So I arrived in Poland with no plans or time scale and armed with my lonely planet. Getting to Krakow centre from the airport was easy, buses going about every 30 mins. I thought it would be easy to get somewhere to sleep, flicked through the lonely planet, found a place, full up, I repeated this a few times on my trip; guess that everyone uses the lonely planet and the hostels/hotels that they mention fill up mega fast.
I eventually found somewhere, but had to wait awhile so got some Polish food down my neck. When the bread that came with the meal, had suet dripping as the accompanying spread with it, I knew I was in for a healthy meal!
Krakow is a nice place, but busy as hell with tourists. Here’s a picture of St Mary’s church, it is pretty typical of the type of architecture in Krakow. On the hour instead of ringing bells they play bugles, these cut off abruptly; this signifies one of the buglers getting an arrow in his neck in the 13th century or so.
The next day I got the bus to Auschwitz; quite a sad place, but the museums and information are very well done. I found it interesting to find the number of Polish people who passed through the concentration camps, everybody always remembers the faith of the Jews, but over 3.5 million native polish people also passed through the camps, an amazingly high number! The poles were sort of stuck between a rock and a hard place, at the start of the war, when Russia was on the same side as Germany, many of them were marched off to the Ukraine and most shot when they got there.
Here are a few pictures from Auschwitz
I then got a train to Slovakia, I shared the carriage with a Polish girl who was going down to the Tatra mountains; she had broken her arm and was going to spend the next three weeks being pampered at a spa, all courtesy of the Polish National health system. It seems that there system is a tad better that that of the UK, and even Canada for that matter.
On the train trip she was lucky enough to see a lynx, but by the time I leaned over It had gone. I saw lots of nice birds on my travels though, Cranes in Slovakia, Rollers in Turkey, Storks and Eagles everywhere.