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June2023 Trip to Poland and Prague Trip Report Part 2

Later we heard that Klezmer Hois has good food! We walked to the beautiful and huge Town Square! Wow! It is lovely and full of people and food and fun. Lots of stag parties, but there is so much space on this square you can easily stay away from them. Ate gelato….lots of choices on the square.

Krakow Day 2- Bought sandwiches from Charlotte bakery (yummy sandwiches and pastries) for our trip to Auschwitz. We had a prepaid tour package of bus and tickets thru DiscoverCrakow.com. Easy meeting spot only 5 minutes from hotel. Regarding Discover Cracow: there was no staff at the meeting spot to help manage questions or people. Buses just pull up to the meeting spot with a sign in front window of where it is going, board bus and bus driver checks your name on list. Several confused people walking around asking questions the driver could not answer, but once we got going it was nice bus (only 26 people). One hour drive to Auschwitz. Then the Discover Cracow staff gives you a ticket for entrance and you meet your guide (Auschwitz provides the guide). Our guide had a thick accent and was hard to understand. Basically, I didn’t like the guide. He provided basic information but was not great at helping me experience or feel the place. He was stern and direct. If I go again, I will find a private guide. I know many people have had heartfelt guides, but not this guy. Overall, the walking tour is exactly like Rick’s book. Rick’s tour is very complete. We walked thru a gas chamber which was horrifying, and our guide did not present us with an option not to go thru it, but once outside I noticed that it is possible (and easy) to walk around it. 2 hour tour at Auschwitz then a short break and back to the DC bus. DC bus drove us over to Birkenau (we ate our sandwiches during this break- there is not planned time for lunch, so bring some food but DON’T EAT INSIDE THE CAMP- the guide will yell at you.). Birkenau is a visual experience, not much touring (a few buildings) then time alone to wander around. DC bus back to drop off spot.
We had dinner at a delicious restaurant: Farina. It was a calm lovely atmosphere after a difficult day. Fish restaurant. Excellent food and wines. And inexpensive compared to US. Located just off the Square. We walked around the square all evening just to appreciate life and the lively atmosphere of this town. After the horror of WWII and the Holocaust, it was nice to feel humanity at its best. At this point in our trip, I am starting to realize something that I have never truly appreciated-- Although WWII and the holocaust ended, it was not freedom and happiness for Jews, Poland or Eastern Europe. Communism was not a pleasant transition after the War and the citizens and Jews continued to suffer. They were still not free. Krakow had Pogroms in 1945!

Krakow Day 3- Met with a Professor from the Krakow Institute of Jewish Studies for a tour of the Jewish Quarter (a friend made the connection for us. She does not do this regularly, but she said there are plenty of good guides around to hire. FYI-She cautioned us that the “golf cart” tours are not 100% accurate in the information they provide.). First, we learned that the “Jewish Quarter” and the “Jewish Ghetto” in Krakow are two completely different areas. We started in the Jewish Quarter and learned that in the 13th and 14th centuries the Royal Families of Poland welcomed Jews to their country from the surrounding countries that kicked them out. That is how Poland came to have the largest Jewish population in Europe. We then walked over the river to the Jewish Ghetto (where the Nazi’s “kept” the Jews at the start of the War). Here we saw a section of original wall that surrounded the ghetto. Our guide explained that the movie “Schindler’s List” completely changed the trajectory of Krakow and the Jewish historical sites.

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Klezmer Hois indeed has wonderful food, wonderful atmosphere, and the klezmer is top notch. Don’t want to make you feel bad, but you missed out. 🤣

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Hamsa in the Jewish quarter has amazing food. We went there twice.