Krakow Take Two!

To keep my travels up I decided to go back to Krakow, the first place out of Warsaw which I visited at the beginning of this trip, for the weekend that just past. It was quite a last minute decision but definitely a good one. I stayed in a hostel call Mosquito Hostel and for those of you who know me, yes I was absolutely a bit nervous about whether there’d be any mosquitoes… I didn’t particularly fancy swelling up like a pineapple! Thankfully there were none and the hostel was actually incredible. The rooms were great, beds were comfy, the lockers were big enough to fit a suitcase (my 35L backpack fit in very easily), the free breakfast was delicious, and the overall atmosphere of the hostel is best described as relaxed party. You could get involved if you wanted but at the same time you could have an early night and not be too disturbed! I participated in the hostels organised event on the Saturday night (free polish vodka tasting) and went out to a couple of places with them as well. It was a great night and I met some awesome people!
‘The Last Super’ carved in salt in the cathedral. Not surprisingly
the miners were very religious so there are a lot of carvings
that have a religious background. We were repeatedly told that
the artists behind these works were just ‘talented miners not
artists’. Pretty incredible!

I visited the Wieliczka Salt mine and did the English ‘Tourist Route’ tour. For 64zloty (student discount, thank you ISIC card!) it was most certainly worth it. The tour went for 1hour 45minutes and the whole time we spent in the mine was about 3hours. The tour took us through 3 of the 9 floors (I think) and gave us an extensive history of the mines as well as taught us some folklore about the creation of the salt mines etc. We climbed down about 420 steps and the whole way we were walking in salt corridors on salt floors. They even had some multimedia presentations to add interest (though I only found the last one any good!). The sheer scale of the mines as well as the amount of salt that is still there was mind blowing. There were all these salt statues and pictures that had been created by the miners (not trained artists). They were fairly incredible! There were also heaps of gnomes around because apparently they came out at night and finished off the miners work/ protected the miners! Definitely worth a visit!

Some street art by ‘Blue’ and an unknown artist that we saw
whilst on the Jewish Quarter Tour

On the second day I did the free Jewish Quarter Tour. Basically it took us over to the Jewish area and told us about the history of the Jews in Krakow. We visited the outsides of a couple of Synagogues, including the oldest one in Krakow, and our guide gave us an extensive history of each. We also heard stories about individual people and events that happened there. One such story was that after a new Synagogue was built some teenage boys wanted to rob it and the community found out about this plan so worked on a way to protect the synagogue. The synagogue was next to a grave yard and it was thought that it was from this direction that the boys would try enter so all the women and girls dressed up in white dresses and walked around the graveyard all night! Sure enough the boys were scarred out of their minds and ran away! The tour was really good and I would definitely recommend it!

As usual Krakow is a beautiful city full of history and atmosphere! Loved pretty much every minute of it (minus the cold and rain). That’s all from me! Off to Berlin tonight so will post some photographs on this post next week. Enjoy yours week/end!

*So turns out my photographs from this trip are actually pretty ordinary so hopefully the above two will keep you satisfied otherwise google should help!*
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A weekend in Prague

Lennon Wall
Even though I have been in Poland for 4 months, it still amazes me that I can say that I am ‘popping over to insert country here for the weekend’. But here I am, doing just that. Last weekend I was lucky enough to visit Prague, Czech Republic. I travelled up on the overnight Polskibus (70zloty each way) on the Thursday night and came back on the Sunday morning. I must say that upon arriving in Prague at 5:30 in the morning I was a little apprehensive about my ability to find the hostel on my own but I somehow managed to find my way very quickly and arrived at Hostel One Home Prague at about 6am. The hostel was amazing, and the staff were fantastic. They let me check in straight away and the minute a bed was free I was able to put my stuff in my room (which turned out to be at about 8am). One of the best things about this hostel (facility wise) was that each bunk had a shelf and powerpoints meaning that even those on the top bunks (AKA me…) could charge their electronics and keep the essentials (such as water, a book, wallet etc) with them at night.
Astronomical Clock
The first day we went out for a wander and checked out the sights. We wandered through the streets of the market square and saw the Astronomical Clock. The clock was actually very beautiful, especially in the evening. On our first night there we sat around the clock along with a whole lot of other tourists and just had a nice catch up. Grace almost scored a puppy, but that’s another story. The evenings were so warm and relaxed. I know I talk about the ‘atmosphere’ or ‘feel’ of a city a lot but it is something I really notice when I go somewhere new. Warsaw has a very busy lifestyle so going to places like Prague where people seem more capable of taking time to relax is always lovely. It was also a great place to catch up with the girls! We also strolled across the Charles Bridge and admired the sculptures (not sure if that’s the best way to describe it) and checked out some of the street stalls! We then wandered to the Lennon Wall and admired the street art. I’m really excited to check out the Berlin street art after seeing this wall, quite spectacular! We wandered over another bridge to get a different view of the Charles Bridge with the Prague Castle in the background, definitely worth doing as it offers another perspective of the bridge! We also checked out the Dancing House, which is a building modelled of two people swing dancing. Was actually quite fascinating to look at and kind of made me question whether I was actually seeing it correctly or getting a migraine! We otherwise wondered around the streets and wandered in and out of the stores.

