15 things in 5 days in Krakow

Krakow is definitely a must on your list of places to visit in Europe! What a charming city full of complicated, sad and recent history that captivates almost anyone. I spent 5 days running around this wonderful place with my mother, discovering different things, so here is a list of 15 things you have to do in 5 days in Krakow:

  1. Main Square – We were so lucky to be located right by the square, which is the central point of the entire city. From here you can pretty much go anywhere in the surrounding area so it is a good location to be close by, even just as reference point so you don’t get lost.
  2. Wawel Castle and Wawel Cathedral – There is so much more to do in this old town area other than just visit the castle and cathedral. With about 9 different tours available, we were only able to do 3 of these and I would highly recommend going there early so you have a choice of tours.
  3. Auschwitz – Such a horrible but fascinating and informative visit. I would advise you book this in advance, even before you land in Krakow. Most hotels will arrange if for you and it will take up the whole day. When you return in the evening make sure you do something fun as well so you don’t feel too sad and overwhelmed by it.
  4. Schindler’s Factory – If you are located near the city centre, I would advise you to get a taxi to the factory and then walk back. Through your walk I would also visit the last fragment of the Ghetto Wall and the walk will take you straight to the city. In terms of booking your ticket, if you go first thing in the morning you will get your ticket quite easily and you can do a combined ticket for other museums in the city and nearby too.
  5. The Jewish Ghetto – When you return from the factory you will go across the ghetto where you will still see ruins of buildings that were victims of the atrocities committed there during WWII.
  6. The Ghetto Wall – You should definitely stop by the last fragment of the Ghetto Wall. It gives you some perspective as to the impossibility of trying to escape the designated area they were given.
  7. The Gestapo Houses – Again another horrible but phenomenal experience. I found it deeply moving to see the cells and all the markings of things that people wrote in the walls. If you read my previous post about the cells (click here) you will be able to see one of the markings. Again really easy to find, it is just North East of the Ring Gardens.
  8. St Mary’s Basilica – Just beautiful and located in the main square, you can’t really go wrong! Just make sure you don’t visit during mass time, as you won’t be allowed to take any photos. 

  9. Krakow Cloth Hall – An amazing building but also incredible place for souvenir shopping.
  10. Wieliczka Salt Mine – Again I would advise you to book your tickets for this early, as like Auschwitz it is the most popular place to visit. You can also get disabled tours and these usually run at 8 AM which is fine as the mines will be practically empty and it is great to get around. The tours are led in several languages.
  11. Old Synagogue – If you haven’t ever seen a Synagogue before this is the perfct one to visit. It is located just outside the Jewish Ghetto and you will see several of these around but start with this one for a traditional building.
  12. Saint Peter and Paul Church – It is on the way to the Wawel Castle from the Main Square and it is just a stunning building to go spend some time in or even see for a concert.

  13. Church of St Francis of Assisi – This building is located in the intersection between the Main Square and the road that leads you to the Saint Peter and Paul Church. Its brick exterior should not fool you, the interior is very beautiful. If you doubt my words, go visit.

  14. Planty Park – These are the ring gardens I keep talking about. The Planty Park surrounds the whole centre of town and you can pretty much get anywhere simply by walking it. It was a favourite place of mine in my five day visit, as we got lost looking for alternative routes, admiring the trees and nature and enjoying the fresh breeze and scent that wafted into the city from this huge park.

  15. High Synagogue – Again this one is located near the Jewish Ghetto, and it is in reconstruction at the moment, but it is a beautiful and very peaceful building to visit. You will be asked to keep your modesty, so girls with bear legs will be given a scarf to wrap around their waist.

So here you are: 15 things for you to do in 5 days in Krakow! I hope you book a visit there soon and enjoy it.

