Apparently going to Poland over Easter weekend is a bad idea – lots of shops and eateries close, especially nice little vegan, independent places. Fortunately, Soya Cafe in Krakow had assured me they would be open on Easter Monday and they kept their word, so that is where we ate. It was a quiet place, nice and light and spacious, and a really relaxing place to spend an hour or two.
I had been eyeing up the cakes on their Instagram feed for a while, so we were determined to have a light meal and save some room for a treat. With that in mind, we both ordered cheese and ham toasties. Alas, they only had one toastie-maker, so there were staggered arrivals: when the first plate came out with two neat little toasties on it, we engaged in a whispered debate about whether this was all we were getting, or another one was forthcoming. Happily, it was the latter. Loaves of bread in Europe are insultingly small to a Brit, so the size was a little disappointing, but they were packed full of good vegan cheese and meat – the cheese was nicely melted, and it was the perfect light lunch.
And so, to the main event: cake! I had this Snickers cake at the front: it had a chocolatey, baked base, a creamy tofu layer and a sticky peanut butter and chocolate top. It was absolutely delicious, and managed to be neither too sweet nor too sickly.
Dr HH was similarly impressed with his hazelnut cake, in the background there. He loved the nutty top and said it had just the right level of sweetness. The best thing about Soya Cafe – yes, even better than the cakes – was the hot chocolate. It was so thick and rich, it was the ultimate hot chocolate. I generally have a ‘no repeats’ policy on holiday so I can try as many places as possible, but I was tempted to break it for that drink.
The salt mines were also open on Easter Monday, so we had booked ourselves onto an English-speaking tour after lunch. There are various ways of organising this, but we just booked online and got a train there, and it all went smoothly. First we descended a long wooden staircase, then were led through the tunnels and shown how the mine worked and some of the statues and sculptures down there. Our guide asked a few science-based questions, which Dr HH answered easily. She also asked us to guess the miners’ nickname for this formation:
Our vegetable knowledge allowed us to pipe up in unison: “Cauliflower!” Alas, there was no prize for getting all the questions right – just the eternal respect of our fellow tourists, I’m sure.
The highlight of the tour was this chapel, entirely carved out of salt. There was a statue of the pope, and some friezes depicting scenes from the Bible, including a recreation of The Last Supper. Even the chandeliers were made of salt crystals!
As is apparently compulsory in any cavernous space in Europe, in the “romantic room” we were “treated” to a light show set to some Chopin. It was wholly unnecessary: the mine itself was impressive enough without cheap, tourist-trap gimmicks.
Yet still, an eternity in the romantic room might have been preferable to leaving the mine: the lift back up to the surface almost made me wish we’d been forced to climb the wooden stairs again. After being squished into a triple-decker metal cage, I was very much ready for more cake when we eventually saw daylight again.
UPDATE: I’ve just read that Soya Cafe closed down in August 2016. Terrible news! There were lots of other good places to eat in Krakow (discussed here), but this one was really special.