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When I first arrived in Krakow on August 14, 2015 at the end of my whirlwind trip through 13 countries in 31 days, I immediately fell in love with the city. I dreamed of getting to revisit someday. Then I heard that the second-annual Trablin conference was going to be in Krakow. I jumped at the opportunity.
After spending the winter in Edinburgh, and not traveling much for a couple of months, I was hungry for an adventure. I was also craving some warm weather. I got both in good supply during the week I was in Krakow. Stepping off the airplane, I realized I had almost forgotten how nice warm weather could be. When I left Edinburgh, it was 8°C (46°F). The hottest day of the year so far had been 17°C (62°F). The temperature in Krakow when I landed was 29°C (84°F). Yum!
At the airport, I had a taxi waiting to bring me to my accommodations at the Galaxy Hotel, both compliments of the Krakow Tourism Board. My room was on the sixth floor, overlooking the Vistula River. A robe, towel and slippers were provided for use in the hotel’s spa, and a chocolate was left on the turned-down comforter for me. I had a few minutes to get refreshed before I went downstairs where I met the directors of Trablin. It was great to see them again, and we all went out to have a late-night dinner in town.
My taxi driver had recommended the food trucks in the Kazimierz district of the city center, so I suggest we head there. Not only was it was their first time in Krakow, the food trucks were also a new addition to the city since 2015 so of course I wanted to try them out myself. Unfortunately I didn’t actually find the trucks the cabbie mentioned, but instead ended up at another group nearby where we enjoyed a delicious…um…street food kebab. I didn’t actually catch what it was called, but I don’t think they were actually Polish. Maybe kinda like a Jewish kebab sandwich. Whatever they were, they were huge and filling and ridiculously cheap. A couple days later I ended up finding the first group of street food trucks I had been recommended and had a massive dinner of a Polish sausage and frites (fries).
The next morning I was up early for my first event. First, I had a great breakfast at the Galaxy Hotel. It’s no secret that I’m usually more interested in the food served by a hotel than the comfort of the room, and the Galaxy didn’t disappoint. The breakfast buffet was absolutely massive. I had a ham and cheese croissant, eggs and bacon, hash browns, pancakes, cereal, fruit, a smoothie, pastries, juice…I may have gone overboard. And that was just a fraction of what they were serving.
By 10 a.m. I was off to my first activity. Half a dozen of us met at Cuicui Cukier Artist, one of the dozens of candy-making stores in Krakow. There we took their hourly candy-making workshop where we learned the process of candy production, and even got a chance to make our own lollypop. I made myself a pair of raspberry lips.
A couple of the other bloggers then wanted to get some lunch, and I couldn’t resist taking them to my favorite restaurant in Krakow from my previous time there – Moaburger. Later in the week, I was to learn they were the first restaurant in Krakow who started to serve real grilled burgers. Before, everyone had just been microwaving their burgers! Anyway, their burgers are massive. It was a bit of a mistake to have had such a big breakfast, and I couldn’t actually finish the burger, even though I gave it my best.
After a short nap at the hotel (probably more correctly called a food coma), I went back for my next activity – the Krakow Food by Foot Tour with Krakow Urban Adventures. I’ll have to write a full story about that tour soon, including all the delicious food I tried with them and things I learned. I was actually surprised I enjoyed the zurek (soured rye soup) as much as I did. Among other stops, we went to one of the best places in town to enjoy pierogi (Polish dumplings), both savory and sweet. I even enjoyed the vodka and puff pastry we ended the evening with. I can definitely say that by the end of that day, I was more than stuffed!
The next day had two more activities, both of which was I highly excited about. The first was a home cooking class, again with Krakow Urban Adventures. This time we learned how to make pierogi, and literally at the home of the tour guide’s mother!
That evening, I finally got to go to the Wieliczka Salt Mine! It’s the one main attraction I didn’t make it to the first time I visited Krakow. While nearly everyone in my hostel had gone, I chose to only go to Auschwitz. This time, I got to see why they said it was such an amazing attraction.
For my third day of adventures, I was invited to the Cruising Krakow Bike Tour. For four hours, we biked all around the city, getting more information from our tour guide Brian than I could have imagined. Turns out that when he first started giving tours thirteen years ago, he was required to take an eight-month training course for Krakow tourism! He’s now authorized to give a tour in any part of the city but prefers to concentrate on bike tours. We went to at least a couple dozen locations all around, getting facts not mentioned in all the other tours I’d taken there.
That evening, we had the Trablin Welcome Party at the Wielopolski Palace, the location of the city council and the president of Krakow. We received an address from the Mayor of Krakow and were treated to a concert of local music by renowned singer Joanna Słowińska. We then had welcome drinks and samples of all local Krakow dishes, specifically those produced or originating in Krakow (rather than simply Polish cuisine). Like the rest of the food in the city, it was all delicious. My eyes might have been just slightly bigger than my stomach.
The next two days were flat out at the conference. I delivered a speech on the first day to help influencers improve their stories, focusing on eliciting an emotional response. Hopefully you’ve experienced such while reading my blog, if only insofar as a desire to travel the world. I learned a bunch of great data too, and made many new friends. I really enjoy influencer conventions and recommend that any aspiring or established influencer attends them.
There was one nightmare experience during the week. On the first day of the conference, I went up to the rooftop terrace of the Grand Sheraton Krakow to take photos of the castle. A couple days earlier, the screw on my titanium phone case had fallen out, rendering the case unusable. On the roof, I had just finished taking my photos when the phone popped off the tripod, bounced off the cushion of the couch and landed on the astroturf ground. I laughed it off, since the dozens of drops I’d already had had only succeeded in barely scuffing the case. But the case wasn’t on, and when I picked the phone up, the screen was shattered. A few hours later the lower half of the screen crashed completely and the top half wouldn’t brighten up. It was everything I could do not to cry, but the conference must go on.
Without a way to photograph the city, I spent Friday night wandering around after the conference. I ended up at OldTown Archery Krakow, a branch of the archery range I found when I was in Riga, Latvia. They’re set up just to the right of the castle’s main entrance. I spent a good hour practicing my form and watching others try their hand at the bow and arrow.
Finally on Saturday, I had a day to relax. It was time to do the one thing I couldn’t do in Edinburgh – enjoy my favorite meal to the full. I went out for a sushi lunch, ordering a spread which would have cost at least $40 in Scotland, but which only set me back $10. I spent the afternoon there writing and relaxing before I had to make my way to the airport.
And just like that, my week in Krakow was over. I flew back to Edinburgh for some tours in the city and then an attempt to hike the West Highland Way (stay tuned for those stories). But I left part of my heart in Krakow, and I look forward to going back someday. It’s one of the few cities I’ve traveled to that I would like to set up a temporary base in. Of course, a big draw is the ridiculously cheap cost of living there. But it’s also gorgeous, and I’d love to see more of the countryside of Poland.
Have you been to Poland? What’s your favorite part? Is there anything I missed that I should experience or eat when I return? Maybe I’ll see you there!