Suicide Squad – film review

 

Everyone that knows me quite well, knows that Comic Book films are my thing. I watch them all, all the TV series and read as many of them as feasible without spending my entire paycheck on them. I am a little bit addicted. So as expected, after a very hyped campaign, I was very excited for the new DC installment of baddies turned good for a film, Suicide Squad. All my dreams were about the come true, DC was going to show off Marvel with a cast of villains that were going to be witty, smart, and ultimately WIN! It was going to revolutionise comic book cinema. It was going to be dark, gritty and epic. It was going to be all these things and it failed, miserably.

** Spoiler alert!** 

Here is where it all went wrong. Firstly, if you have seen the numerous trailers for the movie, Leto’s new portrayal of the iconic villain, the Joker, was pegged to be the most terrifying of all. With news of Leto’s method acting technique getting the best of him and almost driving him insane, audiences were expecting the Joker to play a much more prominent role. And why wouldn’t they? Not only are we looking at the re-introduction to a major DC character since the death of the late Ledger and his incredibly dark and involving interpretation of the Joker, but also he was featured in almost half of the trailer! He was so heavily shown that audiences were led to believe that he would be the villain of the film. How wrong we all were! In fact, all the hype around the character, the fact that Leto apparently drove himself to brink of insanity leaves me feeling incredibly disappointed, because hey ho, he wasn’t that great! Yes he cackled in a creepy way, but actually as far as intimidating goes, he was far from it. This film only introduced his obsession with his partner Harley Quinn, and she in fact was much more creepy than he was! I am so phenomenally devastated with Leto’s flat performance, considering as I said before, he went practically barking mad. Well, it didn’t work, maybe method acting is not his thing after all.

Cara Delevingne! Again with the confusing trailers! Let’s see, in the entirety of the trailer, which struggles to showcase all the characters as there are many to introduce, Delevingne is only seen once – ONCE! Which many audiences were grateful for as she is not an actress, but indeed a model, and really no one expected her to be the villain. As in she was actually the villain of the entire movie, with two plots to follow, two parts to play and yet, I still cannot quite believe she was truly elected for such a demanding role. Delevingne’s performance is by far the most awful in comic book history. What were they thinking? She is meant to be the major villain of the entire film and she simply cannot carry it. The issue is that this is even more evident by the fact that she wasn’t heavily featured in the trailers. Also, they put her side by side with Leto, who not only comes with a background of critically acclaimed performances, but embodied the much loved Joker who historically is worse of the worse of bad guys. Enchantress just would not have had the same weight nor influence in getting those audiences booking tickets. It was all an elaborate marketing ploy to get you through the door, when in fact we saw very little of Leto and too much Delevingne! Big mistake. Finally, who on earth is her brother? The big metal thing that seems to be killing off all of the main characters, who is that monstrosity? And why is he not listed on IMDB? AND WHAT IS HIS NAME?

Okay let’s move on from those two big disasters to talk about the biggest let down of all. I believe I could have loved the Joker in this and I could have even loved Enchantress, if the plot was not a total shambles and the cinematography of this movie was all over the place. Ayre, writer of two of my favourite films The Fast and the Furious and Training Day, left me bitterly infuriated with this movie. I cannot believe how disjointed the film felt, with visible plot holes and cuts. It is a real shame that everyone knows that something was clearly wrong with the original cut of the film as the intended May launch date was postponed to August so that they could record some more scenes. I am curious what the original cut was missing as this second one seems to be missing lots! Do you think there was a re-write? I almost believe there was, as it is clear that some of the original scenes from the first trailer went missing. I honestly do not know where it all went wrong but Ayre had everything, from a strong cast, to incredible story lines that he could have intertwined so beautifully to make the movie a comic book success! I felt the loosely put together plot, the 20 minute introduction to the characters that almost took away from the film, the lackluster and forced chemistry between June/Enchantress and Griggs, this unexplained brother and the lack of any information in general, disappointed DC fans or at least me thoroughly. You had it all and you still could not deliver.

