Saturday morning came and the six of us crawled from our beds dishevelled and hungover. Hilarious tales of the night before were retold, hairbrushes teased through tangled hair and makeup application resembled that of plastering in desperate attempts to disguise our deepened eye bags. We emerged from our apartment into dazzling sunshine and squinted blindly towards the main square. It’s therefore hardly surprising that the breakfast spot of choice was one which not only served a full English but was also dark and dingy. Strangely the Mamma Mia soundtrack played in the background rather than a gravelly rumble of jazz but we later found out that this was fairly common (it was the boarding music on both of our flights). Who would have thought that the Poles were quite so fond of Swedish dancing queens?
Feeling slightly more human and slightly more able to put one foot in front of another we set out on our day of exploration. Guidebook, map and camera in hand we headed in the direction of the castle.The square looked beautiful in the crisp sunshine with the most text book blue sky. Horses trotted round on the cobbles spirits were just as high as their plumes.
Academic sorts may have admired the castle and cathedral and compared their architecture with that of other European cities, or placed them in some sort of historical context, but we thought they bore closest resemblance to Far Far Away in Shrek.
Leaving Lord Farquaad, Donkey and jokes aside, we went in search for a slightly less fairtytale-esque part of the City. Often it is the least expected and least obvious places that you find the most charm so it is always worth heading off the beaten track. We walked towards the Jewish quarter – the site of the World War Two ghetto, an area that was used as an enforced enclosure for the Jews who were allowed to stay in the city. Having done Auschwitz the day before we had the background and context and it was poignant reminder of Poland’s history… It’s not just a case of just leaving all the harrowing home truths at Auschwitz, evidence of persecution is interwoven in the city’s fabric.
Having packed for minus temperatures we were starting to roast in the glorious sunshine and in need of shedding a few layers as well as more drinks having chosen to adopt the ‘hair of the dog’ philosophy. A floating bar and restaurant was the target.
On the menu spectacular polish hot chocolates were the obvious choice but their arrival planted the first seed of doubt that they may not quite live up to expectations. Dense Angel Delight floating on what was described by the girls as “flubber” and “alien poo” was not quite what we had in mind when ordering the After Eight hot chocolate. In what could be credited as an act of pure bravery these intriguing concoctions were tasted. It is safe to say they scored equally low on taste as they did on appearance. If these disastrous hot chocolates weren’t enough to laugh about, dub step music started to blair out of the speakers with comic timing and reduced us all to giggles of amusement. What we thought would be a sophisticated river boat experience slowly spiralled into one of clashing Anglo-Pole tastes.
Making a swift exit we hopped across the bridge to continue exploring the Jewish quarter.
Whilst Charlie went to Mocak with sketch book and pencil at the ready, the rest of us headed to Schindler’s factory (the Schindler from Schindler’s List) where there is now a museum. Both are walking distance from the city centre. I really didn’t rate Schindler’s Factory, due partly to lack of any real information about Schindler himself, and partly to the fact that it was a like a museum pumped up on steroids. Props, rumble floors, dark tunnels, revolving displays and sound effects, the museum was a bit too over the top and claustrophobic. If you are in Krakow for just a short weekend then I would recommend just sticking with Auschwitz.
As we strolled back towards the city centre the sun began to creep back towards the horizon and our thoughts turned to our tummies. We decided to go all-out and book a fancy restaurant for dinner. When I say “all-out” it is still very affordable compared to the London equivalents. We chose Wierzynck and despite going quite late in the evening it was reasonably quiet, but when you are a group of six chatty girls then this is sometimes a good thing!
With such an incredible menu, no holds barred and we had four courses of the richest most Polish-sounding cuisine. Chicken liver pâté, lentil dumplings, deer tartare, wild boar shin, duck and the most delectable desserts were just a few of the dishes relished over our three hour sitting. The presentation was beautiful, the food was by and large was delicious and it was the most perfect place to toast to our Polish weekend of culture, laughter and gastronomy (and cost just £35 a head).
Too full to indulge in another night of shameless dancing we headed back across the square to our apartment where wine and sleep beckoned.