In the last post, a couple of months ago, I wrote a bit about our arrival in Krakow and how it was not all exactly peaches&dandelions. Or better than almost nothing was as I had imagined. Today, after three months, I feel I can say something more about life in this city and I will do it following three guidelines, which are the ones around which I have organized my life here.
Krakow and the kids – Kids friendly or not?
In Krakow, it’s bloddy cold in winter. This in itself is not an advantage if you have children between 0 and 5 years probably, but it can have its positive sides. Not having the chance to stay much outdoor in winter time almost all the restaurants have a (broad) corner for children indoor. Some of them even have a whole room or an entire floor at their disposal (see Pod Wawelem Kompagnia Kuflowa ) and this means that you can eat quite easily without having to resort to video-addiction and cartoons. In the city center there are several bars and cafes especially dedicated to families or family friendly. Some also offer animations and workshops based on the age of our dwarfs ( Likekonikis one of these) at affordable prices. Then there are different activities that children can do in places like museums or associations, most of which are unfortunately in Polish and therefore not exactly usable if you do not have at least the necessary linguistic bases ( Cricoteka is a very cool place but the workshops for the children are in Polish). Another very nice thing to do with children to make them discover the classical music is to go to Filharmonia. They have the Sunday matinée during winter especially dedicated to children (from 0 to 12) during which they perform some stories following the Opera music. We went twice and our daughter (2yo) was amazed by all the instruments and music and even if the storytelling is in Polish, you can still benefit from the music and the performance (ballets). Ultimately I would like to say that Krakow is in a quite good position in the level of kidfriendly offer compared to a lot of other cities in Europe.
Krakow and culture – Lato sensu
Unfortunately, so far here everything is (almost) always in Polish. Apart from movies that generally are not dubbed and therefore you can watch them in O.V. with subtitles in Polish, the rest is not affected too much by the growing internationalization of the city. Theaters have almost exclusively pieces in Polish and it is quite complicated to find a bookstore that sells international texts (and I do not speak only for English, but also in other languages like French or Italian). Even the most easy-to-read magazines like Vogue or Cosmopolitan, in short, the costume&society that sometimes happens to want to buy, are exclusively in Polish. Exhibitions in museums are always translated into English but the content is not always up to expectations (even at the National Museum). Exhibitions are often niche and of little interest. To be honest, I still miss a couple of museums to visit and one in which I place more trust is the MOCaK, museum of contemporary art. We hope it will be worth it! Live music is in some clubs in the city center and there are several summer concerts, but unfortunately due to the late starting hour of the concerts we never got the change to go. I know there is a lot to do if you practice any forms of dance as salsa or tango. Salsa in particular is quite popular at the moment and a lot of clubs do special nights for dancing. As for the green, Krakow is full of well-kept parks and lakes both inside and outside the urban ring. On their banks the municipality organizes summer beaches with rental services (and not) and possibility to spend days almost like at the sea for negligible sums. The point is that the summer season is resolved in three months and that the long winter is characterized by a level of scary air pollution and walking around the park becomes more a curse than a moment of leisure. In short, as far as culture is concerned, lato sensu, we do not go beyond a narrow 6.
Krakow and gastronomy – How&where?
Restaurants are everywhere in Krakow as many as you want and for (almost) all tastes. Ethnic specialities, Hummus bars, Indian and Shwarma are everywhere as well as improbable Italian specialties. Polish cuisine is quite heavy but I don’t mind if taken with due precautions. Rich in meat and soups like its Slovak, Czech and Hungarian neighbors, it has some noteworthy specialties. The pirogi, a sort of crescent-shaped ravioli with different fillings (potatoes & onions, savoy cabbage & mushrooms, meat, lentils). There are many places where to eat very nice pirogi: pierogarnia are all over the city and they close late in the night. So far my favourite place to eat them has been the Restauracja Podkowa in Plac Wolnica even if I know from my colleagues that the best ones are those made from the grandmas! Another tasty stuff are the paczek, sort of fried full donuts stuffed with different jams, including the most typical one with roses jam for the Fat Thursday. The zapiekanka, a kind of rectangular pizza with a little of everything on top and covered with melted cheese. Widely used by young people as street food especially in alcoholic evenings (here it seems to be the best in Kazimierz, Jewish quarter). However, the most particular places are the mleczny bars, or milky bars, historic bars (the first was opened in Warsaw in 1896) which originally served dairy products. Today they are a sort of typical bars / trattorias, which offer truly succulent traditional dishes for truly tattered prices and a spartan but effective service. In these place is very recommended to try the barszcz bialy (the white borsch) known as “zurek”. My favorite place in Krakow is Tomasza Bar in the city center. There you can try a lot of the Polish specialties and they made an incredibly good Polish salty breakfast. I completely recommend in winter time to go out for a late breakfast / lunch and then enjoying the last hours of light walking around the city. As for summer time any bars has its own garden or terrace and you can easily enjoy a beer (at a cheaper price than water) along the riverside or in the historical and super popular Jewish quarter, Kazimierz.
I hope these could be of interest for you and helping you if in Krakow to navigate a bit the city with some more knowledge of it! Enjoy Krakow and let me know!