A week in Kraków

Last summer, I had the most extraordinary and humbling holiday I’ve ever been on. The idea was that my brother Ned and I would travel to Kraków in Poland with our Babcia and Grandad in order to experience some of our family’s heritage first hand (Babcia is Polish) and also provide some youthful assistance (the perils of old age do not lend themselves to carrying suitcases or sorting out emails containing boarding passes).

As much as I tried not to, I definitely flipped the grandparent, granddaughter role upside down and knowingly spent the holiday being miss bossy pants as I organised and took full control of our way through airports and day trips (sorry Ned!). Regardless, I’ve since been thanked for making the holiday less stressful, which I hope made up for the practicalities and inbuilt need I have to lead the way.


After a crazily stressful fortnight at work before I went to Poland, it has equally been very busy since coming back, hence why I haven’t actually looked through all of the photos yet and why I’m only blogging about it now, months after. Still, I’m hoping to show you the sights and delights that Kraków had to offer as both Ned and I were very pleasantly surprised by the difference between our prior expectations and the reality of the city.

If I’m honest I was really looking forward to the holiday and exploring places I’ve heard stories about my entire life, but had also assumed it would be quite a desolate war torn country still rebuilding since a generation of suffering. How wrong could I be? Kraków was beautiful, with every building a contrast to the next, everywhere you looked with impressive architecture, copper roofs and glorious churches. Although touristy (and sadly the British stag parties were by far the worst) the locals were happy and welcoming and especially enjoyed the fact that Babcia is fluent Polish and absolutely loved speaking her mother tongue, which particularly helped in some situations.


We ate some fantastic food, visited some really interesting places including the salt mines, Auschwitz and the mountains in Zakopane and wondered our way through winding streets filled with local delicacies, touristy knick knacks and traditional Polish goods. One afternoon we were lucky enough to stumble across a stage with traditional musicians and choirs and on our last evening we also were treated to seats at La Traviata (which as uncultured and ungrateful as I might sound, as it was sung in Italian with subtitles in Polish, I found a bit too ear splitting and confusing during the long solos as although the lead soprano had an incredible voice, she didn’t half warble on in some sections and without understanding what she was saying you kind of missed the point.) Still, my grandparents absolutely loved it, so seeing their joy made it much more enjoyable for me too.


Overall the holiday was very different to any I’ve been on before. It humbled me to take each visit at the pace of an 80 year old who fought continuously between his pride and his pain, realising possibly for the first time that my grandparents were getting old, and this would likely be their last ever visit. Ned and I had each other and fully embraced the days where we visited the more touristy attractions on our own, walking at an extra fast past in order to see as much as possible, not worrying about always eating at decent restaurants and being able to roam without stopping for breaks. At the same time, I am also very lucky to have had the opportunity to visit somewhere so special with both of them, something that I will hold onto forever. I can’t ever remember spending a whole week in their company and through the occasional difficulty, Grandad’s tumble into the hotel lobby and the terrifying moment Babcia choked on her dinner, I’m so pleased that I embraced the experience whilst I still had the chance.


Today’s post is the start of a few I am planning to write, as the hundreds (quite possibly thousands in reality) of photos I took have taken me an age to sort through, and I’m still nowhere near done! Kraków captured my joy and imagination for travel, and I know it’s somewhere I will definitely return to!


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