I have to say that amongst the terrible choices made for this film from a written and directorial perspective, some saving graces did exist. I think Margot Robbie stole the show, with most of the witty comments and craziness being given to her. Her delivery if Harley Quinn was impeccable, with a good dose of madness, gumption and simply love for her Joker, Robbie delivered a balanced performance but mostly carried a film which was struggling bringing it to the forefront. Robbie’s Quinn and Will Smith’s Deadshot were the two characters that in a movie so filled with people and overshadowed by a huge star cast, delivered a full story and arc to their characters, actually developing them in the short amount of scenes and speech they were given. A movie that relies so heavily on CGI and fantastic combat scenes, and yet these two really demonstrated that they are able to take their character and still make it work even if they are not meant to be the focus of the story. Another pleasant surprise was Jai Courtney’s Boomerang. The Aussie villain was hilarious, his one liners perfectly timed in the midst of all the rubble and his commitment to the role and pink fluffy unicorn making for some of my favourite scenes of the film. These 3 I am really looking forward to seeing again in the DC sphere. I think Leto will be able to deliver a good performance if provided with a bigger chance of character development and a stronger script.

All in all, the entertainment values of the film for me did not outweigh the huge disappointment I felt when watching it and it saddens me that DC had everything to give audiences a brilliant movie and really did crawl themselves into the comic book moviesphere with this one. This film that could have delivered and stolen fans from Marvel over the DC, this film that had so much hype and publicity and, perhaps unintentionally, deceived its public. This film that was meant to be the saving grace of DC after the awful movie that was Batman vs Superman. It is a shame but it won’t stop me from watching the next DC installment and probably commenting once more on their epic failure OR on their actual, unlikely success.

3 rotten tomatoes out of 10 for this one.

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Both images featured in this post were found on Google and do not belong to me.

Walking in Krakow

For all you people who believe there is more to life than an underground/subway, you are right! There are so many places that can be discovered by foot and truly appreciated after you have lost yourself in a really quirky and romantic cobbled street to get there. The sights you miss when you simply rush from tourist spot to tourist spot in a subway is deeply saddening, so my mother and I decided to save the pennies and work our leg muscles, and walking Krakow was a treat!

With lots of people and companies harassing you to take their guided tourist train tour, to join their groups and do their thing, it is pleasant to step back from all of that and just do what you think is right. Discover the places you want, get to know a city in your terms and to find the hidden treasures only you will come across in your own path.

Walking the city centre

Krakow’s Main Square hosts a variety of interest. If you walk around the whole square, hidden behind the cafes and all those esplanades you will find some plaques identifying the houses, who they belonged to and their historical importance.

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At the very centre of the Main Square you will be able to see the Cloth Hall. It used to be a building where people would come to trade all sorts of goods, but now it is open every day and showcases the most stunning handicrafts from Poland for you to buy. Great for souvenir shopping.

You will also find in the city centre St Mary’s Basilica. This iconic building is the cover of most postcards of Krakow and though it may seem like a simple brick construction from the exterior, the inside tells a very different story.

You will get a chance to spot some horse and carriages which you can take a lovely tour of the city in. I personally did not take one, but found them all very charming and the horses very sweet. It is a miracle that they keep the city so clean and not smelling of manure with so many horses around.

Make sure you have one of your meals in the Main Square, with so many restaurants available you can enjoy some real treats.

Further afield

Still a short walk away, you can follow a road directly to the Wawel. Here you can enjoy the castle, the cathedral, the Dragon’s cave and so much more. No more than a 10 minute walk from the Main Square it is definitely worth a visit and has so much to offer.

On your way to Wawel, make sure you take a quick peak at the St Peter and Paul Church. Such a beautiful building and it is worth spending a few minutes being mesmerised by its interior. Simple, beautiful and yet haunting. I definitely recommend it.

The Ring Gardens! Surrounding the entire centre of town, a ring garden which is worth walking around to see the city from a different perspective, enjoy the greenery and fresh air as well.

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Krakow is a very easy city to see by foot, so unless you are venturing out to the concentration camps and the salt mine, save your money, save the environment and put your best walking trainers on! I think everyone should feel encouraged to enjoy their cities by walking and discovering some really lovely hidden gems.