The Best and the Best World Secret, Krakow and Zakopane, Poland

As a former flight attendant, I've visited all European countries except Albania and Poland. Poland is the fifth largest country in Europe and Europe. Aside from Lech Walesa, Copernicus, Pop and a decade of Polish jokes that I never understood, I didn't know anything about this land. However, my interest peaked because it would soon become a hot tourist destination, and because of my family and husband in Chicago. He accompanied me with the joy of discovering his roots. I went on to study and become enriched with something new. We flew to Atlanta just 4 days via JFK and Warsaw. Don't have a rest to get tired of the spinning itinerary. I prefer to visit cities outside the country in the off-season to meet local people. It creates a more authentic and intimate atmosphere.

On arrival at the airport, we are happy to welcome Paul, our driver, around the world. He has a welcome sign of "Souza Davis". I say, "Hi, I'm burning from Atlanta." When he answered, "Yes, it's downstairs in the United States." We explored the Amadeus Hotel, a 16th-century nest inn in the heart of downtown. I'm told Prince Charles once slept in our room.

We were going to hunt for dinner. The old town was a stunning enlightenment and full of youth, it made me feel old. 150,000 students live in this university town. Krakow is Europe's premier party scene, where it stays until the birds sing. This historic district has the highest concentration of bars and restaurants in the world. Suddenly, we discovered the garden of Trout, home of the latest Polish dumplings. They were stuffed with mint, mutton, beef, mulberry, chocolate and even peanut butter. There are 6 types of soups, all of which are separated from beets. After twelve dumplings, I melted a pancake of lamb and melted cheese which was beyond delicious.

Poland has experienced numerous attacks throughout history. Finally, after the invasion of the Germans and then the Russians, it finally gained independence in 1989 with the collapse of Soviet communism. Krakow was wired to destroy the Germans at the end of World War II. After the Russians seized it, they intended to blow it up. Fortunately, the war ended hours before the plan was implemented.

Today it is one of the few cities that remains in its original form. With a population of 780,000, it has become an international international capital. Vibrant and modern, it also retains its traditional culture with regular architecture. In Krakow is where one finds the spirit of the new Poland.

On day 2, we welcomed Anna, who was very nice. We started out on the boulder web in Old Town, which meant hiking. It was a maze of museums, chapels, galleries, cafes and holes in walled pubs. Even in winter there was fun with street dancers, mimes, accordion players and in one corner, I watched a knight in armor dance.

We enter the largest medieval market square, Europe and 39, where it has changed since 1257. The garden is surrounded by the Bell Tower, where a big man watches over the clock. This night makes the residents crazy. A must-see is the fabric salon where fishermen, cloth merchants and bakers have been selling their goods since the 14th century. Now this is an amazing game of crafts stands.

We went to a well-preserved ghetto that now has an artistic personality. Poland once had the largest concentration of Jews in Europe, at about 39 million. The medieval monarchs of Poland noted that they were expelled elsewhere and invited them to boost the economy. Here they were forced to prosper after the Second World War until the Holocaust and Communism. There are only 180 left now. We watched the ghettos filmed by the famous Spielberg movie and went to the Shindler factory by the river.

Rick Steves writes that you should visit a tap bar here. Anna escorts us to one of these government subsidized cafés for the working class. They are an investor from Poland's communist past and 39th. Everything is amazingly cheap. I ordered a bowl of homemade soup and cheesecake for $ 2.

Then we visited Castle Wowel, a twelfth-century masterpiece and a symbol of pride and honor in the city. There were no traits that we walked down the corridors of history. This was the kings residence for 500 years. Anna describes her legend of a fire-breathing dragon named Smok here who eats a virgin for breakfast.

This was reinforced by the discovery of the exotic large bones in the 1400's and 39's. (The bones are actually whale bones because this area in Europe was previously underwater.) So the dragon became a symbol of the city and is everywhere in souvenir shops. Anna then puts us in beautiful churches, always as boring as colors and numbers, yet they were exquisite. I ask if there are Protestants here. He really replied, "Yes, one."

The afternoon was spent checking out the restaurant and hotel. I loved formal greetings and it was always educational. I learn about local cuisine and accommodation at the best price. All hotels are fully booked. Jews and Catholics go on religious pilgrimage or take root tours all year.

Krakow recently ranked in the top 10 European destinations. Now I see why Americans are still drowning in Prague, which I now see with inflation and lower service standards. It ended up being expensive Rome. Ultimately, Krakow may do the same if Poland becomes the Euro in 2012. We can flourish at affordable prices right now. Europeans here complain about savings 50-70 here. Germans and Danes refer specifically to dental and vision needs. Medical tourism is one of the growing plastic surgeries. I met an Austrian flight attendant who flies at half the cost of the spa every month.

