It is when I travel that I realize how little we really know about our world and how much preconceived ideas we have received from the media over the years. The memories of the media's reporting from Poland when I was a child are relatively gray and sit quite strongly. Coal-fired power plant. The Soviet era. Vodka. Industries. But in the last 30 years, a lot has changed and today Poland is a completely different country, with thriving tourism and faith in the future. So, we simply felt it was time to go to Poland now. Specifically to Krakow. Yeah, I know – pretty late to the ball, isn't it? 🙂
Poland is a country that I really entered with open arms. Slightly naive and completely without expectations. That's when it's usually at its best! So, what surprised me the most on the trip? Before I start hammering away with posts about everything from sights to restaurants, here are 10 reflections from me - written directly on the flight home.
The first Krakow resident we meet, we meet 1 minute after we get out of the taxi upon arrival at the hotel. There is a very drunk (and a bit too close-minded) man begging for cigarettes outside our hotel's gate. He wasn't rude, but so riveted that I couldn't understand his English even when he tried to speak English. However, this turned out to be the one even drunken Poles we encountered throughout the trip. Most of the other drunk people we met on the trip were male Brits in groups (stags?).
Grocery store in Poland. We will buy water, juice, milk and wine. 1,80 for water, 25 for a bottle of wine. Quite expensive, I thought. 250 bucks for a bottle of wine? Then I found out that you don't have euros in Poland, but zlotys. Everything immediately became much cheaper! And we were again and again amazed at how cheap everything was. We found food/drinks and bus/tram tickets to be the cheapest. Clothes were almost the same price as back home in Sweden.
All attractions are closed on a public holiday in Poland. Even the castle in Krakow and the big shopping center were closed on All Saints' Day. So both tourists and Poles strolled around the streets and drank coffee at the outdoor cafes. Not too painful.
The food portions here in Poland are gigantic. There isn't a lunch or dinner we've had that we haven't rolled out of!
We had completely missed how popular it is to go to Krakow in the fall and hadn't pre-booked anything. Big fail. The queue for Schindler's factory was an hour long and the tickets for the salt mine sold out. We will simply have to go back here more times 🙂
Krakow airport is not only much fresher and more efficient than Arlanda, the lounge is also miles better than all of Arlanda's lounges. Arlanda must soon start thinking about the meaning of the expression "first impressions last".
McDonalds in Krakow has table service. Order the food from a vending machine, take a number plate and sit down at a table and the staff will bring your order. Really flexible!
It was very hot during the day - in fact the November sun offered +20 degrees in the middle of the day. I understand that it's probably not that hot usually in November, but it was truly divine!
There are white Polish wines that are really really good! I, who didn't even know that wine was produced in Poland, am childishly happy about the discovery!
Considering all that the Poles have been through in recent generations, it is perhaps not surprising that Poland proudly holds on to its traditions and culture. Poles are truly an incredibly lovely people who welcomed us tourists with open arms. Friendly, helpful, proud and with lots of humor!
Summary of the trip
But what did we think of the trip? We had 5 really good days in Krakow and the whole family loved Poland! The daughter probably loved the shopping the most, the husband and I loved the beautiful architecture and the historical places. The food and the restaurants we have eaten at have been first class and our aparthotel was super fresh. And the prices? I would say that on average they were almost half the price compared to in Sweden. Krakow might not be the first destination that comes to mind for a family with young children, but for a family with children of middle school age and up, Krakow had a lot to offer. So Poland - we'll be back!
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Have you been here? What did you think of the destination?
Travel blogger, gastronaut, photographer and family adventurer with over 55 countries in his luggage. Eva loves trips that include beautiful nature, hiking boots and well-cooked food. On the travel blog Rucksack she takes you to all corners of the world with the help of her inspiring pictures and texts.