Warszawa, Poland

After our 12 hour journey to Warsaw from Niepołomice (lesson learned: never make plans to travel the day after a Polish wedding), Broc and I were relieved to arrive in Poland’s capital. Warsaw is a very different city from Kraków. The streets are wider, the buildings are larger, and much of the infrastructure is new; the result of the Nazis’ plan to destroy the city after the 1944 Warsaw Uprising. As we left Warsawza Centralna to make our way to our hotel, the imposing yet beautiful Palace of Culture and Science dominated the streetscape, a prevalent reminder that the Soviet Union dissolved only 25 years ago. 

Despite Warsaw’s intense history, the city is absolutely beautiful. Broc and I spent our day in Warsaw exploring the city and enjoying the warm weather. Warsaw is home to some of the most beautiful parks I have ever visited, and I was surprised at how many there were throughout the city. After starting our morning off with coffee from Zorza, we ate brunch at Palmier with Sophia and Georgy, who were also in town for the day. We tried to fit in as much sightseeing as we could, visiting the Fryderyk Chopin Museum, Staszic Palace, the National Library of Poland, and Warsaw Old Town. We also went to POLIN: Museum of the History of Polish Jews, which is a new museum situated on the site of the former Warsaw Ghetto. The central exhibition was fantastic, with features such as reconstructions of historical synagogues, replicas of Jewish streets in Poland, and haunting multimedia narratives about the Holocaust.

I really enjoyed Warsaw; from the spectacular restaurants and modern architecture to the abundant green spaces and quality of life, this unexpectedly beautiful city completely took me by surprise. There is still so much I want to see and do in Warsaw, I know I will be planning a trip back soon.

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Niepołomice, Poland

After a few days in Kraków, we were off to celebrate Sophia and Georgy's wedding in Niepołomice. Located about forty-five minutes west of Kraków proper, Niepołomice is a small town situated beside one of Poland's largest forests. Although Niepołomice's city centre is comprised of only a few blocks, Broc and I surprisingly stumbled upon the best pastries we had on our entire vacation in Poland!

The wedding took place in the Niepołomice Royal Castle, or Zamek Królewski w Niepołomicach, a stunning 14th-century Polish Gothic palace, seemingly untouched since its days as a hunting castle. Not only was it the perfect venue for the elegant bride and groom, guests were entertained with a live action knight's duel with the cutting of the wedding cake! Broc and I had so much fun at Sophia and Georgy's beautiful wedding, and we are honoured to have been a part of such a special day.

Kraków, Poland

Kraków is a captivating place. Aesthetically, it is your quintessential European city with cobblestone streets, colourful buildings, and expansive public spaces for everyone to enjoy. However, I found Kraków to be different. The country’s turbulent past is evident in the memorials, museums, and sobering sites of Nazi Europe dotted throughout the city. Kraków remembers it’s history. During my seven days in Poland, I learned more than I could have ever imagined about this magnificent country, and the extraordinary resilience of the Polish people. 

Despite it raining our entire time in Kraków, we fit in lots of sightseeing, museums and galleries, Polish vodka, and delicious meals. We visited the Wieliczka Salt Mine, one of the world’s oldest salt mines and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, reaching a depth of 327 meters underground. We went to both the Museum of Contemporary Art in Krakow and Oskar Schindler’s Enamel Factory Museum on Lipowa Street. We enjoyed croissants at Charlotte, dinner at Wesoła Cafe, and massive burgers at a New Zealand-inspired fast food joint called Moaburger. We also celebrated the bachelor and bachelorette with bar hopping in Kazimierz, the Old Jewish Quarter.

Most notably was our visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau in Oświęcim, something I have been wanting to do for a long time. We so often learn about history, but have trouble relating because of how distant these events are from our own reality. After reading the memoir By Chance Alone by Max Eisen, who is a Canadian survivor of Auschwitz, I knew I had to go to try and understand the sheer magnitude of terror, suffering, and injustice that occurred in this place after horrific ideologies spread across Europe. Visiting Auschwitz is an experience I will never be able to put into words.

On a more light-hearted note, we found Kraków to be a city rich with culture ready to explore and experience - a great destination for those on a budget or with money to spend. 

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Warsaw in 35mm

Warsaw is a city rich in architectural history, with infrastructure heavily influenced by its tumultuous past. Expansive Soviet blocks, neoclassical palaces, and contemporary architecture are just a few of the styles which compose Warsaw's unique urban fabric. 

Photos from Warsaw taken with my Canon A-1.  

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