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Saturday, December 8, 2018

SOLO EURO: DAY 18 [WARSAW]

in the morning, i took a 2 hour train ride to warsaw and then a bus to drop off my stuff at the hostel. i think there was filming nearby. i saw tons of police and lights. this was by far the coldest day of my trip and very windy. i literally had my scarf wrapped around my face. also, i went to costa for the first time. man is it expensive, but all the british youtuvers go there. it seems to be the starbucks of england.

maybe because of the weather (or because this was towards the end of my trip and it was october), i never experienced crowds at all in warsaw. during my two days, the streets stayed empty, except for the random group of school kids. not going to lie, this does affect my enjoyment of cities. i enjoy myself so much more when there are less tourists.



king sigismund's column. lots of refurbishing was being done during my visit. i stopped at a tourist info store and picked up a french brochure (there were no english ones).


so pretty. i would even say better than prague.


warsaw's old town is from the 13th century, but almost all the buildings are rebuilt. much of the town was blown away by the nazis in 1939. the town rebuilt, and then even more damage was done during the warsaw uprsing in 1944. practically every building was destroyed and half the population was killed. the uprising plays a big part in warsaw's identity. you will see the resistance symbol everywhere. interestingly even though the town was not rebuilt accurately, the scavenged bricks and decorative items were used in the rebuild.



once gain we revisit a memorial to the katyn massacre (more on this later). these are everywhere in poland.



'the place sanctified by the blood of poles who died for the freedom of their homeland. here on september 2, 1944, the hitlerites shot 50 people.' these are called tchorek plaques and they are all over warsaw. this one is located in the castle square, and commemorates the 50 hospital patients and workers who were executed.



there are so many ornate details in the architecture.









after, i continued my walk throughout old town and visited the old town walls.







i also visited a random church up on a hill.


maly powstaniec, the little insurrectionist. this memorial located against the old town wall commemorates the child soldiers during the warsaw uprising.



 marie curie, polish chemist who was the first woman to win a nobel peace prize (and first person to win twice). she was born in warsaw. i also visited the home she was born in.



another famous symbol of warsaw is the mermaid. the city legend is she protects the city after local fishermen freed her when she was imprisoned by merchants. this statue is located in the center of the old town square.








i also visited the museum of warsaw.



another church. these roofs are really popular.



such a strange door. disembodied body parts of angels (including a hand).





the warsaw uprising memorial. more on the uprising in the next post.



monument to to the heroes of warsaw. 


after i made my back to the hostel. literally right next door was a pierogi restaurant, zapiecek. this place was so cute and all the food was served on cute polish ceramics. i even returned for dinner the next day.





i had hot tea and pierogi with bacon & 'gravy.' the gravy was literally meat grease. i should have known better.


on a side note, i kept a journal of my trip where i wrote notes about my days so i could remember the little moments. my last note from this day says 'bitch slapped my bag (black eye?).' i have absolutely no idea what this is referring to.

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luckily i stayed across the street from old town warsaw, the hostel was narrow and consisted of quite a few floors (maybe 4 stories). it was a good location with nice workers, but the beds were strange. it literally felt like you were sleeping in a crate. the bunks had wooden frames that were enclosed on 3 sides (the foot, the dead, and the wall) while the 4th wall had a curtain.



said crate bed.


even though the hostel was not bad, the experience was not the greatest. no one in my room talked to me at all and at this time was the peak of sickness. the congestion hit and i did not sleep well having to blow my nose every 5 minutes (and the claustrophobic feels of the bed crate did not help). i'm sure others also did not sleep well because of my sniffles too.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

SOLO EURO: DAY 17 [OSWIECIM & KRAKOW]

i woke up early, walked in the wrong direction for about a mile, and then turned back around and made my way to auschwitz.

everyone knows of aushchwitz, but it is not common knowledge that the camp next door, auschwitz  II-birkenau, was a concentration and extermination camp while auschwitz was the original and smaller concentration camp. about 1.3 people were sent with 1.1 of those people died; 90% were jews. the complex was the largest concentration camp of the nazi regime.



'work sets you free'



the barracks. some of these have exhibits inside.



the uniforms.

there are several rooms that show the collection of belongings that nazis kept when people were being forced into the camps. some these rooms include luggage, kitchenware, and even hair. the room full of human hair that was collected when prisoners were forced to have their heads shaved. this is one of the rooms where photos are not allowed. when the camps were liberated, 8.5 tons of human hair were found.



shoes that were collected. this photo cannot capture all the shoes. at least 2 additional photos would be needed to capture all the shoes.





an inner courtyard where executions occurred.



one of the watch towers.







the washroom



the doctor's office.




the big crematoriums were at birkenau, but this is one of the smaller ones at auschwitz.

quickly there were crowds because there were so many tours going on at the same time. it was hard to move around inside the buildings because of the narrow corridors. i decided to leave the site and  made my way via shuttle to the auschwitz II-birkenau camp which was a couple miles away. birkenau was actually the larger camp and is where most people died. it is also where people arrived and were sorted. most of birkenau is an outdoor museum.



the original train tracks leading to the entrance




there are no standing crematoriums in birkenau. when things went downhill with the nazis, the crematoriums were destroyed, but their ruins still remain.



what is left of one of the crematoriums at birkenau


i picked up my luggage, and made my way to the station. i already pre-booked train tickets back to krakow, but did not want waste anymore time, so i bought an earlier ticket. i was proud of myself for successfully buying my own ticket with the language barrier. luckily, there was a more modern train to take me back to krakow.



this is the town station. it definitely looks soviet era.


because i had more time to krakow, i decided to once again just walk up and down the streets in old town after i checked back in my hostel and drop my backpack off. like i said before, old town is pretty large.



part of the old town wall.



the town hall tower


i did not plan on going inside the town hall tower, but it was open and free. man, am i glad i did. the views were so pretty at the top. the tower is from the 1300s and actually leans 55 cm. supposedly this do to some crazy wind from 1703.



the staircase leading up. 



so pretty.



my mug.




after i went to a polish ceramaic store (a popular export out of poland) and went back to the restaurant i visited the night before. this time i ordered a pork stew along with some peppermint tea. i then called it a night.




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now for the hostel. even though i had a rough start, i still enjoyed this hostel. up to this point i was spoiled with how well the hostel workers knew english. this was the one place where language was a bit more difficult. it tended to be that the night staff did not know very much english. the rooms were nice and there were quite a few showers, which i appreciated. also, the rooms had a wonderful view looking the old town. literally across the street was the old wall.



my room. i had the bottom bunk.