Excerpt of my text in Diários de Viagem 2 (Travelling journals 2) freely translated from the original Portuguese:
“In Poland, food is cheap and delicious! Partly due to the many Soviet-era Bar Mleczny (milk bars), a kind of social canteen for workers that used to be subsidized by the state, serving cheap and nourishing meals in a grey, depressing atmosphere, mostly with one-seat tables. Polakowski is an ultra-decorated modern interpretation of these characteristically Polish establishments. The dishese, simple, but heavy on the cream, dairy and cabbage, featuring chunky kielbasas, pungent bigos, rough golanka or pasty pierogi, are ideal for workers, students, pensioners, or weary travellers.
After a few beers and wódkas, late in the evening, the simple, ubiquitous zapiekankas become intelligentsia-worthy delicacies, equivalent to Sweden’s falafels or the Portuguese bifanas.”
Kraków is definitively more touristy than Warszawa. The medieval town’s survival during WWII made it possible for the city to skip the soviet-style modernist renovation and helped preserve the atmosphere of a historical European city, with all the layers of the preceding epochs in plain view. The historical center is peaceful, if a tad busy with mostly Russian and other European tourists going about. It was at a time, the capital city of Poland, until Sigismund III Vasa, part of a Swedish dynasty of kings moved the capital to Warszawa, to be closer to all the territories that the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth ruled over.
Kraków’s historic center (the Old Town, Kazimierz and Wawel) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site since ’78 and was one of the first of its kind. The cultural DNA of the city feels very different from that of Warszawa, partly because while Warszawa was closer to Russia, Sweden and Germany, and prey to their invading armies, Kraków was closer to the Habsburg Empire’s ambitions.