Kraków & Warsaw, Poland
My grandfather always told stories about going to Europe. He had some of the best stories and I remember how his love for travel encouraged me to go everywhere he went. I wanted to experience all of the wonders from his past. And so, I decided to go to Poland.
Here are the details of what I did just in case you're curious about what happened beyond some pretty pictures!
bold = write this down so you go
BOLD ALL CAPS = GO HERE/DO THIS
Courtney and I started off in Krakow and went into the Jewish Quarter since that's where all the good food is. For brunch we found a lovely place that had 50% off everything (Zenit) and plus, Poland is already so cheap! It was delicious. We wandered throughout the city and went into the main square where all the pastel-colored buildings are. Then we went to the National Museum of Poland where we saw a Leonardo Da Vinci exhibit and saw his painting of Lady with an Ermine. For dinner we treated ourselves to soup, a baked-potato-lasagna-type-dish with mushroom sauce and some hot chocolate! Afterwards we decided to see Black Panther in theaters because we were both itching to see it and could not pass up the chance for a cheap movie in English!
Friday was a day full of bus rides and tours. We grabbed a bagel from a coffee shop nearby and then got picked up by our tour bus. We began at AUSCHWITZ and had a guided tour there. It was extremely sad and eerie to be there. Courtney and I both held back tears throughout the entire tour. It's crazy to suddenly see all of my history lessons from past classes come to life and to really see the place... There were other people in a different group singing and laughing and goofing around and I wanted to smack them. Our tour at Auschwitz took about 2 hours to go through each building and learn everything. Then we went to Auschwitz II BIRKENAU and continued the guided tour for another hour or so. It was so cold there and Courtney and I just kept saying how we couldn't imagine this weather as a prisoner... the conditions, everything. We also noted how there were certain things we learned that we hadn't learned from our American textbooks and thought it was interesting how different history is from the Polish perspective. At the end of our tour, our guide said, "let this be a reminder for the sake of humanity." Overall, I can't put all of my thoughts into words. It was truly a one-of-a-kind experience that hit my heart in a way no other place has. Once this tour was over, we headed back on the bus and headed to another tour. Luckily, they allowed us to get some food beforehand as well and so Courtney and I split a large pot of pierogis. Then we went into the Salt Mines which were gorgeous and surprisingly interesting! The whole tour lasted another 2 and a half hours and we went 327 meters deep into the tunnels. It was definitely jam packed day and one I'll remember forever.
On Saturday we had a quick breakfast and then caught a train to Warsaw. It was only 2 hours and by far the nicest train I've ridden in Europe so far! Once we checked into our accomodation for the night, we wandered into the Old Town Market Square where it still looked full of Christmas festivities. There were light hung up, an ice skating rink in the middle and little stands to get warm food and drinks. It was very cute. For dinner we went to a place called Barn Burger and had the most delicious burger I think I've ever day. I'm not sure exactly what was on my burger since it was all in Polish, but man it was good and very filling!!
Sunday was short and mainly a day for traveling back to Florence. We had a simple breakfast: a bagel sandwich, hot chocolate and pastry they called a twister. It was all delicious. We window shopping a little bit and looked here and there until we caught our bus for the airport.
I LOVED Poland. I didn't expect to like it as much as I did, but it was refreshing to be in a bigger city. Plus, the exchange rate and the prices are fantastic. One three course meal was rarely over $15. Incredible. Poland is a place I would definitely love to go back to.