I originally had no intentions of going to Poland – nothing against it, but I was looking toward more popular tourist cities like London, Barcelona, etc. Then the lineup for Open’er Festival came out and all of a sudden, I roadtripped down the west side of Poland. Here are some highlights from each city:
Gdansk: First stop was Gdansk. I knew nothing about this city, but it was a good meeting point before the festival. Turns out, it was the perfect place to start checking out all of the beautiful town squares that Poland has. The only real sightseeing I did was checking out the Old Town (and getting my first order of Polish pierogi), but it was beautiful.
I was totally fine with hanging out at the hostel, The Mamas and Papas hostel. It’s run by Mama, who was a savior when it came to navigating the city, and Papa, a Deadhead who has pretty much convinced me to go to Polish Woodstock during this trip. I spent two nights in, talking with the other travelers in the hostel and meeting Sam and Erin, who would accompany me and my friend Mackenzie to Open’er. (Erin is Mackenzie’s flatmate in Prague, Mackenzie and I have mutual friends from Temple, we met Sam on Reddit.) Good group for sure.
Open’er Festival: At the request of my crew, I’ll refrain from drooling profusely over Chet Faker (ok but he covered Moondance and No Diggity and was absolutely beautiful and fanta….), so I can talk about all the other artists at this festival in Gdynia. The Libertines, Alabama Shakes, Hozier, Major Lazer, The Prodigy, Tom Odell, Swans, Disclosure…..the lineup was killer and the vibes were good. Everyone was super friendly (special shoutout to our Latvian friends) and no one was too wild. Overall, one of the top festivals I’ve been to.
We also went to the seaside one day! Music didn’t start until 4 PM, and the insane heat got us up pretty early so we had time to kill. (The music also lasted until 4 AM….saw a lot of sunrises in Poland.)
Poznan: Sam lives in Poznan, so we hitched a ride down there and stayed for a night to have even more pierogi and grab drinks in the Town Square. We stumbled upon a Jack Daniel’s bar and got red white and blue jars by accident….USA! Poznan is a hip little city and if I could go to their juice bar every day I would. Shout out to Juice Drinkers.
Kraków: After grabbing a ride from the most fun BlaBlaCar driver ever, (it’s a ridesharing app) we made it to Kraków. If I could spend a summer in any city, so far it’d have to be Kraków. It’s beautiful, it’s a nice size (not huge, but with tons of things to do), the bars are great and it seems like there’s a ton of music festivals. We stayed with David, who is quite a character but really interesting to talk to. Nights were spent exploring the city, and the one full day we were there Mackenzie and I went on a big tourist tour.
Auschwitz and the Salt Mines: These were the two main attractions I wanted to see near Kraków. Auschwitz was powerful. I tried to ignore the idiots who thought it was appropriate to use Selfie Sticks and pose in front of the gate — honestly, I understand wanting to document the experience but I’ll remember the day without instagramming it. The massive amount of human hair shaved off after the selection, the ruins of the gas chambers, the massive size of Birkenau, the constant feelings of nausea from the tour…they’ll stick.
Anyway, the salt mines. Those were breathtaking. I didn’t get too many pictures of the massive chapel carved out of salt (by 3 people, mind you), but I did grab a few. Don’t be alarmed, since bacteria apparently can’t grow on salt (or something like that), the walls were totally lickable. Tasted pretty good. (Wish we had brought tequila and lime, but then again, Mackenzie and I got lost in the salt mines regardless and ended up with a Polish tour group.)
Currently, I’m on a train to Prague with Mackenzie and Erin. Big shout out to these girls for hanging out with me the past week, through all the shows, all the pierogi, all the awful pronunciation of Poznan (by me). Shout out to Sam for driving and bringing that umbrella and jumping around during Disclosure and seeing Swans with me. Latvians are really awesome, Columbians have a strange sense of humor, and Julia from Kraków was the best bar hopping tour guide/fairy. Even though I’m technically on this trip alone, I haven’t spent more than a day by myself since the first two days in London. I’ll post more updates after Prague, Vienna, and Villach! Here’s a bonus photo of a fantastic billboard in Poland.