Europe’s Top Cities- #10

              Any city built on top of a dragon’s lair is bound to be cool, and Krakow certainly is. Since a bloke named Krakus fed a large, angry, mythical, flying lizard a poisoned lamb to stop his town getting flamed up in the 4th century, Krakow has become one of the most interesting and exciting cities in the world. Between Krakus tricking a dragon and me visiting his city, a lot has happened. It became the first capital of Poland in 1042, it was destroyed by the Mongols twice in 1241 and 1259 and it is where Copernicus figured out that we were revolving around the sun, not the other way around. It has changed hands between the Poles, Russians, Austrians and Germans and was the closest town to Auschwitz. It is widely regarded as the cultural capital of Poland and boasts a wide range of museums, one of central Europe’s oldest universities and a grand castle. Bani and I went to Krakow for a long weekend with good intentions of visiting all the cultural sites and venturing out on a few excursions, but we accidentally spent all that time getting battered in the bars. Oops.

              As rich as Krakow’s history and culture is, it is also one of the liveliest, most vivacious nights out anywhere in the world. It’s budget-friendly pints, intense bar crawls and cheap hostels were perfect for a fun few nights away, even if they impacted our sightseeing ability. We did try, once or twice, to engage a bit in more than just swaying between bars, but our efforts fell short. We had optimistically booked onto a tour of the salt mines for 8:30 the first morning we had there but didn’t quite make it out of bed. We rented some bikes and wobbled our way around the town, all the way to Schindler’s Factory (there’s a film based on the events there) but couldn’t quite face the tragedies of the holocaust. Despite my chain frequently escaping from its dutiful position on the gears, we did manage a half-arsed tour and happily quenched our thirst at the end with a nice crisp beer. In early December the city’s main square was a busy epicentre of activity, packed with a Christmas market offering food, drink and souvenirs. Festive stalls glimmered around the striking cloth hall and the dominating tower of the town hall in Europe’s biggest medieval town square, which is the nicest one I have set foot in.

              As much as we enjoyed the town in the day, at night it truly came alive. My recollections of those nights are a blur of laughter, drinks and more laughter. In my mind our rendition of I want it that way by The Backstreet Boys was heroic and the crowd went wild, almost as wild as the guy running it when I dropped the mic with a dull thud onto the stage. Our success at beer pong was not the same, and our efforts to rise early the next morning were even worse. After a boring few months of labouring, that weekend is exactly what I needed to get into the Christmas spirit and it was the craziest, heaviest, most enjoyable one I can barely remember. I would’ve loved it even without the parties. I could do it all again but just spend my time in the old town and museums, finally heading to the salt mines and even Auschwitz and I would love to head to the mountains further south. It is truly a great place and if I could remember more or go back, it could go higher up my list.

              The city is legendary, and the bones of that legendary dragon who wanted it all for himself still reside at the entrance to Wawel Cathedral, don’t let anyone tell you it is a mammoth.

Image by Dimitris Vetsikas from Pixabay
I do not have any photos from my weekend.

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