Stepping into the Rynek Underground museum felt a bit like stepping into a sci-fi movie. High tech projectors, simulations, and lighting were everywhere. When entering, you literally walk through a smoke screen onto which scenes of what life used to be like in the Rynek are being played. This museum is just DIFFERENT, all caps. It is unlike any other museums you can visit in Europe. I think the museum is a must see for families with children, but for the average solo tourist, is probably not warranted as being the most expensive price of admission in the city.
Some archaeological artifacts are of course on display, but the constant barrage of virtual simulations complete with movies and sound makes the whole thing a barrage on the senses. My favorite part of the museum was not the interactive lights and sound shows but rather the outlines of where the old shops of the Rynek used to be, now buried more than 20 feet underneath the current level of the square. I spent about 2 hours in the museum and then strolled over to the castle as the sun was starting to go down.
Krakow’s castle is massive, and even though I was there for 5 days, I only got to see a fraction of it. I arrived in time to climb up to the top of the watch tower for a good look over the castle grounds and the river as the sun set. There was more than one couple having their wedding photos taken on the castle grounds that day. The backdrop for the photos was beautiful, with the old castle, the bright colors of sunset, and the stunning flowers planted all over the castle grounds. The courtyard of the castle felt almost like a garden, there were so many different colorful flowers growing there.
I went back to my apartment to rest a little after a long day of sightseeing some of the main sights in Krakow. My feet were tired but the host of the apartment I was staying at had asked me to join him and his friends going out in some of the underground clubs of Krakow that night, so of course I couldn’t say no. All of the Polish people I met were so so friendly and spoke amazingly clear English with hardly an accent at all. Some people thought that I was Polish because of my blonde hair and light complexion and started speaking to me in Polish – something that never happened in Italy, Spain, or any of the Southern European countries.
So Krakow is a main hub for Polish nightlife, especially because it is a University town. I went with the group to a small cafe along the Planty, which is a green park-like patch that runs along the outskirts of the Old Town, where the defensive walls used to be. Next, we went to a local brewery for some beer. Almost every bar and club in Krakow is underground, especially near the city center. Close to midnight (the time for going out, not turning in – just like in Spain), we started walking to another underground place.
Bouncers in Krakow seem to exist for one reason only – to make sure the number of girls going into the club equals the number of boys. A huge swarm of guys were waiting outside of the club, wanting to get in. My host explained that the bouncer was in charge of keeping the numbers even. There were three girls total, so we went in with three of the guys. The other two had to stay outside and beg other girls to take them along with them so that they could avoid the steep cover charge for single men. Hilarious. Underground, multiple rooms were commanded by different DJ’s, each playing a slightly different type of music. People danced or lounged on bar stools and couches along the edges of the room. I took the opportunity to have my Polish guides give me a highlights tour of some of their favorite national drinks, such as many varieties of flavored vodka (apricot, yum!) and spirits made in Poland. I enjoyed a fun night out experience the Polish nightlife with my new friends after a dizzying day of sightseeing. It’s safe to say I slept like a rock that night!