World & # 39; best kept secret, Krakow and Zakapane, Poland

As a former flight attendant, I & # 39; I visited all European countries, except Albania and Poland. Poland in Europe & # 39; It is the 5th largest country. Except for a decade of leeches from Valencia, Copernicus, the Pope, and Polish jokes that I had never understood, I knew nothing about this land. However, my interest was that it would soon be hot on the tourist trail, and since my and Chicago's family of couples are from here. He accompanied me with a sense of joy, discovering his roots. I went on to learn something new and become rich. We made the flight from Atlanta via JFK and Warsaw to Krakow in just 4 days. Relax for a relaxing, head-turning ride. I prefer to visit cities during the off-season to settle with the locals. It provides a more authentic and intimate atmosphere.

Upon arriving at the airport, we were happy to welcome Pavel, who will be our driver throughout the area. He welcomes the "Susa Davis" sign. I say. "Hi, I'm & # 39; I'm from Susie Atlanta. " I was upset when he replied: "Yes, down to the US." We checked into the Amadeus Hotel, a 16th-century tavern located in the heart of the city center. Prince Charles was once in our room to sleep, I & # 39;

We went out for dinner to hunt. The illuminated Old Town was stunning and filled with so many young people, it made me feel old. There are 150,000 students in this university city. Krakow in Europe & # 39; s premiere is a party scene where they are left out until the birds sing. This historic district has the highest concentration of bars and restaurants in the world. We suddenly found the Pierogi Garden, home to the most recent Polish posters. They were stuffed with sausages, lamb, beef, berries, chocolate and even peanut butter. There were 6 types of soups, all with beets that I hated. After a few dozen pellets, I had a melted lamb and cottage cheese pancake, which was delicious.

Poland has experienced numerous invasions throughout its history. After being destroyed by the Germans and then the Russians, it finally gained independence in 1989 with the collapse of Soviet Communism. Krakow was destroyed by the Germans at the end of World War II. They planned to blow it up after the Russians took over, fortunately the war ended hours before the plan was implemented.

Today it remains one of the only cities left in its original form. With a population of 780,000, it has now become a state-of-the-art international capital. Bright and modern but somehow retaining its traditional culture with regal architecture. It is in Krakow, where one finds the spirit of the new Poland.

Day 2 was greeted by Anna, who was beautiful. We started at the Old Town Chained Street Chain, which was designed for walking. It was a hole in museums, chapels, galleries, cafes, and wall taverns. Even in the winter, there was fun with street dancers, each other, accordion players, and in one corner I was watching in a knight's armor.

We entered the Market Square, Europe & # 39; the largest medieval square, where little has changed since 1257. It is crowned by the Bell Tower, where a butler plays at the clock. It makes the residents crazy at night. You should see the Clothes Salon, where fish farms, clothing merchants and baker have been selling their stuff since the 14th century. Now it's a great game of craft stalls.

We walked to the well-preserved Jewish district, which is now tasteless in its artistic form. At one time Poland maintained the largest concentration of Jews in Europe – 3.5 million. Medieval kings of Poland and Kings mentioned that they were being deported elsewhere and invited to boost their economy. Here they flourished until the Holocaust and forced communism after World War II. Now there are only 180 left. We watched the ghettoes where Spielberg & # 39; s shot. popular movie and looking at the river to see the Shindler & 39th Factory.

Rick Steves writes that one should visit the milk bar here. Anna accompanies us to one of the government-subsidized cafes of this class. They are owned by the Poles of Poland and the Communist past. Everything is surprisingly cheap. I ordered a glass of homemade soup and cheesecake for $ 2.

Then we visited Wawel Castle, a 12th-century masterpiece and described the city & # 39; icon of pride. There were no sequences as we walked the corridors of his story. This was the seat of kings for 500 years. Here Anna explains her legend of a fire dragon named Smok, who ate virgins for breakfast.

This was reinforced by the discovery of the strange large bones of the 1400s. (Bones are actually like bones, as this area in Europe was under water centuries ago.) The dragon thus became the symbol of the city and is represented everywhere in souvenir shops. Anna then exposed us to various beautiful churches, always as boring to me as painting in numbers, but they were subtle. I ask are there any Protestants here? He actually replied: "Yes, one."

The afternoon was spent checking out restaurants and hotels. I loved formal greetings, and it was always educational. I am learning about the best local cuisine and the best places to shop for the best price. All hotels are fully booked. Jews and Catholics visit religious pilgrimages every year or take root.

Recently Krakow was rated among the top ten in Europe. Now I see why. Americans continue to swim over Prague, which I find now with inflated prices and low service levels. It has become as precious as Rome. After all, Krakow can do the same when Poland turns into a euro in 2012. You can still splash at affordable prices. Europeans gather here with 50-70% savings. In particular, the Germans and the Danes come for dental and optometrist needs. Cures medical tourism, including plastic surgery. I met an Austrian flight attendant who was flying monthly for spa treatment at half price.

