Return to the Grandfatherland (Krakow, Poland)

At some point in the 1910s, a tiny Solomon Eisenrod (Grandpa, to me) stepped off the boat from Poland and arrived in the New World. He’d left, thankfully, before things got really horrific for Jewish people there and he never looked back. Its unlikely he would have survived otherwise.

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Jump ahead about a century and I had a choice to make regarding my summer plans. After a few days in Budapest, would I venture to Prague or Krakow? I knew I didn’t have time for both so I asked the internet for help. I read somewhere that Prague was like Disneyland (touristy, sanitized) and my mind was made up.

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In an uncharacteristic lapse in planning, I figured we could just hop a bus from Budapest to Krakow but this wasn’t at all the case. I’m warning you now, attempting to do this by bus is a bad idea. After hours of effort returning no better response than “wait by the side of the road over there and the bus will come by to get you at 5am… probably”, I booked a last minute €30 flight to Warsaw instead. From there, it was a comfortable and quick train ride south that saved us time, money and one surely nauseating bus ride.

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Krakow is everything I want in a European city. Cheap everything (honestly less expensive than Mexico or Morocco), delicious food,  quaint tree-lined streets and a deep, ever-present history. There are two main areas that most people visit, Old Town and Kazimierz, the Jewish Quarter. To dig into some of that history (literally – cause there’s an underground museum, get it?) I spent some time in the historic old center but my favorite place to hang out was Kazimierz. Undergoing a recent revitalization, this area is full of new cute cafes yet still retains its character and a good dose of youth counterculture.

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I can’t say I felt any sort of mystical, genetic connection to Poland but as a visitor, I’d definitely go back. I’m not sure how Grandpa would have felt about that.

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2 responses to “Return to the Grandfatherland (Krakow, Poland)

  1. Alexis, great idea to visit “the old country”!! I don’t suppose you had any relatives left there? Or an address to visit?
    Well, if you ever get homesick for Poland, come visit us in Chicago!! A bigger Polish city than Krakow, actually!!
    Next time, go to Prague. Yes, lots of tourists. Still beautiful? Yes! It’s been enough years that I was actually confusing Prague and Budapest in my head just now. I know you loved Budapest (and the baths!!), and Prague is similar. But not similar enough that you should skip it! :-)
    Thank for sharing!

    • No, no relatives left there that I know of. In fact I’ve never found anyone anywhere with our last name that wasn’t immediate family. Strange!

      I definitely want to go to Prague too! I’ve heard great things about it since, I just didn’t have enough time.

      And Chicago is on my list for someday! I drove through it once on the way to Minneapolis but I don’t think that counts haha

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