When someone questioned me as to why Poland, my answer back was “why not?”
When I first decided to go to Krakow, it was because of the city’s close proximity to Auschwitz, as someone who identifies myself as Jewish it was a place I felt necessary to visit.
I had heard mixed reviews about Poland. Some people had said the country seems sad and a gloom permeates the air continuously. Clearly, those people have never actually visited the country, because I experienced nothing like that at all.
My time in Krakow came on the heels of the tragic plane crash in Russia. In fact, as I walked up to my hostel I careened into one of the funerals.
My hostel, Tutti Frutti, was on one of the main drags in Old Town. Across the middle of the road were lines draped with the Polish flag and black flags of mourning, hanging solemnly.
But, despite all of this, people remained upbeat.
My first day in Krakow was mainly about catching up on sleep. In the evening, I walked around a little and grabbed dinner, and then met a crew of Serbians in town for a pharmaceutical congress. A group of about 15 of us headed out for sheesha, clearly chasing other patrons out of the cozy Middle Eastern bar with our loud voices.
For hours, we sat there, enjoying the sweet concoctions — cappuccino and milk; mint and water; apple and rum — and singing Serbian songs. Well, they sang, I watched and smiled, thinking to myself how lucky I was to be in the moment with them.
I ended up in Krakow for nearly four days … taking in the city, its charm and beauty and doing some exploration mixed with some intense “getting to know me” moments, some of which took me by surprise.