Two weekends ago, on thursday evening after dinner, five of us got on a train to Vienna, and from there, a luxurious sleeper-train took us the remaining way to Krakow Poland where we would have the privilege of exploring over the next two days.
When we got there (Friday morning), we headed into the center of the old-city to the market place or center square, where our hostel was.
We left our bags there and headed out to get some coffee before joining a free walking tour.
Here is half of the market place, the market place was so big because when the city was destroyed by war centuries ago, the ruler at the time decided to rebuild it larger, so more merchants would use it, and through taxing these merchants, the rulers would make more money so they could rebuild the town!
So one would think that going to Poland in the middle of January would be a horrible idea, but due to climate change, we had perfect weather in the 40's or 50's and sunny! Who would thought?! It was nice, because I don't think a lot of tourists visit Poland in January, so it seemed like it may have been calmer or less busy.
After a bit of wandering, we went to the corner of the Market Place where the free walking tour was to start, and we joined the group. The guides name was Tomek and he made the tour very fun, insightful and overall enjoyable!
Here he pointed out the window up in the cathedrals tower where the trumpeter was playing the tune, every hour on the hour it is played.
And a nice group picture in front of the Cathedral.
This is a different cathedral that is on the castle hill. If you look at the picture, you can see so many different styles of architecture, it is really cool:
And another fun little chapel that is in the Market Place.
After the tour, some good food thrown in for lunch and then for dinner between walking around the city, I called it a night.
The next day (Saturday), we went on a tour of the WW2 Concentration Camp Auschwitz nearby. Auschwitz was a concentration camp and death camp operated by Nazi Germany where an estimated 1.1 million people were killed.
(Because I didn't take pictures throughout the whole tour, and because it would be impossible for me to even summarize what an experience like going there is like, I can only give snippets and little descriptions of some of the pictures.)
Here, we can see the railroad tracks where the cars full of people were unloaded, from here, a majority were sent to be exterminated immediately, and the lesser, who were suitable for work, were housed in barracks.
In this picture below, you can see remnants of the wooden pre-made/portable horse stables that were repurposed as barracks for the prisoners. The only parts remaining is the dirt floor and crumbling chimney.
These remnants go on as far as the eye can see:
In other parts of the camp, or the neighboring location. Some of the brick housing remains. It is rather erie.
When the Nazi's abandoned the camp as they began to loose the war, they blew up both of the main gas chambers/crematories, only the rubble remains:
It really was an unforgettable experience. I have been to several concentration camps and every time it never is the same.
The rest of the afternoon was spent on more food, and touristing around the old city again.
And then that night, we went and found the cities dragon:
Wawel Dragon, is a famous dragon from Polish folklore. If you want to read the legend, follow this link.
After a walk around the park that circles around the whole Old-Town, we had to head for the train station for our sleeper-train back to Salzburg.. The sleeper train is awesome because it saves time and kinda money. instead of paying for 3 nights in a hostel, e still got 2 full days in Krakow and didn't waste any time!
We can pretend that this is a full group picture, I am the man in the chair..
Anyways, until next time- Peace