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Poland

Updated: Aug 4, 2023


Shira pictured in Poland in a park

Krakow, Poland:

Krakow also written as Cracow is the second largest city in Poland. It is known for its Old Town, being the major town from Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, and for being the cultural capital of Poland. Poland is an excellent introduction into Eastern European culture.


Top Things to Do in Krakow:

  1. Visit & stay in the Old Town: Not only is Old Town beautiful it is accessible. Most free walking tours will start from the Old Town so you should stay close. It will as make it easy for you to get acquainted with the city and nightlife.

  2. Visit Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp: Clear your schedule for the day and get there early. I spent 7-8 hours there and felt like it was not enough. The concentration is broken up into two parts Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II (Birkenau aka The Death Camp). Auschwitz I is filled with mini museums which were the different “blocks” in the concentration camp. Every country in Europe affected by the Holocaust has its own block so there is so much information to take in. The most interesting country to learn about was Hungary. The Nazi’s came in and took over with little resistance. They also nearly decimated the Jewish population in Hungary. Auschwitz-Birkenau (II) is known as the death camp because if prisoners were transferred there they knew they were likely going to be killed. The ambiance of the Auschwitz- Birkenau is eery. Over 70 years have passed, and I know that the spirits of those killed at Auschwitz-Birkenau still remain there. I could feel people there.


  1. Take free walking tours:

  • Take a tour of the old town to get a general feel.

  • Take a free walking tour of the historic Jewish neighborhood, Kazmierz. Today, the area is filled with young people. Currently, here are not many Jewish people living in Poland, which at one time was 10% of the total population.

Nightlife: There are many bars with €1.5 shots. Have fun for cheap! ex: Bania Luka: Bar with €1 shots.


Food in Krakow:


A Sandwich in Krakow

Cultural notes:

Poland is over 90% ethnically Polish which means it is a homogenous country. That said, I did not experience direct racism. People did stare respectfully and some people did look at me like they never saw a black person before but that’s about it.


In Poland, people mind their business. You can walk freely and not worry about getting stared at all the time. As a black woman, it is the little things that allow you to exist in the world a little more peacefully.


Side note: I did encounter white supremacists on my last day in Poland at a bar. They were apart of the European brotherhood and I simply chose not to entertain them. After they were pointed out to me, I simply left.


There was alcohol and karaoke going on and I was not going to be in an environment that made me feel uncomfortable. I don’t believe the men were from Poland – however, whenever you feel uncomfortable in a situation, remove yourself.


Conclusion:

Krakow is a fun city and a budget traveler’s dream. You have good food for less than €5, fun night life, and museums that make you question everything you have ever learned about history.

Everyone should visit a concentration camp at least once in their life. We must learn history to ensure that things like this never happen again.

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