When many people think of Krakow they think of cheap Polish vodka, infinite pretzel vendors and the similarity of the city’s name to our Irish slang word for fun. While all of the above are accurate observations, Krakow turned out to be much more than that.
On Wednesday, 27th of January, DCU’s Media Production Society brought 43 of its members on a four night visit to Poland’s former capital. The entirety of Greg and Tom’s famous party hostel was booked out for the occasion and the trip itinerary included trips to an Animation Studio, ice-skating and a visit to one of the blackest marks on the history of humanity, Auschwitz.
One of my favourite things we did was a free walking tour of Krakow, where we learned about Krakow’s diverse and well preserved history. We visited the Jagiellonian University, founded in 1364, listened to the romantic history of the restored Wawel Castle, looked at Pope John-Paul the Second’s favourite hang-outs and heard about the original vampires, skeletons of which were buried under the town’s market square.
The night life in Krakow is infamous and diverse; we went from drinking games in the party hostel one night to having Linkin Park songs screamed at us in the back room of a Polish karaoke bar the next.
The pinnacle of Krakow night life is the Pub Krawl, (K for Krakow, not Kardashian) where we started the night at Ultraviolence paying 60 Polish Zlotys (about €13.50) for unlimited drinks and shots, before moving on to a Workman’s style bar called ToTu and a late night dance club.
The next day, the MPS group took an informative trip to Alpen Animation studios where we were shown the workings of a green screen, an animation box and the editing suite.
While most of the group broke their necks on the ice skating rink, a few of us headed off to the Rynek Underground Museum to see the illusive vampire skeletons. The museum is a subterranean maze, an absolute feat of architectural engineering, buried deep beneath the town’s market square. The Museum exhibits the remaining fragments of Krakow’s ancient medieval walls, antique pottery and interactive digital displays.
An hour and a half away from Krakow is the preserved remains of the Auschwitz-Birkenau memorial and museum. While a visit to Auschwitz could never be described as a fun way to spend a day, it’s definitely something that everyone needs to experience at least once in their life.
We took a guided tour, observing some of the most horrific living conditions and experimental means of death and torment, including a gas chamber where the scratch marks from thousands of fingernails were dragged down the walls in a suffocating panic.
The only let down of Krakow was the food. It was difficult to find fresh high quality restaurants but if you are a fan of Lays crisps, McDonalds and kebabs then this won’t effect you. I did manage to find one great little vegetarian place just off the square named Green Day and a bakery called Soya Cafe, serving vegan and gluten-free cakes.
While having the craic in Krakow was exhausting, the trip was amazing as we got to experience Krakow’s rich history, diversely influenced architecture and of course, pick up a lot of cheap vodka in duty-free.