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Review: Tour of Krakow and the Tatra Mountains

Specialist Holiday - Sightseeing

Poland

Moving moments, Mediaeval history and Mountains

  • By SilverTraveller Rosievee

    7 reviews

  • Oct 2012
  • Husband

135 people found this review helpful

This was our first trip with 'Just Go' to the Continent. We joined the feeder coach in the early hours and proceeded to Dover where transfer from the feeder coaches to the various destinations offered by 'Just Go' went smoothly. After an uneventful crossing to Calais we set off on the two day drive to Krakow. Our two drivers were superb – friendly, helpful and with a great sense of humour. They also provided a hot drinks service at 50p a cup – a real bonus! Overnight in Germany was in an Ibis hotel on the outskirts if Kassel. Rooms were good and breakfast better than I had anticipated, with a large range of contintal delights. Arrival in Krakow was in time for an evening meal the next day. The hotel, where we spent 5 nights, was very pleasant and the meals, though not exciting, were pleasant and plentiful. Our first day started with a morning walking tour with a guide and was very useful for planning the next few days. We went from this tour, on an independant exploration with six more from our group. We found the Schlinder factory in which Sclinder of Schlinder's List fame had employed and saved so many Jews in WW2. This is now a museum and on Mondays was free. Another bonus! We split from the others after this visit, each couple doing their own thing. We explored further, found a wonderful cafe for lunch, where they offered plates for one to fill from their buffet selection and then weighed them. One paid according to weight. Although we had taken a tram over the river to reach this area, we walked back and found we had time to visit the underground museum which depicted the wonderful Mediaeval history of Krakow .Being entirely underground was fascinating! We returned to the hotel tired but happy in time for dinner at the hotel. Day two was the planned tour of Auschwitz and Birkenhau which was very moving. Our local guide spoke passionately about the sites and was very knowledgeable. Little can be written to tell others how it is – if one is interested, one needs to visit. Prepare, not so much for sorrow, as for anger. It is truly shocking. Next day we could have gone on an optional tour of the famous salt mines but we chose to return independantly, south of the river, and explore further the WW2/Jewish history. We visited the ghetto area, The Pharmacy under the Eagle which was a tiny safe haven for Jews and is now a very moving (but still tiny!) museum. Lastly we completed a walk taken from our guide to Krakow which we'd bought in England. This took us out of the town and via some interesting area, many associated with WW2. We climbed down the quarry where Jews worked under the eyes of the Germans and the sentry towers are still there, albeit rusty and forlorn. The final part of this walk took us across a quiet eare of relatively young trees which had formerly been a camp for Jews but has now been allowed to return to nature. There were some impressive memorials, both Jewish and Christian to mark the tragic events. This time we did take a tram back to the hotel, but also found a cheap little supermarket where we purchased beer and Chocolates to bring home as presents! Our final day in Poland featured a coach trip to Zakapone at the foothills of the Tatra mountains. Although I was quite happy, there was some murmuring of discontent as people felt we had not gone far enough up into the mountains to warrant it being called a trip into the mountains. We had some time to explore Zakapone and could have taken the fenicular railway up a little higher but we opted out. We did have a nice traditional meal and some time to wander round the market and up the main street. Prior to dropping us in the town, we had picked up a local guide and seen some interesting parts by coach. The trip each way was two hours and as I always enjoy travelling, I did appreciate the change of scenery. We then made the two day trip back to England, staying overnight again in Kassel but in a far more opulent hotel. This time it was a Ramada and again we had an excellent breakfast. We had to make an early start but our lovely drivers kept us entertained with their humour and we made the port within minutes of the expected time. Again, it was transfer to feeder coaches etc and a late return. Tiring but worthwhile!

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Other Members' Thoughts - 2 Comment(s)

  • SilverTravelUser_3956
    almost 6 years ago
    I will be making my third visit to Cracow at the end of November for five nights not only to visit their wonderful Christmas market again but to do the John Paul11 tour and also to Schindlers Museum. Having visited Auschwitz two times previously I have no desire to go there again not because I don't want too but because of the suffering so many people had to endure. I remember many years ago there used to be an introductory film to Auschwitz (the last time I went this was missing) and the lady seated beside me was crying when the film finished I asked her if she was okay and she told me that she had lived through all the suffering. The Salt Mines are absolutely fantastic and last time I was in Cracow my friend and I went independently on public transport. Zakopane is beautiful I visited there nearly 30 years ago and it was very unspoilt I am longing to go back again but possibly in the summer time.
    This time I will be staying in the Jewish area so I am looking forward to discovering a lot if history there.




  • Kenbob
    almost 8 years ago
    Krakow sounds like a really wonderful place. I really must pay a visit to Poland.