A Travellerspoint blog

Wieliczka

semi-overcast
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Easy 30 minute train to Wieliczka from Krakow and Marcin met us at the station. We dropped the luggage with a family member (thank you again!) and drove to Wisnicz Castle.
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And then picked up Urszula and ate at the nautical-themed restaurant at Kuter Port Restauracja, about 40k from Krakow. Very nice park, beach and cabins. And, of course, great food at the restaurant. No English on the menu, but they translated for us and a few items had QR links to see pics of the food, which helped us decide.
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Today (Thursday), we had pre-purchased tickets for the Wieliczka Salt Mine, a UNESCO site. We took the tourist route and had a great 2-hr guided tour in English. Going down a few hundred steps - we started with 40 flights of 8 stairs (64 meters down) and after more passageways, large rooms and sloped paths ended up 130 meters down and walked about 2km. This represents only 2% of the mine’s distance and depth. Very cool salt sculptures and exhibits.
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We rested up after the tour and then Marcin picked us up to take a look at another castle, this one in Niepolomice. Nice paintings and displays in the first section and then I was surprised by a display of successful hunts.
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And a few pics from walking around…
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One more day before we fly to NY…

Posted by Deb Godley 19:07 Archived in Poland Comments (0)

Krakow

Wavel Castle & Krakow

sunny 23 °C
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Sunday we explored the Wawel Castle (Zamek Królewski na Wawelu). Each venue has a separate ticket starting at 5 zloty (<$2). We prepurchased guided tours in English of the Royal Apartments, State Rooms, and Crown Treasury. Each tour was about an hour. In retrospect, we could have just done one guided tour and then toured the other areas on our own. The castle is on a hill,with some good views and ends with an exit down a steep staircase and through the “dragon’s dungeon” to the river. Some pics from Wawel:

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We returned in the evening to hear a concert, which included music by Poland’s favourite son, Chopin, as well as other classical music. There were three sets. The first was Chopin piano pieces, then a quartet of 2 violins, a viola and a cello. The third set included both the quartet and the piano. Very nice. I enjoyed watching the cellist’s fingers move to create the different sounds. The venue was a small outside courtyard in Wawel, set up for about 150 people.

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We’ve also wandered around Krakow old town and surrounding areas, including my climb up Krakus Mound and passing by Zakrzowek Lake, this morning and wandering around the Jewish area of Kazimierz.
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Steve found the dark lemon Czech beer, Litove, to be surprisingly good. And I’ve had no trouble finding dark beer to enjoy, especially porters. Yum.
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This afternoon, we listened to the audio guide of the Wawel Cathedral including areas dedicated to Jean Paul II, the Pope from Krakow.
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Tomorrow, we’ll train to Wieliczka, about 30 minutes away, and spend time in Marvin’s “hood”.

Posted by Deb Godley 15:39 Archived in Poland Comments (0)

Auschwitz

rain 18 °C
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We spent the day on a tour of Auschwitz and Birkenau. Difficult to see and hear. Important to understand.

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Posted by Deb Godley 06:48 Archived in Poland Comments (0)

Warsaw - Warszawa Poland

sunny 29 °C
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Thursday : Morning train to Warsaw, arriving before noon. We chose first class on a Pendolino - express train 2.5 hrs. Very comfortable and included a light snack.

As expected our room wasn’t ready yet, so we parked our suitcases in the Merecure’s secured baggage room and set off to explore, in what Steve later referred to as a “marathon” tour of Warsaw (but which was only really about 15km).

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This is the skinniest house (possibly in the world) and violated all building laws, but was successfully built as an “art project” and is occupied.
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Dinner at Stara Kamienica. Fine dining for reasonable prices compared to Canada. Lots of interesting meal choices, including deer and wild boar. I had deer ragout and Steve tagliatelle with beef. Upon paying the bill, we were presented with a rose and a small glass of sweet vodka.
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This morning I walked to Lazienki (Royal Baths) Park, at 76 hectares, the largest park in Warsaw. The Chopin sculpture was the first monument destroyed by the occupying Germans in WWII. On Sundays there are free concerts, which we will, unfortunately, miss. The park also has a botanical garden, which was not open early this morning and a lovely small Chinese garden.
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Catching the 2:49 to Krakow this afternoon. In the meantime we are hanging out in the lobby bar having a bit of chocolate dessert and some sparkling water with lemon. Yum. Hoping we can find the elevator down to the train platform instead of the stairs we navigated up yesterday with our heavy suitcases. Rick Steves would be horrified with our luggage weight.

Posted by Deb Godley 09:59 Archived in Poland Comments (0)

Gdańsk - Westerplatte

sunny 28 °C
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My morning 9.5km walk took me to a lovely scenic wetlands park.
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And then back through town, following, in part, the Camino route. Early morning views, before festival booths are set up and the crowds throng through the old town areas.
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In the afternoon, we sailed to Westerplatte on the Black Pearl “pirataky” ship.
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There was commentary in multiple languages describing the shipyards and docks we passed on the was to the place where the first shots of WWII were fired in late 1939. Westerplatte, a former health spa, was a key military stronghold in a Polish city still considered to rightfully belong to Germany (Gdańsk is known as Danzig in Germany). The ship also had a full kitchen serving meals and snacks and a full bar. The prices were reasonable given the tourist location.

It was a beautiful warm summer day and we spent about two hours wandering around Westerplatte, seeing the bombed remnants of the guardhouses and ammunition storage as well as the memorial and dedication by the Polish Pope.

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Dinner at Swojski Smak included traditional Polish fare and more than 150 flavours of Vodka. While I stuck with beer, Steve ordered the “sweet flight”, which included 6 very sweet choices - purple plum, strawberry, cherry, mirabelle plum, hazelnut, and apricot. I tried a little sip of each, but otherwise left the sugary liqueur-like vodka to Steve.
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A very good day and perfect weather. On to Warsaw tomorrow.

Posted by Deb Godley 18:53 Archived in Poland Comments (0)

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