No:57 – Poland – Beautiful country with a troubled history …

About the Blog …

The blog is based on my visit to Poland in September 2023.

Type of vacation …

Father-Daughter trip covering Wroclaw, Gdansk, Warsaw, Krakow Etc.

Country Counter: Countries/territories I have visited so far …

Travel TipsTips based on my travels so far …

What I liked best …

(1) Spectacular Old Towns, especially Krakow.

(2) Train network.

What I did not like …

Cuisine, though unique, is unfortunately not my favorite 🙂

Location in the World map …

 

Some interesting tidbits about Poland …

  • 5th most populous nation in European Union.
  • Famous Polish people: (1) Marie Curie (Radioactivity) (2) Pope John Paul II (3) Iga Swiatek (Tennis)
  • Flag: ½ White and ½ Red.
  • There is a small Russian province between Poland and Lithuania (Kaliningrad).
  • North: Baltic Sea. South: Czech Republic + Slovak Republic. West: Germany. East: Lithuania/Kaliningrad + Belarus + Ukraine.
  • Saw quite a few Ukrainian refugees in Poland.
  • Poland has 15 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
  • The Castle of the Teutonic Order in Malbork is the largest castle in the world, by land area.
  • Wieliczka Salt Mine, near Krakow, is 800+ years old.
  • It is believed that Vodka originated in Poland.
  • Poland has ancient forests, desert (Just to North of Krakow), wetlands, mountains, beaches Etc.
  • Warsaw was completely destroyed during WWII.

Largest City: Warsaw (1.8M people)

Capital: Warsaw

Population: 18.3M

Language: Polish

GDP: 750B US$

Ethnicity: 98% Polish

Religion: 88% Christianity

Currency: Polish Zloty (PLN) (1 USD == 4.05 PLN) (1 PLN == 20.34 INR)

National Animal: Snow Leopard

My Experiences

My initial impressions:

(1) The country is very pretty, especially the Old Towns.

(2) Lot of people speak English, especially in the cities.

