The journey from Bratislava to Krakow was a very, very long one. It consisted of a 2 hour bus journey to the edge of the Czech Republic then a 5 hour bus journey to Krakow. The entire journey consisted of me and Emily slowly dehydrating in an effort to avoid using the one, incredibly smelly bus toilet (not recommended).
But finally at 9pm we made it to a very cold Krakow. After checking-in to our hostel we grabbed some dinner and crashed into bed.
From start to finish it was a day of contrasts. It was pouring with rain from the minute we woke up from our poor night sleep (hostels..) and didn’t stop the entire day. But while getting completely rain-sodden I was continually taken aback with the beauty of Krakow and the sheer amount of pastry/chocolate shops.
We walked and walked and walked. Exploring every area recommended to us by the receptionist at the hostel. From the old town and jewish quarter to the winding river and graffitied back streets.
We took ‘essential’ shelter in pastry shops throughout the day. At one point my coat was so wet and both my shoes were filled with puddles I had to use a radiator in one of the shops. While waiting for my clothing to get slightly less wet we chose our next destination- the Schindler museum. With a Trip Advisor score of 4.5/5 our hopes were high.
My biggest highlight of the museum trip was the free cloak room. The museum was extremely text heavy with information on literally every wall, but oddly there was only one room dedicated to Schindler himself. Due to the rain (and trip advisor score) the museum was very busy, and despite a visitor limit I still found it too busy and hard to take my time to absorb all the information.
Despite both the weather and museum I loved my first day in Krakow. The architecture is stunning, the city is buzzing with locals and tourists alike and there’s plenty of bars to keep you occupied in the evening.
Our second day in Krakow started at 6.45am. We had booked onto a tour of Auschwitz. The tour stared with a pick-up at a near by hotel- easier said than done. When no one came to pick us up in the lobby at the appointed time we decided to go looking for the coach ourselves- needless to say we almost missed the coach with our ‘exploring’.
The hour journey consisted of being introduced to our tour guide and watching a video giving a history of the two sections of the Auschwitz camps. It was hard but essential viewing to give substantial context to the day.
Overnight the rain had turned to snow and the temperature had dropped. As we stepped off the coach it was absolutely perishing, with a constant,brutal wind and temperature of -12 degrees. The tour of the two camps took three hours. It was a gruelling day learning of the horrors that took place in the very places we were standing. I was taught about concentration camps at school but being there in person creates a feeling like no other.
With the weather replicating that of the winters during the war it made it incomprehensible how anyone survived. It was a hard-hitting day but one I would recommend to visitors of Poland.
After being dropped off back in the centre of Krakow we took refuge in a restaurant to get out of the wind. After warming up we headed back to the hostel. Only problem was our keys didn’t work- we were now stuck out in what was now -14 degrees. Thankfully another resident at the hostel came down the stairs and opened the door from the inside- well tried too. Turns out the keys weren’t the problem- the lock on the door was broken. Long story short, we spent another 30 minutes in the freezing cold before being rescued by finding a back entrance to the hostel.
Our next and last stop is Prague, I am very excited as I’ve heard good things but wish we had more time in Krakow as its turned out to be real hidden gem!