Krakow: Swapping vodka for violinists


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As you know, I love to write about my travels, but for some reason I didn’t write about my trip to Krakow in 2007. It may be five years late, but today I’m reminiscing about Poland’s second city…

For a short while, there were passenger flights from Coventry Airport (yes, there really is one) to cities throughout Europe. Thomsonfly and Wizzair were the two airlines that had destinations from my hometown – I’d been to most of Thomsonfly’s cities, but Wizzair was a little more interesting, with some tasty choices across Eastern Europe.

Which is how, a few weeks later and £25 each lighter, Kat and I found ourselves at Katowice airport in the south-west of Poland. There were no flights from Coventry to Krakow, but Wizzair provided a shuttle bus for £10 to take you on the 90-minute journey from Katowice airport to the centre of Krakow.

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Outside Krakow’s castle

There are two things that spring to mind when I think back to that weekend:

1. Most Brits spend their evenings in Krakow drinking strong Polish lager and necking vodka. But not us! Walking back to the hotel after a day of sightseeing, we noticed a billboard advert to see Nigel Kennedy, the eccentric Aston Villa-supporting violinist, that night at the Krakow Philharmonic Concert Hall.

We looked at each other and both said “Yes, let’s do this”.

It was a totally different experience for us – an evening of high culture, as opposed to high alcohol content. We were the only tourists in the rather stuffy concert hall, and felt quite scruffy in jeans, amongst the Poles in cocktail dresses and dinner jackets.

But then Nigel came on stage with his trademark quiff, wearing a Villa shirt and baggy trousers with a massive hole in the bum!

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The compulsory photo in Krakow’s huge main square

2. After boarding the Wizzair shuttle bus back to Katowice airport, I looked out of the window at the beauty of Krakow for the last time, before we approached the motorway outside of the city limits.

This was the moment I realised I’d left my passport in the safe in the hotel room. AAARGH!

I had to yell stop to the driver, who pulled onto the hard shoulder and let me off the bus. He was on a tight schedule, so there was no way he could wait for me. I bid a tearful goodbye to Kat and told her I’d see her very soon, before running back to Krakow and heading for the hotel.

My passport was still there, but now I had to somehow travel the 45 miles back to Katowice and hope I could still catch my flight.

The hotel ordered a taxi for me – there was no other way for me to get there in time. The driver didn’t speak a word of English, but had a smile on his face the whole way to Katowice. Whether he was laughing at my misfortune, or wondering what to do with the £85 he charged me I do not know.

Anyway, I just about made it to the airport in time to check-in, and three hours later I was back home in Coventry.

Maybe this bad experience is the reason why I never wrote a travel story about Krakow.

It pains me me when every man and his dog raves about how perfect Krakow is, when all I can think of is a violinist’s holey trousers and the most expensive taxi-ride I’ll ever take.

OK, so I lied about no vodka...

OK, so I lied about no vodka…

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Categories: PolandTags: , ,

21 comments

  1. My favourite memory of Krakow is the September Dachshund parade, first Sunday of the month owners dress their dogs in fancy duds and parade them through the town – crazy stuff

  2. Good stuff – reminded me of my visit there! I remember doing the alcohol option! Does Whizzair still fly?

  3. Wizzair are still around and have a big base at Luton. Unfortunately, no-one flies from Coventry anymore though.

  4. Great post Richard. Oh and I’ve nominated you for an award! http://wp.me/P1tbVN-NO

  5. Ouch! That’s a painful amount. Back then he could almost retire on that.

  6. Krakow it’s a beautiful city. I am from Sochi , but now I live long time in USA. I love travel so much. Next year will be solo around the world. Happy Holiday!

  7. Nige playing the violin with a hole in the bum of his trousers – that’s something I would love to experience! But it’s painful when the taxi ride to the airport is more than what you probably paid for the flight… C’est la vie!

  8. Ha! I didn’t write about my trip to Krakow either but I think that was more to do with an uninterested now-ex boyfriend than passport misplacement! Really good to find another travel blog written well and not by a gushy american gap year student or pro traveller!

  9. Wow, what an experience! I was in Krakow for a couple of days last year and absolutely loved it – the historic square, the horse and carts, all of it! But I didn’t get round to trying any Polish lager or necking vodka… maybe next time!

  10. I came back from Krakow just two days ago and loved it 🙂 I thought it was amazing and so cheap! Cannot wait to write up on it. Shame about the passport incident…I always go by the rule if you have your passport and money you dont need anything else.

    • Yep, one cheap city. I went to Poznan in the east of Poland on a stag do once, and that is even cheaper. I remember a round of seven beers was nine quid on a terrace in the main square!

      • Wow somewhere even cheaper? I am surprised, I am still in shock at how little we spent. We only went for Auschwitz and wasn’t expecting to enjoy Krakow as much as I did but it was brilliant. Lets hope you get the chance to go back second time round and you may enjoy it 🙂

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