On Tour: Krakow

After Angloville, I only had a short amount of time to spend in Krakow and I regret not spending another day there. I only really got to see the city centre. Personally when I travel, I like to see the city in depth. It’s why I prefer to go somewhere for 3-5 days and take it all in rather than go on a cruise that goes to multiple cities over 3-5 days, but you only see it on such a surface level. Were you really there? Still, I had a great time in Krakow and I got to see quite a few cool things in this beautiful city. If you want to find out more about my adventures, keep on reading!

Getting there

I was exhausted by the end of the second Angloville programme. I just wanted to get some sleep and get away from people. We got to the city centre in the afternoon and by the end of the day I was ready to get away from everyone. Remember when I said this was the programme I felt the least like I fit in? There were a couple of people I felt that were snobbish, self-righteous, looked down upon me, and were just straight up ignorant about Jewish history and LGBT history (I get it if you don’t know much, but at least be willing to listen, learn, and ask questions if you need clarification or want to know more). I guess it’s storytime.

I’m often in a progressive, secular bubble on Twitter and (to a lesser extent) Facebook. It doesn’t help that I have a tendency to be opinionated and outspoken about things I believe in: atheism, progressive politics, animal rights – I’m unapologetic about that. A lot of things relate back to politics and social issues. You know the saying, “the personal is political,” right?

I’m lucky that I don’t have that many political disagreements with my family, except for with one of my cousins who I was really close to for years. But that got strained because my cousin started getting more and more traditionalistic and religious and staunchly pro-life, voted for Trump because she’s a single issue voter on abortion, so much so that she donates to pro-life organisations and even started working at one of those crisis pregnancy centres. That was the final straw. You can have your opinions about abortion, fine, but the minute you manipulate these poor, worried, desperate, confused women to keep their baby and lure them into a fake abortion clinic, that’s when I have to say enough is enough. You’ve lost me. I can’t support that. Do what you want with your body, but I’m a firm believer in “my body my choice”.

This came up in conversation and I mentioned how I didn’t like how religion is so divisive, leads to so many wars, and classifies certain groups (women, LGBT people) as second class. I was thinking about this walking around Poland, a country my great grandparents fled due to anti-semitism. They didn’t want to leave at first, but by the 1900s, things were looking bad and they were only going to get worse, so they left and my great grandpa left for America around 1907. If they didn’t leave, they would have ended up dying at Auschwitz. World War II is not that distant history, just a few generations back. Oppression doesn’t end as soon as equality/anti-discrimination laws are passed, it has after effects. It scares me that people are starting to forget the impacts the World Wars had on this world.

I learnt all about the misogyny in Judaism after I left the religion and talked to my grandma about it. She said that’s why she’s been agnostic for a while, because women are treated as second class. Many religions have a sexism and a homophobia problem. This isn’t to say that all religious people are sexist or homophobic, but there is definitely a significant percentage that believe those things. It’s like saying there’s a racism problem in America; it doesn’t mean that every American is racist, just that there is systemic racism in America.

Now, these two girls were putting words in my mouth, strawmanning me, calling me hateful, asking why religion oppresses people like me, and trying to pry and dig into my personal history. Did they not see my “Shy, Bi, and Ready to Die” shirt? I’m sorry, I don’t want to talk about private stuff with people I barely know. Please respect my privacy. Demanding that people tell you their life story can be triggering to some who have had traumatic experiences with religion.

The one girl who was Christian was hypocritical, saying that there’s no problem saying America has a racism problem, but as soon as I say Christianity has a homophobia or a sexism problem, then that’s not okay. What? Religion is not immune from criticism. Religion is an idea and it can and should be looked at with a critical eye and questioned. We should question and explore our beliefs and ideas, that’s part of growing and learning.

No one came to my defence. Looking at it from a psychology perspective, people don’t like to be on the losing, unpopular team. It’s called the bandwagon effect. Instead, a lot of people dogpiled and made me out to be evil. What is right isn’t always popular and what is popular isn’t always right.

I felt antagonised. I felt insulted that these straight gentiles were explaining oppression to me and straight up denying sexism in religion. At no point did the two girls going after me say, “Hey, this topic is making me feel uncomfortable. I want to talk about something else. Thank you.” I would have gladly changed the conversation if they just said that. I was the one who was asking to change the topic, but they kept going.

Anyway, it made the next few hours so awkward. I needed to find a way out and I got the opportunity when everyone was going on a pub crawl and I saw one of the girls who was mean to me was going to be there, I was like, ‘ight, imma head out.’

Image is of SpongeBob Squarepants looking tired and getting up from a chair holding a remote control. Caption says: ight, imma head out

That was the right decision. I didn’t want to hang out with a person who made me feel uncomfortable and I don’t like to drink that much because I’m a lightweight and I get tired very easily when I drink. Lesson learnt, don’t talk religion or politics around people you don’t know well. At least this didn’t happen during the camp. If it did, I would have found a way to leave early.

City Centre Sightseeing

I thought that people were joking about the dragon at Wawel Castle breathing out fire, but no, that’s for real!

Fire Breathing Dragon at Wawel Castle Krakow

The medieval town square, Kazimierz, and Barbican/City Walls are also beautiful. It’s no wonder it’s one of the most popular cities to visit in Poland. Here are some pictures I took:

Pictures of the town square and surrounding areas

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Love the architecture at the castle

Kazimierz and a beautiful Irish Setter I saw there. I hope the dog was okay because it was a hot day.

A view of the river from the castle

Food!

I didn’t have a lot of meals in Krakow because I was there for such a short time, but what I had I enjoyed and there was no shortage of vegan options. I was lucky my hostel provided free breakfast so I took advantage of that on my last day.

Moaburger

The first meal, I was spending time with fellow volunteers and since most of them weren’t vegan they picked a burger place called Moaburger that had all sorts of options. The vegan burger they had was a falafel burger. It was good for the price, but a bit dry and I think the portion of BBQ sauce was a bit stingy. I love dunking chips in sauce.

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Veganic

Completely vegan restaurant with a lot of good options. I went for pasta with vegan pesto and a smoothie. Portion was small, but food was great!

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While I was there I took a picture of all the Polaroids I took on my trip. Mostly of Prague, but I think there are a couple from Krakow.

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Pod Norenami

This was my favourite meal in Krakow. I had this really spicy curry. A bit on the pricey side, but that would mean that I’d pay about the same in Ireland. Since I wasn’t here for long, I thought I’d treat myself.

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Shout out to my good friend and Topaz level Patron, Patrick and my friend Matt.

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