Warsaw & Krakow, Poland

Warsaw
A 6h train ride East and we arrive into a drizzly 11pm Warsaw, with warnings of mafia taxis and residents that resemble the cast of Lock Stock. It’s not quite as daunting in the daylight. We stay in the chic-est of apartments along the Marszalkowska, for the best £25 between two I’ve ever paid.  We saunter around Saxon Gardens to catch the changing of the guards, and to the Hansel and Gretel-esq old town Castle Square. The tall green, terracotta and blue miss-mashed houses look like they’ve been dropped and squeezed into place from a great height, similar to Prague or Amsterdam. It’s everything you expect; pigeons in a cafe filled square, souvenir stalls selling faberge eggs with the distinctive ‘Heidi’ folk pattern, and super plump horse and carts trotting around cobbled streets. Cliche-ville but definitely lovely for 24h. It’s possibly my favorite of the two.

Krakow
Only a 3h train away and sporting the exact same market square as I’ve just described. Except add the old Cloth Market that sells a few more souvenirs; three-way chess boards, polish dolls, red and white football scarfs left over from the summer’s Euros. Here however our apartment on the Westernplatte was slighty more war torn chic. Think Adrian Brody’s hideout in the Pianist. Exposed brick, wooden floors, your granny’s furnature and soviet like stairwells. As it was pouring down with rain we had a lovely excuse to buy local Polish beers and watch the Olympic closing ceremony on our 1940’s TV. It was so twee we secretly liked it.

The sobering rain was only fitting however for absolutely obligatory day trip to Auschvitz-Birkenau. The most infamous of concentration camps,  it’s about 1.5 hours from Krakow in Oswiecim. This means one of  the most harrowing hours you’ll ever spend on a tour bus watching an as disturbing as you’d expect documentary to get everyone into the mood. Tours last about 6h for 100 Zloty, and include all the audio guides which you really need to get the most out of it.

Where we stayed: Warsaw Residence Hostel / Finger Guestrooms Krakow.

Liked: 1) Falafel kebabs 2) The most extravagant apple crumble & afternoon tea from Warsaw old town square 3) Polish Zloty – getting so much for your Euro and listening to Mark’s daily attempts to pronounce it.

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An.an.tas.in : The Anantasin is the name of a shipwreck just of the coast of the Sensi Parasise, Mae Haad Bay, Koh Tao, Thailand. It’s one of my many favorite places.

Lit.tle: Just because it’s cute.

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