We had dinner at Wierzynek restaurant, the oldest city in the world, which has been providing tourists with tourists since 1364. It was a delicious farmhouse (organic) wild boar, fried ribs and a bunch of potato stacks. I ask them to teach me a Polish, Slavic language, which is not as impossible as the oral alphabet soup. The word toilet has 5 syllables.

On the third day we woke up to a gray, cold and humid day that gave us a proper atmosphere to see. Pavel drove us 60 kilometers from Auschwitz. We were greeted by Yuri, our brilliant personal guide whose only passion was to enlighten us on the incredible tragedies that took place here in 1940-45. I visited Dachau once, but this was one of the largest concentration camps. This death factory killed 1.4 million people from 27 nationalities. Most were Jews. Others were Gypsies, Soviets, Poles, gays, political dissidents, and so on.

We entered the gate, saying: "Work will set you free." The interior was a strong reminder as we watched crematoriums, starving cells, kilograms of hair, endless eye glasses, and a pond that was gray 60 years ago. For me, the most sobering of kids & # 39; section: It passed through a sea of ‚Äč‚Äčtiny shoes, dolls and detailed German documents, where 230,000 infants suffered and died.

We were driven to the Birkenau Extensive Camp (Auschwitz II), with its wooden barracks built of 100,000 homes but eventually with 200,000+. Together in silence, we walked for 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 this profound statement: "I & # 39; I have guided some Holocaust survivors who have visited here as tourists. They said at the end that I was not able to represent 1% of how bad it really was. " This was the most exciting site I have ever seen.

Late in the evening we visited the famous Wieliczka Salt Mine. The 800-mile-long salt drove this mysterious and enormous underground city. The World Heritage site attracts one million visitors a year, and it seems that everyone has arrived today.

Our guide Justina seemed to have an obsession with salt, but it was just love for her job as a guide. He said he would follow 836 steps, which was a better job than the Stairmaster. The caves gave birth to me, but this site will stay in my mind forever. Imagine underground chapels, ornate sculptures, chandeliers and life-size figures carved entirely from salt or restaurant and below street level 380 & # 39; By post office. It was a sight. Miners and horses have spent their lives here for centuries. They stayed healthy in this rich microclimate. It has to do with magnesium ions, whatever they are. Today people come to the treatment chambers of the treatment complex to isolate the purity of natural air.

Day 4: I constantly search the globe for unique items or places to present to my companions. Today I found it in Chakapan. For years, one of my friends insisted that I visit this mountain resort with a fun name I could never remember. That day we drove the fresh air of the Tatra Mountains with the help of our expert guide to Eva. He said this adventurous location of 60,000 inhabitants has been evaporating for nearly 200,000 years. In summer they come for mineral spa and alpine hiking trails. In winter they come to ski. Zakapan held an international skiing competition that week.

Here was the charming city of artists and Giorake, an ethnic group in the Highlands. These wandering shepherds date back to the 15th century. They love to dress tourists in their colorful clothes. They live on cheese or something else mixed with cheese. We visited the Swiss cheese market. As far as my eyes could see, there were sheep and goat cheeses painted for every shape imaginable. We also wandered high up the mountains to the Aqua Park with an Olympic-size mineral hot spring mineral pool and car-mounted cables for amazing views.

It was the most productive and enjoyable tour of the day. I found a local travel company that organized fun events for groups such as horse riding through the woods, dog sledding and a new "snow renaming" in rubber cuffs that floated in mountain-style chains. On the open-air market with countless ethnic stalls, I bought a bright leather and fur jacket for $ 260, which looked fashionable six times its price.

So many things that I didn't want to see on this short visit. On my next return I will present a new "Tour of Crazy Communism". Outside Krakow lies Noah Hutta, once a strictly socialist suburb of industrialization. The steel mills crossed rich farmland. Doctors and professors were sent to work here. Miles of concrete residential blocks were built to build their home.

During the tour you can find the experiences of Stalin and his 39th gifts by playing Krakow driving a classic East German Trabant car to Noah Huta. Includes salty bread, pickles and vodka, followed by a retro 70s & 39s disco.

Under the yoke of Communism the Poles refused to renounce their religion. Stalin said: "Implementing communism here is like weakening a bull." Against such a decisive spirit of the people, he refused. I am amazed at all the obstacles that have overcome this stagnant country.

If you've been there and bought the cover of London, Paris, Madrid or Athens, I encourage you to visit undiscovered parts of Europe. Krakow is destined to become the next Prague. It oozes with history, friendly faces, hearty cuisine, and it breaks your pocketbooks. If you can visit New Poland, please don't tell anyone about Zakapane, one of the best kept secrets in the world.