Sunday, May 24, 2009

2 Days in Krakow


So after our day-long adventure in Lviv, we boarded the train to head into Poland-- Krakow specifically. It is about an 8 hour journey- which includes about an hour of passport officials coming on to check documents and another two hours of changing train wheels.  DSCN1957 Yes, a former Soviet defense mechanism to keep people out was to have different railways- so that European trains couldn’t easily cross the soviet borders.  So now, oh about 18 years since the end of the cold-war, we still have the same old rail ties in Ukraine and thus they must jack up the whole train to change the wheels in order to cross into the rest of Europe.  Sounds fun huh?  It’s interesting to say the least!

We had about 48 hours in Krakow and we packed in just about all we could see. I had been to Krakow about 4 years ago, so it was fun to retrace my steps and remember where everything was.  IMG_1480We were able to take a day trip to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp- which is now converted into an amazing and numbing museum.   Comprehending the horror that took place over the 6 year period on those grounds is unreal and actually being there is more or less surreal in many ways.  It’s just so much to wrap your mind around.

We were also able to visit the salt mines which Krakow is famous for.  This salt mine is one of the world’s oldest operating  but has since been turned into a museum that reaches a depth of IMG_1516over 300 meters!  We didn’t get to go the very bottom of the mine, and apparently during our 2-hour excursion we only saw 1% of the territory of the mine.  A  salt mine may not sound very interesting but it really was something to see and full of statues and figures made out of salt that miners have constructed over the years.  Literally all the walls around you are made of salt…IMG_1563I wanted to be sure so I even did a little experiment.   Yes! They were salty alright!


Our final day we raced through a tour of the Wawel castle which overlooks all of Krakow and dates back to the 14th century.  It is one of my favorite historical places in all of my European travels, as the grandeur of the castle just amazes me and the interior is chalk full of artifacts that have been donated from various collections all across Europe. IMG_1628IMG_1637   IMG_1621

So we loved our brief blitz through Krakow—if you are ever on an European adventure in the future, I highly recommend working Krakow into your journey- it is full of amazing sites and a lot less expensive then Western Europe.  There is also a cheap flight from Kiev to Krakow (which we did on the way back to safe ourselves another long train journey).IMG_1493


Natasha said...

Do you have to have a Visa to go to Poland? It looks beautiful! LOVE all the pictures!
I'll have to show Oksana all your pictures tomorrow morning, I bet she'll be happy to see them. :)

Evie's Story said...

Hey dear one
looks like you've been a busy lady! How FUN. We LOVED Krakow - one of our favorites. Glad you had such a good visit with your parents. Still wanting a heart-to-heart with ya!
Abi wants to know when you are coming to visit again?