Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Wieliczka Salt Mines

After the tour of Auschwitz which was about 2/3 of the day we finished the day out at the Wieliczka Salt Mines. When I Googled things to do in Krakow this kept popping up as a very popular day trip. I decided we should definitely do it when I realized that we could do Auschwitz and the salt mines in the same day. Since we were only there for 3 days it was important to have the other two days in Krakow. The good things about visiting the salt mines in the evening is that it is already dark outside but it doesn't matter. The sun was setting at about 5pm in Poland when we were visiting and it seemed to always cut our day so short. But since we were hundreds of meters down inside the earth sunlight did not matter.
At first you have to walk down something like 500 steps to get to the first level. The tour guide took us around showing up salt carvings that the miners actually did and there are even exhibits in the mine of how it used to be when it was mined. It hasn't been mined for salt since the early 2000s. We then went to floor two and three. We ended up going down something like 800+ steps lucky we got to take the elevator back up. We saw multiple chapels and a couple of man-made lakes. Our tour guide told us stories about how they used to light fireworks off inside the mine, play football games, they even have concerts there sometimes still in the big rooms. She even said that there used to be boat tours of the mine through a little canal but 7 people flipped the boat and drowned in a meter of water so they no longer do those.
We did the tourist route with our guide but there is also a miners route which is not as glamours. We were told that the children enjoy the miners route. There was also a train that took you through different rooms of the mine if you paid extra. My favorite room was the giant chapel with the white chandeliers which were also made out of rock salt! SAY WHAT! Our group had the whole room to ourselves and it was breathtaking.

This was my last post from my Krakow, Poland trip and I am so glad that I got it up before January ended. I have a fun trip planned for my birthday week in February to a new location so that should be fun.

love, Carlee
Leggings & Shoes: Nike
Coat: H&M
Scarf: gift
Sweater & Purse: JCPennys

Monday, January 29, 2018

Auschwitz Concentration Camp

 Auschwitz was one of the places I knew I wanted to visit while here in Europe. It is not glamorous but is is nonetheless amazing. I really like learning about history and growing up I learned a lot about WWII history and the holocaust. I scheduled an all day tour through for a tour of Auschwitz which was about 2/3 of the day and a tour of the Salt Mines which was the last part of the day.
There was a tour guide throughout our whole experience at Auschwitz and I would definitely recommend having a guide. I feel like I learned so much more than what was just displayed. All the displays are in Polish, English, and Hebrew which I thought was a lovely touch to honor the Jewish people that visit the camp. You start at Auschwitz one where it is more like a museum. Many of the buildings have displays of photos, shoes, combs, glasses, and even hair of the prisoners. We saw the exsicution wall and the building were they did experiments on women and children. We also entered a gas chamber.

After that we went over to Auschwitz II which is the main death camp that people think of when they think of Auschwitz. That is were many of the Jews were taken and then killed. We got to see the whole compound from above inside the railroad station. Many of the wooden barracks were destroyed and burned when the liberation happened but a few are still staying and you can enter them and see how people lived, slept, went to the bathroom. We then walked all the way to the back of the camp to see where the gas chambers would have been. Now they are just blown up rumble because the Germans destroyed them before the allies came into the camp.

The day we visited was so cold like 32 degrees or 0 degrees celsius. Our tour guide said it was about -20 degrees celsius in the winter when the camp was liberated. The camp was actually liberated in January of 1945 so I thought it was very fitting to be able to visit around the same time.  I also really enjoyed learning about the camp, holocaust and WWII from a different perspective. Our tour guide was P
olish and she lives really close to the camp. As Americans in school we learn about certain things a certain way and while the information isn’t wrong sometimes we don’t have as many details or leave out information that other countries find important. So it was interesting to hear about the history of the time from a Polish person. 

I did not edit my photos at all. I usually brighten the photos up a little bit before putting them into a blogpost but I just thought that these photos don't need that. So these are the photos unedited just as I saw the place through my camera lens and my own eyes. 
love, Carlee

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Krakow, Poland

A friend of mine and I visited Krakow, Poland over the long Martin Luther King Jr. Weekend. We picked Krakow because she has never been to Poland and she wanted to go and I really wanted to take a day trip to visit the Auschwitz Concentration Camp. We had a great long weekend. We stayed in the Blue Aparthotel which is just on the outskirts of Old Town. The location is amazing and you can't beat the price. Below is all the stuff we did, ate, saw, etc! 
Cloth Hall: A hall in the middle of town square with so many booths selling souvenirs, goods, textiles, nesting dolls, etc.

St. Mary's Basilica: One of the most beautiful churches I have ever seen. The outside does not do the inside justice. You can visit through the main doors for worship or prayer but please we respectful in this area and follow the signs to not take photos. If you want to take photos pay the extra 10 PLN and go through the tourist entrance. You get to see the alter really close and walk around and see all the areas.

St. Florian's Gate + Artwork: I visited in January and it was cold so there wasn't a ton of artists out with their artwork lined up by St. Florian's Gate on the walls of the old city. But there was a couple and it was still beautiful. In the summer it looks like the entire wall is covered in art.

Jewish Quarter: Beautiful area. They have a second hand market on Sundays and I wish I would have had more cash on me because I would have definitely bought something. There is beautiful churches, synagogues, and cute coffee shops. You can also cross the bride and see the original ghetto of the town.

