Had to make a quick weekend trip to Poland to check out Krakow, eat a few Polish dishes and visit Auschwitz. We took an overnight train which was a new experience for all of us. Despite some serious body odor issues with a fellow passenger, the trip was altogether enjoyable. Starting a weekend out well-rested is a must when time is limited. For any trip, but especially a shorter one, I can't recommend a free walking tour enough. Not only are they free, but you get the highlights of sightseeing accompanied by a history lesson, if you're lucky the guide will even throw in some info about local hotspots for eating, drinking, and partying. This time we did the Old Town Tour by freewalkingtour.com and it was great!
Let's talk food. First of all, pretty pleased with all the food in Poland but the highlight was of course pierogi and, surprisingly, a lesser-known street food creation called a zapiekanka.
First, pierogi. I had the boiled dumplings stuffed with meat at a little place called Marchewka z Groszkiem and absolutely loved it. The price was great and it was the better of the two I had during the 48 hours.
But now for zapiekanka.
Who doesn't love sandwiches and pizza? Clearly not Polish people because they made this amazing street food that's a hybrid between an open-faced sandwich and a pizza. The foundation is a crusty piece of bread the length of my forearm, topped with all kinds of delicious things - mine was mushrooms, cheese, and bacon with a garlic sauce on top. We got it at one of the stalls in the market around the Jewish Quarter and I have to say it lived up to all of my expectations. Also, it was super cheap! This scrumptious bite was only 7.50 zloty which is about $2.
On the few occasions during this trip that we weren't eating, we were doing the second most productive thing possible - shopping. We spent a few hours wandering the shops in the market on the square for amber jewelry. If you check out these shops, remember that there's so many, you have to shop around first. The stalls frequently have similar items and you can most likely find a stall with a better price if you just take a look around the entire line. We bought a lot of amber jewelry ranging from 20 to 85 zloty, mostly small items like stud earrings and rings.
On a different note, I can't forget about our intense day at Auschwitz. I won't say much other than we did a tour that picked us up in Krakow, brought us to the camp, and provided a group tour guide throughout Auschwitz I and Auschwitz - Birkenau. I think words would fail here if I even began to describe what we saw and learned that day, but I will say I'd recommend going. As George Santayana wrote,