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Phespirit goes to Poland
Kraków     November 2000

AROUND POLAND

Map of Poland

1 Kraków

The three most interesting areas to explore in Kraków are the old mediæval centre at Stare Miasto, the castle district up on Wawel Hill, and the Jewish quarter at Kazimierz.

Stare Miastro can boast the magnificent old buildings of the town square, Rynek Główny. Wawel Hill has both castle and cathedral. Kazimierz has been described as: "Europe's most architecturally and culturally significant Jewish quarter outside of Venice."

Any one of these would make the city worth a visit on its own.

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2 Wieliczka

Some facts and figures:

  • Wieliczka is the oldest still-working salt mine in Europe;
  • It was placed on the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1978;
  • It has 300km of underground corridors and chambers;
  • It has chapels, sculptures and reliefs all carved from salt;
  • St Kinga's Chapel is its masterpiece, 101m below ground.

The natural salt is dark grey-green colour but visitors can buy the purified white stuff to sprinkle on their chips.

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3 Auschwitz  [Oświęcim]

Whilst the sheer scale of slaughters at Auschwitz-Birkenau - over one million murders - is difficult for the human mind to process, it is sadly all too easy to accept on an intellectual level that human beings could be responsible for such a holocaust.

The Auschwitz-Birkenau of today has been sanitised; how could it not be? But then how can one possibly connect with the suffering that took place? It is a personal thing. For Phespirit, it was when he looked out from the Birkenau gatehouse, at those distinctively shaped railway tracks - the sidings where families separated into the living and dead - that he truly knew where he was.

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4 Warsaw

Needless to say, Phespirit speaks no Polish, so when he went to buy his return ticket from Kraków to Warsaw he simply wrote out the following from his Rough Guide and slipped it under the glass at the bookings counter:

1 Bilet powrotny
KRAKÓW -> WARSZAWA 7:55 -> 10:40
WARSZAWA -> KRAKÓW 16:35 -> 19:10
Pondiedziaklek 6 Listopad 2000
Wagon dla niepalacych
Druga
Miejscówka (?)

DZIEKUJE

Did the trick. 115,40 Zloty.

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  1. Kraków
  2. Wieliczka
  3. Auschwitz
  4. Warsaw
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Kraków Wieliczka Auschwitz Warsaw