Monday, December 26, 2016

Poland: Warsaw- The Final Amazing Day of an Epic Trip

Warsaw is a large, but feels small, city.
While it is an "old" city, most of it was destroyed in WWII, so there isn't a lot of history to actually "see" other than what is in museums. That being said, it is a wonderful city to experience culturally, socially, and economically. We were able to see everything that we wanted in 3 half-days, leaving the other halves of the days to relax and recharge a bit from the long trip.
We also decided that three weeks is a bit too long.

We found the narrowest apartment in the world

Warsaw was one of the cities where the Nazis built walls and developed "ghettos" to separate Jews from the rest of the population. The wall still exists in some parts of the city, but in other parts, they laid the tag into the brick, so you could truly experience the expanse of it. It is deeply moving to see and walk.

Ghetto wall sidewalk marking

The Jewish Cemetery in Warsaw is what I consider a "MUST VISIT", if you are ever in the city.
The majority of its "inhabitants" are victims of WWII, and survivors from the time are still asking to be buried here when they pass. I know, there are way too many pictures for this, but I found it absolutely captivating, and wanted to share it. We easily spent 2-2.5 hours here walking around unescorted, for just a nominal entry fee.

Jewish Cemetery

Jewish Cemetery

Jewish Cemetery

Jewish Cemetery

It is absolutely too massive for the caretakers to keep up with the entire place.

Jewish Cemetery

Jewish Cemetery

Jewish Cemetery

Jewish Cemetery

Jewish Cemetery

Jewish Cemetery
And then we just walked around Old Town for our remaining two days, passing leisurely through due to the fatigue from an ambitious three weeks of travel.
Most of Warsaw was destroyed in WWII, so even "Old Town" is relatively new.

The day coming to a close on New Town

Old Town

Old Town

Old Town

Old Town

Old Town

Old Town: I loved playing with the birds!

Old Town: Happy Travel Girl

Friday, December 23, 2016

Poland: Warsaw- The Final Stop

Similar to our entry into Krakow, we were met with overcast skies and the threat of rain upon arrival to Warsaw, but the precipitation stayed at bay.

We absolutely LOVED Warsaw.
There is historic Old City.
There is popular and modern New City.
Things are significantly cheaper here.
And it is SO clean, easily walkable, and absolutely beautiful.
We really, REALLY enjoyed our time here.

Enjoy our "afternoon of arrival" exploratory walk around the neighborhood:

There is a wall the separates "Old City" from the rest of Warsaw.

Enjoying the nighttime view from our hotel room

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Poland: Krakow- Wieliczka Salt Mine & Schindler's Factory

I never knew that I wanted to tour a salt mine until we went to Poland.
I wasn't even sure that it would be that interesting when we were in Poland.
But the tour was rated really highly and we were intrigued.

To the Wieliczka Salt Mine we went!
NOTE: It is required by the mine that you be part of a tour for this experience.
Our tour guide, who was employed by the mine, was FANTASTIC.

Of interest and warning, the mine descends underground to almost 500 feet BELOW the surface. It is large and spacious, but perhaps those with claustrophobia should skip this!
Wieliczka Salt Mine

Wieliczka Salt Mine

Wieliczka Salt Mine: Sometimes the miners get a bit bored and carve life-sized figures out of salt

Wieliczka Salt Mine: Salt is winning the slow war over the wood

Wieliczka Salt Mine: And DOWN WE GO!

Wieliczka Salt Mine: And further DOWN

Wieliczka Salt Mine: A museum and chapel in the middle of a mine, it is ALL carved salt, stairs and all!

Wieliczka Salt Mine: The carved walls

Wieliczka Salt Mine: ALL salt carved chapel

Wieliczka Salt Mine

Wieliczka Salt Mine: The wooden structure keeping the mine stable

Wieliczka Salt Mine: Following our awesome guide

Wieliczka Salt Mine
After a long tour, we headed back to town for a late-lunch of....your guessed it....PIEROGIES! And some traditional Polish goulash.

Traditional goulash

Traditional pierogies: Potato and onion

A late-dinner found us enjoying pierogies yet again. I saved you the picture of my salad that I was dying for at this point. You're welcome.

A very happy husband. I only ate two from this entire platter...

We also did the tour of the Oskar Schindler Factory Museum. While it was REALLY interesting, and I REALLY enjoyed it. I did not enjoy how extremely busy it was, and was very disappointed that we did not get to see the actual factory. It is worth doing, for sure, but just understand that you will see nothing of the factory. Also, absolutely no picture taking is allowed. So you can see our pretty tickets, as our memories are the only other things that we took away from it.