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Kath’s Travel Diary

Tuesday, 16 Jan 2007

Location: Kracow, Poland

MapOn Monday Mel and I cam back from a few days in Kracow. We went hoping for some snow, but alas, there was none. It's the first winter in a lot of people's memory without any.

We spent four nights in the ciy of Kracow, venturing out occasionally into surounding towns. We spent time down 800 steps in salt mines that were hundreds of years old, we also climbed up a very short hill to the city's castle. It is the home of Poland's King's final resting places, a palace, and of course some ruins. Nice view over the town.

We walked along many of Kracow's cobbled streets, around the outside of the city, where once there was a wall, now just a garden. We ventured down alleyways looking for the elusive coffee shop to beat all coffee shops. Poland has hot chocolate to die for. Imagine chocolate....then picture it melted and in a cup. Imagine having to eat it with a spoon because it was so thick. Heaven.

We walked around some of the museums, and looked at a painting from Leonardo da Vinci - "Lady with an Ermine". We went into one of the oldest university's in Europe. It had an astronomical instrument from 1045!!!

We spent half a day walking on our own personal walking tour of Kazimerz. It is a suburb of Kracow that used to be its own separate city built in the 14th century. It is the area where Hitler decided to create a jewish ghetto in WW2, and also the home of Schindler's factory. This is also where the movie was filmed.

Walking around, it is very strange. There is a feeling of something missing, of a silence that follows you as you walk from cobbled street to cobbled street, looking up at old homes. Houses built years ago that housed up to 100 jewish people. Most of whom never survived the horrors. The synagogues still stand alongside the churches, only because they were used as barns and warehouses by the nazis.

We spent a day out at Aushwitz and Birkenau. Walking around the concentration/death camps. They also have an air of emptyness. Not that you can imagine children running up and down the streets laughing and joking. But you can picture people shuffling their feet. Walking from the door of the barracks to the door of the crematoriums. Not knowing that they were about to die. It was a terrible place.

On the Sunday, the city held its annual musical fundraiser. School children walking around selling red heart stickers. We bought one each to stop them hassling us.There was a concert in the evening. But we couldn't understand anything they were singing. It was all in Polish.

Unfortunately no snow, but still kracow is a beautiful city. I'd recommend it to anyone.