It’s no good. All I can think about is where to go to get out of this heat. I know that by the time you read this, everything might have changed and the rains might have come back, but that’s a risk I’ll have to take.
So this month’s piece is about cool places. Not the hip kind of cool but the cold kind, the kind you rack your brains for when you need coffee and it’s the xth consecutive day of near-40C temperatures outside. For me, it comes down to a choice between places that are shaded and have a breeze and places that are air- conditioned. While being indoors on a sunny day is always a guilty pleasure, sitting in an air-conditioned cafe that never seems to be at the right temperature is often a step too far, which is why I tend to search out shaded, breezy outside spaces. Thankfully there are a few to choose from in Krakow.
In the centre of the Old Town, my first choice is usually Dym, on ul. Św. Tomasza, and specifically the tables outside, which are right in the path of any breezes that get funnelled through the narrowing street. As an added bonus, you can usually find a free seat during the day. Dym’s interior has some puny air-conditioning that doesn’t give you the full freezer experience and the metre thick mediaeval walls also do their bit to keep temperatures down. The coffee is not bad either and the cheesecake is legendary.
If I’m after a secluded outside space, then the gardens to the rear of Dynia (on ul. Krupnicza) and Zbliżenia (on Plac Nowy, in Kazimierz) usually fit the bill. Dynia’s garden is shaded by large trees and the walls of the neighbouring buildings, and it’s a great place to settle in for a chat or some reading. The seats are pretty comfortable and the coffee is OK. Zbliżenia’s garden is more compact but it’s also shaded and peaceful during the day, before the social fruit flies turn up in the evening. There’s the bonus of wide sofas, free Internet and a good chilled beetroot soup (“chłodnik” on the menu).
Top of the list, in physical, stylistic and financial terms, is the Hotel Stary’s rooftop cafe. It’s not an everyday kind of place but it’s worth going for the view and the service. They don’t seem to mind you spinning out a cup of coffee or a glass of wine for a couple of hours. The Panorama Bar is a lower cost (and lower style) alternative, being located on top of the Jubliat store on the corner of Al. Kraśińskiego and ul. Zwierzyniecka. The Panorama Bar’s décor is a throwback to the days of the People’s Republic of Poland, which only seems to be attractive to anyone who didn’t have to live through those times for real. The view from the terrace though, right across to Wawel and down the Vistula, is first class. They charge a reasonable seven złoty for a beer and the food’s not bad either. If you prefer a slightly more upmarket version of the same view, go next door to the rooftop terrace cafe at the Kossak Hotel or walk a few steps closer to Wawel Castle and check out the terrace of the Hotel Pod Wawelem.