18.05.2015 - 22.05.2015
After our short time in Zagreb, we grabbed a quick flight over to Krakow, Poland on Monday afternoon. Our walk to the hostel was long, but made it very apparent that we were going to like this city. Krakow was awesome to see, because unlike a good majority of European cities in the area, this one was virtually untouched by World War II. The overall feel of Krakow was really historical old and the architecture was amazing. Overall it was just a really cool city. The other place in Poland that we considered going to was Warsaw, which had been 90% destroyed in the war, so it would not have had the history Krakow does. We spent our first night there walking around and exploring the city, before chilling in the hostel with some people we had met.
We dedicated our second day in Krakow to free walking tours! We did a general tour in the morning that took us around the core of the city and to many of the very numerous churches in the area. We went to the Wawel Cathedral and up to Wawel Castle, and through Jagiellonian University, all of which were built about 750 years ago. The Jagiellonian is of the oldest universities in the world and Pope John Paul II attended there. The Polish obviously have a great affection for him, and it was cool to see various places around the city that he spent time at and spoke at. He was born near Krakow and lived most of his life in the city, and has often come back for visits. He stays at the Bishop's Palace when he is in the city and we saw the window where he would speak to the crowds from. After the general walking tour, we took the food walking tour! It took us to a few restaurants around that provided us with cheap, authentic Polish food. Along the way, we tried a type of herring that was soaked in oil, which tasted almost like pickled herring, but not as good. Next, we had authentic homemade perogies along with some sort of spicy sauerkraut that made for a great meal. Our last stop was homemade Polish smoked cheese that was kind of gross, but I ate it anyway. The tour was a great experience. That night we went to the karaoke bar downstairs with some people from the hostel. At this point, I had lost my voice, which made for a great raspy rendition of a few Joe Cocker songs.
Our next day was devoted to going to the concentrations camps of Auschwitz I and Auchwitz II - Birkenau. This was an experience that is like no other and is very hard to put in writing. I think that I'll just leave it at that.
Our Thursday was slightly disturbed by the fact that we had money stolen out of our lockers at the hostel. The hostel manager was really good about it and filed a police report, but we had to go down to the station to validate it. It kind of stopped us from doing anything significant for the day, so I got some shopping done and looked for a place to get a haircut, which I couldn't find.
On Friday, Ramsey and Colby went to see the salt mines that were outside the city. I decided not to go, because I wasn't that interested and I wanted to save money. Instead, I walked around even more of the city than we had previously, before finding a nice park to sit in and finish the book I was reading. I later ran into some Americans from the hostel and we grabbed a drink, before I met back up with Colby and Ramsey and caught our night bus to Berlin.