Staying in Kraków

In addition to tourist-y things and the all-important list of places to eat and drink, it seemed like a good idea to do a quick rundown of some of the more practical aspects of my travel to Kraków. Really, this is mostly an excuse for me to rave about the wonderful Cracow Hostel, but I guess I can mention some stuff about costs and public transportation and whatnot that might have been useful to know before I got there.

So, to start: where to stay. Assuming you’re a poor college student like I am, you’re in luck, because Kraków is an awesome budget destination. We stayed at Cracow Hostel for £10 a night, and it was an absolute steal. The location is unbeatable – it’s right on Rynek Główny, which means it’s just a quick walk from the Kraków Głowny train station (which is where you’ll end up if you take the train to and from Kraków Balice airport like we did) as well as all the tourist spots in Old Town and Kazimierz. The super-friendly staff are willing to help you make the most of the location; one of the receptionists helped me find a good takeout spot on the first night, and another booked our Auschwitz tour for us. Continue reading “Staying in Kraków”

Eating (and Drinking) in Kraków

For some reason, you don’t hear people raving about Poland as a culinary destination in the same vein as Italy or France. After just a weekend in Kraków, I’m left wondering why. Maybe the quarter or so of me that’s Polish is enough to genetically program me to never want to eat anything other than pierogi and śledzie for every meal for the rest of my life. But considering my friends of Italian and Greek descent loved the Polish cuisine too, it must just be really good food.

I’ve always been a pretty big fan of pierogi, but I never had any idea exactly how delicious the dish could be until I tried some real Polish ones: Continue reading “Eating (and Drinking) in Kraków”

A Weekend in Poland

Early Saturday morning, after two train rides, a stint on the London Underground, and a night spent trying/failing to sleep on a wooden bench in London Stansted, I finally arrived in Kraków, Poland for a weekend trip in what is probably one of the less obvious tourist destinations for someone with all of Europe just a quick flight away. But, being part Polish, I’d always wanted to go, so I grabbed a couple of friends and we went. And it was so much better than any of us had expected.

I knew visiting Poland would be nice just because of my ancestral ties to the place, but as it turns out, Kraków is just a lovely place to visit in general. Even though we were only there for a weekend, I’m probably going to have to write a few posts to cover everything – the food and drink we found definitely deserves its own post, as does our day trip to Auschwitz, and our hostel and other practical stuff probably does as well, so those posts will come in the next couple of days. If you read all of these posts, I fully expect you to book a holiday to Kraków immediately. Honestly. It’s that good. And it’s super, super cheap, so there’s really no reason not to go, especially if you’re already planning to be in Europe. Continue reading “A Weekend in Poland”

Breakfast at Bill’s

So this morning, I made the totally reasonable decision to wake up at 3:30AM so that I could watch the Community panel at PaleyFest. Which was worth it, seeing as I’d already missed the 30 Rock panel Paley put on, and the panel itself was great – the whole cast did Britta’s pizza dance. And after that was over around 5 I had several extra hours before my 9AM seminar, so I made an actual responsible choice and went to the library (which is blessedly open 24/6) to do some reading before class.

Anyway, what I’m getting at is that by the time I got out of class at 10, it felt more like 2 and I figured that early-morning library run meant I’d earned a nice big breakfast instead of a sad attempt to subsist on the toast and Marmite I made at 5:30. So I went off to Bill’s, a place I’d been meaning to try for weeks. The interwebz said they serve one of the best breakfasts in Brighton. Continue reading “Breakfast at Bill’s”

A Day at Stonehenge & Bath

One of the coolest things about this country (and all of Europe, really) is the history. I’m pretty sure that prior to coming here, the oldest building I’d ever seen only dated to the early 18th century. Maybe Massachusetts Hall at Harvard. Even the fort in my hometown that was built in 1839 seemed ancient to me (to be fair, forts had been erected on that site as early as 1755 and they were just destroyed a few times by the French… and some Americans… and the British… so there’s a little more history than the 1839 date suggests).

Compare those buildings to what I saw yesterday, when I stood in the remains of a Roman temple and spa dating back to the first century AD and finally got to see the mysterious arrangement of rocks that’s been standing in Wiltshire for millennia. Stuff from the 18th century seems like such small potatoes in comparison – it’s a whole different historical ballgame here. Continue reading “A Day at Stonehenge & Bath”

Fun with British Politics

One of the items on my study abroad bucket list was to deepen my understanding of the UK political system by getting involved with a campaign or political group here. This started to look like a possibility when, a week and a half ago, I ran into someone from the Liberal Democrats student group on campus – he was selling chocolate cake (obviously, this signaled that they’re good people) to help defray the costs of a trip to Parliament they were taking. I bought some (extremely tasty) cake, got myself invited on the Parliament trip (which was incredible), went to a couple of meetings at a local pub, and now I’ve spent a day campaigning for the Liberal Democrat candidate in the contentious Eastleigh by-election.

In case you’re starting to worry: No, I’m not planning on doing a bunch of political blogging here. I have plenty of other platforms for my word vomit about politics. But the experience of participating in a campaign in a foreign country was definitely interesting. Continue reading “Fun with British Politics”

Exploring Stanmer Village

Yesterday, after a productive brunch with friends (we planned and booked a trip to Kraków over full English breakfasts, so expect a post about that adventure mid-March), we decided to take advantage of the gorgeous weather and go for a walk through the South Downs National Park, which surrounds our university’s campus. Considering we’d just had pretty heavy breakfasts, it seemed like a good idea to try and burn a few calories.

After taking in the gorgeous views of the surrounding countryside from the top of a big hill next to campus (and trying/failing to befriend some cows grazing nearby), we noticed the village nestled at the bottom of the other side of the hill. And, you know, it was beautiful out and we were feeling adventurous, so we wandered on down. Continue reading “Exploring Stanmer Village”

Thoughts on Marmite

One of the few things I really knew about British cuisine prior to my arrival here is that Marmite is a source of controversy – people seem to either love it or absolutely hate it. So I knew I had to try it for myself at some point when I was here to see which camp I’d fall into.

Today, almost exactly one month after my arrival, I finally picked up a cheddar and Marmite panini for lunch at a café on campus. Continue reading “Thoughts on Marmite”

Brunching at Cafe Coho

As someone who spends most of the year in the New York area and fully intends to move to DC after graduation, I’m kind of obligated to be obsessed with brunch. This is totally fine with me. Much like my lady hero Leslie Knope, I love breakfast food. And I’m addicted to coffee. And I also don’t mind day drinking. Brunch is a magical combination of all of the above.

Full disclosure: today’s brunch wasn’t so much a proper brunch as me getting into town later than expected and ordering from the breakfast menu at one of my favorite cafes at noon. As such, mimosas were not in the picture. But I think it still counts. Continue reading “Brunching at Cafe Coho”

Happy Pancake Day!

Growing up Catholic (attending a Catholic elementary school with the plaid skirts and everything – the whole deal), the Lenten season was a reasonably big deal and got a decent amount of attention. So imagine my surprise when I move to the UK and all of a sudden there’s this pre-Ash Wednesday Pancake Day thing that I’d never heard of. My religious education seems to have been woefully incomplete.

To be fair, I thought we had the Lent stuff pretty well-covered with Fat Tuesday, but then, what’s the fun in celebrating by overeating? I can do that any day of the year. A day when it’s acceptable to have pancakes for breakfast, lunch, and/or dinner? That’s a little more special. Continue reading “Happy Pancake Day!”