A look into the past

The next day we went on an all day tour to Auschwitz (concentration camp during the Holocaust) and the Salt Mines. It was a really long day, but well worth the experience. We took a Sprinter van with about 15 other people for the tour. I specified Sprinter because we actually have a van that we’re building out as a camper! A post on that sometime 🙂 Our tour guide was great and was so knowledgable. He went into great detail about everything.

Our first stop was at the concentration camp. It was a heavy experience. I didn’t take too many pictures because I wanted to just listen and take it in. We walked around the barracks of where people crammed into. They turned these barracks into a museum with displays of personal items like shoes, clothing, suitcases, etc to photographs and stories. There was one room where I saw something extremely disturbing. If you want to know, feel free to ask me I’ll respond personally to you. I feel slightly uncomfortable stating that here. We also toured the second camp, Birkenau, that was built to ease congestion at the first camp. I know. Pretty sad.

Good thing we ended on a happy note at the Wieliczka Salt Mines! It was about an hour drive away. We were one of the last groups to enter the Salt Mines before closing. They had one main elevator so it took awhile to get everyone down beneath the ground. I must say it was a spectacular sight so see so much salt everywhere! No, I didn’t lick the walls to try, although it is tempting. There were statues, sculptures, and even a chandelier out of salt (man made of course).

It was a really long day but well worth it to see everything to see in a short amount of time. I’d recommend this tour for sure!

PROS:
Got to see two of the main attractions in one day
Small tour group ~15 people
Very affordable

CONS:
Long day – about 12 hours
Long time in the car, bring snacks!

Overall, I’d recommend to do this tour especially if you are crunched on time. It’s very informative and the sights are starkly different. I’m glad you end with the salt mines to leave it on a positive note.

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Czesc!

One of the first words I learned in Polish was hello, which is the title. One of my best friends was going to school in Krakow so we thought we’d visit her and some countries in Europe (we actually spent half of our trip exploring with her). We were spoiled with to be able to stay with her and take us around. Surprise! We were greeted with a welcome breakfast plate by her parents.

Ang lives pretty close to some cool sights so she took us on a nice stroll by the Wawel castle and the fire breathing dragon. The dragon randomly has fire lit from its mouth! I thought it was a neat feature.

Walked towards the Jewish Quarter and found some food (of course). First stop was this hip cafe/bar that had a vintage theme and had Singer sewing machines in the front. Got our caffeine fix in, which btw sadly Krakow doesn’t have great coffee. Ang made us try zapiekanka aka open toasted faced sandwiches. The one we got had cheese, mushrooms, pepperoni, pickles, sweet ketchup, and onions. There were so many stands to choose from!

Walked around some more and saw some tons of street art. It’s quirky and interesting and really made it fun to just wander around.

After walking around, we got some delicious pierogis! They are essentially filled dumplings with savory and sweet goodies. They can be boiled or pan fried. Ang took us to Pirozki U Vicenta, a really cute Vincent Van Gogh themed restaurant, but also has really good pierogis. We got apples & sour cream and a meat one. The apples with sour cream were really good!

We then walked around the main square of Krakow and it was huge! One of the largest squares in Europe. It has a gorgeous cathedral and at the top of the hour, there is a trumpeter that plays reflects upon the history of how it was used to signal the opening or closing of gates or alarm the city of a fire or enemy. The end of the song is abrupt to mimic of how he was shot through the throat by an archer.

The square has street performers, stalls selling souvenirs and goods, and rows of shops. On our way back, we stopped by to get Ang’s favorite donut – cinnamon glazed jelly filled! We took the street train back to the apartment to rest before our next busy day.

PROS:
I can’t say it enough – how affordable it is!
Easy transportation/walkable
Friendly
Less crowded

CONS:
Language can be a little difficult

I wish we had more time to visit!

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