After an extremely hot and emotional day at the Auschwitz and Birkenau camps, the whole Busabout group was ready for a much-needed mood-lift. The hour journey to Krakow was quiet and somber…understandable really, but it did give us chance to take in what we’d seen throughout the day and to rest for the night ahead. There was only one thing that could bring this group back to life…food and vodka! Guess what we got upto that night? ☺
After checking in at the Deco Hostel, a beautiful art deco hotel close to the heart of Krakow’s centre, we freshened up and headed out to explore this magical Polish city. Led by our guide to the Main Market Square in the Old Town, we saw first hand why this city is amongst the most visited in Eastern Europe.
Dating back to the 13th century, the medieval square is one of the largest in Europe and home to stunning historic palaces, churches and townhouses. Arriving early evening, we were greeted with a buzz of excitement as the locals and tourists hurried about their business before the night fell upon us. There was even some beautiful spotted horses – Dalmatian Horses I liked to call them – trotting up and down the square offering leisurely rides to passers-by. The whole square looked incredibly beautiful as the sun began to set. The impressive St Mary’s Basilica loomed over the crowds, the Town Hall Tower stood tall and proud, and the fascinating Cloth Hall took centre stage with its beautiful architecture. A lot to take in I think you’ll agree, but the exploring would have to wait until the following day. First task in Krakow…feeding our bellies.
Taking a side road off the square we found ourselves at the folkloristic Chlopskie Jadto Restaurant. Serving traditional Polish cuisine, this popular little establishment showcases 10th century Poland…peasant style. I realise that the word ‘peasant’ might not sound very appealing, but truthfully the place is great. Decorated with warming colours and rustic furniture, Chlopskie Jadto conveys the traditional folk themes Poland’s history is so famous for.
With the help of the restaurant staff, we navigated the menu looking for a Polish delicacy to try. My final choice was Perogy, delicious little dumplings filled with meat – I loved it! Also on the table was fresh bread to tuck into and a super tasty dip we were all coating the bread with. To our surprise this dip turned out to be lard. Yep that’s right…LARD. Apparently this lard spread, known as Smalec is another Polish delicacy. Did it put us off eating it I hear you ask? Hell no. We loved the lard. The Poles have been eating the stuff for generations, so after a quick debate, our table decided that the lard was acceptable to eat. What I wouldn’t give for a bit of bread and lard right now…ah Poland your food is GREAT!
To finish off a super meal with great company, we delved into the Vodka…Polish style. With a strong history in the white spirit, Poland’s finest vodkas are a must try when visiting Krakow. Three of my favourites from the night included Żubrówka (Bison grass vodka complete with an actual blade of grass), Soplica (hazelnut flavoured vodka goodness) and finally, Wyborowa (a well known popular Polish Vodka brand). When the vodka sampling was done and the good vibes were flowing, we hit the square for an outstanding pub-crawl! Visiting many bars and clubs surrounding the area, we got to see greatness that is Krakow’s nightlife. We drank, we danced, we drank some more and we danced again! The night was amazing and we met SO many different people from all over the world! Like-minded travellers, all out for a good night in the city of Krakow. Excellent!
Of course, no night out (no matter where you are in the world) is complete without a late night snack before bed. Stumbling across a small takeaway near one of the clubs we’d just fallen out of, we tried another Polish treat…Zapiekanki. Essentially just a halved giant baguette topped with cheese; it was however, the best post-drink feast we could of asked for! Well done Poland. I repeat…your food is GREAT.
After a top night out with tonnes of food and drink, there was only one thing left for us to do…sleep.
The next day we would be venturing out to explore the sights of Krakow on a leisurely bike tour. Find out if I handled this tour like a hangover pro or crumbled under the Polish sun in my next post!
Have you ever visited Poland? What foodie delights (or frights) did you discover?