Tuesday, January 10, 2012

My first solotrip in Poland: Krakow

Thousands of football fans from the Netherlands will be taken over the city of Krakow this summer. At least, that's what is expected, since the Dutch football team will be training here and also rest in a luxious hotel. No matches will be played in Krakow, but since the city is very interesting for tourists and it's way closer to Holland than the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, where Holland will play. So there will probably be a lot of Dutch supporters coming to the old capital of Poland. Not only the Dutch team, but also the English and the Italian team chose Krakow as their residence, so it will be extremely crowded with supporters this summer. Before all the football fans take over the city, I decided to take a look and explore Krakow for myself, since every Pole keeps telling me that it's one of the most beautiful cities Poland has to offer.

Horse carriage on the Rynek.
St. Mary church and a horse carriage on Rynek
So that's what I did: a few days after New Years I took a small, but comfortable bus that would  take me in four hours from Wrocław to Kraków. I was a little bit stressed, since it was long ago I travelled by myself, apart from flying back and forth between Poland and Holland. This summer I did a few traintrips alone, but then I knew that at my destination Bartek will be there waiting for me at the station, or my travelmates from the travelprogram I was in. Now I went to Krakow alone, without anyone to meet there, since I did not had any contacts in the city yet. So it was my first real solotrip in Poland.

I wasn't really worried about the fact I was travelling alone, I would stay in a hostel in the old historic center of Krakow, with a view on Rynek, the market square. The best thing about sleeping in hostels, in my opinion, is that you can meet a lot of different people quite easily. They come from all over the world, but also from different cities in Poland, so I could extend my network of Poles. The bustrip was okay and went smoothly. I don't know this part of Poland that well, so it went pretty fast because I could look out of the big windows to all that we passed by next to the road: I saw some hills, a lot of churches, small villages with cute little houses, half-demolished buildings which seem to be in this state for years already and lots, lots, lots of industrial buildings, the less beautiful part of Poland, so to speak.

When I arrived in Krakow, I tried to find my way to the hostel. After twenty minutes of walking I stood on the market square, surrounded by beautifully lit historic buildings. My hostel was also situated at this great location, I checked in and was brought to my room. I knew that I would stay in an 8-person dormroom and I was very curious to who my roommates would be. I had my hopes up that it would be nice Polish people, so I could extend my network and practice the Polish language at the same time.

The receptionist opened the door to the room and said with a big smile: "Look at this, you've got the whole room for yourself! Isn't that great?" A bit disappointed I asked her: "There is really no one else?" and she answered: "No, it's after New Years, everyone left already, there are only 6 other people staying at the hostel right now." So that's where my plan to meet a lot of great people kind of fell apart, I would have to spend most of the coming days alone. Too bad, but okay, it's such a beautiful city, I can enjoy myself here anyway, with or without people to share it with. After looking out of the window to the beautiful square for a while, I decided to explore Stare Miasto, the old town of Krakow. Read more about this in my next blogpost.

If you want to see more pictures of my trip to Krakow, click here.

Krakow by night
View from my hostelroom on cloth Hall at Rynek