George Brandon discusses Team Callen’s recent team trip to Amsterdam, including a visit to Ryder’s newest office which opened in February this year.
As my first experience of a Ryder team trip, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to spend three nights in a city I had never visited nor knew very much about. We arrived at the airport in anticipation and excitement but if you’re going to have any trip hiccups, make sure to get them out of the way early. Our team managed to tick ours off before we got off the tarmac with half of us almost ending up in Vienna and the other in Prague – though it has to be said the latter mistake was on the pilot, who was quickly corrected by a member of the cabin crew. I’m not sure that makes the dilemma any better.
Luckily, we all touched down in the right city, unscathed. Our journey from the airport into Krakow itself was one at sunset and surrounded by rolling green hills. This was the first of many stunning views during our stay that was quite the revelation.
We arrived in darkness, which did little to hamper the grandeur of the Town Hall Tower nor the demanding crown jewel of the city, Wawel Castle, which perches on its eponymously named hill drenched unapologetically in gold.
Daylight showcases the city on a whole new scale. While the medieval market square and immediate neighbouring streets give a compact feeling, the sprawling surrounding areas offer an array of walkways that could take you in any direction. Yet with the addition of tourists that quickly fill the streets from early morning, the sense of denseness continues throughout the city.
Despite these often crowded streets, you’re never too far from the tell tale sign of soft hooves hitting cobbled stones and enchanted carriages being pulled by horses donned in elaborate feather headdresses. Suffice to say we found ourselves jumping out of their oncoming paths on more than one occasion. You’d be forgiven for being fooled into thinking you had woken up in a medieval fairy tale.
Much of the original Old Town still stands having survived the brutal onslaught of the second world war, a major draw enticing some seven million people to the former royal capital each year. A day spent in Auschwitz was humbling and horrifying and as the memorial site monument states, “Forever let this memorial be a cry of despair and a warning to humanity.”
The culture across the city is preserved to its utmost. We spent much of our trip on foot which, as an outsider, I would consider the best way to experience the depths of the town.
It would have been rude to not indulge ourselves in the fantastic Polish cuisine and local Vodka which comes in every fruit and herb flavour you can imagine – so we did, but only in the spirit of immersing ourselves in the city culture of course.
Krakow has so much to offer, sometimes overwhelmingly, that it was difficult to pack into three short days. Needless to say it’s a place none of us would think twice about revisiting. Thank you to Ryder for the opportunity.