For Valentines Day this year, me and Jake did something a little bit different! We booked a city break to Krakow in Poland for three nights.
We arrived at our hotel late on Wednesday night, it was just a 15-minute drive from the airport so we decided to pay for a local taxi rather than booking transfers. The hotel was called Yarden Aparthotel, it was small and cosy, with a lovely little restaurant where we could help ourselves to an unlimited buffet-style breakfast each morning between 7 am and 11 am!
The bedroom was lovely and warm, it did not have a balcony but there was double doors which opened up to outside, with a panel of glass going across and a wide window ledge that we could sit on. It was nice sitting there wrapped up warm in a fleece blanket and sipping a cup of tea.
We went straight to bed after checking in as we were up early on Thursday for a tour of Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camps.
When we woke up, we went straight to the restaurant for breakfast. There was a selection of ham and cheeses, croissants, fruit, cereal, bacon, sausages, french toast, scrambled eggs and tea and coffee. It was definitely not your English style breakfast but it was delicious nonetheless.
We were picked up from our hotel by a mini-bus and made our way to Auschwitz for our 8 hour-long tour. If you would like to read about our trip to Auschwitz-Birkenau you can do so here. Please note, if you are planning to visit, I would refrain from reading as there is a lot of information in there from our visit which may spoil the tour for yourself.
Auschwitz and Birkenau were very educational places, the tour was eye-opening and heartbreaking and I highly recommend that people visit it for themselves as despite it holding such awful, tragic memories, it is a huge piece of history and what happened beyond those gates should never be forgotten about.
When we got back to our hotel after the tour, we decided to take a walk into The Old Town to find somewhere for tea and explore the sights.
The walk from the hotel to the centre of the city took just 10 minutes. There were plenty of restaurants, cafe’s, bars, pubs, convenience stores and souvenir shops all around us and the buildings were stunning.
When we arrived in the main square we were met with pretty lights, gorgeous buildings and lots of little outdoor booths connected to restaurants and cafes so that you could sit outside and enjoy the view of the city whilst you ate.
It looked so beautiful, we walked around the entire square, just taking in the sights before finding a very nice restaurant for tea. When we walked into the restaurant, it looked more like a cafe, but then the waitress took us downstairs and we were surprised to find a beautiful vintage style restaurant lit by candlelight.
It was exactly my style!
We took a moment to look over the menu before ordering. I chose a tequila sunrise cocktail as my beverage and the lamb chop with fried cabbage and mash for my meal. Jacob ordered a local beer and a margarita pizza. When the food arrived, it looked and smelt amazing. The service was great, very friendly and very fast. The food was delicious and very filling, we skipped dessert and asked for the bill once we had finished eating. Overall the meal came to 130 Zlotys (polish currency) which is roughly £25 back home! This was for two main meals, a beer, a cocktail and a Jack Daniels with Coke. Amazing value for money.
After tea we went to have a look inside St Mary’s Chapel. It was absolutely beautiful and we were able to light candles in memory of our loved ones which was really nice. After this we headed back to the hotel and went straight to bed, ready for Valentines Day in the morning!
For Valentines Day we decided to book The Hard Rock Cafe for tea. I was excited to get a new Hard Rock t-shirt to add to my small, but slowly growing collection. However, we had a good few hours to kill before tea, so we spent the day exploring!
We started the day with a Costa Coffee date where we sat outside in a warm cosy glass booth. I ordered a Ruby Hot Chocolate and Jacob ordered a Caramel Brownie Latte. They were insanely good! We sat there for a little while, just chatting away and enjoying our surroundings.
Then we went for a horse and carriage ride around the old town. This was probably the most expensive thing that we paid for during our stay in Krakow, but it was sweet and we enjoyed it. It cost 250 Zlotys which was around £50 for a 25-30 minute ride around the sights. The horse and carriage took us around the different areas of The Old Town including Wawel Castle, which we decided to walk back to later in the day for a walk around.
After our horse and carriage ride, we split off from each other for an hour or so, so that we could do some independent shopping and picture taking. I bought myself an adorable Krakow dragon plush keyring and some fridge magnets for family members back home.
When I met back up with Jake, he handed me a beautiful rose and a little bag of goodies. Inside the bag were two super cute cupcakes, a heart-shaped dreamcatcher, a sweet little heart bracelet and a necklace pendant. I was not expecting such unique and heart-felt gifts this year with being in a different country, he always manages to make me smile.
