Today is Sunday and this coming Friday, I am off to Poland as I mentioned in an earlier entry. A lot of final details to still take care of and, because I have a very loaded work week, for once I actually have to pack more than 2 days in advance (usually I pack in the 2 days prior to a trip, at most!).
One part for which I am ready is the cold. It will be very cold. But that is why we have coats, gloves, and scarves. I had to upgrade in the glove department but the rest was all good. Will be using my Gore Tex boots most of the time to handle any ice or snow though the area of the city I will be staying at is likely to be well kept in terms of snow and ice. However, the same may not be true elsewhere.
We opted to rent an apartment in Krakow as we realized we could make it our home base for the things we wanted to see and visit. This was a great decision as it would make a lot of things easier (no packing-unpacking moving from one hotel to another) and much cheaper than a hotel ($90 per night for a 2 bedroom which translated to $45 per night for each of us). It is located close to the city center. The owners wanted full pre-payment, which may be a common approach, but we settled for 20% upfront, the rest upon arrival. A few weeks later, they have been very helpful with many details so we are likely to go ahead and settle up before getting there to avoid carrying all the cash and for them the hassle of getting the money to them in the UK from their local contact.
In terms of planning, there is a lot of info available on the Internet, as you can imagine. Plenty of resources from the local and the national tourism websites: http://www.krakow.pl/en/turystyka/ and http://www.poland.travel/en-us/pot_front_page. Also, the following interactive map has been an excellent Krakow resource: http://www.cracow-life.com/map/map.php. Finally, the following link will be very helpful to plan train travel (what I was able to Google in terms of train travel was not as good as this link sent to me by the apartment owners): http://www.intercity.com.pl/?page=home_page.
We are likely going to be visiting Auschwitz, Wadowice, Czestochowa, and the Salt Mines in Wieliczka in the 5 days we have in town and then, of course, explore Krakow itself for which we are allowing ourselves a couple of days. We also have received recommendations in terms of restaurants from the apartment owners and from perusing various websites. We are ready for good food!
Finally, though we expect we will find enough English speakers, I have been trying to learn basic phrases and words just in case we find ourselves lost in a small town. It is a curious language for me and some words remind me of Latin – whether a real or imaginary connection, I don’t know, but it makes remembering some of the stuff easier.
I am ready to get there and explore a new place! I will be blogging about my trip as it happens so stay tuned.
Any final advice?