So first off I want to say, that this is a pretty crappy situation for everyone, especially those in the service industry, the sick and elderly, and those who have to take unpaid leave.
BUT, because we can’t always be doom and gloom, I’m documenting the lockdown in Poland from the perspective of a tourist.*
*Disclaimer: I am a polish citizen but live in the UK and have never lived in Poland. I do however speak fluent Polish (proving to only be semi-useful in this situation).
A and I originally came to Poland (separately) for an exhibition that ended up being cancelled. I, however needed to still sort out my Polish documentation so decided to come regardless, with A joining me this weekend in Kraków.
I’ve had a fairly chilled out week in Warsaw and it’s all been Business-As-Usual. But by the time I’ve made the trip down to Kraków on Friday, all the tourist attractions country-wide are shut, and all my promises to A of visiting Auchwitz and Wieliczka Salt Mine are now lies, as visiting there can be constituted as a mass-gathering and is a big no-no as far as Polska vs Coronavirus is concerned…
Massive 360 in less than 24 hours!
If you’ve never been to Kraków, the whole place is literally one big tourist attraction, and with £16 flights one way, it’s also a stag-do hotspot, a hen-do haven, it’s basically the place to be if you want a pint for under a quid
Which means every person out in the square is English. Because no other European with common sense was going to leave the comfort of their home country and risk not being allowed back. The Italians are making light of their cabin fever by dancing on their balconies, at home, while Scousers are traipsing the streets of Kraków trying to find anywhere that will serve them some kind of food- and at this point they’d even eat pickled cabbage.
Because by Saturday 14th March, Poland is slowly going into lockdown. Every store is closed, except for the odd independent, and even restaurants have been ordered to only do take away or delivery only to limit the amount of “mass gatherings” and contamination from person-to-person.
McDonalds only lets 10 people inside the building at one time, meaning there’s a queue for a Big Mac because aside from that and Burger King, you don’t need to know a word of Polish to order.
This morning we got breakfast at the hotel as usual, and then decided to head into the ghost town that now is Kraków to get massages. The Thai women didn’t give a rats arse about the infection and were glad we’d be their only customers for the day. They beat the knots out of our backs with their bare hands and 90 minutes later I came out feeling like a relaxed Mike Tyson after a few rounds in the ring.
Beauty salons are probably the safest place to head to because they wear masks all the time!
We had a wander, and all of our holiday photos are beautifully unobstructed because there are only a handful of people risking the dreaded Corona. Kraków is usually rammed to the hilt and it’s eerie actually being in a bustling city when it’s not-so-bustling.
Poland has around 60 cases of coronavirus whereas the UK has over 1,000. Poland has shut most of its borders, the UK has not. Guess where I feel safer?!
It’s pretty crap for anyone stuck here with a job or child or pet or anything else requiring attention back at home, but fortunately both A and I “work from home” so this week we’re just moving the home office to the hotel room as Ryanair announced all flights were cancelled until April 1st.
So this weekend is still about chilling for us. We’re stuck, not a lot else we can do. After massages, we did pedicures, and then we went shopping to make sure we’d have at least “something” to snack on tomorrow. The hotel has a pool, guess where I’ll be tomorrow?
Sunday’s are a write off in Poland most of the time anyway, especially since the new government decided that all shops would be closed on the holiest day of the week, so we weren’t expecting to do much anyway. We’ve stockpiled on hotel essentials which include cider, chocolate, crisps and deodorant (not forgetting that we don’t actually have anything to cook on in our room) and we’re pretty content with catching up with our shows on Netflix and Prime.
Cabin fever is a lot better at home, because you’ve got your creature comforts. It gets boring quickly, and I’m counting on that creeping in faster than it would be if we were at home. I’ll be sick of sitting so close to A all day every day that I’ll probably be gagging to get on the first flight home come April 1st.
But to be honest, I’ve been probably more chilled out than anyone about this whole situation. Years of anxiety, and overthinking, have finally come in useful because I’ve actually over-worried about things like this in the past that I’ve become numb, and I’m just letting the good times roll.
I have two weeks worth of clean pants. I also packed the bare essentials, and the only thing really stressing me out is that I only have 4 balls of yarn (after having A fly over with an extra 3 to get me through the week…). I haven’t felt the need to mass-buy toilet paper or hand sanitiser and the only downside is that I’ve got to help A calculate how to make his three pairs of pants last 2 weeks without access to a washing machine. So I think it’s best I hold onto the silver linings.
Tomorrow is a new day, let’s see what it brings…