Arrive at Wroclaw Airport …
Bus #106 which goes from Wroclaw Airport to Wroclaw Glowny area. 4.60 PLN per person.
Apartments in the suburbs of Wroclaw, Poland.
Some of the trams were more modern … Wroclaw, Poland.
Ah … An Indian restaurant, with a Polish-friendly board.
As with most countries in this region, there were some nice Graffiti …
Another of the Wroclaw trams …
Near the Market Square, Wroclaw, Poland. Cobbled, pedestrian-only streets.
Menu … Pod Fredra, Wroclaw, Poland.
The vintage interiors (We sat outside) of Pod Fredra restaurant, Wroclaw, Poland.
“Klasyczny Polski Schabowy” Thats a mouthful … Pork dish, with sides. At restaurant Pod Fredra, near Market Square, Wroclaw, Poland.
Wroclaw Town Hall … Built over 250 (!) years.
Old Town has many sculptures … This ones are real small. 4-6 inches.
“The passage” Sculptures, unveiled in 2005, depicting ordinary citizens during Martial Law in early 1980s of Communist Poland, when people disappeared without a trace. People descending on one side of the intersection and coming out of the other. Wroclaw, Poland.
Worclaw Main Train Station … Worclaw Glowny.
One version of the trams in Wroclaw, Poland.
Another small figure, this one on Most Tumski, Wroclaw, Poland.
“The passage” Sculptures, unveiled in 2005, depicting ordinary citizens during Martial Law in early 1980s of Communist Poland, when people disappeared without a trace. People descending on one side of the intersection and coming out of the other. Wroclaw, Poland. This is the other side of the road …
How small? This small … 🙂
Liked this building in Cathedral Island, Wroclaw, Poland.
Cathedral of St. John, Cathedral Island, Wroclaw, Poland. Noticed that a lot of the Churches in Wroclaw have a brick facade. There was some interior renovation going on.
View of the Oder River … Oder River is the 2nd longest one in Poland. Roughly 850Km long. Starts in nearby Czech Republic and ends in the Baltic Sea, near German border.
Entrance to the Panorama Museum … Ticket costs 50 PLN. The Museum has a nice souvenir shop as well.
The queue to see the Panorama …
Panorama of the Battle of Racławice (Muzeum Panorama Racławicka), Wroclaw, Poland. Multiple.artists were involved in this massive “Cycloramic” painting, from late 19th Century. Quite famous, for there were many visitors. You get to walk all around, in a circle, on a elevated walkway. Over 100 meters in length 😱 Had to use an English Audio Guide, if you want to avoid getting swamped in Polish 😀
Sky Tower … 212 meters. The tallest in Poland (?).
Wroclaw Glowny (Train Station). Very clean, easy to use, with friendly staff. Polish people love trains, looks like, for there were many people using the local as well as InterCity trains.
Wroclaw Glowny … The platforms.
Our 5hr train from Wroclaw to Gdansk. It came right on time!
The train … It maintained an average 120-130 kmph speed right through.
Seats were reasonably comfortable, with power and USB charging points. I barely sat, as I was busy looking at the countryside.
The countryside … From the train.
The countryside … From the train.
The countryside … From the train.
The countryside … From the train.
The countryside … From the train.
The countryside … From the train.
The countryside … From the train.
The countryside … From the train.
The countryside … From the train.
The countryside … From the train.
The countryside … From the train.
The countryside … From the train.
Kolejkowo Museum … Miniature models, depicting various aspects of Poland: Towns, villages, beaches, hills Etc. The train and car models were moving.
The beautiful Wroclaw Market Square. It was a bright and cloudless day, but quite chilly for me in the early morning 🙂
A small village, on the way from Wroclaw to Gdansk …
Amber! In Malbork Castle Souvenir Shop. Malbork, Poland.
Amber! In Malbork Castle Souvenir Shop. Malbork, Poland.
Malbork Castle Restaurant … Had a nice Pork Roast and Beer lunch 🙂
Malbork Castle Restaurant … Had a nice Pork Roast and Beer lunch 🙂
Castle of the Teutonic Order in Malbork, Poland. Near the “Amber” city, Gdansk. From 13th Century. A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997. Largest castle in the World, by land area. Wont be very popular in Middle East, I would assume, since German Crusaders are the original founders of the “Teutonic Order”. Ruled by several “Grand Masters”, over the years, a designation held till death. Also, conquered by several Nations/Empires, including Sweden, Poland Etc.
The bright and colorful stained-glass windows of the Castle of Teutonic Order in Malbork, Poland.
The ornate ceiling of the Malbork Railway Station …
From the train … While going from Malbork back to Gdansk.
Funny sign … 🙂 Outside Gdansk Railway Station.
Kilbasa snack, near Gdansk Old Town … Gdansk, Poland.
Polish flag. Simple Red and White …
Gdansk: On the way to Warsaw Market Square …
Old Town Gdansk, Poland. So far, the weather has been just great … While landing in Poland, the sky was filled with carpet-like clouds and I thought it would be a wet and soggy time. On the contrary, even a single cloud has been hard to come by the past few days 😳
Warsaw Royal Castle and Market Square area … Where are the clouds? 🙂
While walking through Old Town Warsaw …
Inside a Cathedral in the Old Town Warsaw …
Market Square, Warsaw … On a sunny day, it looks spectacular!
Liked these vintage decorations …
Market Square, Warsaw … On a sunny day, it looks spectacular!
Market Square, Warsaw … On a sunny day, it looks spectacular!
At a cafe in Warsaw, Poland … Could not resist 😉
Another angle of Palace of Culture and Science, Warsaw, Poland.
