September 30, 2007

Crazy Tours of Krakow, Poland.

This morning I clicked over to yahoo, and imagine my delight and surprise when I saw one of the main headlines: Poland's Showcase of Communism Becomes Offbeat Tourist Draw. I knew right away it could be none other than Crazy Guides Communist Tours. Most people don't think Poland when they think of planning a European vacation, but the history and architecture alone is worth the trip.

Since my husband and I very much enjoyed the tour we took with them, I thought I'd repost here write-up from our weekend trip to Krakow in July:

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So eventhough I should have been home finishing stuff for my show that opens on Thursday, my husband and I spent the weekend in Poland of all places. Krakow to be exact....or Cracow.

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We met up with Kasia and Kelly my pals from NYC and later we were joined by their friends from Berlin, Timo and Franka. Kasia was in Poland visiting her family and of course we were more than happy to all meet up. And what a time we had!

Friday night we got in late after taking 2 different buses and a very bumpy flight. We were too late to join everyone for dinner so FrenchBoy and I headed to Rynek Glowny to check it out. We soon realised that "Krakow" means "party" in Polish.

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The square was absolutely packed with revelers of all ages drinking enormous Polish beers at one of the hundred or so terrace cafes. I could have sworn I even saw the Virgin Mary do a shot of Żubrówka .

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After dinner and a few very affordable cocktails we stumbled back to our hotel room and drifted off into a deep sleep only to be awaken at 3 AM by the group of drunk hooligans singing in the hotel hallway. One of many early morning impromptu sing-alongs to take place over the course of the weekend.

Saturday morning we headed over to meet Kasia & Kelly at their swank hotel. And since our free breakfast looked like this:


we decided that the buffet breakfast in their hotel restaurant was a better option.

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After I finished my 2 glasses of Prosecco we were off to the famous Salt Mines of Wieliczka which was just bizarre and quite hilarious. But if it's good enough for the Pope, Copernicus, Goethe, and Chopin ...well then I guess it was good enough for us too.

Salty Mary:

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Salty Gnomes:

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Salty Jesus:

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About 1.5 hours into the tour we couldn't take it anymore so we escaped the mines. In my humble opinion, you an only look at salt for so long.
Later that evening we all met up again for the annual Wianki Festival which used to be based on a very charming ancient Polish celebration on St. John’s Day that involved young girls floating wreaths of flowers and magic herbs with lit candles down the Vistula (Wisla) river. But apparently that was too old fashioned so the whole thing got upgraded to performances by 80's popstars and a mind-blowingly long fireworks display upon the riverbank opposite the Royal Wawel Castle.

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Yes folks---I saw Bananarama live in concert in Krakow. And those Poles can really shake it!

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After about 2 hours of sitting on wet grass watching a few musical acts we headed up to Kasia and Kelly's swank hotel room which had a panoramic view of all the events.

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Sunday was our last day in Krakow, so French Boy and I made the best of it by taking a "Crazy Communist Tour" of the Nowa Huta district of Krakow.

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Our guide Jacob picked us up at the hotel and wisked us away to the historic communist district that was originally gifted to Krakow by Stalin himself. It later came to be one of the centers of revolution and resistance within Poland, leading to the eventual overthrow of the communist government.

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The Crazy Guides is run by a group of young guys who really know their history. We met up with another group led by Bartek and so we actually had the advantage of hearing two very different perspectives on the history of Communism in Poland. (If I remember correctly, Bartek studied Economics and Jacob studied Sociology.) The whole thing was just a real treat.

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After our crazy tour we headed back to the hotel to change for our fancy dinner reservations at Wierzynek Restaurant which has been in business since 1364. (No that is not a typo.) It was crazy old-fashioned fancy. The hostesses wore ball gowns and the waiters brought us our main courses wearing white gloves.

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Then just when you thought it couldn't get any better the four waiters revealed our dinner entrees by by lifting the sterling-silver plate dome thingies in one perfectly choreographed motion.


After dinner we headed over to the very un-touristy Kazimierz neighborhood to hang out at a local bar----where apparently drinks are free. We each got a glass of something and the total came to $7.

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I love Krakow.


Anonymous said...

I am visiting Poland next year and this article has certainly given me somewhere to start
Thank you
The photos are lovely!

D.C. said...

I'm also visiting Poland as part of a trip to Central Europe I'm taking with a friend next spring, and this post is perfect! I'm so telling her about it!

D.C. said...

I'm also going to visit Krakow next year with a friend as part of our travels around Central Europe. This post couldn't have come at a better time - I'm definitely letting her know. Thanks!

aga said...

I'm from Poland. I'm writing an essay about tourism in Nowa Huta. Please, if you could share your impressions, Iwould like to ask you some questions. Any informatio would be useful. Please, contact me - my e-mail is agakrupnik@wp.pl

Anonymous said...

Krakow is worth to stay there longer. I was there with www.greetingsfrompoland.com - they are perfect.