Food and Culture in Poland

7 06 2009
Apple cake, cheese cake, and bread

Apple cake, cheese cake, and bread

We have enjoyed our short time in Poland.  At our hostel in Krakow, we met a entertaining group of high school graduates from Warsaw who had just finished their matriculation exams (tests that determine their college futures).   They spoke great English and we had a good time talking with them, and sampling some Polish vodka.  They clued us in to some great food to try and invited us out to a night club. Read the rest of this entry »





Zakopane, Poland

6 06 2009
Tatra Mountains

Tatra Mountains

We left Krakow and headed south to Zakopane, near the Tatra mountains that separate Poland and Slovakia.  We had planned to see the Tatras is Slovakia, but the weather turned cold and rainy (with snow in the Tatras), so we went to Krakow instead. We came to Zakopane with the hope of seeing some of the Tatras, regardless of the weather. Read the rest of this entry »





Oświęcim/Auschwitz-Birkenau

3 06 2009
Birkenau fencing

Birkenau fencing

Near Krakow is the town of Oświęcim, infamously known for the Auschwitz and Birkenau concentration and death camp complex run by the Nazis during World War II.  This was the largest death camp run by the Nazis.  The museum at the complex includes the bunk houses, gas chambers and cremation facilities, in addition to many shocking items  “harvested” from victims, including hair (tainted with Zyklon-B), glasses, prosthetic limbs, clothes, suitcases, etc.  Another shocking part of the site is the size.  While many of the wooden structures at Auschwitz II-Birkenau are gone, the foundations and perimeter fencing of the massive site remains. Read the rest of this entry »





Krakow, Poland

1 06 2009
Krakow center square

Krakow center square

We made it to the city of Krakow, in southern Poland. Since the train tracks in Poland are old, the trains generally run much slower, which added some time getting here. However, Krakow is one of the best architecturally preserved cities in Poland, since it escaped the devastation of World War II that mostly obliterated the buildings of other cities in Poland.   While the built environment of Krakow survived the Nazi occupation, the historically large Jewish community in the city did not fare as well.  While the movie Schindler’s List provides a glimmer of humanity during the Nazi brutalization of Poland that occurred in the time period between 1938 and 1945, the Jewish quarter of  Kazimierz is a reminder that prior to the arrival of the Nazi’s in 1938, 25% of citizens in Krakow were Jewish (about 60,000 of the total population of 237,000). Read the rest of this entry »