CF Goes To Poland (Part 5: Krakow To Gatwick & The Journey Home)

Picking up from CF Goes To Poland (Part 4: Aushwitz-Berinkau), today I’m finishing this little mini travel blog series with my last couple hours in Krakow, a brief stint in Horley, United Kingdom, and a short reflection on this somewhat impulsive solo-trip.

Wawel Castle. One of the most historically and culturally significant places in all of Poland. Originally built for King Casimir III the Great who reigned in 1333-1370.
Potato Pancakes, Beef Goulash and Potato Dumplings.

On my last full day in Krakow I was a little torn between wanting to spend a little more time in Old Krakow and wanted to branch out a little bit. Earlier in the week I had been on Google Maps and noticed a massive green space just outside of the main part of the city – I wasn’t at all sure what it was, a park or trails or maybe just a big old field of nothing, but I made a point to start heading towards it that afternoon.

I don’t really like to over-research my trips too much, which is why I sometimes head to places like this with such limited information. I’m not usually too fussed about the details ahead of time, instead I’d rather just walk and wander and see where it takes me. Sometimes this doesn’t work in my favour and I wind up an hour away wondering why I am wherever it is I am, but in this case it was well worth it.

On the way to the green space.
The green space.
In the park.

After a short trek through a big open field of nothingness, I wound up in a big park – that’s what was on the map. It has a massive trail system through a forest inside it that I for sure could have spent a couple hours wandering around in.

Bits of old buildings. Not sure what it used to be but it looked really cool.

The trails themselves were a lot of fun but when I stumbled upon these old ruins I knew there was more to this park. There was a lot more than this but much of it was under reconstruction.

Maybe I’m an easy sell but stuff like this is interesting to me.

And then as I stood just above where these sit, I caught this in the distance:


Not golf.

It’s actually a man-made mound built to commemorate the life and influence of Tadeusz Kosciuszki, a Polish military engineer, statesman, and military leader who became a national hero in Poland, Lithuania, Belarus, France and the United States.

To get to the mound, you first make your way through a new museum to learn a lot more about who he was. In the briefest of explanations, in Poland he commanded an uprising against the Russian Empire in March 1794 until he was captured at the Battle of Maciejowice in October 1794. After being pardoned, he emigrated to the United States where he continued to influence politics as he became a good friend of Thomas Jefferson, to whom he shared many ideals.

Examples of what the inside of housing looked like then.
Peace pipe.
Possibly part of George Washington’s sword?
Old drums and other artifacts.
What the room that Kosciuszko lived in when he was captured looked like.
The guy.
“A citizen who wants to call himself a good Pole should sacrifice everything for his Homeland and always be decent and just”
Testimony by Gen. Nathaniel Green.
A canon.
On the rooftop before trekking up the mound.
View from the top of the mound.

It was a totally random impromptu museum trip but I’m glad that mound caught my attention. I learned quite a bit about the shaping and reshaping of Poland that has happened through the years, at times dissolving into virtually nothing only to be rebuilt again and again.

The story of Kosciuszku served to remind me how small the world is and how no matter where you live, or wherever you’re visiting, you should always do your best to be a good friend, citizen, and neighbour to those around you. It isn’t surprising that he would have fought for Poland, but that he also put his life on the line for so many others is a huge testament to his character. You can read more about him online yourself if you choose to or, if you’re ever in Krakow, visit this mound!

After a short break atop the mound taking in the sights, it was time to make my way back through the woods and along the Vistula River to old Krakow.

Wawel Castle from the other side of the river.
A theatre in Krakow.
A church in Old Krakow.
A cool door.

I finished off the day first with Polish dessert before deciding on Italian after finding a cute patio to sit on and enjoy a big bowl of pasta.

Hey, I’d walked a lot.

Karpatka. It was so good. So fresh.

I had enough time in the morning for one last latte in the town square with a croissant but it wasn’t long before I had to make my way to the airport for my flight to Gatwick airport in the United Kingdom.

It was originally just a connecting flight where I’d mentally prepared to be stuck in the airport for something like 10 hours before my final trip home to Toronto but the airline pushed the flight earlier in the day so I’d reserved a room at a little hotel near the airport.

If things had remained on schedule and on time, it would’ve meant a cool night wandering around London, England but unfortunately that didn’t end up being the case. After a 3 and a half hour delay for our flight, I finally arrived at Gatwick at like, 7:30PM and London was pretty much out of the question.

So I took to twitter for any recommendations on where to go and was fortunate that someone actually reached out with one – a little pub not far from where I was staying in Horley called Ye Olde Six Bells.

Turns out it’s an important part of Horley history – it’s over 700 years old!

If I was still bummed out about not getting to see some of London, those feelings disappeared as soon as I walked through the pub doors.

It has a charm that this Canadian girl can only describe as, “so British”. I was enthralled. I made sure to snap a couple photos just as I was leaving and the pub was closing so you could take a look, too.

The man who welcomed me in was super nice, too – made me feel right at home in what was otherwise a bit of an unusual evening for me.

After taking my time with dinner out on the back garden patio under a heat lamp, I headed back to my little hotel, which is really more of an old inn than it is a hotel, and snagged just a couple short z’s before making my way back to Gatwick airport for my flight home to Canada.


This trip marked an important milestone for me (although I’m not sure milestone is the right word, but I’m a little sleep deprived). After years and years of saying I’d one day go to Poland, I finally made it there.

It’s not exactly the way I pictured it – the trip itself, I mean.

When I first dreamt it up, it included multiple stops in neighbouring countries; Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Czech Republic… and a few more cities in Poland itself. And I always assumed when I made that trip, it would be with someone else instead of on my own.

But this is now the 3rd trip or little getaway I’ve taken on my own and I’ve learned a lot from each experience.

It’s always a little uncomfortable when you first get going on something like this. There’s a lot of uncertainty, a lot of anticipation, a lot of places you want to be sure you see or experiences you hope to have, and what I’ve been able to tell so far is these trips are almost never quite what you set them out to be.

You really have to be open minded and willing to explore new things in order to make the most out of the trip, and you have to be prepared for all the little things that’ll change your initial path. After all, there are a lot of things that aren’t in your control that’ll alter your plans.

And while I want to be pretty clear that I really do encourage everyone to try and do at least one solo trip if they have the opportunity to, one thing that becomes more and more clear to me with each one I take myself is that while everything I did was fun and enjoyable for me, I know I would’ve had a lot more fun if I were sharing these things in real time with someone else.

I think that’s something I’ve really taken for granted in the past. Sometimes it sucks travelling with other people – they want to go left when you want to go right, they want to eat when you want to sleep, they want to sit at the beach when you want to check out some lame museum – but even in all those minor annoyances, there’s something truly special about going through life with others, even if it’s just to say, “hey, look at that one, isn’t that something?”

I’m not in any way saying that this’ll be the last solo trip I ever take because we all know that if I say that, I’ll end up on like 7 more somehow, but I do want to make a more conscious effort to plan more of these types of trips with other people in the future.

Everything is better with company.

No Step. Somewhere over Toronto.

Hope you’ve enjoyed this mini series! It’s back to work first thing in the morning tomorrow so I’m turning in.


This is Part 5 of CF Goes To Poland. In case you missed them, catch up with Parts 1-4 below:

CF Goes To Poland Part 1: Warsaw
CF Goes To Poland Part 2: The Jimmy Eat World Exclusive Story
CF Goes To Poland Part 3: From Warsaw To Krakow
CF Goes To Poland Part 4: Aushwitz-Berkinau

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