Liked this display photo of the Palace of Culture and Science …
The ticket to go to the 30th floor Observation Deck, Palace of Culture and Science, Warsaw, Poland.
Many people love many other people … Here is the proof! At Palace of Culture and Science.
View of Warsaw from the 30th floor of Palace of Culture and Science, Warsaw, Poland.
View of Warsaw from the 30th floor of Palace of Culture and Science, Warsaw, Poland. That building on the left is by a famous Polish Architect.
Another angle of Palace of Culture and Science, Warsaw, Poland.
Warsaw Centrum … Train/Bus Station.
Warsaw Centrum … Train/Bus Station.
Warsaw Metro … Just 2 lines, M1 and M2. Centrum Station.
Warsaw Metro Ticket …
Some trains are modern, with displays like this. Others are more vintage … Warsaw Metro, Poland.
Nice touch to have Red & White trains 🙂 Warsaw Metro, Poland.
Taken at the last Metro station on M1 line … Warsaw, Poland.
Liked this weird Graffiti …
Hala Koszyki … A warehouse-like Food Court, with all kinds of eateries … Warsaw, Poland.
Polish Countryside … Taken during the train rides crisscrossing Poland.
Polish Countryside … Taken during the train rides crisscrossing Poland.
Scenes from Old Town Warsaw …
The biggest hall in Royal Castle, Warsaw, Poland.
One of the many wonderful paintings in the Royal Castle, Warsaw, Poland.
A nice ornate ceramic piece in Royal Castle, Warsaw.
Royal Castle, Warsaw, Poland.
Royal Castle, Warsaw, Poland.
Loved this drawing in front of a local cafe … Warsaw, Poland.
Krakow Old Town … At night.
Krakow Glowny … With the attached Krakow Galleria and Bus Station as well, this is one huge complex.
Ths train from Krakow to Oswiecim … Takes roughly 1hr.
This bakery in Oswiecim had such yummy looking pastries … Gulped down a couple.
A children’s map of Poland … Wroclaw, Gdansk, Warsaw & Krakow, the cities I visited.
Grób Nieznanego Żołnierza Monument, Kraków, Poland.
The gate to enter the Krakow Old Town …
St. Mary’s Basilica … Krakow Old Town, Krakow, Poland.
Beef Sausage & Sides …
Sausage Dinner … And of course, Beer!
Not sure what this structure is .. Liked it 🙂
Krakow Old Town … What a market square it is. Huge!
Krakow Old Town (“Stare Miasto”) & St. Mary’s Basilica at dusk … For a working day (Wednesday) evening, during non-peak-tourist-season, Old Town was buzzing 🕺 Pretty much every single restaurant/eatery was full. Tons of people. Busy shops.
Krakow Old Town … At dusk.
Krakow Old Town … At dusk.
Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial & Museum: Clockwise, from Top-Right: (1) The dreaded tracks in Birkenau, which brought the wagons filled with Jews, Gypsies Etc. from all over Poland/Europe. (2) A few of the (There were many) mug shots of the prisoners, with dates of when they arrived in the camp and when they died. Many of them died within days of arrival 🙁 (3) Barracks in Auschwitz. Birkenau had wooden barracks mostly. (4) Footwear from the prisoners. (5) Shuttle bus between Auschwitz and Birkenau. (6) Inside a barrack in Birkenau. Each barrack held 400-700 people. Among everything, for me, the most haunting aspect was photos of women and children being led to the gas chambers, with them not having any idea what lay ahead … What horror.
Wawel Castle … As you approach it from Old Town side. Krakow, Poland.
Entrance to Wawel Castle …
View of Vistula River, the longest (1050 Km approximately) from Wawel Castle.
View of Vistula River, the longest (1050 Km approximately) from Wawel Castle.
Wawel Cathedral … One of the most ornate Cathedrals I have ever seen. One can use an Audio Guide.
Wawel Castle courtyard … It was earlier in the day and hence crowds were not yet there.
Wawel Castle & Cathedral, Wawel Hill, Krakow, Poland. Yet another of Poland’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Sits on the Vistula River, the longest river in Poland. The Wawel Cathedral is easily one of the most ornate Cathedrals I have seen (No photos inside).
Wawel Castle souvenir shop … Could not resist 🙂
While climbing down the 400 odd steps in Wieliczka Salt Mine … Wieliczka, Poland.
One of the many Rock Salt Statues within Wieliczka Salt Mine …
One of the many Rock Salt Statues within Wieliczka Salt Mine …
Salt-based Chocolates … Had them in Iceland. Did not like it 🙂
One can buy salt-based products … Wieliczka Salt Mine, Wieliczka, Poland.
Cafeteria, 100+ meters down … Wieloczka Salt Mine, Wieliczka, Poland.
Salt Rock … Closeup. Wieliczka Salt Mine, Wieliczka, Poland.
The elevator which took us back up … I.e. Climb down on foot. Get back up using elevator. Wieliczka Salt Mine, Wieliczka, Poland.
“E Wedel” Chocolates … Popular in Poland.
Tried this one … A bit too sweet for my taste. Krakow, Poland.
My final beer in Poland 🙂 Krakow International Airport, Poland.
Wieliczka Salt Mine, Wieliczka, Poland. Up to 327m deep. Tourists go up to 120m deep, and that covers only 2% of the massive mine. Obviously, only guided tours are allowed. In UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 1978 (One of the original World treasures). From the 13th Century. One can easily taste the salt on the walls 🙂 The mine has over 2000 (!) chambers. Clockwise from Top-Right: (1) Starts off with 400 steps down a square-shaped 50-level shaft. (2) Rock salt art depicting Last Supper. (3) One of the many passages. (4) All the bigger chambers are reinforced with thick wood. (5) Of course, Pope John Paul II is big here. Rock salt sculpture. (6) The amazing St.Kinga’s Chapel, 101m underground. Can book for weddings and can hold 400+ people.

 

 

Adios!

 

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