Free Walking Tours: There are many free walking tours available and I totally recommend doing them when visiting any new city. We did the free walking tour of the Jewish Quarter because it was one area of Krakow we hadn't visited yet. We learned so much about the history of the area especially how it was effected by WWII.

Schindlers facotry: Have you seen the Steven Spielberg movie Schindler's List? Well it is based on a true story from WWII and this is the first Schindler factory in Krakow. There is a museum now at the factory that you can tour.

Wawel Castle + the dragon: The castle is located up on a hill and is beautiful. Walk up the side road to the castle and see the dragon statue. There is a great myth surrounding the town which includes the dragon. You will notice that a lot of the souvenirs for sale in Krakow include the dragon.

Rynke Underground: It is underneath the town square located in Old Town. You get tickets at the visitors center in cloth hall and enter the exhibit in cloth hall as well. 
Day Tours from Krakow:
Auschwitz: One thing I knew I wanted to do when visiting Krakow was take a day trip to Auschwitz Concentration Camp. I did the tour through and would definitely recommend this company. They even pick you up at your hotel. It was a full day tour we also did the Salt Mines in the afternoon. It took about an 1.5 hours to get to Auschwitz from Krakow. We had a wonderful tour guide that lead us all around Auschwitz and explained things in great detail. We even got to do inside a gas chamber. I think that visiting with a tour guide is a must but I saw people doing it on their own as well. We then got shuttled over to Auschwitz II (the main death camp most people think of when they think of Auschwitz.) We got to see the entire camp from on top of the rail station. We entered the wooden barracks and even walked to the back of the camp were the gas chambers used to be. It was a very surreal and numbing experience.

Wieliczka Salt Minesthe salt mines were spectacular. When you do the tourist route you get to see so much but it still it’s only one percent of the whole mine. There are multiple chapels and salt sculptures. We even got to see the stairs that the miners climbed up when going in and out everyday. The most beautiful room was a huge chapel with salt chandiliers! The floor and walls and everything was made from salt. I even got some salt as a souvenir to bring home. We did this tour after the Auschwitz tour with the same company and we had a tour guide the whole time. It is totally doable on your own but learning more information with the guides it always nice.
Food & Drinks:
Morse Oko: Located in Old Town just a block or two outside of the main square. This was the first place I ate when arriving in Krakow and the food was so good. It has traditional polish cuisine. We ate the pork neck and potatoes, dumping, and hunters stew. I heard the place can get really busy so either go during lunch time (when we went) or be sure to make a reservation.

Chlopskie Jadlo: Also located in Old Town. We ate at this place for dinner. It is a little bit secluded. Enter the building and go all the way to the back to reach the little rustic casual restaurant. We had potato pancakes, goulash, potatoes with gzik, and pickled everything. Traditional polish food.

Alchemy of Kitchen or Alchemia: Located in the Jewish Quarter which next to the New Market Square. Really yummy food. They has more causal universal food like fish and chips, hummus, pulled pork, potatoes, etc. I had the pulled pork sandwich with fries and a gooseberry hard cider. The place was very cute and the food tasted great. We ate here for lunch.

Dobra Kasza Nasza: Polish food. Known for it's groats or kasza which is a seed dish. I had the chicken both noodle soup and some hot wine. We also had a baked apple dessert with ice cream. We ate here for dinner. The place was more casual and cozy. Located in Old Town.

Przystanek Pierogarnia: Wonderful dumpling or pierogi place. Located just outside of old town. This place is literally a hole in the wall. Got dumplings to go on our last day before heading to the airport.

Placki Ziemniaczane: This place had sort of a buffet style food selection on one side, tons of deserts and chocolates on the other and a full bar in the back. We got dessert here. I ordered the carrot cake and hot cocoa and my friend had the donut and a spiked tea. Located in old town.

Wodka Cafe Bar: A vodka bar. Really touristy place that is on a quiet street in old town. Known for their shot trays of flavored vodka. Flavors include cranberry, salted caramel, cherry, honey, lavender, lime, mint, chocolate, etc. They also have beer and some other drinks but go for the vodka.

Lody Ice Cream: Located in Old Town. Great ice cream, also makes crepes and waffles. Not much sitting room but we went in January and not many people are eating ice cream in January when its 25 degrees out haha.

Chimney Cake Bakery: These are hugely popular in Prague but if you are not going there you must have one here. There are two shops one located in Old Town and one in the Jewish Quarter. They serve the chimney cake donutish pastries either alone or with ice cream, fruit, chocolate, etc. on the inside!

So there is my weekend guide to Krakow, Poland. Full posts on both Auschwitz and the Salt Mines to follow. Let me know if you are visiting and if you have any questions or other recommendations that I missed leave them in the comments!
love, Carlee
Hat: American Eagle
Scarf: gift
Jacket: H&M

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

1 Second Everyday 2017 : video

Hey all!

I just finished getting my 1 Second Everyday video mashed and uploaded and I thought I would share it. So many people loved seeing it last year and this year was just as great. I shared highlights of the year in my last post but some things that I forgot to mention and I remembered because of this video:

-My families dog passed away in July and it was really fun to get it see him again in this video.
-Getting to watch my little brothers play high school sports
-Walking, driving, etc for the first time since I broke my leg in November 2016. 
-All the trips we took
-The massive heat wave we had at the end of July in Italy. Clark and I basically spent all day in a little kiddie pool. 
-Making friends with our neighbors and their two young daughters just loved Knox. 
-The concerts we saw. 

So many good memories and 1 whole year in just 6 minutes. Crazy. 
love, Carlee