Okay, so my run of smooth travelling was bound to run out at some point. I mean, nobody is that lucky. And as you have probably already guessed by the title of this post, yes, my luck ran out and Poland wasn’t all puppy dogs and rainbows as I would have liked. But still a beautiful place, so visit if you get the chance!
So it wasn’t anything dramatic that occurred (thankfully), and I don’t have some epic blockbuster storyline to share with you (sorry to dissappoint), it was more a case of bad weather, noisy accommodation and cuisine I wasn’t able to eat. But as I sit here mid-flight writing this post and reflecting on my trip, in a way I’m kind of glad things didn’t go according to plan. Why? Because it taught me how to adapt quickly to situations and make the most from what was presented to me. A life skill that I feel is necessary to have, to get by in this ever changing world we live in.
The location of my accommodation was great! Right in the heart of Krakow on Szewska Street, which is just minutes walk from the main market square. I booked myself a private room (shared bathroom) at Hotel Flamingo Smart Sleep, and upon arrival I was greeted with a clean, decent size room that had a nice vibe to it. Not to mention there was a kitchen facility and fridge, that came in quite handy.
What went wrong? The downside, because of it’s prominent location, was that it was just a few meters away from a popular nightclub. This meant a lot of foot traffic at all hours of the night. And I mean ALL HOURS. The buildings in Krakow are quite old, which is part of their charm, but that means you won’t be getting any state of the art double glazed windows. After an hour in my room, I was starting to think that my plan for a quiet night in was no longer on the cards.
How I adapted: Not wanting to start the following day in a bad mood due to lack of sleep, I put my mind to work, searching my bag for anything I could use to block out the noise. What I found was a packet of tissues, which I managed to convert into temporary earplugs. And although they didn’t completely block out the noise, they worked well enough that I was able to have a decent nights sleep.
My advice: For anyone travelling to Krakow, check what’s around your chosen accommodation before booking. Reviews of the hotel or airbnb alone may not be enough. Take mine for example, there’s was no mention of noise in any of the comments left by previous guests.
For those of you who know me well, know I’m always eager to try new things in the places I visit. So for this trip I booked myself on two different tours. One being a walking food tour and the other a Dunajec River Experience.
Walking Food Tour
When it comes to food tours, firstly, you absolutely need to be open to trying new cuisine, and secondly, you should probably tell the organisers of any allergies, etc., that you may have.
What went wrong? Well, in my naivety, I forgot to mention the one food I can’t eat, which just so happened to be a staple in the Polish diet – pork. For some unknown reason, when it comes to pork, every time I eat it, I’m extremely sick afterwards.
When I thought about the types of food I’d be trying on the tour, I assumed one or two dishes might consist of pork, but I figured the rest would be chicken, beef etc. Little did I know that after sampling some traditional vegetable dumplings, that the rest of the tour would be pork, pork and well you guessed it, pork.
How I adapted: I made sure to fill up on salad and bread wherever I could, and kept hydrated to also fill myself up. When the odd non pork dish was presented, I made sure to take a slightly bigger portion and when the pork dishes were unavoidable I either didn’t eat it, or I would have part of the dish, which sometimes meant having a broth of a soup and leaving the pork filled dumplings.
My advice: Best not to assume what will be served on food tours like I did. If you’re unable to get the exact menu beforehand, then be sure to tell your food guid prior so they can arrange alternative meals for you if possible.
Dunajec River Cruise
After seeing images of Zakapone and Dunajec River posted on Instagram, I was immediately drawn to their beauty and knew I had to make a stop during my travels.
What went wrong? The day of my tour, dark clouds were present and heavy rain was falling from the sky. Not ideal, considering the tour was basically me on a traditional polish raft, outside for 2.5 hours, travelling down a river.
How I adapted: Mentally I prepared myself for the tour to be cancelled and thought of it as an opportunity to explore other areas of Poland that I may not have previously considered. However, upon arriving at the scheduled location, the tour was in fact going ahead despite the rain. Part of me was secretly hoping it would be cancelled, because the idea of sitting on a raft for over two hours in the pouring rain didn’t seem as appealing as a summers day river cruise.
The previous day, I had checked the weather forecast and with the possibility of rain, I had decided to buy an umbrella. Well, that umbrella became my life saver, keeping me relatively dry during the tour. The scenery would have been a lot better with clear skies, and I would have been able to take a lot more photos, but despite the cold and the rain, I was able to experience something quite unique that not everyone has the opportunity of doing. Gotta find that silver lining!
My advice: To really experience Poland, you need to be outdoors. The beauty of the polish countryside is something that will truly take your breath away. So when it comes to planning your trip, I’d plan to visit when you’re guaranteed warm sunny days, or wait until winter officially arrives and you can experience it in the snow.
Overall, despite the things that went wrong, my trip to Krakow wasn’t a complete disaster. I was able to get a sense of the polish lifestyle, learn a bit of history, see some of the countryside, and I learnt how to deal with unforeseen circumstances along the way.
At the end of the day, it just made me appreciate even more, the times when I travelled and everything went to plan.