Poland, a place possibly a little off the beaten track for the typical European travel route. Yet, home to beautiful cities and a rich history, add it to your Euro bucket list.
WARSAW / The capital of Poland surprised me a little. We decided to fly into Warsaw as it was very reasonably priced. We ended up having one night and a morning to do some sightseeing. The Old Town was definitely worth an explore, pastel buildings surrounded by Christmas trees with empty streets, as it was 27th December. Very reasonably priced restaurants lined the streets of the main walking street
We ended up having some delicious Pho at a Vietnamese restaurant. The ambience of the post-Christmas vibes was beautiful too.
For brunch on our final day, we had the best breakfast I’d had in a long time. Almost felt as if it could pass for a typical Aussie breakky. I regret that we couldn’t spend more time here, finding more places to experience. But we had friends to meet and more Christmas markets to drink mulled wine at, so onto Wroclaw.
WROCLAW / Pronounced “Vrohts-wahf” was just a four hour train ride from Warsaw, very comfortable and a nice contrast from the buses of South America. A real luxury being able to walk up to a mini bar for a coffee. We stayed in an awesome Airbnb with spectacular views of the city centre. Here we met Hayden, Rachel and Jamie, to begin our week of Polish travel. We spent our first night at the large Christmas markets in the central square of the old town. Mulled wine, spiked with spiced rum to keep the bodies warm, complimented by Bratwurst. Then to Setka bar for some cheap Polish lager with a midnight tasting board of traditional cuisine. Dumplings, pork nuckle, pickles, chicken wings and potato, a feast for five. A restaurant that felt like it could have been in the Polska Rzeczpospolita Ludowa (PRL) times.
The following day, we ate a late breakfast at Di Café Deli cafe, again, could almost live up to Australian standards with flat whites to accompany the Moroccan avo toast. Then to the walking tour to appreciate more of the city and its history. The colourful buildings of the main market square, exquisite grandeur of the university and the church island were just some of the stops we made on our walk. To follow, a delicious dinner with an even better view at Restauracja Przystań.
A cracking start to the beginning of our New Year’s celebration, next stop to the south of Poland, off to Krakow.
KRAKOW / Again, just a few hours train ride, Krakow is cheaply accessible from other parts of Poland and Europe. Here, we met a larger group of friends at another Airbnb, in preparation for 31st December 2018 and what a fun few days we had together!
First point of call, as usual at this time of year, Christmas markets in the old town. Our large group headed down to one of the largest medieval squares in Europe to sip on mulled wine, plum tea vodka, indulged on traditional polish cheese, tasted typical dumplings, sampled chimney cakes, bought warm accessories and so much more. A delightful first night for our Krakow experience.
The following day, some group members headed to Auschwitz, whilst others explored the Jewish District and stumbled upon an interesting flea market ‘Plac Nowy’ and sampled a traditional Polish fast food known as ‘zapiekanka’, an open-face sandwich. Michael described it as a fancy Subway footlong, yet as an open melt, very cheesy and with an assortment of toppings. That night our group feasted at a typical Polish restaurant: Kuchnia u Doroty. We definitely managed to over order, as most people sampled a little bit of everything. Potato pancakes, beetroot soup, dumplings, sausages, cabbage leave rolls, salads and chicken schnitzel, the list just goes on. It was a good belly warmer for the second last day of 2018.
The finale of 2018 was spent on a free walking tour, exploring the three ‘towns’ of Krakow; the old town, Jewish quarter and ‘Ghetto’ area. An insight into the tragedy of the holocaust and a gentle reminder of the opportunities we have in the modern day world; to explore, feel safe, practise a religion or share our opinions. A good reflection as our group shared our most grateful moments of 2018. The New Year’s celebrations began at the Airbnb with a large platter, punch and party games. Then to the market square, to ring in 2019 with fireworks, Polish DJs and fabulous friends. The next day, possibly the Polish vodka had some effects on the heads of many. Most of our group headed back to London, to begin the new year of work. A fantastic group to ring in the new year with, very grateful to be surrounded by old and new friends.
We decided to stay for a little longer and confront the ever impacting, Auschwitz. Here, I think the pictures speak a thousand words. It is a place that I will never forget. The snow falling from the grey sky, set the scene for the dull Nazi Occupation and the devastation of these times. The site of one of the worst mass murders in history, it was a day to remember, reflect and reconsider. “THOSE WHO DO NOT REMEMBER THE PAST, ARE CONDEMNED TO REPEAT IT” – George Santayana
A somber day to finish our wonderful time in Poland.
Do yourself a favour, indulge in the historically significant, beautiful and fascinating country that is Poland. I think the next time we come here we’ll have to escape the cities and explore the less visited natural scenery.
Much love, Laura xx
THE ALBUM OF AUSCHWITZ