Visiting strange countries I consider to be one of the most developing educational activities. That’s why From a long time, actually since I’ve graduated, I keep travelling around the world getting acquainted with other cultures, languages and so on. Mostly, I’ve been travelling on my own, so I can tell that despite all the development you can achieve, beauty you can explore and people you can learn from there is another side of travelling – the darker side. Indeed, travels are not always safe, especially if you go to a country that is totally different than yours in terms of culture. Well, as far as you know language local people use you’re fine, even if you don’t you’re still ok if you have prepared for the trip appropriately and what the most important – learn about the culture of the country you’re heading for. Well, after my last trip to Far East where (though I though I know enough) I had encounter a lot of cultural obstacles, this time I decided to go to some more ‘normal’ country which I have been planning to visit for a long time. Well, this time I chose to go to Poland. The country is famous especially in terms of history. Poles took an active part in every war happening in Central Europe, moreover many times the country was a target and the purpose for the fights. And what the small country in known best for is that it almost always came through the bad times in one piece, though the terrifying things that have happened within the territory of the Republic of Poland had a huge impact on how the country looks like today.
So, for a start, here are a few basic phrases coming in handy while staying in Poland:
Czesc! – Hello!
Jak sie masz? – How are you?
W porzadku. – I’m ok.
Ale sie czuje. – I’m not very well.
Jak dotrzec do…? – How to get to…?
Nazywam sie…. – My name is…..
Do widzenia. – Good bye.
From my personal experience, I can tell that knowing at least few such phrases may turn out to be very helpful while looking for a hotel, taxi or direction in the strange place. Not everywhere they speak english so it’s really worth preparing, just in case. If you follow my posts you probably know that I’m a kind of loner and well, I must admit I like to travel on my own, but this time I didn’t go solo, I mean I was going to go alone but when my friends got to know I plan to visit Poland it turned out there are 4 more people that are ready to go with me! And finally I was traveling across the central Europe with my folks. Our first aim was Krakow where a few friends of mine live. Well, it was one on the reasons why I decided to go to Poland. I used to study with Liam and Anna whose parents were from. Once we graduated, Liam and Anna have got married and moved to Krakow, so yeah… it’s been a long time we didn’t see each other. o yes, in Krakow me and four of my friends didn’t have to look for an accommodation since Liam and Anna offered us their place what was a huge favour of them.
We’ve spent 12 days in Poland including 5 days in Krakow and nearby, and that part of our trip was unquestionably the best one. Krakow is beautiful city located in the south of Poland. What can I say… though Krakow is not the capital of Poland, for sure it is the cultural centre of the country, there are no two ways about it. Anyways, we were really lucky to have my friends living in the city cause they took us over and showed incredible places that are not included in any of my guidebooks! The first place they showed us was Twardowsky’s Rocks and Zakrzowek Dam. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to enter into the water since the dam doesn’t works as a lido, but since the calcareous rock surrounding the dam is used for climbing purposes, and since all four of us are mountaineering buffs, we couldn’t miss such a chance! Apparently, the place is one of the favourite places of Krakow’s students! I wish we could participate in one of their famous fires! 😉 Maybe next time.
Another incredible place I didn’t know about was Saint Benedict’s Fort – an old, former fort that name of which comes from nearby church of St. Benedictc. That’s so unfair the object isn’t popular especially since it’s areal curio of European fort architecture! They say the fort was the oldest and the most important part of The Krakow Fortress.This interesting building is located on the top of Lasota Hill. What impressed us the most was an exsertile bridge and incredible, net-Gothic gates.
Apparently, another mandatory spot in the ‘royal city’ are rainbow-stairs, where you better watch your steps! And indeed you should do, especially since every step is labeled with some optimistic quote. Among all the old, grey but how beautiful jewish townhouses, the colourful stairs are a real smile maker! 🙂 And well, since we were in this chasing part of Krakow called Kazimierz, we decided to hang out there by night. Kazimierz is an old jewish district that today is mostly famous for the climatic clubs and restaurants located there. And indeed, bars on Kazimierz are perfect places to spend carefree evenings with your friends. In almost every pub, you listen to live music. Hm, I guess Krakow’s Kazimierz is one of the most climatic places I have ever been and for sure one of my favourite as far. I can recommend, just check it out!
After a few days in Krakow, the time has come to visit Auschwitz. We were going to rent a car to get there but since my two sincere friends from Krakow haven’t been in Auschwitz either, we decided to take an organized tour which turned out to be a great choice cause eventually we were visiting the camp with a professional tour guide and could learn a lot about the memorial. We started the trip very early cause the agency called KrakowDirect if I’m not mistaken scheduled their tours at 7 o’clock! It seemed to us it was too early but as it turned out later such early time was totally ok regarding how interesting is the museum and how much to offer it has! Thought we’ve got home very very late in the evening, I can tell that it needs to devote much more time for such place like that largest Nazi concentraction cam! After the tour I wished we could had gone there at the beginning of our stay in Krakow couse then we would set one more time aside for Auschwitz-Birkenau. But let’s tart from the beginning. Auschwitz-Birkenau has been on my must-see list for a long time. I was always very interested in history, especially the World War 2 that was such a cruel period for the whole world and finally for our families, because after all many of my friends’ granparents are the war’s veterans who still remember all the brutality of that time. Yeah… I was always interested in this subject but the main reason of my interest in that case was because my grandmother who was one of the largest Nazi concentration camp’s victim! Yes, my grandmother’s mother was one of the Auschwitz’s prisoners! Her story – as stories of thousands of other prisoners closed in the camp is very moving and unquestionably a perfect material for a book or even movie. She wasn’t a jew, she was not even polish, but she was a wife of a pole. My grandmother died a few years ago here in my family city – – Mineapolis, but childhood she spent in her homecountry – Germany where she gew up and has met her husband – my grandfather who worked in Germany. They were going to live a long fortunate life, but then the World Was II has come and their whole world fell down. When the war broke out my grandparents were living Lodz – one of polish industry city. Since the country were intensively occupied by strangers, finally they were captured and taken to Oswiecim’s concentration camp. My grandfather has maneged to run away but his wife wasn’t so lucky and stucked in that hell till the end of the war, but she survived and her committed husband were waiting for her. Right after the war was over my grandparents have left to USA, where they found good job and were living till the end of their lives. Their beautiful story made me being so interested in the twentieth-cntury European history. Now you know why did I crave to visit Poland so much. And finally my dream came true.
After the long long day spent watching sad pictures from the last century we needed to kick back so the next half day – the last moments in Poland we decided to hang out in some quiet and calm place – we came back to Zakrzowek where we spent the first day after arriving to Krakow. I hope I will come back to Poland many times in future.