By Lindsay VartyImmerse yourself in the vibrant culture and dark history of Krakow, Poland’s second largest city and former capital, situated on the Vistula River in southern Poland. Overflowing with tradition and entertainment, Krakow is the perfect place for any wide-eyed traveller or history buff looking for somewhere exciting to teach English.
Experience the Old Town, listed as a UNESCO world heritage site, and filled with intricate gothic and renaissance architecture such as the Wawel Castle, which housed Polish Kings for over 500 years. You can’t miss the Rynek Glowny, an enormous 10-acre main market square, constantly awash with stalls selling local produce or Polish folk dancers frolicking in traditional dress. If you’re feeling romantic, take a late-night ride through the town in a horse-drawn carriage.
Check out Kazimierz, the infamous Jewish quarter, which lost 90% of its population during World War II. Visit the Gallicia Museum and the Old Synagogue to discover more about its tragic and scarily recent past. Its cobbled streets and twisting dark alleys feature daily flea markets, talented buskers performing traditional Jewish music and a plethora of cool and quirky bars and cafés.
Visit the awesome Wieliczka salt mine, running since the Middle Ages and boasting 300 kilometres of underground tunnels. 20 million year old salt deposits leave glistening ‘crystal caverns’ and the impressive St Kinga’s chapel displays an array of man-made features such as chandeliers carved out of natural rock salt.
Come face to face with Europe’s haunting past by taking a trip to the Auschwitz concentration camp, where hundreds of thousands of innocent Jews were mercilessly murdered under Hitler’s commands. The site has been preserved as a museum and memorial ground, so be prepared for a brutal awakening.
Indulge in the local delicacies: sample some Bigos (‘Hunter’s stew’), Pierogi dumplings, or an Obwarzanek, a sort of giant pretzel covered in poppy seeds and considered the local ‘fast food’. Wash it down with some powerful homemade vodka, sold in curious glass jars in Szambeian liquor stores.
For most English teaching jobs, salaries start at about 40 zlotys an hour and most schools offer visa and accommodation support. Some schools even offer extra Polish language courses to their teachers. So if you fancy patching up your Polish and experiencing one of the highest concentrations of drinking establishments per square kilometre in the world, then book your ticket to Krakow!