Monday, April 11, 2011


After touring Auschwitz-Birkenau in the morning, I met up with my friend Sara in Krakow (we play soccer together in CT).  Sara's been living in Poland (Wroclow) for about 4 months, and has about a year left there for a work assignment.  We ended up driving to the Wieliczka salt mines to do a tour.  Here's some pics from the mines - everything including walls, ground lighting fixtures, statues - made of salt.

salty gnomes (which reminds me, i still haven't seen gnomeo and juliet!)

huge salt church 130 meters underground - still functioning for mass, weddings, worship, etc...i wonder if they use saltines instead of wafers...

After we were all salted out, Sara and I found a tiny restaurant with authentic Polish cuisine.  The meal started with bread and lard with chunks of stuff in it:

for the main course we each had a pork knuckle (they had 15 different varieties of pork knuckle to choose from!)

and perogies...

the seats in the restaurant were covered with big wooley blankets

After dinner we found a bar with some live music - and discovered that Bob Marley is a legend everywhere!

some artwork we encountered on the walk back to our hotel.

today's headlines:

Our last day in Krakow we did a bike tour of the city.  Our guide, Phil, gave us and 2 other girls (american) a great tour of the city and its surroundings.  Coincidentally the 2 other girls are studying abroad in Dublin!  Here's some pics I took along the tour:

Main square in city center

random guy walking a lamb

mom & pop rock band

the residence of Pope John Paul II.  He's extremely popular in Poland as it was his birthplace and the country is 95% Roman Catholic.  You can spot pictures and statues of him everywhere!  Our guide told us that when he died, it was a very sad time for the country.  Two rival soccer teams that often had violent clashes between the fans actually refrained from fighting for an entire week out of respect for the pope - something that had never happened before between the two teams.

the "priest factory" where hundreds go to study the priesthood.

this was the center of the Jewish ghetto where SS soldiers lined everyone up and made selections as to who would be allowed out of the ghetto to work in Oscar Schindler's factory.  The chairs are a memorial to all the people who underwent the frightening inspections and were forced to move into this cramped area of the city, leaving their homes behind.

The walls surrounding the Jewish ghetto were actually designed to look like tombstones - a cruel message from the SS soldiers to all those trapped inside.

outside Schindler's factory - memorial plaque reads "whoever saves one life, saves the world entire."

Statue of man's best friend. :)

The Wawel Castle 

The bike tour was really great - we had an awesome guide who took us on a great route.  The weather was beautiful that day too - around 70 degrees!! :)  Took a flight home that evening and got up early the next morning for yet another week at the office...Not bad being able to go to Poland for a weekend! :)

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