This month, we hook up with Michał Ostrowski, better known as “Crazy Mike”. If you’ve spotted a customised black and red Trabant cruising around town, you can rest assured it’s one of Mike’s madcap fleet.
Crazy Mike has ridden roughshod over Lenin’s earnest legacy by turning communism into an entertaining (capitalist) package tour. Curious customers can book a ride around Nowa Huta – the onetime “ideal communist city” – for an idiosyncratic glimpse of the “good old days”.
Check Crazy Guides.
Krakow Post: If you could live anywhere in Krakow, where would it be, and why?
Michał Ostrowski: My dream is to have a house in the middle of the Ojców valley. It looks like a little alpine village. There are parts where there are no tourists, and you feel like you’re in the mountains, but you’re just 20 km from the centre of Krakow.
KP: If you were crowned king of Krakow, what would be your first move?
MO: I would educate people – particularly budding entrepreneurs. I would start a campaign to open lots of bars in various districts. I hate the situation that if you want to watch a match, or eat some food and drink a few beers, you have to go to the Rynek or Kazimierz. It’s annoying. I like Prague, in that you have bars everywhere with good food.
Also, I would change the traffic policy. I would ban private vehicles throughout the entire city, and increase the number of taxis, buses and trams – increase them a lot! I’ve realized that making wider roads is not helping at all. There are just more and more cars – it will never help.
KP: What’s one place tourists can’t miss when in Krakow?
MO: Nowa Huta.
KP: Is there anything that’s overrated about Krakow?
KP: If you had to erect a statue to any Cracovian, dead or alive, who would it be?
MO: Bogusław Cupiał and Janusz Filipak – they really improved Krakow football. Whatever you say, their investments pushed Krakow teams way up the premier league.
KP: What are some of your regular eating and drinking haunts in the city?
MO: Omerta for good beer from small breweries. Bar Smak on Karmelicka for delicious, cheap Polish dinners. Pauza and Drukarnia for a great, authentic atmosphere where you can hang out for hours.
KP: What’s your biggest annoyance about living in Krakow?
MO: The lack of bars in the outlying blocks. The domination of Zywiec, Tyskie and other big breweries in clubs. There are so many small breweries in Poland with delicious beer, but they’re absent in the bars!
KP: Where do you go to escape for the weekend?
MO: Prague, Budapest or Zakopane.
KP: What’s a secret tip for staving off the winter blues?
MO: Skiing and snow. If there’s no snow, then there’s no option – you have to be depressed.
KP: Finally: pierogi or nalesniki?