What happened in Kraków

What happened in Kraków

After Wrocław we took the train to Kraków. Kraków was cold. That did mean, however, that the clouds cleared and snow started to fall.  

I don’t always like snow. I like snow when you can ski on it, or have the time to make a snowman and have a snowball fight, followed by an indoor hot chocolate to warm up.

Snow when you have to go to work is a whole different snowball game (I’m so lame, I’m sorry). Especially in the UK. An inch of snow and everything becomes chaos. Trains stop running. Schools close. Food runs low and children run wild, until we eventually bow to the higher power and recognise the squirrels as our leaders. I’m serious. Snow days are wild in England. 

But holiday snow is fun. There’s no fixed commute to be disrupted or set plans to go awry. We woke up, it was solidly in the negative degrees and there was snow everywhere with a clear blue sky. These are the days when I like winter, though my toes disagreed with me pretty strongly by the afternoon.

After a pancake breakfast, Jake, Alinka and I split off from Jake’s parents to head over to Kraków’s castle complex, Wawel, containing both the Royal Castle and the Royal Cathedral.

Jake and Linky were very patient as I dragged out the walk with endless snowy snaps. But guys – snow on trees, diamond glints all over the fresh snow, footprints pressed into the powder. It was too good to miss for a reasonable walking pace. The centuries old castle would still be there if we arrived ten minutes later than planned. After two days of clouds and the prospect of heavy editing in my future, Kraków covered in a fresh dusting was a dream. The whole day was characterised by me trying not to lose the rest of the group while also trying to give these photos the patience they deserved.

After taking a great snow picture I was then confronted with having to run in the snow in order to catch up with everyone. Art is risky, guys – but I only fell once and nobody saw.

It was a great morning to head up to the castle complex, as it’s situated on a limestone outcrop overlooking the city. As we walked up toward the castle, I looked around.

“It’s very snowska this morning.”

“You know that’s not a Polish word, right?”

“Of course I do. But still, it’s very snowska.”

Turns out the critical mass of vocab I need in a new language before I feel comfortable bastardising it with made-up words for my own entertainment is about twelve words. I pity any child that learns English from me in the future. 

Along with looking around the state rooms of the castle, we also climbed the bell tower of the Royal Cathedral, where Jake regaled us with stories of the times the bell has been rung. The dude likes big bells and he cannot lie. I am perfecting my “that’s so interesting” response that always earns me an unimpressed glare. 

View from the bell tower
Feeling smug after pelting us with snowballs
Who’s smug now, sucker?

In general, our time in Kraków was spent in the typical fashion: at the stained glass museum, sitting on decommissioned trams in the museum of municipal engineering and having afternoon tea in a convent. What, that isn’t how you would spend a weekend in Poland? Weird.

It was cold. When we left on Sunday evening, it was -8C. That’s like, nipple-freezing temperatures. Good thing I brought my thermal bra (just kidding, though hello new business idea). So yeah, some of our plans to walk around were usurped by the weather and replaced with indoor activities like stained glass workshop tours (surprisingly awesome) and a bookshop-café hybrid (unsurprisingly awesome). Also mulled wine stops. For the core temperature, of course. 

We finished up back in the old square, the hub of any old European city. We’d criss-crossed through the square at various points throughout the weekend, dipping into St Mary’s Basilica to both avoid the cold and marvel at how much gold it cost the Catholics to get into God’s good books, followed up by another oscypek hit. Also, churros, that classic Polish delicacy. Some delicious items must transcend cultural authenticity. Regardless of which city I’m in, if I ever turn down a churro, you’ll know that I’ve gone to the bad place.

Oscypek: Poland’s greatest triumph

Although the snow had made the whole day somewhat more atmospheric than our previous day in Polska, the lights still made the evening the most picturesque time. Also Kraków is full of actual horses pulling actual carriages, so it might be the 1800s, just with waffles and iPhone selfies. It’s almost a joke how much it is what I imagine Americans think Christmas in Europe looks like. It could be the setting for the classic scene in every heartwarming bad Netflix Christmas film, where the prince and the commoner give out presents at the orphanage and the prince realises those weirds feelings in his stomach weren’t just indigestion but also emotions.

Just as the temperatures really started to plummet, and the wool coat on top of the down jacket, which was on top of the fleece, which was donned over a t-shirt, was no longer adequate for warmth, we ducked into a restaurant for our final Polish fare. I haven’t mentioned the food that much, but that’s only because I feel I need a whole post to explore how things that are so beige are so delicious.

A white pre-Christmas. Very snowska! Dziękuję Polska (that bit’s right. I have learned something).

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