Prague Castle Cathedral
The next day we spent the whole day exploring the Prague Castle (along with every other tourist in the bloody city!). The castle is pretty spectacular and the cathedral seemed to me like something out of a storybook (small town Australian talking here). We got there just in time to see the changing of the guards or something like that. While everyone was busy watching it we climbed to the top of the South tower of the cathedral. It was less steps than the Eiffel Tower but it felt a lot harder and seemed to take much longer! With this said the view from the top was well worth the climb! It also meant that we could actually watch the guards from above and by the time we climbed down the queue to buy tickets was out the door! 
Yellow Fields!
The city is truly a beautiful place (though my favourite place is still Paris!) and I am definitely adding it to my list of places to revisit some day! The entire weekend cost me less than $180AUD, accommodation, food, and transport included! The bus was roughly 11 hours each way but we travelled through some beautiful areas. My favourite were the yellow fields which reminded me so much of home, except everything was green rather than brown… But it was still all so beautiful! Next week’s big adventure is Krakow and then off to Berlin the following weekend! Time is flying by! It’s scary, yet reassuring, to know that i will be home in 2 months time! But before then I still have many places to see so stay posted! Missing you all (if I know you that is…) 
View of the city from the South Tower

Relaxing in the Polish Mountains

The cabin we stayed in.
So this past weekend (last weekend not this current one) I was lucky enough to be invited to visit the mountains with my host family! We stayed in their friend’s cabin in apparently one of the wildest areas of Poland. The house it’s self was lovely with basic amenities (no electricity, wood fire to heat water etc.) but this added to the charm. While at first I was a tad apprehensive about no electricity, it was actually a very relaxing way to live, plus gave me a well needed detox from technology! The house was the furthest out in our area and was an hour’s walk away from the Slovakian boarder. I hear this walk is very beautiful but the day we chose was very foggy so I saw very little scenery but I still made it to the border!
The first Graveyard we visited
The mountains themselves were so different to the mountains I’m used to seeing in Australia. There were some many different shades of green that I was almost convinced I was looking at a painting. I is quite frankly one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen, and I hear that in the autumn it becomes even more so. Most of my days I spent relaxing in the house or on the veranda reading a book or sketching whatever came to mind. My host family took me on two walks up the mountains to visit some WWI graveyards. The first one was on the top of a really steep mountain that made me wish I had kept up my fitness regime. It was well worth it though! The graveyard had these huge memorial towers surrounded by a circle of graves. The second graveyard was just up the mountain next to our cabin and reminded me a bit of the graveyards I had visited in Japan. Both were very peaceful and had an air of respect to them.
SLOVAKIA

Trip to Slovakia:

Due to the close proximity to Slovakia my host family were kind enough to take me there on a day trip! We visited two towns (which I should probably ask about their names but I’m too busy eating Milka chocolate to move) which were quite different to places I have seen in Poland. In the first town we checked out the Old Town square which was reminiscent of Polish Old Towns but still had a charm of its own. The weather that day was beautiful and the Old Town was almost empty giving it a very relaxing feel. We even got ice-cream and didn’t freeze to death with it! I got to visit an old church (which cost money to get into…) which had alters dating back to the 1400, possibly even older as I didn’t look at all of them. We then took a stroll around the area, visited a couple more churches, and enjoyed the sunshine before moving onto town #2.
A building in the second town we visited
Town #2 was much more of a tourist place as it was home to some mineral springs with water that was meant to be really healthy for you. People were wondering around everywhere with bottles which they intended on filling up from the two different springs. Each spring had different water, one smelt like rotten egg and the other was salty in taste. Not exactly what I would carry around in my water bottle but it was very popular! This was quite a beautiful town, the whole area we walked through was basically a mixture of a park and town. It had obvious hints of communism with some huge buildings which had been purpose build for communist government officials. There were also buildings from before the communist era (a type of palace I think) which were quite stunning. The drive through the mountains, and over the border, was also amazing.

At the end of the 6 days I didn’t want to return to Warsaw. There is something about the isolation and ruggedness of these mountains that just made me want to stay there forever. I have found myself on multiple occasions wishing that I was back there! This trip was by far one of the best things I have done in Poland. 
Left: I found this area quite beautiful!