We ate dinner at Wierzynek Restaurant, the oldest in the world that had served tourists since 1985. It was a tasty peasant meal made of wild boar, barbecued ribs and lots of potatoes. I ask them to teach me some Polish, a Slavic language that is as impossible as a morsel of alphabet soup. The word toilet has 5 syllables.

On the third day, we woke up to a gray, cold, humid day that gave us the right environment for what we were seeing. Powell drove us 60 kilometers to Auschwitz. We welcomed Yuri, our brilliant personal guide whose only passion was to illuminate us in the unimaginable calamities that took place from 1940 to 1940. I visited Dachau once, but it was the largest concentration camp. The plant has killed 1.4 million people from 27 nations. Most of them were Jewish. The rest were Gypsies, the Soviet Union, Poles, gays, political dissidents, and so on.

We entered the gate that "will set you free". Inside was a powerful reminder that we saw creatures, starving cells, kilos of hair, endless eye glasses, and a pond that was still gray from ash 60 years ago. The biggest regret for me was the kids and teens section. It held a sea of ​​tiny shoes, dolls and detailed German documentation of the 230,000 little children who suffered and died here.

We were driven to the massive Birkenau (Auschwitz II) camp, which had 100,000 wooden barracks built but eventually retained 200,000. In silence together, the three of us walked half a mile to see the ruins of the gas chambers and the monument. At the end of our tour, Yuri said good-bye to us, saying, "We're guiding several Holocaust survivors who have traveled here as tourists. They finally told me that I can't 1. How to present it was really bad. "It was the most emotional touch site my eyes had ever seen.

Late in the afternoon we visited the famous Wieliczka salt mine. This mysterious and vast underground city, 3 miles long, has been extracting salt for 800 years. The World Heritage site attracts one million visitors annually, and today it seems they have all arrived.

Our guide seemed to have an obsession with salt, but that was just the love of his job as a guide. Follow the 836 steps down, he said, which was better than the Stairmaster. The caves created me but this site will stay in my mind forever. Imagine underground sculptures, ornamental sculptures, chandeliers and life-size carvings entirely of salt or restaurant and a post office 380 & # 39; below street level. It was spectacular for centuries the miners and horses spent their lives here. They remain healthy in this rich climate. This has to do with magnesium ions Nowadays people come to the treatment rooms for isolation in the purity of natural air.

Day 4: I constantly search the world for unique things or places to offer my passengers. Today I found it in Zakapan. For years, one of my friends had been insisting that I visit this mountain resort with this funny name that I never remembered. We boarded the pure air of the Tatra Mountains with Eva, our expert guide that day. The 60,000-strong adventure destination will inflate nearly 200,000 people throughout the year, he said. In summer they come for mineral spa and alpine walks. In winter they go skiing. Zakapan hosted the International Ski Jumping Competition that week.

Here was a fascinating city of artists and Giorake, an ethnic group of mountain highlands. These wandering shepherds go back to the fifteenth century. They love their colorful costumes for tourists. They live on cheese or anything else that has chopped cheese. We visited a cheese market the size of Switzerland. As far as my eyes could see, there were sheep and goat cheeses that were artistically sculpted in every way imaginable. We also visited the water park with an Olympic-size mineral-mineral spring pool and mountaineering cables in the mountains to see breathtaking scenery.

It was a productive and enjoyable day tour. I found a local tour company that does fun activities for groups such as jungle horses, dogs with dogs, and new "snow boats" in rubber boats down the mountain. . At the large outdoor market with myriad ethnic booths, I bought a remarkable leather jacket and fur jacket for $ 260 that looked 6 times more expensive.

There I don't like to see you in this short meeting. On my next return, I will do the new "Crazy Communism Tour". Outside the city of Krakow is Noah Huta, when a vigorous socialist suburb of forced industrialization. Huge steel mills surpass rich farmland. The doctor and the professors were sent here to work. There are miles of concrete blocks made to make them.

On the tour you can find Stalin's first-hand gift and $ 39 to Krakow by riding the classic East German Trabant car to Nova Huta. A brunch, pickle and vodka dinner is included followed by dancing at a retro disco in the 70's and 39's.

Under the yoke of communism, the Poles refused to give up religion. "Implementing communism here is like kicking a cow," Stalin said. Faced with such a determined spirit in the people, he succumbed. I am amazed at all the obstacles that this country is becoming.

If you've been there and bought t-shirts in London, Paris, Madrid or Athens, I encourage you to head to undiscovered parts of Europe. Krakow is set to become the next Prague. It comes with history, friendly faces, hearty food, and ruins your pocketbook. If you can visit New Poland, please tell someone about Zakapan, one of the best kept secrets in the world.