After a long journey from Asia via the Trans-Siberian Railroad, I arrived in my first strictly European country and new home for the next four years: Poland! When my plane touched down on the first of September, it was blistering hot. And so ended summer because ever since, it’s been full-on autumn over here.
Nestled along the Vistula River in southern Poland is the old capital and my new home, Krakow. Like most of Europe, the city is rife with history and culture. Despite having survived multiple occupations and regimes, at its core it is very distinct. At the center is the Market Square which boasts Europe’s largest covered medieval market. The square is ringed by many cathedrals, restaurants, and of course, pubs. What would you expect from the city with the highest number of pubs per square kilometer? The most famous cathedral is St. Mary’s which marks the hours with trumpets instead of bells.
Near the square is the iconic Wawel castle perched atop the hill of the same name which in legend once was home to a dragon. The beast has since been tricked into drinking itself to death in the Vistula so don’t be afraid to explore. South of the market square is Kazimierz, the traditional Jewish Quarter. Named after one of Poland’s kings, this area has many synogogues, churchs, as well as museums, restaurants and, of course, more pubs. The film Schindler’s List did much filming in this area, though Schindler’s actual factory is across the river in a different area.
As you move outward from the center, the city becomes more modern. In the northeast parts, you can see much communist influence in the architecture. Across the Vistula you find many new buildings and trendy areas.
All in all,
Krakow is a great city to eat and drink yourself silly after exploring its rich and varied history. I have yet to explore any other part of Poland, since I’ve been spending most of my time getting established here. I’m glad that this charming city is my home to come home to after my other adventures. Look for more posts about Poland and other European countries soon. The next stop: Germany!