Is it possible to drive from Leipzig Germany to Auschwitz (Oswiecim) Poland in one "go"? We have been advised (by German residents) that it is not possible to drive it in one day, that it is different to driving in Canada, (where we live). Also, is it dangerous to be in Poland because of thieves. Any advice?
I think it is possible to drive it in one day but it would be very very long day and I would advise against it. I don't think that Poland is a dangerous country. You certainly got more thieves in Barcelona or Rome than anywhere in Poland and people still go to Barcelona and Rome and most of them won't be pick-pocketed. Just have your money belt and ask locals where is safe to park.
Polish:Germans::Mexicans:Americans ???? What is that supposed to mean? And to the OP, where did you come up with the "thieves" caricature?
I appreciate the advice. As to the "thieves" bit - we were warned about thieves in Poland, from german residents. It's new to us so taking whatever advice we can.
You can try typing in your start and end destinations on viamichelin.com. I just tried it and came up with 5hrs 51 min for what you have proposed. Sounds totally doable to me!
I've seen posts in previous threads where experienced drivers said the ViaMichelin and Google Maps trip duration estimates needed to have about 25% more time added to them. That would make a 6-hour trip more like 7.5 hours, and probably doesn't factor in any stops to eat or use rest rooms, etc. if you left at 05:00, you might get there in mid afternoon perhaps. In any case, it would be a very long day, and would not allow enough time to visit Auschwitz, if that's what you were intending to try to do.
Scott, my advice is to spend at least a day or two in Krakow beforehand. It is truly a highlight in Poland and you will be able to get to Auschwitz easily the next morning before the throngs of folks arrive, either by car, or arranged tour, or public transportation (there are many threads describing how to do this, and it's very doable). Also, the Wieliczka Salt Mines are very close by and also worth visiting, although perhaps a different day if you have time. As others have said, ask locals for a secure place to park near where you are staying - it should be no problem, lots of folks visit Krakow and Auschwitz so they are used to it. As someone born and grew up in Poland, I'm offended that some German residents would advise you to be weary of thieves considering that you are visiting a solemn concentration site of all places - there's an irony and cruelty in the prejudice people project to others. Hopefully, you can see for yourself and have more positive comments when you tell others about your trip. Have a good and safe trip.
I'm offended that some German residents would advise you to be weary of thieves considering that you are visiting a solemn concentration site of all places - there's an irony and cruelty in the prejudice people project to others. It is offensive. It shows that certain things bubble, not really spoken outright, just below the surface. I have Polish ancestry on one side and this is very troubling. Even if said in jest, every joke has a core of truth behind it.
I appreciate everyone's comments. Our plan is to travel for the day and we are staying for a couple of nights near Auschwitz. We will also visit the salt mines while we are there. I have driven 10-12 hour trips many times here in Canada. I was just wondering if there were some "unknowns" in Germany and Poland that I had to be wary of - roads, terrain, etc. The warnings about theft, I don't believe, are based on nationality.
I don't know which roads you will actually travel on, but for the German portion of the trip this recent thread may interest you. There are many similar threads about the traffic cameras on German roads. Only meant as something to be aware of in advance. http://www.ricksteves.com/graffiti/helpline/index.cfm/rurl/topic/106118/speed-cameras-in-germany.html
What's different than in Canada or US are international road signs. They are not always self-explanatory. If you don't know them you should learn them. Left lane is only for passing. Legal alcohol levels are much lower or zero. When police measure speed they are in hiding then radio ahead and another policemen stop every speeder. Very efficient. In some countries you need a sticker to be able to use freeways. I don't know about Poland but you should ask. If speed limits are not posted then in towns is usually 50 km/h, open roads 90 km/h, freeways 130 km/h, in Germany no limit on autobahn unless posted.
I've made it from Dresden to Krakow in seven hours with a sandwich stop, but no thief stop. It's probably close to the same distance and its over much of the same roads.
"Also, is it dangerous to be in Poland because of thieves." From the German perception, that's because there have been well-publicized incidences of Polish, Romanian and Czech gangs operating out of Germany. They steal German cars and sell the parts back home. So that's probably what they were getting at. Does that mean Poland is a den of theives? Probably not, but you should still take the same reasonable precautions you would anywhere else in the world.