It is an aspect of the human condition that, for the most part, people like to remain within their comfort zone. This usually means that many of us travel back to the same holiday destination year after year, especially if it ticks a lot of the boxes in terms of friendliness of the natives, things to see and do, good weather, nice food, history, culture and so on. As the saying goes: ‘if it’s not broken, don’t fix it!’ Such sentiments are perfectly understandable but in remaining within such ‘comfort zones’ we inadvertently do both ourselves and all those other wonderful destinations around the world, a great disservice!
Cracow (or Krakow!) is a perfect example of what I mean. This most historic and visually appealing of cities is located just over two and half hours flying time from Ireland so approximates what it takes to fly to any of the main destinations in mainland Spain. Located in southern Poland, Cracow is steeped in history and can compete on both an architectural and historical level with more famous city destinations such as Prague — once the number one city break destination of choice for Irish holidaymakers just a few short years ago. Cracow has everything one could possibly want of a short break destination: the locals are extremely friendly and many of them speak excellent English; the local cuisine is good and surprising value for money whilst the beer is excellent and embarrassingly cheap — even in those trendy bars in the old town where all the young cracovians congregate!
Beyond the limits of the city proper with its impressive castles, cathedrals, cobblestone streets and soviet-era suburbs, one can experience the delights of unique sites such as the Wieliczka Salt Mine which is just amazing and where one could house a whole city underground, complete with small lakes, churches, restaurants, conference centres and museums — all carved out of rock salt. Located a bit further away but easily doable as a day tour from Cracow is Auschwitz-Birkenau, the most notorious Nazi extermination camp of them all where some 1.2 million men, woman and children died at the hands of the most evil political ideology the world has ever seen. Because we must never be allowed to forget this infamous chapter in human history, it is a pilgrimage that every person should make if history is not to have the potential to repeat itself at some point in the future.
For those wishing to spend a bit longer in the Cracow area, there is always the opportunity to travel onwards to Zakopane, located in the Tatra mountains where you can enjoy world-class skiing at a fraction of what it would cost you to enjoy the slopes in Austria, Switzerland or France.
In short, take it from an experienced traveller who regularly takes the opportunity to move outside his comfort zone, Cracow is a destination that won’t disappoint! Acknowledged experts for all things Cracow-related are Wonderful_Cracow, a small specialist Polish tour operator based in cracow who feature a lot of tours of the city and environs and whom you can book through any of the Travel Centres agents featured on the map on this website! For further information check out their website at www.wonderful-cracow.com