Snapshot memories is a new weekly series, giving a visual glimpse into different destinations and unique ways to view them. It’s also a way for me to look back on travels that occurred before and after I started this blog, and to give each place I’ve traveled the attention it deserves.
This week my memories go back to Krakow.
I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect with Krakow, or Poland as a whole. It’s a country I didn’t know much about, and I knew it would be a profound one to visit with Birkenau and Auschwitz within its bounds.
After coming straight from Budapest, I guess I was expecting much of the same: a divided country with many ghosts from the past.
I was completely surprised by what I found instead. The Florence of the East, as my 21 year-old self described it. I was enamored with Krakow from the first time I stepped into the main square and the charm I was met with from the start.
Krakow, the land of cobblestones, horse drawn carriages, post offices in old school buggies, and a 700 year-old salt mine.
Above ground, Krakow is a sight to behold. There are street performers and magicians everywhere, street food and markets, and an overall jovial spirit to always keep things lively.
The colorful Jewish quarter had to be my favorite, with funky cars and delicious eateries everywhere you looked.
Beneath the ground lies the famous UNESCO heritage site, the Wieliczka Salt Mine. Going 7 levels deep, with about 400 steps between each level, it’s a long way down, to say the least, and not for those who consider themselves at all claustrophobic. We only managed to get to level 3 and that was a whole half day in the mines, it’s massive.
It was an amazing site that took a lot of ingenuity and work to create, and the salt sculptures throughout the mines were a sight to behold, but it also came off as a very poorly organized expedition.
At the end of the tour there were hundreds of people lined up in a small tunnel, waiting for the two elevators that would take you back up to the top. It took about 45 minutes of waiting in lines to get back above ground. Regardless, I’m glad to have seen it.
I didn’t have a whole lot of time in Krakow, but with the time I had, I whole-heartedly enjoyed the second largest city in Poland that has a rich history seeping above the cobblestones.
What I’ll always remember about my first impressions of Krakow are the red brick accents found around the city, the street culture, and of course, the salt mine. So, when can I go back again?