Pros: young student town, huge main
square, many churches, concentraion camps-Auschwitz-Birkenau
Thursday, Aug 11, 2005 15:04
In Krakow. (Ok that was only to hold the place of the following
After Slovakia, I headed into Poland - first stop Krakow. Now for
those of you thinking - Poland? Let me tell you, there were tons
of tourists there. I think a main reason is Poland just recently
lifted a lot of their visa restrictions so many people can visit
without visas now. Also, Krakow is known for being a young student
town - apparently like Prague but less crowded.
I really liked Krakow. There is a huge main square and there are
always people in the square, performers/entertainers who are playing
music, singing, dancing, fire dancing, horse carraiges, and the
entire square is lined with cafes under umbrellas where you sit
and drink (again tons of places where all you can do is drink -
no eating) and watch the people in the square. Krakow was one of
the only cities to make it through WWII unscathed, so the architechture
of the square is beautiful. There are also many many churches in
Krakow, and since Pope John Paul II was from a city not far from
Krakow, there were loads of 'stuff' with both him and the new pope.
About an hour and a half from Krakow is Auschwitz-Birkenau where
the concentraion camps were. I can't explain what it's like to visit.
I took the tour which was four hours long. Before I went I asked
people how it was and always their response was along the lines
'well, you have to go.' That's exactly what I would say. If you
are ever anywhere near the area, it is most definitely well worth
the visit. By the end of the day, you really are just mentally exhausted
trying to comprehend it all.
A couple things about travel in general. Whenever you are taking
a tour, make sure you get a guide that speaks english well. I tend
to stay in the background before they break up the group to try
and figure out who I'm most likely to understand. Always bring an
umbrella. I can't tell you how many people I see run under doorways
when the rain starts. The umbrella is one thing I carry with me
everyday, no matter how sunny it is. The internet is the best thing
in the world when it comes to train schedules. A lot of train ticketers
at the station know, or pretend to know limited english and will
really only present you with one option for travel. Use the countries
train website, pick the best train to fit your schedule, and write
down the train number, departure time and station and arrival station,
and very important - date - and just hand that to the train ticketer.
It makes things so much simplier and makes you not have to wait
in the terribly long 'information' lines. Instead, you can head
directly to the one ticket window that is actually open in the line
of 10 ticket windows. It's higly amusing that in every country there
is at least 9 'decoy' windows that are NEVER open. Amusing is all
it can be when I've seen it in every country.