Poland Wrap-up Part I: Make Your Own Poland Itinerary

Poland was an amazing country to visit, and truly one of my favorite trips I’ve taken during my three years living in Europe. But you know what the funny thing is? The trip almost didn’t happen. I have always wanted to visit Poland because when I look at my varied European ancestry, I’m more Polish than anything else. I’ve always wanted to step foot in Poland and connect to my roots on some level. But each year, for some reason the trip seemed daunting to plan, so we kept putting it off. Until Michael just put his foot down and booked round trip airfare to Krakow, knowing that this commitment would motivate us to pull it together.

If you’re interested in going to Poland but are in the same boat, I want to encourage you to put your reservations aside and plan a trip! The hardest part for me was putting together an itinerary that captured the highlights of this large country. Here are some ideas to help give you a head start.

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Day Trip from Krakow #2: Auschwitz-Birkenau

I've really hesitated about sharing the other day trip I took from Krakow. There’s nothing cheery or uplifting about this trip, and a bunch of people were surprised that I would go to such a location while on vacation. I hope to share my trip sensitively and respectfully because I can’t write about my time in Poland and leave this bit out. 

It’s one of the reasons I came to Poland in the first place.

I’ve always been interested in WWII history, especially the facets of the war surrounding the Holocaust. When I learned in school about the horrible events that happened, I was intrigued because I had so many questions. How could this happen? How could there be so much evil in one’s heart to do this to another human being? The scale of the operation, the swiftness with which everything was carried out, and the hate behind it just left me questioning how this mass murder of European Jews (along with other minorities) could happen in a blink of an eye.

The way these events played out in my mind when I initially learned about them went like this: Germany was reeling from the heavy loss of WWI, a new party came to power, and as it gained momentum its radical, hateful ideology somehow came out of nowhere and took hold. Now, later on, I’ve realized from my travels in Europe that the discrimination of Jews didn’t just come about in the 1930’s. I've stood in Nuremberg’s main square and enjoyed its famous Christmas market in the shadow of the Frauenkirche. A church that was built from the rubble of the synagogue that stood there, seized and demolished in order to create this square. I’ve been to Prague and have seen the old Jewish cemetery, its tombstones piled up on top of each other because the Jews were contained to a very limited area in the city. I know now that the manifestation of this hatred was a long time in the making - centuries of discrimination built up to the Holocaust.

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Now that You're in Krakow...Get up and Go!

Bon lundi! 

I just got finished gushing about how much I loved Krakow and now this week I’m going to tell you the day trips you should take outside of Krakow. I know, I know, I sound like a hot mess who can’t make up her mind. But really it plays out very consistently in my mind. You see, you need to tack on two more days to however long you were planning to spend in Krakow to allow for time to see the nearby area. And by making Krakow your base to explore, you get to come back to the city in the late afternoon in time for dinner and some drinks in Kazimierz

The two popular day trips to do from Krakow are the Wieliczka Salt Mine and Auschwitz. Clearly both sites are very different from each other. They are about an hour drive apart and while you can squeeze both into one day, I was glad we had the time to split the two up and visit one a day. I’ll be sharing about each this week. After all, both made my 10 most memorable experiences in Poland list so I have to expand a little on what made each of these worth leaving beautiful Krakow for! 

Krakow is such a joy to explore...but this week we're going to leave and see what else is nearby!

On another note, you may have noticed last week that I have switched to Disqus for commenting. Sorry if I lost any comments in the process or if it created confusion. I love hearing from you and hope that this change will allow for more discussion and conversation! Let me know what you think :-)

The 10 Most Memorable Experiences in Poland

I just got back from a two-week trip traveling throughout Poland. Yup, you read that correctly. Poland. I've gotten many quizzical looks, and even questioning natives asking why I chose Poland for a long vacation. The short answer is I have always wanted to go due to my largely Polish ancestry. That, coupled with my mounting desire to explore more of Eastern Europe after I fell in love with Prague (my only prior experience in the general area), led Michael and I to book a 16-night adventure in this country. These ten moments/places/things left an impact on me and convinced me that Poland is such an underrated destination for tourists. So when are you planning to visit Poland?!

Here are the top ten things (in no particular order) that stood out to me on my trip:

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