We grabbed something quick for lunch and headed up to Wawel Castle for a little look around. The ticket office was closed for tours, but the outdoor grounds were open to the public so we were still able to take pictures and take in the sights. It was really big and the architecture was beautiful. We walked all the way around and down the hill at the other side to stroll along the river and see the Dragon Statue. The dragon statue is said to breathe real fire at regular intervals throughout the day, sadly we did not see this during our visit, but later found out that we could send a text message saying ‘SMOK’ to 7168 in order to make the dragon breathe fire!
After we visited the castle we headed to a Parrot Show. This cost us 20 Zlotys per person (Approximately £4) and it was not at all what we expected. We were expecting a show, put on by professionals with the parrots (such as talking, singing, riding bikes and doing tricks) however, this was not what the attraction was about. Instead, we were given towels that had a hole cut out in the centre, to put over our heads (making us look ridiculous, but it definitely made us laugh) and some bird food before entering a small room with lots of beautiful parrots and birds. We could feed the birds and they flew around freely and would come to land on you if they took a liking to you! Jake was not too impressed by this discovery as he is terrified of any creature that flies within 10ft of him! Although I have to say, his jumpiness added to my entertainment.
After the Parrot Show we headed to The Hard Rock Cafe for our Valentines meal. We were seen to and seated fairly quickly and there was live music playing which was really nice.
I ordered the rack of ribs and Jake ordered chicken fajitas. The food came out very fast and the waitress was really lovely, very friendly and made our visit a pleasant one. The food was incredible (I did not expect anything less!) We stayed at the restaurant for a while, enjoying the music and talking, and then we eventually asked for the bill. Overall for both of our meals and three drinks (two soft drinks and a beer), the bill came to 150 Zlotys (£30!!) This is extremely cheap for a Hard Rock Cafe, if anyone visits Poland I highly recommend that they take the Polish currency with them as everything works out much cheaper that way.
After our meal we purchased some alcohol from one of the local stores and headed back to the hotel for a quiet night in.
The next day marked our last day in Krakow. We checked out of the hotel and placed our bags in the storage room available there before heading into The Old Town one last time.
We had another Costa date, but seeing as the weather was fairly warm, we ordered two cold drinks, an iced latte for Jake and a mango, pineapple and papaya smoothie for myself.
After that, we took a walk down one of the side streets that we hadn’t been down before. We came across lots of amazing paintings for sale. I fell in love with them and if I had the money, I definitely would have purchased multiple paintings or a large painting to take home. I loved them so much that I simply could not leave without one, so I picked a small painting of some of the buildings in the main square where we had sat. It cost 50 Zlotys (£10) and it came with a small wooden stand so I can place it on my desk, or it had a magnet attached to the back so I could place it on the fridge. I absolutely love this little souvenir.
We also paid for an attraction called Laser Maze. This cost 20 Zlotys (£4) and it included a mirror maze, an infinity room and a virtual reality rollercoaster. The mirror maze was really fun and a little bit creepy. Me and Jake went different ways and then I could see three of him and I had no idea which one was actually him and which was a reflection! We had unlimited time in here so we stayed for a little while enjoying the maze. Then we headed into the infinity room which was a small room in which all of the walls, the floor and the ceiling were mirrors and there were lots of lights all around them. This made the room look much bigger than it was and it was strangely calming to be in there watching the lights change to all different colours. After taking some pictures and selfies in the infinity room we joined the queue for the virtual reality rollercoaster. For this, we had to wear a VR headset and stand on a wobbling platform. Through the goggles, it looked like we were sat in a minecart moving along a track. The platform we were standing on wobbled as we watched to make the video feel more realistic, it was not the best virtual reality experience, but it wasn’t the worst and it certainly passed some time for us.
Overall our stay in Krakow was amazing. We crammed so much into our three-day stay and it was a beautiful city to visit. We are looking forward to booking more city breaks like this in the future (such as Paris, Brussels, Berlin, Amsterdam and Prague to name a few on our list!)
Please, if you are looking to visit Krakow, take The Yarden Aparthotel into consideration, it is in a nice quiet location, just a ten-minute drive from the airport and a ten to fifteen-minute walk into the main square. The hotel itself was nice, nothing fancy but perfect for a short break!