I’m officially on to round TWO: Heidelberg experience and it’s already off to a GREAT start. I told myself that I was going to “chill” for December and maybe take a break from traveling, just rejuvenate and relax a little bit. Yeah. That didn’t last long. The first weekend back, I had already planned out a trip to Krakow, bought tickets to London and planned a trip to Venice. What can I say? I love to travel! I figure that I only have one life to live, and I probably will never get another chance quite like this one so I’m going to jump on every opportunity I get to see more of Europe!
This weekend I went to Krakow, Poland. My group went from a nice easy group of four friends and grew to a group of 8. After traveling around with Jackie, and then Sabrina and Kristi over Decebmer– it was quite a shock to travel with a big group of people again. But, it was good nonetheless. Jimmy and Nori (our two Polish people), Marissa, Richard, Katie, Kari, Pierce and I made our way out to Frankfurt Hahn on Friday morning. Prior to that morning, there were huge storms going through Germany and all of the flights the night before were cancelled. But we figured that this would be one of our only chances to get to Poland and decided to go for it and hope that our flight wasn’t cancelled. To our luck, it wasn’t! It was a rocky flight…for 20 euro, what can you expect?
Throughout this year, I’ve found that most friendly and kind people have been in Eastern Europe. After we found our way to the city center from the airport, we were trying to figure out how to get to our hostel and this kind old Polish man asked me where we were trying to go. He tried to explain directions on a map, and ended up just leading us to the right street! I’m not sure if it was going out of his way or not, but it was really kind just to show us how to get there on foot!
From there on out, it was a perogi FEAST. I ate SO many! I tried the cheese and potato kind, of course. But, I also got the cabbage and mushroom (mom, you would have been so proud) and a mystery meat one (I think it was liver patée?) Anyway, it was ALL good. And SO cheap too! The exchange rate gave us 4 PLZ for 1 Euro. Dinners were about 7.50 PLZ…I LOVED it!! Another favorite was the “God’s Tea” that I got at a cute café – a mix of juices, spices, and honey…it’s officially my favourite! They just know how to do it in Poland! Eating the traditional foods is still probably one of my favourite things about traveling.
On a heavier note, we also visited the Auschwitz and Berkenow concentration camps. For 99 PLZ, we got a 6-hour tour. It took us an hour out of the Krakow city center to the Auschwitz camps. The best way to learn history is to actually go to the places where it happened. It’s definitely moving. I couldn’t believe the amount of information they share and the places that they show on these tours. I went through the gas chambers; saw the crematories, stood in the buildings where the prisoners and victims slept, walked into the seclusion, starvation, and standing chambers where many died, learned about the medical experiments that were conducted on some of the people…it was incredible. You can’t go see that kind of thing without feeling so guilty afterward. It was a long tour and I got hungry so I was munching on some pretzels. It was hard to imagine victims only being fed one slice of bread, some weak soup and some water every day. From the German point of view, I just don’t understand how people can think that way and how people can be so cold and numb to pain and suffering. An interesting experience, nonetheless. I’m really glad that I did it – but I don’t think that I’ll do it again. That’s pretty much the attitude I have towards Poland. I really liked it for what it was, but I don’t have any pull to go again (maybe for perogi’s and God’s tea!)
Next weekend, I’m chillin’ in Heidelberg. Friends from London and Florence are coming over, and I’m really excited to see them!