Although I grew up in London, Poland is where my family is from and a place I consider home (alongside the UK and Cayman - I don't think anyone should have to chose ONE place to call home. I definitely have 3!) I spent every summer of my childhood in Poland, I got married there, and I LOVE going back.
This trip took me back to Krakow, the city I married the man of my of my dreams in, the same city my parents grew up and got married in and it was the first time I'd been back since my wedding - which didn't really hit me about until we stepped foot into the Old Town and it's magic took over me like I was stepping into it for the first time.
Sparkling in the sunshine the city looked breathtaking - showing off it's old buildings and cobbled streets to visitors and locals milling around the pedestrianised centre as kids ran around and music played while horses trotted around pulling polished carts behind them. The city felt like an old friend welcoming us back - the type of friend you click right back into place with no matter how long you've spent apart.
The 400 sq metre Rynek, or town square is hands down one of my favourite places in the world. It's beautiful. BEYOND beautiful actually. A place to people watch, browse the pretty souvenirs in the old market hall in the centre, climb the stairs to look out of St Mary's church tower in the corner, visit the underground museum or enjoy a cold beer - you can spend days without leaving the square and not get bored.
Wander down one of the side streets however and you'll be rewarded - each one has different treasures to uncover such as the old city gate at the end of Florianska street, or Wawel castle high on a hill at the opposite end of the city, or my personal favourite (but I am slightly biased), St Anne's church.
Isn't she beautiful? Tears filled my eyes as I stepped back inside the church I said my vows in. My parents got married in the same church as well, 40 years ago, and that was the whole reason why we were in Poland - to celebrate their anniversary. They'd planned a big party in the mountains a couple of hours away from the city. We went skiing in the Tatra mountains multiple times when we were kids but I was excited to see them for the first time in the summer. As our bus cruised through the countryside it became clear that we were in for a treat.
Arriving in Pieniny, a small spa town on the banks of the Dunajec river we checked into our hotel and started planning activities for the weekend - there is so much on offer from cycling and hiking to horse riding and rafting, there is something for everyone. It's seriously well set up for families with an indoor soft play area, outdoor playground as well as kids bikes and accessories - all ages are catered for!
It was awesome to spend time with family in the fresh mountain air and enjoy the outdoors on scenic bike rides - the river actually acts as a border between Poland and it's neighbour so now I've officially been to Slovakia!
Saturday's outdoor activities were cut short with a bit of rain but that was ok because we had a party to prepare for! The theme for my parents' Ruby anniversary celebration was "anything red" and I think it's safe to say that no one held back!
How often do you get to say "A crab, a lobster and Elmo walk into a bar"?!
Drinks in the gardens flowed into dinner followed by dancing...
Lots of dancing.
Until we could dance no more and collapsed into bed ready for the following day's "recovery" activities.
100 people piled onto traditional rafts and set off punting down the river with out local guide - who spent more time with his back facing the "rapids" than he did steering us through them!
So we took matters into our own hands.
Until an hour later we arrived in the spa town of Sczawnica - a place my Grandparents holidayed in and it's not hard to see why. Pretty houses and restaurants scattered around the river banks, window boxes and gardens draped in bougainvilia, ice cream stands selling home churned farm flavours and pretty little shops full of crafts and souvenirs, It's an oasis and the perfect place to escape to.
A cycle back along the river marked the end of our escape and time to head home, safe in the knowledge that we'd be back one day.
You can fly to Krakow daily from most cities in the UK or to Proprad in Slovakia with Easyjet if you want fast direct access to the mountains. Time to plan your own escape?