My trip to Poland is over and this will be the second to last blog post I write about the trip. Overall, it was a wonderful experience and I would definitely go back to visit in the future (though next time I’d want to take some language classes beforehand).
There have been a few random excursions we took that I didn’t deem important enough to deserve their own blog post, but since they were important parts of my trip, I’ll lump them all together here.
First, as we were traveling from Krakow to Zakopane, we stopped in a small town called Rabka to visit the site of a Nazi SS training school from WWII. This school was used to train soldiers in execution methods and many Jews from the surrounding areas were killed at this school. The building is used today to house a school for the blind and there is nothing left in the building of the WWII era training school. After finding nothing left of the facilities of the school, we hiked through forest and bushes to find a small, overgrown Jewish cemetery. The grave markets were completely destroyed during period after the war, but someone has since cemented them all together to keep them standing. It was quite sad to see it all overgrown like that, but nonetheless I’m glad the cemetery is there.
Another excursion we took was to the birthplace of Fryderyk Chopin, the pianist. We went on a beautiful Sunday afternoon and spent the afternoon wandering through the lovely botanical gardens on the grounds of Chopin’s house and listening to a wonderful piano concert of some of Chopin’s pieces. Despite the sprinkle of rain we had to sit through, the day was really lovely and made us all feel a little more sophisticated as we sat and listened to piano concertos and got dressed up.
Another day took us to the Wawel Royal Castle in Krakow. The castle itself was absolutely incredible; our guide, on the other hand, was not. The castle is hundreds and hundreds of years old and full of old artifacts, paintings and furniture that hold so much history. Our guide decided it was absolutely imperative we hear about every ounce of history in every single artifact in the multi-level castle. What should have been an hour long tour took a few hours and by the end of the tour, we were all quite sick of hearing about kings and queens and daggers and paintings.
The castle did have some beautiful parts and I would have really enjoyed the experience had I not had to listen to such monotone lectures the entire time. I’ve been to a bunch of castles before and one of the things that made this one unique was that it was not completely restored. Many of the castles and palaces I’ve seen in foreign countries have been refurbished to appear as they did in their greatest moments. This one had some of that, but mainly appeared to only have been redone in parts that needed it terribly. It had a cool effect to see how things look now and it really showed how old all the parts of the castle were.
One of our lasts days in Warsaw we went to a vodka distillery. Poland is known for their vodka and while the factory we went to was no longer in full service, it was still cool to see. On the premises there was also a cute little gift shop with somewhat strange Polish items. i even found this magnet that translated means “Make our own sandwich.”
I think that about covers it for my adventures in Poland! I have one more post coming where I’ll reveal the perfect pierogi that I found in Poland and then that will be it! Thanks for reading!