evil.

Upon my return to Krakow, I went to the flat of another host, Ola. Initially, we had worked it out that I would stay for 3 days but that was before I knew and she remembered that there was a holiday that week. So she wasn't going to be in town for the second 2 nights... Anyways, though my sleeping mat, clothes, towel, and just about everything besides my camera were still at Michalina's, the night that I spent there was memorable. I met her friends, we had a lot to drink (and eat) thanks to "Polish Hospitality", played some Blind Man's Bluff, and then strummed away on ukuleles and a guitar until it was late and we were too tired to stay awake any longer. I woke up the next day feeling like crap again. Thanks a lot, alcohol. 

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The following day, I left fairly early as Ola had an early ride out of the city to her parents' house. As I still didn't have my big bag, I wandered the city a bit more. As my newest host, Monika wouldn't be home until ~15:30 and my day was free, I met up with a fun and interesting woman named Sandra. She was interested in art but didn't have a place to host. So I took advantage of the free time and we went to see some art before walking around the city for a couple of hours. Remember her as on my last day in Krakow, I joined her and some friends at a party. After hanging out with her, it was about time to go to my newest host's flat. I first went to the wrong building and rang the buzzer... Surprise, no answer. Then, I went to the right one, she buzzed me in, and when I got to the floor, two of the four doors didn't have any number on them. So I went with my first instinct. Which was wrong and the door of a very grumpy, old Polish man. This was okay as the other door without a number on it had laughter coming from behind it and sounded like fun. This was Monika's flat. She lived there with I think 4 other roommates? Possibly more, but that's all that I saw. They were laughing as they were drinking a bit and one of them was smacking a desk lamp to get it to work. Each time her hand came into contact with it, it would work and then immediately after contact was broken, it would turn back off. Spoiler, it wasn't screwed in all of the way. They were a lot of fun. Anyways, we ended up going out for some pizza before swinging by the school that they all went to so I could pick up the remainder of my belongings from Michalina. Monika also left for the holidays, but her roommates had agreed that since they were staying in town an extra day, I could remain there as well. As a quick footnote, I wish that we would have had more than a day to spend together (she's a big fan of doing things outdoors and we didn't have good weather/enough time to hike or do anything else, really). 

 

My last night in Krakow was the first in 2 months that I've needed to pay for accommodation. Money that I PROBABLY could have avoided spending altogether as I was only there for 4 or so hours. Why? Well, remember Sandra? Yeah, she had a party at her place and I went. It was quite fun and I remained there until 3 or 4 am... My bus left at 9 am. I barely slept, my arms were still covered in the drawn-on tattoos from the night before (I'll include some photos), and I didn't have any chances to shower before leaving/arriving in Budapest. It was a memorable night and I had a ton of fun. 

 

What I liked about Krakow: The architecture and people/their friendliness.

What I hated: The air quality. It was literally THE WORST.