3 days in Krakow
at the end of june, we went 3 days to Krakow. This has been on my bucket list for years, because I lalways loved reading about the Holocaust. I think that it's a must in all of our own educations, to learn about such important historical events. Especially when there are a lot of crazy psychological events involved.
I think it's crazy how our minds can work sometimes... not always in a good way though.
We rented a car there, because it's the cheapest way for the airport transportation and the daytrips.
So here's my trip to Krakow, with daytrips to Auschwitz-Birkenau and the salt mines.
The first day, we visited the camps of Auschwitz and Birkenau. It was about 38 degrees Celcius, so extremely hot. There's not much shade around there, so this heat really gave a good impression about how difficult living must have been there.
You need to book tickets in advance, since it can get super crowded there. The place has it's own free parking lot but when we arrived there in the morning, the place was already full. We needed to go across the street to a private parkinglot. This was about 5 euros I think.
The tickets aren't cheap (about 23 euros) but visiting this place can take a couple of hours so it's worth the price.
You can't walk there by yourself. You need to follow a guide. I don't really like following guides, because often they go super fast and you don't really get to actually SEE the place. This was the problem at our trip as well.
Even though it's not super fun to follow a guide, I do understand that it's just not manageable to let people visit this place without any organisation.
After visiting the barracks of Auschwitz, the tour ends at the actual gas chambers. This is a place of silence, ofcourse. It was very scary to visit it. The entire tour with the guide felt a bit weird and uncomfortable because everyone out there is silent, not talking and not happy. It would be weird ofcourse if people would be taking selfies and smiling all the time, knowing wha happened here...
Just the feeling of being there, was so unusual, that it really made a lot of impression.
When finishing the tour. You can take a bus to the camp of Birkenau. This is where all the wooden barracks used to be. When you arrive at this place, you immediately see how massive this place is. Knowing that they murdered about 1.1 million people there, it must be a very large place.
After this trip we drove back to the city and took a boat in the city center. The boat was about 15 euros for an hour, so not so cheap... and the trip was not really interesting as well. It was just nice to be able to breathe a bit, in this terrible heat.
Day 2: Visiting the large salt mine of Wieliczka.
The tickets are also for a guided tour and are about 22 euros. You start by taking over 400 stairs down, all the way to the mines. After the stairs, you can enter the rooms.
This shot is actually the big chapel. It's a magical place to visit. You can even book this room for your wedding. I'm not sure how much it costs but I guess that it's not cheap and you need to book it a couple of years in advance.
The salt mine is actually very old. It's about 700 years old. During the tour, you can learn more about the life in the mine and how they used to live there. It's one of the oldest mines in the world and also one of the biggest.
After the mine, we went to the city center. We visited the Jewish square (not too interesting, I'm sorry) and we visited Schindler's factory. The museum wasn't only about Schindler himself but mostly about the war as well. Tickets were about 6 euros.
There's a theatre toom where you can watch some interviews of people who used to work for him. This was very intereting, in my opinion. Then the museum itself was with a couple of artefacts and informatic infoboxes. I learned, that in fact, the movie is a bit over-romanticized. He did iactually do a lot of good deeds for the Jewish community, but he also was pretty selfish and did a lot for his own favor... Also, he cheated on his wife a lot lol.
The third day we visited the city itself. Krakow is a surprisingly charming city. The food is quite good and very cheap. Dinner with drinks and dessert for my mom and me were about 35 euros. In Belgium that would easily be about 60 euros.
The city is upon a hill with a beautiful castle. We started with visiting the castle and it's church and then we visited the city center itself.
The Wawel castle entrance ticket can be purchased with a combi ticket for
the entire area. The church is a different ticket. We choose some of the places to visit and the tickets were about 20 euros in total I think. You can find more info at the link.
The castle, it's exhibition rooms and the garden were very lovely to visit. The church was very impressive. You can climb up the tower and explore the old tower bells. There you also have a gorgeous view over the city.
The cathedral was about 5 euros I think. Here's the link with more info.
From the castle, we walked through the lovely streets to the main square. There are a lot of churches in Krakow and some of them are really stunning. When it's hot outside, it can be a good idea to cool down inside a church.
The main square is called Rynek Główny, it's actually from about the 13th century. The building on and around the square are beautiful. Interesting fact, this is actuallt one of the largest squares in the entire world.
On this square you find the cathedral called Bazylika Mariacka.
The opening times are: MONDAY – SATURDAY: 11.30 a.m. – 6.00 p.m. SUNDAYS AND HOLIDAYS: 2.00 p.m. – 6.00 p.m.
Tickets can be purchased at the shop across the entrance and are about 3 euros. This is literally one of the most amazing churches I've visited so far. The church is from the late 1300s and has the most gorgeous decorations inside.
After exploring the city, we had to go back home... a small tip; you can't park your car in the center. You need to go to a public or private parkinglot to be able to park your car. We almost had a ticket because we thought that we found a good parking space... but the police men told us that we needed to leave, oops!
Et voila, Krakow!