Pierogies in Polska

I think it’s safe to say that about 90% of my meals two weekend ago in Krakow, Poland consisted of pierogies.  I also learned the Polish word for sour cream in the process: smietana. So good.  Well, as you may have already guessed, this weekend was the big CIEE trip to Krakow, including a tour of Auschwitz, Birkenau and the Wieliczka Salt Mines.  Auschwitz and Birkenau aren’t really something I want to talk about, because I think they speak for themselves.  I just want to say that personally I could not believe the sheer size of Birkenau.  I’ve known most of my life what had happened there.  I knew the facts and statistics well before I visited.  However, walking along those paths that millions have walked and seeing how incredibly large of a concentration camp it was really got to me.   It wasn’t something I was excited to see, but I’m grateful for having the opportunity.

 

But, on a much lighter note, here’s my quick weekend re-cap:

 

Transportation: Coach bus.  Roughly a 7 hour drive.

Lodging: Hotel

Travel Buddies: About 1/3rd of my program

Hotspots Visited: Auschwitz, Birkenau, the many churches of Krakow, Jewish memorial in Krakow, Schindler’s factory/museum, and the Wieliczka Salt Mines.

Favorite Dish: Pierogies, obviously

Favorite Polish Drink: I only really tried the beer.  And to be honest Poland’s got nothing on the Czech Republic.

Words I learned: Tak means yes and przepraszam means excuse me (if you can pronounce that because I sure can’t)

Facts I learned:  Amber and leather are very cheap in Poland so buy some there if you have the chance, almost 90% of Poland is Roman Catholic, Krakow is a big college town, polish money is called zloty and is incredibly tiny.

My best photos: I forgot my good camera in Prague so I didn’t take too many photos. 
Entrance to Auschwitz.  “Arbeit macht frei”, meaning work sets you free:


Memorial at Birkenau

 

The sheer size of the remains of Birkenau (and this picture only shows about 1/10th of the camp)

 

Jewish Memorial in Krakow
Some friends in front of the castle in Krakow

 

Inside the salt mine

Closing Remarks:  Krakow is actually a pretty incredible city, but my favorite day on the trip was visiting the salt mines on Sunday.  Did you know you could actually lick the walls?  I don’t recommend it, though, because they are incredibly salty and might make you sick afterwards.  Also, it’s a great place to get souvenirs.  I bought a lamp made of salt and I think it may be my best purchase thus far in Europe.

 

And so I know this post is a week late and I’ve been a little behind on my blogging.  Poland was 2 weekends ago, and this past weekend I stayed in Prague mostly except for a day trip to Brno and a day trip to Terezin.  But I’ll write about those in my next post!

Na Shledanou,

Lesia