Why isn't Krakow more popular? I had no expectations for my Poland trip, and we know that that's often the best attitude to have for a trip anywhere.

Eastern (or "Central" Europe, to be more pc) Europe hasn't been "off the beaten track" or "a hidden gem" for well over a decade now, but somehow very few travellers make it to Poland. I really wonder why that is. For European visitors, I can understand that if you live somewhere that has lots of Polish immigrants, it doesn't sound like a glamorous place to visit. And yes, I understand that many parts of Poland are still poor (which doesn't make it less interesting to visit).

Krakow completely blew me away - the architecture, the friendly and open people, the great food, the history, the (by European standard) multiculturality, the many cute, quirky, artsy bits of it. It's fair to say it could easily become my new favourite European city. It's got history, food, culture, art in the right combination, hitting all the right spots for me. It's a big city but not so big you could get lost. We stayed in a tiny studio apartment near the Castle and could easily walk anywhere - the train station, the old town, the Jewish district and even all the way to Oscar Schindler's factory (which is now an amazing museum about life in Krakow under Nazi occupation).

So what is there in Krakow that's so amazing, you wonder?

Well, how about...
The main square and market hall - full of great places to people-watch, and with a little street food square where you can try all kinds of Polish food tucked behind it!

Oh, and a brand new interactive underground museum about the city, including archeological remains of the city, hidden below it!

Krakow castle, from where Polish kings reigned for centuries, with its own fire-spewing dragon!

The Jewish district, with synagogues, heaps of history and tons of small artsy shops, galleries and cafes!

The food and drinks, pretty much anywhere in town - it seemed like you can't go wrong!

hearty Polish food that is well seasoned, not fatty and if you like, very vegetarian-friendly!



Looe harbour
I've seen most of the UK (too much of many parts of it!), but the one place that I hadn't been to was Cornwall - it always seemed like the place that retired Brits and those with kids went to.

There's also the fact that although England is a small country, Cornwall extends a long, long way to the west of the country - even under good conditions, it's a 7 hour drive from London, and that's to the far eastern part of it.

Also, let's be honest, Cornwall is as far from budget travel as it gets: there's very little budget accommodation as holiday apartments are king, it takes forever and is expensive to get there by both train and coach, and once you're there, you are very limited when you have to rely on public transport. Last weekend, however, the stars aligned, and we managed to book a holiday apartment in Looe with four ladies, and drive to Cornwall by car.

These are the sights we packed into our 4 days (or rather, 2.5, as there were almost 20 hrs of travel time!):

1) St Ives

St Ives is famous for its subsidiary of The Tate and a collection of sculptures by Barabara Hepworth, which I have to admit I bailed out of (I love art, but too recent modern art is not my cup of tea). It's also famous for the painters and artists that came here due to the magnificent light, and that I can understand. There are dozens of art galleries as well as workshops for hands-on experiences scattered throughout town, although it seems you need to book most in advance. If you fancy other museums, £2 gets you into the St Ives History Museum, which is entirely run by volunteers and has a charming (if musty) collection of items from the town's past, which helped me understand what life in Cornwall was like in the past.

2) Lost Gardens of Heligan

I still can't believe how such a giant area of land could symply have been "lost" for decades! Most of it is woodland with sculptures in between, rather than a manicured garden, although there are some lovely vegetable and fruit gardens and orchards, too. It's still an ongoing project to restore the gardens to their former glory - I'd love to visit again in spring or summer one day!




3) Charlestown - The Heritage & Shipwreck Museum

Charlestown used to be major harbour for clay processing, and has since been bought by a company to function as a permanent harbor for old ships. At £5.95, the Shipwreck Museum (the only real sight, apart from the ships in the harbour, which you can only see from a distance, not actually visit) seem a bit pricy, but if you have any interest in history, seafaring and/oder pirates and smuggling, don't miss it! It's charmingly cheesy (complete with speaking plastic puppets) and teaches you about life in Cornwall pre WWII. It also has lots of information and hands-on displays about navigation, lifeboats, diving, and a large collection of treasures found from actual shipwrecks that sunk off the Cornish coast (funnily, with a good part of it dedicated to  the Titanic, which is not really related...).
tempted to upload this to my couchsurfing profile!


There was another sight we managed to squeeze in, but it's not really in Cornwall, plus it deserves its own post ;)

We were extremely lucky as it only rained while we were in the car, and all had a good time despite not expecting too much off Cornwall.

Still, with 3 nights' accomodation and transport from and to London costing close to £150 pp (we could've spent a week in Morocco for that, or a weekend in Paris!), it's an expensive trip, especially considering it was in the country I mostly live in! I'm happy to have been, but don't feel the need to go to again that soon - but if seaside quaintness and relaxed countrside is for you, definitely go and visit!

Have you been to Cornwall? If so, which was your favourite place to visit?


view from our apartment... not what I excepted to find in Poland!
The most surprising part of our Poland trip were the last few days we spent in Warsaw. Getting off the train, my first thought was "This looks like Tokyo... and not in a good way!", and my gf also wondered if we had somehow ended up in Asia.

Poland went from Nazi occupation to socialism, and as over 90 % of Warsaw was destroyed in the war, it was rebuilt rapidly in the following decades. The result is a city that looks like Russians tried to build an East Asian city... it's a giant concrete jungle that is incredibly difficult to navigate and not pedestrian-friendly at all.

On top of that, prices were about double of that of the rest of Poland, if not more. We were lucky to have our holiday apartment - eating out here cost about the same as it would in Paris or Munich!

In the last years, efforts have been made to rebuild the old town, were some buildings look amazing now, while others still show damage from the war. Many now feature painstakingly beautiful facades! As soon as you are at the periphery of the old town, though, the concrete jungle starts again.

Overall, I wasn't that thrilled to be there, but a month later, I secretly wish to go back to the ugly skyscrapers and endless shopping malls, to find what's really behind this cold-blooded business city. But yeah, it doesn't Warsaw any prettier... although we did manage to take some nice pics!


the main square in the old town

adding some old world charm

nautical, even far from the Ocean



outside of the Marie Curie museum





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