Poland - just GREAT!!!!!
Poland - just GREAT!!!!! Reviews
Aug 06, 2007
You can feel the huge gap between Slovakia and Poland straight from the so-called border - a control station in the middle of the road high up in the Tatras, with one forgotten officer to ask for your documents, if he feels in the mood to do so... That officer surprised us by recognizing us as being from Romania and asked us in Romanian what our purpose in Poland was and wished us a nice stay in Romanian!!! Really surprised!!! Nice of him, considering we didn't know a word Polish.
I forgot to tell that there are highways in Slovakia, but you can't tell you are on the highway (50 km/h speed limits and road crossing at almost every 2-3 kms), but as soon as you entered Poland, it's like you're in a whole different world, not on the same road, no more speed limits, crossings, bushes growing in the middle of the road (yeah, you read well - I'll have to post a photo of the highway in Slovakia with bushes growing in the middle of the concrete or asphalt or whatever that strange stuff on the ground was :))))...
Now our destination in Poland was Krakow, but we stopped in Nowy Targ for a coffee, another nice surprise, people speak either English or German, finally, we could speak and stop drawing! There are lot's of tourist infos to help you out, but even if you ask somebody on the street will give his best to help you.
Leaving from Nowy Targ to our destination Krakow we set off on a national road, we wanted to avoid the high ways hoping to catch some sightseeing from inside the car. Perfectly good roads, though the traffic was hard, many cars, everybody rushing home - it was Saturday afternoon - but the drivers do their best not to exceed the speed limit, or get in front of you - the truth is there are a lot of radars and police controls on the roads - just better like this, than seeing all kinds of accidents!
We arrived in Krakow in the afternoon and started looking for a Kantor (Exchange) - we didn't want to go through the same unhappy experience as in Slovakia (i.e. to pay in Euros and get robbed with a smile on their face). We couldn't find anything open so we asked a nice older lady on the street where we could find such a place to buy some Zloty - she didn't speak anything else but Polish but she managed to explain it to us to go to Novotel Hotel - there they have a 24H open exchange office. After having the needed money on us we started looking for a hostel, a cheap hostel, somewhere on the outskirts of the city. The first one we entered was already full, but at the reception we got all the help we needed and in English, she made a reservation for us at another hostel, with a 5% discount and gave us a map and explained us how to get there! (Dizzy Daisy Hostels) Told you - really helpful people these Polish people! We got to the hostel, we didn't expect too much comfort, for the price we paid (50Zloty/night/person in 3 bed-room), we didn't have a TV or a shower in the room, but there was on every floor free Internet access :) - imagine that - we were so happy!!! Finally we could call for free :)
OK. So we put our luggage in the room, took a shower and decided to go for an evening in Krakow and maybe have dinner somewhere. We got first to the Wawel Castle and from there we started walking in the former Jewish quarters ... and just like that walking around in a quarter of Krakow we realized it already was 12 pm :))) and we still haven't decided where to eat or what to see :)))
to be continued...
Early wake-up, 10AM, actually we felt it to be early, because we went to bed at 4AM, bought a couple of beers on our way back to the hostel and forgot about the time :)) First destination: the "city of peace" Oszwieczim! We made it there by car in about 1 hour, first we visited Auschwitz-Birkenau (II) - no guide needed - because you can buy at the entrance all kinds of books and brochures, so why wait after a group and a guide, more than 3 hours on our own in this horrific place, creepy and sad and you can feel that the air is harder to breathe with every step you take, honestly, as if there were ghosts all around you!!!! We saw everything that there was possible to see: the men barracks, the women barracks, the showers, the toilets, the kitchens, the guard barracks and towers (everything perfectly separated by barbed electric wires), the ruins of Crematoria II and III, the "little wood" where they used to decide upon the lives of the prisoners, those who were fit to work and those who were instantly sent to the Crematorium or the "hospital" for different experiments, the pond with a strange colored water in it, which used to be a lake where they threw the ashes of the cremated prisoners ... a lot to see, a lot to learn ... OK - now Auschwitz I - with the famous "ARBEIT MACHT FREI" gate - where we should've started our visit, but got lost a bit on the way :( - here the most impresive part was the Crematorium - preserved in a perfect almost functional condition, and Block 11 - a prison within a prison - where they tortured those who dared to revolt - standing, suffocation and starvation cells in the basement - horror place. Between block 11 and block 12 there is the death wall - used to shoot the prisoners - and block 12 - the place where incredibly horrific experiments were made on women - sterilization and other different experiments ...The rest of the buildings were sadly turned into museums on the inside, so you could spend an entire day visiting all of them, each country that had victims in the work camp had a building of its own to inform the people about the shameful history that mankind was capable of - here you could see official records of the Jews that were deported, the not censored letters that the prisoners had the right to send to their relatives, if they were still free or alive to get them - mostly letters containing kind words of the work and living conditions inside the cam, otherwise they were immediately censored and the prisoners severely punished, photos of the victims, samples of Cyklon-B - the gas they used for the mass-murder ... really worth seeing! OK, so another 3 hours spent here, unfortunately we realized once again that the day is too short for what there is to visit :(, because we had to leave due to closing time :( but we did not hurry to see and take everything in!
So after a day entirely spent in Auschwitz we headed back to the beautiful and lively Krakow, with a great sadness in our souls... but as soon as we entered the city and had dinner near the Wawel hill on a terrace - Polish sausages - a must try - we walked towards the city center - once again we got to see Krakow only by night :p - our luck :)) - there we rested our feet drinking a good beer - Warka beer - for the price of 7 Polish zloty, which we found quite expensive considering the night before we bought the same beer for less than half the sum in the shop :) - anyway - I guess it's the same everywhere, the beer will always be more expensive in a bar especially in the city center than in the supermarket :P
I was really anxious to see whether the next day during daylight the city would be even livelier than at night - the center was full although it was already 1 AM once again ...
sorry once more to be continued...
(a lot more to tell!!!!!)
Part of the Hungary - Slovakia - Poland travel blog
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