Friday, 1 July 2016

Krakow: Stint Ireland & Weekend Student Adventures

The past weekend, together with the interns who take part in the Stint Ireland programme, myself and Jeffrey were the staff on this trip and I was so delighted I got the chance to return to beloved Krakow, one of my favourite places in Europe. It's been exactly two years since I first met you and fell in love with you and Poland :)

We arrived on a Thursday night and checked into Let's Rock Hostel which was right in the centre of Kraków city. After checking in, we got some recommendations on some good pierogi (dumplings) around the corner and ended up scoffing some delicious ones at Koko!

A few of us then settled by the pyramid fountain in the main square, Rynek Główny, and were welcomed by a few drunk friendly locals who urged us to hop into the fountain and mess around with them. After multiple 'chodź tutaj's (come here in Polish) from the lads, a few of us jumped into the fountain and started splashing each other and random strangers who were in the fountain too. 

When in Poland, do as the Poles do!

Our local Weekend Student Adventure guide, Dawid welcomed us in our hostel the next morning (top right) and brought us on a tour around the city starting with the Kraków city and the Jewish Quarter, Kazimierz with tons of information about the city.

The city walls

Our group melting under the sweltering heat.

Along with the sights to see in Poland, we made sure that our stomachs were well satisfied throughout the trip. It really helped that the Polish currency was slightly similar to the Malaysian currency which is a quarter of the Euro so everything was so cheap! Dawid first brought us to have a feast of delicious meats - pork ribs, breaded veal and more pork along with fried potatoes in which I got to show my carving skills which I unrealisingly developed on the spot.

Along with local Polish ice cream (lody), waffles (gofry), and donuts to fill us at every other time of the day. Managed to recall the few Polish words and phrases I learnt two years ago to help me navigate through the town and order things from the shop. It was really interesting how the Polish side of my brain suddenly activated after returning to the country.

Refreshing cocktails were an absolute must under the crazy heat. I probably got a couple shades darker after the four days.

Delicious fresh breakfasts in the morning along with bonding chats with Jeffrey!

And most importantly..Polish vodka tasting courtesy of Dawid who bought us five bottles of different local vodkas which left us all prepped and ready to go out! We first went to the club called.. Prozac  2.0 which really wasn't that great cos of the music but we soon ended up at Shakers (the very same club I went to two years ago! Hah!) and we spent the night dancing away going absolutely mental.

A visit to Auschwitz Museum was a must once again in Krakow. I never thought that I'd be able to come here yet return here! Truly amazed at the fact that I could come to this site twice in my lifetime so far as it's truly a humbling experience.

Walking through the grounds of both Auschwitz 1 and Auschwitz-Birkenau allowed for mental reenactments of the horrifying occurrences of the past.

Ashes of those who were cremated on the premises.

Wired fences that paradoxically kept the prisoners as well as serve as a 'liberating' contraption for those who decided to commit suicide by running unto the fence.

Another must-visit in Krakow are the Wieliczka Salt Mines which extend so deep down that you could hide the entire Eiffel Tower underground if you so wished. I never got to come here the last time so I was ecstatic that I got to come here!

Our group was special as the staircase had some problems and we all were required to take the miner's lift all the way down in the pitch black darkness.

We were encouraged to lick the walls to taste its saltiness but you didn't have to worry about germs as they're naturally anti-microbial.

Everything there was made of salt! even the crystals of the chandelier were salt crystals!

Along with numerous statues.

When we got back, we realised there were so many people wearing these fresh flower wreaths on their heads. We soon found out it was the St. John's festival happening over the weekend in Krakow along with many musical acts across the city and one of the practices was to wear the flower wreath (supposedly it was connected with a previous Pagan tradition of encouraging fertility....)

I thought they were pretty anyway and snagged myself one in the main square for 30zl which is around 7 euros. I didn't know when else I'd get to wear one so why not?

Later that night we sprinted towards the Wawel Castle to catch the fireworks which began while we were still on the way. It was hilarious how we all suddenly screamed 'NOOOOOOO' when we could hear the fireworks but the trees were blocking the entire view. Thankfully we managed to get there to watch the rest of the magnificent show.

This trip was absolutely brilliant. At first, I didn't know what to expect on a trip where I barely knew anyone, but we ended up bonding so much and learning so much about one another! Was rally glad that I went on this trip and helped to organise some parts of it. It was all worth it!! Wouldn't have spent my weekend any other way :) 

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