I hadn't been to Krakow since 2002, and my how the city has changed.
This week I spent a few days in Krakow, Poland. I had to do a bit of work there for my book, and a friend visiting from home in New York wanted to come check out the city.
The last time I was in Krakow was in 2002, while I was living in Prague as a student. Me and a few friends rented a car and drove the six hours to Poland, stopping at Ostrava in Moravia along the way. We also visited Auschwitz, and to be honest that is the only part of the trip I remember well. Krakow city was a bit forgettable for me. I remember that we were not terribly impressed with the cultural activities or the nightlife.
But things have changed immensely in the past 13 years. The city has been spruced up and restored, and there are many new museums. I visited two of them, the archeological history museum under the cloth market and the museum of Krakow under German occupation in the Schindler Factory. Both of the museums were fantastic - really well done and very interesting.
I was particularly impressed with the Schindler museum. I had expected it to be only about the factory, but when we arrived we saw that it's actually about the whole occupation. It really brought the situation alive.
We also went on one of the city's free walking tours, something partially funded by the city government. It was an excellent tour through the old Jewish quarter and I highly recommend our guide Anka.
We also visited the old salt mines outside the city, which are 800 years old. It was very cool. But also very cold! It's like a whole underground city, with huge cavernous cathedrals and statues carved out of salt.
All in all it was a lovely visit. Now I'm back in Berlin for just one day. Tonight I fly to Milan to moderate a conference at the Milano Expo about how to encourage consumers to make healthy and sustainable food choices. Then on Saturday I will take the train to Turin for the weekend. I've never been, and I'm very curious to visit the first capital of Italy. In particular, I am excited to visit the Museum of the Risorgimento, which I've heard is very good.