The Old Jewish Cemetery of Wroclaw, Poland

It may sound odd to some, but we’ve visited a fair share of cemeteries on our travels. It’s not morbid or creepy in my opinion - I am just interested in observing how cemeteries vary in different places. And walking around, looking at sculptures and art on tombstones, is like walking through an outdoor museum of sorts. At least that’s how I see it.

When I found out there was the Old Jewish Cemetery in Wroclaw, I definitely wanted to go. Not only did it involve a cemetery, but it combined another area that interests me - Jewish history. So off we set to the south section of Wroclaw, away from the city center to see the oldest surviving Jewish cemetery in town. By its name, you might think it is hundreds of years old. In reality, it’s not that old - it was created in the mid-19th century. 

Read More

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.

Read More

All Hype or Just Right? Krakow, Poland

Krakow. Whenever I heard about fellow travelers’ experiences in Poland, this city was one of the first words off their lips, or off the proverbial lips of blogs. Krakow was a clear favorite of many and given these high praises I wondered how it would all hold up in person. I had created high expectations and wondered if they would be met. And perhaps part of me wanted my opinion to differ. After all, had all these people set aside two weeks to travel around Poland? Surely I would prefer less touristy city like Wroclaw. 

There is certainly more to Poland than just the city of Krakow and the country deserves more time of a traveler to experience its diversity. Yet I’m going to admit it - I utterly fell in love with Krakow. It’s a must-visit on any Poland itinerary, and if I were to formally draw up a top 10 of Europe list, Krakow would make the cut. 

Let me try to back my opinion up - if the food alone doesn't convince you, here are some things I did and saw that made me join the ranks with many others declaring Krakow a Polish favorite.

Read More

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:

Read More