I suppose many cities have tragic landmarks. The Tower of London witnessed executions and torture, Rome’s Coliseum hosted spectacles of grisly death and martyrdom and Washington’s White House now has Donald Trump living in it.

However, Krakow seems to have had more than its fair share of dreadful history, and mostly within living memory. Hitler’s invasion of Poland spelled trouble for the city’s Jews and the Soviet occupation wasn’t much kinder to any religion.

Reminders of the holocaust include Krakow’s Jewish ghetto, Oskar Schindler’s factory and the nearby Auschwitz.  I’ve just re-watched ‘Schindler’s List’, which I last saw in 1994. Apart from making me wonder whatever happened to that nice Mr Neeson, it was a graphic reminder of what went on in Krakow in those troubled times. For those that haven’t read the book, or seen the film, it is nothing to with shopping.

201908JJ poland krakow oskar schindler factory scrap metalI felt obliged to watch the Hollywood version again because, on our visit to Schindler’s Factory, the introductory film about Schindler and what he achieved wasn’t working. I think they rather rely on that to put the rest of the factory tour into context. Although it was interesting, the exhibition doesn’t really mention him again. So it was more ‘factory’ than ‘Schindler’s Factory’. Granted I learned a lot about the Nazi occupation but the mysterious Mr Schindler remained exactly that, a mystery. However, I did learn quite a bit about the manufacturing process of enameled metal goods.

The main picture on this article is from the map in Schindler’s office. Note the German spelling of ‘Krakow’, so you can at least deduce that he was German.

I did think about asking for a refund but that would have been in incredibly bad taste, and the entrance fee had cost next to nothing. This is the case for most things in Poland, for us visitors from foreign shores. Hotels, food, beer and pile suppositories are all incredibly cheap. At the time of writing, a pint of draught beer in Poland costs around £2.30. On our bankrupt little island we’re not looking at much change out of a fiver after a visit to the bar. I suppose we benefit from Poland not being in Euro-land as they have something called the Zloty as their currency. The current exchange rate is a wheelbarrow of Zlotys to 5p.

201908HR poland krakow mehoffer house cafe nice beer bottleAs well as being cheap the food is very good, although quite calorific. I can’t say that we had a bad meal and I should know. As it was so cheap I felt obliged to order everything on the menu. I developed quite a liking for Warka beer, potato pancakes and pierogi dumplings and, since I’ve got home, I’ve become a frequent visitor to our local Polish delicatessen. No doubt the novelty will wear off when I have the results of my next diabetic blood test.

Considering that Poland has great beer, amazing food, a complete lack of litter, excellent public transport and an interesting mixture of historical culture and contemporary infrastructure it makes you wonder why so many Poles thought that moving over to the UK was a better option? Apparently a lot of them are now moving back to Poland, having made enough money in the UK to buy half of Krakow.  I’m guessing that making bigger money was the reason they came to the UK in the first place. As for the decision to move back to back to Poland, they’re probably also concerned about the impact that Brexit might have on them.

As for me, I’d be quite happy to live and work in Poland. Oops, I forgot, after Brexit I won’t be allowed to. Thanks again Boris.