Travel Journal

Come rain, come shine...

(Wednesday 27 August 2014) by Mariken
Schindler's office
Schindler's office
OK, I should have kept my big fat mouth shut about the weather, because ever since I posted that last blog it has been raining buckets almost continuously. Today we finally caved and moved to a bungalow. Now we are enjoying hot tea whilst not wearing our down jackets for the first time in a week. Poland turns out to be as unpredictable as the Netherlands when it comes to the weather.

So, what have we been doing since we arrived in Krakow? Besides going the couch potato route (on plastic camping chairs) big time (I really appreciate my e-reader at times like these!) we have been visiting the city centre on and off. Krakow is one of the oldest cities in Poland and one that was surprisingly enough not destroyed in WWII. People here still got there own share of the horrors that Poland experienced during those years though. Krakow had its own concentration camp, Plasow, and if that name does not ring a bell, than the movie Schindler's List certainly does. Krakow is the place where that all happened, in Emalia, Schindler's enamel factory at 4, Lipowa street. The factory can be visited nowadays, although it hardly resembles the factory as it was back then. A few years ago it was turned into a museum, housing the permanent exhibition 'Krakow under Nazi occupation, 1939-1945' and I have to say that it is one of the best museums we visited during this trip. Highly educational, never one-sided or overly theatrical and very diverse. Apart from the exhibition, which focuses more on Krakow as a whole than on the enamel factory, the former office of Oskar Schindler can be visited as well and that, combined with a monumental wall that contained the 'real' Schindler's List, was a moving sight. That office was the place where this party-animal, womanizer and former Nazi spy gradually came to realise he could save innocent lives instead of getting filthy rich by using the cheap labour at hand. The world needs more people like him.

Smok, the Dragon of Wawel Hill
Smok, the Dragon of Wawel Hill
Fortunately, Krakow is not only about WWII remnants, that would be too depressing. Apart from the fact that it is a nice city simply to leisurely wander through, it has some beautiful sights as well, like Wawel Hill, where once the kings lived and Rynek square with the impressive Town Hall. We visited the underground museum, which was unfortunately a bit disappointing. The archaeological finds are nice and the unearthed 'historical layers' (e.g. a cobble stone road of 1000 years ago, the remains of a wooden bridge which is 800 years old on top of that and then another cobble stone road of 600 years old on top of that) were really interesting, but it was simply too crowded (the downside of visiting Krakow in the summer season) and all information is only accessible through touch screens. And obviously there are never enough touch screens to serve all visitors properly. Even though I like modern technology, I prefer old-fashioned bi-lingual panels. Too bad, you can't have it all. Apart from the Old Town, we also explored Kazimierz, the former Jewish quarter, which has a relaxed, bohemian feel and good restaurants.

And next? Well, tomorrow it is suppose to be dry, so we will then finally visit Auschwitz, which I expect will be a haunting experience. And then? Who knows...

  • Poland by Marije
    • Silenced by Mariken
      • .. by Aafke
        • Vel d'Hiv by Mariken
          • eens by Aafke

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