poland Tag

sightseeing, krakow, poland, tours, best things to do, things to see (5)
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Sightseeing in Krakow

Krakow, Poland I've written a fair bit about Poland in the past few weeks and a lot of that has referenced Krakow. Not surprising really, seeing as it's Poland's second largest city and its most popular tourist destination. The history draws some people and the culture others. For most, it’s the combination of the two. As well as being a great cheap place for a night out, it's also a good base to visit places like the Wieliczka Salt Mine and the Auschwitz Museum. It was a grey day when I toured Krakow with the wonderful guide, Kasia, (you can check out her website here) but it’s one of those cities that seems to shine regardless of the weather. As you’ll gather from these highlights, there’s a lot to see. Things to do in Krakow Main square The main marketplace is a perfect place to start any sightseeing in Krakow. It’s full of activity – from...

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24 May
cheap drinks poland, best bars krakow, polish vodka, alcohol, cheap poland (7)
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Cheap drinks in Poland

Polish vodka “You must have more vodka,” the Polish men say to me with hospitality that is starting to border on hostility. “Together we will drink,” they insist. Or at least they’re saying something along those lines… my memory of the night is little hazy. I’d been invited to join the men at their table in a bar after asking if I could take their photo. I don’t think there was a translation error, I think they were just being social. The thing I’ve learnt about Poland, though, is that socialising generally involves alcohol. The other thing I’ve learned is that mixing beer and vodka doesn’t make for a fun morning the next day… but more on that soon. Vodka is the poison of choice in Poland and to drink is to join in a local ritual. It’s rarely mixed with anything is not ordered by the glass. It’s ordered by the bottle and...

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22 May
chocholow, things near Zakopane, ski resort, traditional Polish village, Poland (10)
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Sunday church in Poland

Chocholow church, Poland Sunday in Poland. In the small towns and villages of the countryside, Sunday means church. If it's not something the locals want to do, it's something they're expected to do. As one person explains it to me, the communities are so small that it's noticed if you don't attend. This Sunday morning I've ended up in the small town of Chocholow, on the outskirts of Zakopane in south Poland. It's approaching the time for the service and the town's residents are making their way to join the congregation. Zakopane itself - maybe 15 minutes drive away - is a holiday resort. Its religion is snow and in winter it hosts international ski jump events and is a Mecca for ski enthusiasts. Like most ski towns, it has a thriving nightlife and an over-representation of in-demand hotels. It may not be geographically far from Chocholow but socially it is miles apart. The...

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21 May
auschwitz, visiting auschwitz, museum, poland, birkenau, german concentration camp (9)
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How could they get away with it?

Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp, Poland If you consider just the numbers, it’s hard to comprehend. When you think about the individuals, it starts to feel more real. Galka Wladyslaw, inmate number 10557. Wrebski Walenty, inmate number 10410. Libucha Jan, inmate 10743. Their names, their photos and their numbers line the hall of one of the internment buildings of the German concentration and extermination camp, Auschwitz. One has a flower placed on it. Many of these people have faded into history, the names forgotten. Thankfully the crimes have not been. But for every name on this wall there are thousands more who never even had their photo taken. The men and women with records here were at least given the chance to survive the concentration camp at Auschwitz, however awful that experience must have been. The others never had a hope. Hundreds of thousands of prisoners were taken by the German guards straight from the train...

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07 May
wroclaw, poland, guided tours, panorama, centennial hall (11)
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Caught in the Polish matrix

Guided tour of Wroclaw "Perhaps she's lost in the matrix," our guide says of one of our group who hasn't turned up. "Perhaps we're all in the matrix." What a welcome to Poland. We haven't even left the airport and already I am worried we have somehow entered a world in which I will have no control. Is this to be a scenario where I simply plug myself in and let more powerful forces take control of my destiny? Well, in some ways, yes. I have arrived in Wroclaw as a guest of the Polish tourism organisation and they have plans for me. A glitch. There's a glitch in the matrix as I realise we've been left on our own and I'm free to explore the central market of Wroclaw without a guide. I make a dash for an alley of shops and breath in the scents of the florists. It knocks some...

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06 May
Euro 2012, Poland, wroclaw stadium, wroclaw, ready (5)
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Is Poland ready for the football?

Euro 2012 "You didn't hear this from me," someone whispers in my direction. "But I'm not sure Poland will be ready in time for the matches." I take it with a grain of Polish salt. You seem to hear these things before every big international sporting event - and Poland is about to put itself right in the spotlight when it shares the hosting duties with Ukraine for one of the world's largest sporting tournaments. In less than two months eight of the countries' cities will be the home of the 2012 UEFA European Football Championship (Euro 2012). Sixteen teams will compete in 31 matches. The whole event will run over 24 days and is expected to bring in tens of thousands of visitors. It's a huge undertaking for any country but particularly one that is still growing its economy and infrastructure after decades of communist rule. It knows, though, that national pride...

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29 April
polish food, poland, pretzels, soups, oscypek (7)
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More than just cabbage

Polish food I had been expecting cabbage and I wasn’t disappointed. My very first meal after arriving in Poland presented me with an opportunity to try it – red and sweet, it was just how I had imagined the country would taste. What I was about to discover was that food in Poland is much richer and has much more depth than I imagined. From the snacks on the street, to the hearty meals of the working class, to the fine dining in the top restaurants of Krakow and Wroclaw, Polish food has a lot to offer. Take the pretzels, for example. There’s nothing spectacular about them. They’re plain, taste like bread, and have a dryness that leaves you wanting a cold beer to go with them. But they’re warm, they’re filling and they’re available on streets corners all through the city. The perfect snack on a chilly day. “Soup,” was the answer when...

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29 April
wroclaw, gnomes, dwarves, poland, garden gnomes, orange alternative (3)
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The gnomes of Wroclaw

The gnomes in Wroclaw, Poland It starts with just one of them. One little guy, all bronzed and steady, looking up at you from a pavement in Wroclaw. He’s a blend between a gnome and a dwarf – for the sake of this conversation, let’s call him a gnome. This guy isn’t your usual garden variety, though. He’s a symbol of a dark period of history in Poland and a peaceful campaign that helped bring it to an end. Walking the streets of Wroclaw, you notice another gnome, then another. By the seventh one you’re almost expecting to see Snow White pop her head out from a tavern. But the little guys just keep on coming. There’s a gnome asleep on a bed, one locked up in jail, another reading a book and a couple on their way to fight a fire. They’ve each got their own identity, their own character and their...

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25 April