Kraków According to Dominika Słowik

12 January 2022

Non-Magical Magical Kraków

Kraków can be a bit overwhelming. Like all popular tourist destinations, it likes to gloss over its mundane sights or customs behind a façade of tradition. And yet I prefer this routine, everyday Kraków with its slight unpredictability, so I will take you on a tour to some of my favourite spots.

Dominika Słowik

Another Timeline

If you know me even a little bit, you know my absolute favourite spot in Kraków: the library at Rajska Street. I’m certain that I wouldn’t have written the majority of my books had it not been for the cosy surroundings of its reading rooms, the hot coffee and the infinitely patient and helpful librarians. It’s a great space for work, and there is a large collection of books in many languages. When I was writing my second novel and the deadlines kept whooshing by, I wrote at Rajska almost every day. I knew the regulars: there was an old lady with plastic bags filled with handwritten notes, clad in a multilayer construction of jumpers and skirts. She took down books – usually dictionaries – and copied down whole paragraphs. I couldn’t help thinking that I’d got caught in a time loop, like Ijon Tichy in one of his journeys through the stars, and that I was watching myself many years later, still sitting in the library and still trying to finish the book. The moral of the story? When you visit Rajska, keep your eyes open in case you fall victim to a warp in the spacetime continuum!

photo by Klaudyna Schubert

Soul Food

On the lookout for veggie and vegan snacks in Kraków? Head to Veganik and try their oyster mushroom burgers – they are my absolute favourite and I take all my friends there. Miski on Lea Street has an excellent plant-based selection, and my favourite comfort food is just around the corner: Turlaj Klopsa with their African stew with black rice and kale nuggets. Last summer, when I was editing my latest book and wasn’t in the mood for cooking, the lovely lady from their food truck at Inwalidów Square regularly saved me and the new book with her delicious food!

photo by Klaudyna Schubert

So Long, and Thanks for the Coffee

Another absolutely essential element of my life is coffee. I am a coffee extremist, and whenever I go away I take my own beans and coffeemaking kit (even visiting friends…). A bit embarrassing, I know. I have an excellent map of the best coffee shops in town – I can tell you the best places for a brew in all corners of Kraków. My favourite hotspot is Krupnicza Street with Karma (which roasts its own beans!) and Tektura. Nearby, at Długa Street, there is Fornir with its charming garden – and while you’re there, check out the Wydawnictwo Literackie publishing house with its distinctive globe-topped turret. If you need to grab a coffee before catching the train, Wesoła and Blossom are handy for the station. My favourite spot in Kazimierz is the charming Kawalerka. I’m really into coffee from Ethiopia and Rwanda, ideally natural – if you ask for a natural drip, they’ll know what you mean!

Tektura Café, photo by Klaudyna Schubert

Djinns and Pigeons

What’s a fun thing to do in Kraków once you’ve had your Sunday coffee? Head to the Targowa Market Hall! It hosts an antique fair until noon, but if you’re like me and aren’t at your best in the mornings, as long as it’s not raining the traders will be around until at least 1pm – and it’s a great time to find bargains as merchants hope to offload as much as they can before packing up and going home. It’s perfect for souvenirs and gifts – they’ll be unique, and being second hand they’re eco-friendly to boot! You’ll find everything AND the kitchen sink: shoes (single or in pairs), antlers, Lego bricks by the kilo, books, clothes, ceramics (my favourite!), medals bearing the Pope’s face, thousands of old pictures and postcards, herbs and tinctures, prehistoric electronics, wondrous jewellery and magical lamps… And Cracovian djinns are said to take the form of pigeons!

photo by Klaudyna Schubert

Dominika Słowik
Born in 1988 in Jaworzno, author, winner of the “Polityka” Passport award in 2019 for her second novel Zimowla and finalist of the Gdynia Literary Prize for her debut Atlas: Doppelganger. Graduate in Hispanic studies. She adores her cats and hates early mornings. She lives in Kraków. Her latest collection of short stories explores a reality in which the boundaries between humankind and the natural world are becoming increasingly blurred.

The column was published in the 4/2021 issue of the “Kraków Culture” quarterly.


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