Tradition and modernity roll side by side in the middle of Krakow (Courtesy FlickrCC/Mark Tollerman)I've just discovered an amazing tool to help me when I'm planning a trip: tripfiction.com. I'm leaving next week on a short trip to Krakow, Poland, a city I've longed wanted to visit ever since I watched (so many years ago!) the emotional, Oscar-winning movie "Schindler's List." In fact, I plan to visit Oskar Schindler's factory, which played a huge role in Steven Spielberg's blockbuster movie. It's in that building that Schindler employed – and then ultimately saved – hundreds of Jews from the Nazi death machine. The factory is now an artist-run studio space and gallery. Christmas markets will be on my list, Polish castles, a tour down into the salt mines, and perhaps a visit to Auschwitz concentration camp on a day trip outside Krakow. I'll also be checking out the food scene, galleries devoted to contemporary Polish art – and I've even booked a visit to a monastery where the monks serve up their own local brew.
Wawel Castle with the Wawel Cathedral, Krakow (Courtesy FlickrCC/J.Boyer)So it's obviously I've done a fair bit of information-gathering which is part of my craft as a frequent travel writer. But it's also been a longtime habit of mine to read fiction set in the destination I'm planning to visit. Reading dramas, mysteries or even romances set in a specific locale helps me get the flavour of a place, possibly extra insight into the personality and character of a place that is new to me. So I did a shout-out on Twitter and Facebook asking people to recommend fiction set in Krakow. That's how I found about tripfiction.com. It's simple: you type in the city or country you're planning to visit, even an author's name should you desire, and hit 'submit.' And that's how I landed on this book titled "Even the Crows Say Krakow" by James Hopkin. Ticket? Check. Hotel booking? Check. Travel guide? Check. Fiction to read on the plane? Check. Guess who's a happy traveller now?