You are in a country that comes and goes, where the people have been mistreated but rarely oppose. Borders have changed by rulers from afar, although sometimes closer than neighbourhoods are. Their religion is sacred and the heavens smile down, but the history they keep will lead you to frown…
– Sean F. Hogan, Painting Angels
Due to lack of decent internet connections on our tour, it has once again taken far longer to upload photos than I had hoped. As a (sort of) plus, we are now back in the UK for a few weeks, so our internet connection will be far more consistent and I will finally be able to catch up with our travels.
Poland was a refreshing surprise, quite a bit cheaper than expected, crazy drivers and insane amounts of road works!
Arriving in Poland much later than we anticipated, we drove for a couple of hours before stopping for the night in a random town. We chose this place as it offered free parking, and had an incredible fountain that was lit up with colour changing lights throughout the night. Upon waking in the morning, we found that the fountain was definitely prettier at night, but also that the place we parked up, Suchowola, was once believed (from 1775-1989) to be the centre of Europe. The new centre of Europe is is Lithuania, and we camped there for the night the week before.
The next day saw our longest driving day, 9 and a half hours in total. In that time we saw four crashes, a police chase, a VIP being driven with a set of three body-guarded cars and 9 tanks casually driving down the motorway.
Kraków was a beautiful city, the town square is one of the largest medieval squares in Europe, measuring 200m square. The bustling area is home to shops and restaurants, market stalls and art, churches and towers and underground passageways. I am personally a big fan of the circular breads (I never actually found out what they were called) that can be bought from street sellers for very cheap. Possibly my favourite thing about the city though, is the hourly bugle call played from the West, East, South then North sides of St. Mary’s Basilica left tower. The legend of this tradition is that in 1241, the Tartars attempted to invade the city. A lone sentry sounded the alarm by playing his bugle (the bugle was normally played to announce the city gates being opened and closed) and alerted the city to the attack. However, as the man played his alert, he was shot with an arrow through the neck and his call ended abruptly. The hourly bugle call now stops at the same point as the sentry played to, meaning the end of the tune is not heard.
From Kraków, we travelled to Wieliczka – most famous for its salt mine. The Salt Mine tour is ok, but it is a tour. Our guide was fab, very knowledgable, funny and helpful. But it was still a tour, and I’ve never been a fan of them. I’ve always preferred to walk around places at my own pace, learning from written information rather than through listening, and more than anything, I dislike being moved around in a large (or even small) group like a heard of sheep. But the mines are pretty cool, and you are totally allowed to lick the walls to try the salt (FYI, it’s very salty – although you have to be careful not to accidentally lick the concrete walls…)
No blog post about our time in Poland would be complete without a massive thank you to the lovely Pierre and Katya who cooked us dinner and provided us with loads of information about the places we were visiting, as well as recommended many places to visit in the future. Hopefully see you guys soon!
Where would you love to visit in Poland? Did we miss any delicious food or fantastic experiences?