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The rarely updated blog of Joel Dixon

Viewing blogs tagged Krakow

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Krakow, Poland - 2012

# Posted by Joel Dixon at 14/10/2012 07:19:54
Updated by Joel Dixon at 18/04/2015 03:26:49


The juxtaposition of day one and two in Krakow was stark. Day one was a beautiful day weather-wise and consisted of a lovely day walking around the market square. Day two was wet and miserable and contained a visit to Auschwitz I and II. On day three I visited the Krakow salt mine which is neither here na there.

After checking into my hotel I decided to go for a walk around the Market Square to experience a side of Krakow I really wasn't expecting. My senses were immediately met with the sounds, smells and colours of Krakow. The square isn't that large, but was awash with colourful people talking and laughing to each other - and I couldn't walk in any direction without hearing quality music from one of the many buskers. It was such a great place to buy a bread-like item from a street vendor and wander around.

FlatCube
As usual, like most squares, there were a bunch of touts unsuccessfully trying to sell light-up toys that can be flung into the air via an elastic band. Just once I want to offer to buy one to see if they know what to do when someone says yes

Freddie
Old grey mare she ain't what she used to be

The ambience of dinner was great - but the food itself was decidedly average. I've eaten some interesting foods in various countries, Poland is certainly not leading the "most delicious country" competition. Maybe I constantly went to poor choices when purchasing food, or maybe the food just isn't catered to my tastes - but I wouldn't recommend that a journey of food takes place in Poland.

On the advice of many friends, I decided to take a tour of the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz while in Krakow (well, this tour actually precipitated the stay in Krakow). I was prepared for it to be a sombre, eye-opening experience and that I wouldn't really be prepared for the information I was to receive - but this was only the half of it. About two hours into the half-day tour, I didn't want to be there anymore - I just didn't want to hear anything further. I physically recoiled at some of the information we were being given and a lot of it just washed over me as I couldn't completely comprehend what I was hearing. These responses just made things worse when I realised that I was reacting to only hearing about the atrocities that men, women and children actually lived through. I was more than glad when the tour was finished - I felt like curling up on a bed and being covered with kittens. I am glad I've had the opportunity to better understand what the word holocaust actually means, but just a little bit less optimistic about the capacity of the human race.

GateOne
The front gate of Auschwitz I - with the inscription "work sets you free"

GateTwo
The main gate to Auschwitz II - Birkenau. My mood was lifted slightly as I saw a happy face welcoming visitors, until I remembered this was a purpose-built extermination camp. What a sadistic gate

I had nothing planned for my final day in Krakow and my sleeper train to Vienna didn't leave until after 10 pm, so I decided to go to the second attraction on the hotel's suggestion leaflet - the Krakow salt mine. It was actually an interesting trip even though I am not a life-long fan of industrial salt mining (surprising I know). Sure, it wasn't as interesting as the Auschwitz tour but the subject matter was light and the tour guide was amusing - so it was perfect for Krakow's day three. The best part about the mines were the salt sculptures that the miners themselves created - including a pretty sweet replica of The Last Supper.

Salty
An underground chapel cut into the salt - you can actually get married here if you so desire. I'd prefer a sugar mine personally

Supper
They disciples are actually all recoiling because they just took a taste of their meals - could do with less salt


This is the 27th in the EuroJoel - 2012 series
City 1 - Lisbon, Portugal - 2012City 2 - Porto, Portugal - 2012City 3 - Madrid and Toledo, Spain - 2012City 4 - Valencia, Spain - 2012City 5 - Barcelona, Spain - 2012City 6 - Naples, Italy - 2012City 7 - Rome and Vatican City, Italy - 2012City 8 - Florence and Pisa, Italy - 2012City 9 - Milan and Bologna, Italy - 2012City 10 - Venice, Italy - 2012City 11 - Prague, Czech Republic - 2012City 12 - Dresden, Germany - 2012City 13 - Berlin, Germany - 2012City 14 - Legoland, Denmark, 2012City 15 - Edinburgh, Scotland - 2012City 16 - Nice and Monte Carlo, France - 2012City 17 - Lyon, France - 2012City 18 - Dijon, France - 2012City 19 - Provins, France - 2012City 20 - Paris, France - 2012City 21 - Ireland - 2012City 22 - London, England - 2012City 23 - Killarney - Ireland, 2012City 24 - Amsterdam, Netherlands - 2012City 25 - Brussels and Bruges, Belgium - 2012City 26 - Warsaw, Poland - 2012City 27 - Krakow, Poland - 2012City 28 - Vienna, Austria - 2012City 29 - Budapest, Hungary - 2012City 30 - Bucharest, Romania - 2012City 31 - Nile Cruise, Egypt - 2012City 32 - Cairo, Egypt - 2012
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