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Read all about the adventures in Poland! 🙂

Hello everybody! 🙂

So after the tour of Budapest, we made our way to the famous Poland. A country so rich in culture and art, it would take a whole other tour book to describe!

The Tattle: City of the Dragon, and City of the Mermaid. 

When people (like myself) hear of Poland, the first thing that comes to mind is devastation and war. Years worth of history readings, movies and war novels have given most of us the impression of Poland as a war ravaged country. While that is true to some extent, it is quite a shame how the events of World War 2 have overshadowed the rest of Polish history, which is as ornate as the monuments and cathedrals they fashioned.

Chapel in Jasna Gora

Chapel in Jasna Gora

Entering Krakow castle...

Entering Krakow castle…

Inside St. Mary's Church, Krakow

Inside St. Mary’s Church, Krakow

Our tour director once described Polish people as the most stubborn people in Europe. She meant that in all affection and annoyance. Stubbornness certainly has its place in Polish history, once you take in to account the numerous times Poland has been seized, invaded, regained, rebuilt and whipped out. At one point in the past century, Poland was even wiped out of the map, only to resurface again as a new country. Even the devastation of the Nazi regime couldn’t keep Poland from rebuilding itself.

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We mainly resided in the two big cities, Krakow and Warsaw, both of which share an old-world charm akin to medieval legends.

Center of Warsaw

Center of Warsaw

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Once the residence of Polish royalty, Krakow has an impressive array of old structures, statues and churches, built over centuries’ worth of economic boom, invasions and dedication. The city of Krakow is identified by the symbol of a dragon, based off the local legend of how a humble pheasant boy outwitted a vicious dragon terrorizing the city (and like most fairy tales, it ends with the boy marrying the beautiful princess).

The king greets you...

The king greets you…

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Of all the eye-candy in Krakow, the absolute must-see is the famous Salt Mines of Poland. Salt is life; and in a time where salt was as precious as gold, Poland became a power-house source for salt all over Europe. Today, the Salt Mines are mostly a tourist attraction, housing remnants of the mines, salt sculptures and salt chapels!

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A story in salt...

A story in salt…

And did I mention it is at least 100 ft underground?

Underground in the Salt Mines

Underground in the Salt Mines

Salt sculptures showing biblical or mythical stories

Salt sculptures showing biblical or mythical stories

Under a salt chandeleir

Under a salt chandelier

Later, we traveled to Warsaw, the city that legends claim to be founded by a valiant mermaid. A city with such antiquated beauty, it’s hard to believe that it was completely (and I do mean in all entirety) destroyed during World War 2. When the Nazis invaded Warsaw, they made sure to wipe it off existence. The city was totally ravished; it was absolutely uninhabitable. But the story goes, people loved Warsaw so much, Poland and other European countries pitched in billions of money to rebuild the city exactly as it was before, as though the war never happened. Today, the city of Warsaw is a vibrant center of art and history, the ultimate example of human persistence and will.

The Warsaw mermaid

The Warsaw mermaid

Speaking of World War 2, of course, Poland tourism is (in)famous for the chance to visit the remnants of hell, a.k.a Auschwitz. No one can really say that visiting Auschwitz was “fun”, especially since a good number of tourists would choose to back out. But it was one of the most terrifyingly educational visits I’ve ever come across. After the war, the Polish have decided to maintain Auschwitz (as well as other Holocaust camps) the way it is. For good reason, because the world needs to know that at one point in time, this really happened. Humanity has hit its ultimate barbarism, and we can’t afford to repeat the same mistakes.

Entrance to Auschwitz: "Work will set you free"

Entrance to Auschwitz: “Work will set you free”

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Even if you are not in to war history, I highly recommend stopping by Auschwitz. Most of us who joined the Auschwitz tour left with renewed interest in World War history, so it is definitely an eye-opener.

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Crematorium inside the gas chambers.

Crematorium inside the gas chambers.

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All in all, I would say Poland is truly a hotspot for cultural and historical discoveries. Not a lot of things is said about Poland, which is a shame as it really does have so much to offer. Visit and be amazed!

The Tale: The Black Madonna in Jasna Gora

If you are a religious Catholic, this would be a wonder to you! But even if you aren’t, it’s still an amazing site to get some good pictures, and marvel at the amazing architecture and art of the Monastery of Jasna Gora.

Feels almost like a trip to the Vatican..

Feels almost like a trip to the Vatican..

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The Monastery of Jasna Gora is famous for housing the Black Madonna, an ancient image of the Virgin Mary and the child Jesus. The Black Madonna dates back to hundreds and hundreds of years in Poland, and is believed to be carved by St. Luke.

The Black Madonna

The Black Madonna

The Black Madonna is also titled as the Queen of Poland; and if you ever visit the monastery, you will definitely see how this image is treated like royalty. The Monastery of Jasna Gora welcomes nearly hundreds of visitors, both tourists and locals alike, everyday. Some devout Catholics from all over the world would go on a pilgrimage to visit the Black Madonna, and consequently, have their prayers answered.

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The Black Madonna is said to have answered many prayers. So people offer a personal trinket for every prayer fulfilled.

The Black Madonna is said to have answered many prayers. So people offer a personal trinket for every prayer fulfilled.

The Thing: Amber

‘Thinking of getting a luxurious souvenir from Poland? Then definitely don’t miss on the chance to get some amber jewelry. As it turns out, Poland is one of the major suppliers of amber stones, a fossilized tree sap which has a fiery color.

Amber in the rough

Amber in the rough

Amber jewelry stores are all over Poland...

Amber jewelry stores are all over Poland…

Have you ever seen the Jurassic Park movie with the mosquito fossilized in amber? Yes, apparently you can get that in Poland, too! Not just mosquitoes, but other creepy things that crawl… if you’re in to that kind of stuff.

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Insects inside amber (yes, you can buy it).

Insects inside amber (yes, you can buy it).

‘Hope you guys got a good glimpse of Poland here! 🙂 Thanks for visiting!

xoxox,

Jenica 🙂

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Good times, Wanderlust

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