Prague Hotels Articles

July 27, 2010

Places to visit in Poland

I went to Krakow on recommendations of many people that I met along my journey backpacking through Europe. Krakow and Warsaw are the two largest cities in Poland and the principle attractions for tourists. Krakow located in the south of Poland, however, was closer to the circular route of the rest of my journey through Europe. My journey to Krakow consisted of two train rides that carried me from Prague through eastern Czech Republic where I would transfer in Katowice to a smaller train to Krakow. The train wound its way through some of greenest country that I had yet seen in Europe. There were many forests and fields along the journey as well as heavily developed industrial areas. I thought a great deal about history as the train carried me through this land of sorrow.

Poland, through the centuries, has been through countless trials which have tested the mettle of these proud people. Poland was absorbed by the Russian Empire during the Napoleonic Wars as punishment for siding with the French. Poland would not be an independent nation again until the reapportionment of Europe after World War I. Poland would again be dragged into war in 1939 as the Poles were on the receiving end of the full fury of the blitzkrieg. Poland was completely subdued by Nazi Germany in weeks and its Jewish population was among the first rounded up and exterminated in Europe. The overwhelming majority of Polish Jews did not survive the Holocaust. After the war Poland, like most of Eastern Europe, next suffered the horrors of Soviet Occupation. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, however, Poland has enjoyed a rare spell of independence and peace. I was highly intrigued to visit a place that had been the stage of so much history, and looked forward to my stay.

After the change in Katowice, several helpful people boarded the train advertising hostels in Krakow, including transportation from the train station. As all of them were young I figured that they must be students working a summer job for the hostels. This observation was further confirmed when I learned that during the year the hostels doubled as dormitories for local universities. After learning about the facilities and prices of a few places, I chose my hostel and lined up with the rest of the tourists who were going to the same place. Once the long, hot and bumpy train ride came to an end I was soon settled in a hostel located fairly close to the center of the city with free kitchen, laundry

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