Entries in Poland (2)


poignant poland {part 2}

Day 2 of our little Polish adventure.
** Disclaimer: Just so you know, I'm not endorsing 2 days in such a fantastic city. (or any of these cities that we've breezed thru). If we had infinite vacation time (and funds) then we'd happily stay much longer at many of our stops. But the fact is that we possibly will only be here for 2 years - meaning my time here is possibly HALF WAY DONE@!? - and being the ex-geography teacher/English and History major - am passionate about seeing as much as I can and exposing the kids to all the European charm and history that I can! If by some miracle, we get extended for a year or even 2 more, then we'll likely start slowing down and taking more time at each spot.. Another reason that it's been possible to hit so many countries in a short time is that the hubs and i had already seen a fair amount of Europe on previous trips.. so a weekend trip has been ok and about what the kids could take anyway..

SO.. with that said.. on to the rest of our Krakow adventure. On our 2nd day, we headed outside the city. First to the Unesco site,  Wieliczka Salt Mine. It's been mined for hundreds of years and when i tell you there's a cathedral a few hundred feet carved below the surface, I'm telling you there's an actual cathedral 300 feet below the surface! haha.. Amazing carvings and sculptures and half the fun for the kids was the descent down the hundreds of stairs and the crickity elevator ride up. You'll have to ask them yourself about that!
It was worth the trip and just interesting to do something new, yet laced with history. How often have we been in a salt mine where the chandeliers are made of salt crystals? well, never until now!

Bonus points for having the coolest ice cream cones at the salt mines! :)

Which put the kids into a nice sugar coma for the drive to Auchwitz (about an hour) (see chocolate still on K's chin.. haha)

We arrived around 1:30pm and had a late lunch at the cafeteria. It was simple Polish food (think goulash, sausages, potato dumplings).. my foodies were happy to try new things!
Then came the hard part. The tour of Auschwitz.
We waffled back and forth about taking them here. They'd been to Dachau this summer, but I'd read that this was another level. I got even more nervous when we entered and saw NO other children. At all. (save a baby or 2). Then you've given headsets for the tour guide to talk into a mic and they wouldn't give one to anyone under 14. I was thinking maybe we'd made the wrong choice.
But after the tour started, the kids stayed close to the guide and were able to catch more of what she said. Between the 2 of us, we could see what was ahead and help shield them from the worst. But I'd say about 80% of what we saw was ok for them. Yes, I wish they'd been a little older, but I don't know when we'll be back and my son has such a love of history that i hated not to experience this with him. It was very moving and I really think they have a better understanding of that time in history and a more compassionate heart. I pray they will remember these lessons and always be an advocate for their fellow man.. no matter the religion, etc.. (kind of nice reminder the night before the elections don't you think??) :)

Here's some images from the poignant afternoon in Auschwitz.

Thank you for looking. As moving as it was, we both can say that we're done with the sad European sites. 2013 will be about hiking mountains, boating in the Adriatic and exploring Roman ruins :) So stay tuned!


krakow, poland {traveling wtih kids in Europe}

a few weeks ago, we took advantage of a long weekend and headed to Krakow, Poland. The fresh fall leaves on the ground were a pleasant surpise and just icing on the cake of this eastern european gem. "the Book of Rick" (aka Rick Steves, our Europe guru), says that Krakow is the "new Prague" and I can see why. It's got a fantastic old city, complete with walls, gates, medival churches and towers and an evocative Jewish quarter and history. 2 full days were barely enough to scratch the surface, but we made our best effort.. rising early and staying out late to enjoy this fabulous city. It was an added bonus that everything was so reasonable! From our 2 bedroom flat that cost around 70 euro a night to dinner for 4 costing maybe 40 euro, it was a welcomed perk after traveling so much the last year.
So without futher ado, lovely Krakow...

The photo below of the nuns walking, as caught at just the right moment... they were walking under the door of Pope John Paul II, who is from Krakow and certainly Krakow's favorite son. He lived in that apartment when he was a bishop in Krakow and stayed there when we visited from Rome. He died in that room and crowds kept vigil outside his window for days.

we spent the last few hours of our day in the Jewish Quarter. The guys had to wear the head covering to enter the synagogue and centuries old cemetery.

there's a newly opened Schlinder's Factory museum that was well done. I used to show clips of the movie when I taught World Geography, so it was special to see where it all took place. Of course, the kids haven't seen the movie, nor will they for a while but it will be neat for them to remember that they've actually been there when they do.
So, that concludes our first day in Krakow. The next day, we took side trips to the Unesco designated Wieliczka Salt Mine as well as Auschwitz. Will share more on those tomorrow.

Thanks for looking and happy adventures near and far!