First Visit: June 2012
Number of Times Visited: 1
Cities Visited: Krakow
Poland is the homeland of one of my best friends, Tom, and we were fortunate enough to visit there on the 2012 trip. I was pleasantly surprised by Poland, the people were friendly and the food was very tasty (something that can’t always be said about Tom). It was scorching hot when we were there, but Krakow is a very well preserved city considering the destruction that occurred in Poland during WWII, and I would highly recommend a visit.
Favorite Memory: Our first day in Krakow we headed out to the Wieliczka Salt Mine, and to save money took the public bus. It was broiling hot that day and I think all of us almost passed out on the bus ride from the heat. Once we arrived it was cold water and ice cream, Dave even stuck some ice cream down his pants. The trip into the Salt Mines was amazing, and it was nice and cool underground. The architecture that had been carved out down there was simply stunning. Plus I got to have my first underground beer!
- We took an overnight train from Budapest to Krakow where I got to share a sleeper cabin with Alex, Tom and Shane. It was about 35 degrees every day during this trip and the nights were not much cooler. The train made frequent stops in the night, and we had a few fights with Tom over leaving the window open (our preference) to closing it (Tom’s preference) for some relief from the heat. We were all very happy to arrive in Krakow, and put that life experience behind us.
- Poland was hosting the 2012 Euro Cup soccer tournament while we were there. We watched a few games in the local bars and the atmosphere was awesome, even when Poland wasn’t playing, everyone was really into the games and it was impossible to not get caught up in the excitement.
- We signed up for a pub crawl one of the nights, and although it initially looked to be almost entirely dudes on the trip, the crowd diversified and it ended up being a really fun night.
- The Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camps were located about an hour outside of Krakow, and we did make the day trip out to pay our respects. Walking through those sites and imagining the horror of what went on there is simply indescribable. The most striking memory was walking through the museum which had personal belongings of holocaust victims on displayed, as the Nazi’s had kept and meticulously logged everything. They even kept the human hair, which is still on display. I don’t need to go back there, but I am glad I visited to pay my respects and honor the victims. Let us hope that humanity never stoops to that level of horror again.