A whole year in the planning (thank you Covid), finally on 1st October 2021 the plans were starting to be realised for Grandad's 2020 birthday and Christmas present trip to Krakow, Poland! Ahead of leaving I had spent quite some hours working out the Covid travel requirements. These were to prove our Covid vaccination status with the NHS Covid Pass (Tiger exempt), fill in Poland passenger locator form, fill in UK passenger locator form 48h before returning and finally to do a Day 2 PCR test on our return, which had to be booked in advance with Randox at £43 each. Phew! We were off...
Our British Airways flight was due to depart at 08.30 from London Heathrow Terminal 5 so we taxied up, similarly with our big silver case and yo-yo buggy in the early hours of the morning meeting Dad / Grandad at the Family Check In area near Zone E. A seamless check in ensued, we worked our way through security (Tiger in the buggy for most of it) and walked - via Boots - to my favourite place for breakfast, Gordon Ramsey Plane Food.
We were seated in one row, with Tiger by the window, me in the middle and Grandad on the aisle for the 2h30 flight which was quite uneventful. We did drawing, made a plasticine man and the sick bags became people!
We arrived and so did our bags (always a bonus!) and were met by a taxi (90zl / £16) who took us straight to our Airbnb, a lovely 3 bedroom apartment looked after by host, Adrian. The cost for 3 nights was £277.78 and was very comfortable for us all with a small living room, kitchen and bathroom but sumptuous bedrooms with a cot for Tiger. We were in the Old Town by the Florianska Gate and in walking distance of absolutely everything.
When we arrived we all had a nap followed by a wander around the Old Town, chasing pigeons, listening to some music before dinner off the Main Square.
After a good sleep, on Saturday 2nd October, we had breakfast in the apartment and headed out to drop Dad with his Auswitz-Birkenau guide, Grazyna, who I had booked for him via Airbnb Experiences. We walked up to Plac Jana Matejki to meet Grazyna for 11.15am and waved him off. She had a minivan and he was with two other couples. When it came to writing the Airbnb review, he told me how she had been an excellent guide and "very good with older people". For £30 per person, with transport included, this was very good value and well organised.
Whilst Dad was off for his tour, Tiger and I spent time in the Old Town, walked all the way to Wavel Castle, had lunch there (followed by a bit of an epic tantrum as she was so tired!) and then walked/carried her back for nap time.
Up again and dinner was McDonalds where we met up with our babysitter, Sara Khalimova. I had met Sara via the Krakow ex pats Facebook group. She is a student with nannying experience and sat for us for 25zl (£5) an hour. Tiger took quite some time to actually go to sleep so it probably wasn't the easiest gig for her but she coped so well and kept me updated throughout the evening. For anyone needing a sitter in Krakow, her contact details are +4883449234 on Whatsapp and here on Facebook. It meant that Dad and I could go for a lovely dinner on the Main Square and marvel at the horse drawn carriages which went round and round!
The next day, Sunday 3rd October, we headed out for another memorable experience which I had booked via Airbnb experiences but you can also book directly on the Crazy Guides website page a communist tour by VW T4 1998 van and a lime green Trabant, led by the wonderful guide Kornelia. We visited Lenin's Steelworks and the Nowa Huta district of Krakow, which was built in 1949 and was planned to become a massive centre of heavy industry. The neighbourhood became an ideal urban project for the Communist propaganda and was primarily populated by industrial workers.
I had a shot of vodka (at 10am!) in a restaurant where Kornelia took us to stop for a nappy change and to watch a short film. The whole tour cost was £115 and well worth it. We were not 'allowed' to do the full tour in the 'Trabbie' because Tiger technically had to be in a car seat, and that only fitted in the van, which was a shame in some ways as doing the entire thing in the Trabant would have been amazing, but hey ho, we got a quick spin at the end! It brought back memories from yesteryear when Robin and I had met some crazy people in Kyrgyzstan who were driving three Trabants from Germany to Cambodia. Read all about that adventure here.
After the obligatory naptime (!) we headed off out again with the very lovely Airbnb photographer Michal who cost £89 for 3 hours. And by God, he really earnt his money chasing around after a 74 year old and a 2 year old neither of whom wanted to stay still for five minutes! We received some 50 odd photos when we got back to the UK. Here are the best ones...
Finally on Monday 4th October it was time to fly home. I'd arranged a taxi to the airport at 9am for 90zl (£16) for a 12.30pm flight. Tiger refused to put her clothes on and we just about got out of the Airbnb door in one piece, but then were in the airport with loads of time to spare. Poor Dad by this point had had enough of us but powered on! The flight was a relative breeze and we did more plasticine, and when we got off at Heathrow my bag was the first one off the carousel. Finally we were in a taxi heading back to reality and Dad toddled off to take the bus home. Until next time Poland!