Well, this entry will be different than the others. Why? Because it is not about a trip taken but about planning a trip to be taken. I have to admit, I enjoy planning a trip a lot. It is as if the trip has almost begun as I begin to plan, imagine, and make more concrete what the actual trip will be.
Decision to Visit Poland
As a friend and I were discussing that we should travel together for a weekend or a week, we began randomly talking about what could we do. Talking about possibilities TOTALLY energizes me! EVERYTHING is possible at that early moment in planning. In talking, we decided that instead of a weekend in the U.S. or nearby, perhaps we ought to take the entire week and go further.
Where to go then? Immediately we narrowed it down to Europe or Latin America just due to the constraint of a week max. Our mind went to the big capitals of Europe. We ran through countries like Portugal, Spain, Poland, Ireland, Germany, France. We ruled out Italy as we had both been there a couple of times (doesn’t mean we don’t love Italy, we do, but we were feeling like exploring something totally new). We ended up narrowing it down to Ireland and Poland. So it was either going to a place known for its beauty, friendliness and pubs or a place we didn’t know as much about and knew nothing about the language.
We began throwing around that maybe seeing where Pope John Paul II had been born may be interesting (we are Catholic, this line of reasoning may not apply to others 🙂 ). So, we decided to study that area of Poland to see if there was enough to explore. I had a notion that Krakow was a place to see but I don’t know that I could have explained exactly why. Never fear, some Internet searching, some visiting local bookstores and checking out a few books and we got the info we needed. There was so much to see and explore in Krakow and its vicinity to fill a week and not get it all done. We also felt that we might as well go out on a limb now that we are relatively young (late 30s, early 40s) whereas Ireland seemed an easier place for later in life. So, with perhaps not the best set of criteria but criteria we felt good enough with, we chose to go to Poland. The fact that we are going in winter is not scaring us. We will just bundle up and enjoy low tourists fighting with us to enter places, etc.!
So what a realistic itinerary for a week in Poland??
Destination settled. Not quite… So, how much of Poland should we aim for? How much was realistic without being too aggressive? How was the transportation network? Well, we didn’t know enough nor people who had gone. Again, the resources mentioned above plus posting questions on the Internet answered our questions. Southern Poland, in fact just one part of southern Poland, would easily fill a week and more if we really wanted to. Krakow and the nearby salt mines would fill a couple of days at the very least. We realized Czestochowa would be an interesting day trip. We obviously knew we had to go to Auschwitz-Birkenau. We clearly were going to see Wadowice to see where JP II was born. We realized we may be able to even squeeze in a day trip to ski at Zakopane. Wow! So much to do and so many other places we probably would not have time to go see!
Well, the rest is planning details. Fly to Krakow, or fly to Warsaw and take a train down? Stay in Krakow as our home base or move around these towns? So many possibilities. We haven’t nailed it all down yet but we think we will fly to Warsaw and take the less than 3 hr train to Krakow and at least get a glimpse of the countryside in winter. We will not be able to see anything outside of the south except perhaps for a day in Warsaw on our way out of the country (which may not do it justice but Warsaw may be an easier place to return to than Krakow). We are likely using Krakow as the home base and we are looking at renting an apartment since then we don’t have to be lugging stuff around – plus it is cheaper and more comfortable.
So, that’s where we are. Enjoying the questions, details, and unknowns about the trip as we continue our planning. I will be writing about this awesome trip soon enough!
Anyone have any tips about Krakow or any of the places we are considering visiting? Does anyone else enjoy trip planning as much as I do??