As if the England chill isn’t chilly enough, we decided to ring in the New Year by flying off to Poland; a location not so well known for its temperate climate and sunny disposition. But please, no one said being an intrepid explorer would be easy!
Everything was overcast and colourless when we arrived in Krakow, and taking the train from the airport to the city centre had us looking at each other like “what have we got ourselves in for?” Everywhere we looked, abandoned buildings moldered into the bare surroundings. Well… this was Poland I guess.
It was already getting dark (at 3pm) as we searched spooky courtyards for our hostel (no signage anywhere… thanks guys!). We dumped our stuff in our private room and marched off to find the Old Town. And here, FINALLY!, we found some life.
The Christmas market was still in full swing, with twinkly lights and food stalls and so many horse drawn carriages. We drank mulled wine and shivered in the chill of the medieval city. It was like an actual fairytale.
And then, later, as we sat in our hostel room researching things to do in Krakow, we discovered that we actually were in an actual fairytale.
Two words: Dragon. Bones.
This city was home to REAL DRAGON BONES. Guys!! GUYS!!!! The bones of a bon(e)afide dragon were a twenty minute walk away!
Of course on our next free day we set out to Wawel Hill to find Wawel Cathedral and, most importantly, the bones.
Such a crazy hodge-podge of a building! –Also I may or may not have been chased across this patch of grass by an angry Polish security guard…
And there, at the entrance, with no plaque or anything to tell you what they were, we spotted them. The bones. Of course they’d be chained up outside the cathedral, what were we thinking expecting barriers and glass and signs telling us not to breathe too heavily. These were dragon bones! Leave them outside to the elements all you want, they’re indestructible!
Strangely enough we seemed to be the only people who knew they existed. Barely anyone spared them a glance in their haste to enter the church.
And don’t worry, we did make sure we were looking at the right thing. We also found out how the dragon was defeated. The legend goes like this:
There’s a cave under the cathedral. And in this cave lived a monstrous dragon. (Come on guys, don’t go building cathedrals above dangerous dragon lairs! Anyway…)
This dragon was super mean and no one liked him. So two brothers came up with a way to defeat him. They fed the dragon animal skins, but little did the beast know that they’d hidden sulfur in the hairy bundles. He swallowed it down and boom! The sulfur burned his belly and the evil creature was defeated.
Now I don’t want to go criticizing Polish legends, especially since I’ve seen the genuine bones with my own eyes, but come on. If there’s one thing a dragon’s belly is, it’s fire proof.
But still. Dragons! And in the summer you can even visit it’s old lair. Imagine!
Instead we climbed up the bell tower and made a wish on the wishing bell (and also looked out this horribly blurry window).
One last thing we had to do in Krakow was eat some Polish foods. We chose Bigos, because when you’re freezing your patootie off, all you want is the heartiest, meatiest, hottiest, pickled cabbagiest stew you can find. And it also helps that the restaurant described it as “Grand Master of the Royal Hunt”. Yes and yes.
Another thing we tried while strolling the streets of Old Town were these grilled cheese things. They tasted a lot like halloumi. So squidgy and delicious!
Krakow: the gift that keeps on giving. Oh, and dragon things. Don’t forget those.