Is This Love?

12 July 2021

I look at myself and can’t quite believe it: one part of me has just done a facepalm while another is humming a cult song once sung by Maryla Rodowicz about adventures outside Kraków, getting up to mischief and carefree times (lyrics by Agnieszka Osiecka). And because my soul longs for this mischief, and the time in the capital of Małopolska passes more slowly, I have returned here after a decade in Warsaw to rekindle my romance (or is it true love?) with Kraków.

I was supposed to be here just in passing, until May, yet July is almost here and I’m not going anywhere. I long for August when the city is at its most beautiful in the scorching sunlight…

On the trail of Kraków


I wander around the city and I delight in it – everything is amazing once again. The beautiful buildings seem so much more visible now that they’re not obscured by crowds of tourists. I am guided by the perfect holiday novel (one which must be devoured in the garden or under the tree with a glass of chilled juice or a cheeky vino): Maryla Szymiczkowa’s crime thriller, set at the turn of the 20th century, in which a bored middle-class housewife Szczupaczyńska (as thrifty and nosy as befalls a Cracovian) sets her mind to solving murders. As she does so, Szymiczkowa – a persona created by co-authors Jacek Dehnel and his partner Piotr Tarczyński – takes us on a tour of the city. Histories of individual tenement houses, the old courses of the Vistula and Rudawa rivers which once flowed down today’s Dietla and Retoryka streets, all the latest gossip, colourful local dialect and sharply observed customs all come together to put today’s Kraków in a fresh perspective. History becomes a living sensation; it is exciting; it makes us fall in love with ancient walls; it makes us want to take up sleuthing and go nosing around hidden courtyards – and not just at Egyptian House…

Maryla Szymiczkowa (Jacek Dehnel, Piotr Tarczyński) | “Mrs. Mohr Goes Missing” is now out in English, translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones


Faces, mirages

All being well, Kraków’s buildings will continue to stand here for centuries to come, so how about seeing something which is around just this summer? I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t recommend something from the Photomonth in Kraków festival which I co-run. One of the exhibitions – my favourite! – is on at the Manggha Museum until 5 September. The title itself – Tomasz Machciński. Thousands of Faces, Hundreds of Mirages – suggests something camp, ironic, multidimensional. If you’ve seen Machciński’s photos, I bet you couldn’t quite believe your eyes at first – and the more you learn about his opus magnum, the more outlandish it becomes. Tomasz Machciński isn’t from New York, Warsaw or even Kraków’s bohemian circles, although I have a sneaky suspicion he might be a reincarnation of Andy Warhol. He lives in Kalisz, and ever since 1966 he has been running something of an eccentric performance art project, producing a kaleidoscope of self-portraits, exploring myriad styles and ethnic, racial and sexual affiliations. The Manggha exhibition space is filled with the images showcasing his unique drag style. By exploring the imperfections of an ageing body, the artist takes on myriad identities: mad hobos, conscripts, panto kings and savages, and by trawling for second-hand clothes and cheap makeup he builds countless female personas, rivalling Cindy Sherman – one of the best-selling photographers working today.

28.05–5.09.2021 | Manggha Museum

Feast at Wawel

We’ve got a delectable event coming up on 16 July: a feast at Wawel Castle accompanying the breathtaking exhibition (yeah, I know it’s carpets, but really) All the King’s Arrases. Returns 2021–1961–1921 – and of course I’ll be going! The chefs (Marcin Sołtys, Janusz Myjak and Łukasz Cichy) and sommelier (Anna Bocheńska) have analysed the accounts of the royal kitchen from the days of King Sigismund August, when the monarch commissioned the tapestries to mark his latest marriage in his neverending quest for a heir, and prepared their own interpretations of dishes using ingredients from the period. As usual, the delicious banquet will be accompanied by fascinating stories told by Bartek Kieżun – anthropologist and culinary author.

16.07.2021 | Renaissance feast at Wawel Castle accompanying the exhibition All the King’s Arrases...


Kraków Travel
Kids in Kraków
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