November 2006

If May is the month for young lovers, and December heralds the season of good cheer, November is without doubt the time to get chronically depressed. There's no getting away from it. Nature has pulled the rug from under our feet and it's one grey day after the next. Doom, gloom and yet more doom. And then a bit more gloom for good measure.

Faced with all this gothic grimness, what is the sensitive soul to do? Listen to the Sisters of Mercy? No. Read Anna Karenina? Definitely not.

Luckily enough, Cracow does have some extras to sooth your soul. The Second Festival of Polish Music will be bringing in talent from across the country, whilst the Audio Art and Unsound festivals should seduce electronica aficionados. A retrospective of the decidedly upbeat painter Rafal Malczewski (son of the venerated Jacek) looks set to steal the show at the National, and there's also the Film Earthquake Festival, where directors will be competing for the glorious Golden Dinosaur.

Equally, if not more important at this time of year is the seventeenth century Polish motto 'Jedz, pij i popuszczaj pasa' (Eat, drink and loosen your belt). The deck-chairs and parasols may have been packed up, but the burning hearths of Cracow's restaurants and cafes offer cosy consolation. Camelot does an excellent barszcz. They (and dozens of other haunts) can introduce you to such Polish peculiarities as mulled beer and hot Krupnik (a lethal honey concoction).

But if you're local and in need of a dash of something otherworldly - and that's otherworldly as in tropical rather than ghouls and gizzards - then try Horai or Casa Susana. There's also an intriguing new nightclub right on the square - Folia. And the cinema is always welcoming at this time of year - Scorsese's The Departed gets our vote, but Roger Moore fans should steer well clear of Casino Royale.

Finally, a major new hotel has opened in Podgorze called Qubus. It's boldly gone where few hotels have gone before, investing in an area that really needed a helping hand. If you can't find a room in the Old Town, you should be able to snap one up there - Podgorze is destined for great things!


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