Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Krakow, Poland

So this was probably my most diverse trip out of all my travels. We left on Thursday early evening and came back late Monday night (or I suppose very early Tuesday morning), which gave us four almost complete days in Krakow, Poland. Almost double all my other weekend trips (Paris and Dublin were only a day and a half). So some thoughts on Poland:
1. VERY cold. We were also walking around a lot and outside most of the time, which didn't help. Not used to the cold...at least not without snow clothes.
2. Everything is VERY inexpensive. The exchange rate was excellent for us (which is the main reason we added on the Poland trip last minute), so for every pound we changed over, we got 5 Polish dollars (or zloty). It was great for once to be rounding down what I spend and not UP like in London.
3. The food was delicious. And cheap. A lot of sausages and potatoes. Actually I take that back, the desserts we were not impressed by. Good food, bad desserts.
4. Almost everyone spoke at least a little English. We had no trouble with communication or getting around.
5. VERY VERY clean. Nothing like London where there is rubbish lying on the streets everywhere.
6. The people were so friendly.

Okay so the first day we were in Krakow we drove about an hour outside of Krakow to visit the very notorious Auschwitz Concentration Camp. I know, it's not a very happy or uplifting start to our Poland adventure, but it was incredible and a true once in a lifetime experience. How many people can say they did that...we started off with a two hour tour at Auschwitz I, which was the smaller of the two, but more preserved that the other. Then we took a bus over to the much larger Auschwitz II: Birkenau and took a one hour tour there. It was gloomy and raining, which sort of fit the setting, and kind of eerie to be in the presence of such pain, anguish, death, and hatred. Here are the pics.

Sign reads, "Work makes you free"

Clothing of the prisoners here at Auschwitz, just a thin layer even in the dead of winter. Many didn't even get shoes to wear in the cold winter, snowy months.  

Hair from the prisoners that was cut off and used. 

Wall where thousands of people were executed. 


Famous entry way into Auschwitz, shown in many films including Schindler's List. 

Trains carts that brought the prisoners into the camp center. 

Ruins of the gas chambers. Many were bombed to destroy evidence. 

Alright so moving on to more uplifting scenes in Poland. The next day we took an hour and a half journey outside Krakow, to the Tantry Mountains in the town of Zakopane.We had to take a giant cable car/ski lift on cables contraption up to the mountains. It was ridiculously cold and windy but the panorama was beautiful! I was not prepared for such extreme weather so kinda froze. Plus I only had on normal boots with a slippery bottom, so I fell in the snow a couple(okay maybe more than that) times. But I survived and eventually warmed back up. 

He's from the O.C...enough said. 

I know sorry, it's a lot of pictures. It was just so pretty. So the next day and a half we spend just exploring and sightseeing Krakow. There was a Christmas market just a 10 minute walk away from our hostel, so we went there almost every day for food and souvenir shopping. They had delicious food, hot coco, and mulled wine (basically warm spiced wine, I'm not a fan). For a sausage and a side dish, usually roasted potatoes, vegetables, or dumplings, it was about 21 zloty (which comes out to about 4 pounds or 7 dollars). We also visited the castle in Krakow and viewed some beautiful architecture. 

The Castle

Market area, you can see the wooden barrel stand, that's where they sold the Mulled Wine. 

Food stand. 

Christmas Markets

More markets

Pretty far from home. 

Card games (and beer) entertained us at nights. 

The whole crew (minus Ryan who is taking the picture). 

That concludes our Polish adventuring. It was a perfect last trip to end on, and I'm so glad I decided to go. Here's the update: took my Dermatology final earlier today (guess what wasn't fun...getting home from the airport at 1:00 am, and THEN staying up to study for my final), had a free dinner with The London Eye ride tonight, writing a paper tomorrow, then fitting as much in as I can until my flight on SUNDAY!!! It's coming quick. 

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