Discover Orkney: 5 Tips for a Wild Adventure

WINDSWEPT and remote, the desolate beauty of these islands offers wild scenery, empty beaches, puffins in summer and, in winter on a clear night, the otherworldly beauty of the Northern Lights.

Untouched by centuries of change, the islands’ glut of ancient treasures cause the mysterious remains of our ancestors to rise from the land in all directions: their homes, their standing stones and the fabled dwellings of creatures from folklore.

Acccessible and affordable – here are 5 reason you should put Orkney on your wish list:

 

The oldest standing stones in the British Isles:

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The Ring of Brodgar

Forget Stonehenge: the standing stones on Orkney, at Steness and Brodgar, are the originals, predating their southern cousins by at least 500 years. Thanks to an almost total lack of trees and an undeveloped landscape, the stones – which stretch across the landscape from Hoy to the Mainland – form part of a huge astronomical calendar, protected by UNESCO and considered one of the most important Neolithic sites in the whole of Western Europe.

 

Viking graffiti
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Viking villages are scattered across the landscape

The Vikings left their mark on Orkney and the countryside is littered with the remains of their lives – and their graffiti. The ancient passage tomb of Maeshowe is a sophisticated piece of Neolithic engineering. Lined up with the standing stones which criss-cross the countryside it is also an ingenious astronomical calendar, coming into its own at the Winter Solstice.

However, its crowning glory is the graffiti that hiding Viking raiders have etched onto it’s hallowed walls. As well as the names of their girlfriends and what amounts to ‘I was ‘ere’  there are some ruder pieces including the legend ‘Thorni f*cked. Helgi carved.’  Just going to show that teenage boys are teenage boys, whether in this century or a thousand years ago.

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Maeshowe, lit by the light of the Winter Solstice, is also full of Viking graffiti

 

Raw beauty

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The Old Man of Hoy, the island’s iconic sea stack.

If you’re a keen photographer you’ll have no end of weather beaten scenery to capture here. There are a plethora of islands to choose from, all boasting rugged beaches and rare wildlife – including a pair of sea eagles on Hoy.

The iconic sea stack known as the ‘Old Man of Hoy’ makes an easy walk and island hopping is simple – there are regular ferries leaving from the mainland so you can take your pick – Sanday and Shapinsay for the coast, Rousay for archeaology or wild North Ronaldsay for wildlife.

 

Sunken German World War 1 Fleet

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If you’re a history buff you’ll have heard of the scuttling of the German fleet in Scapa Flow. Seventy-four German ships were sunk here as the last shots of World War 1 were fired. The British Navy tried in vain to prevent them sinking and some of the boats, which are now part of an internationally acclaimed diving spot, are still visible as you drive across the bridge.

Just beyond this, stop at the Italian chapel, built by 550 Italian Prisoners of War sent to the then uninhabited Island during World War 2.

 

And lastly, because this is a real place…

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I don’t think I need to add anything here.

Top 5 Delhi Sights Not To Miss

 

With temperatures in the UK dropping below freezing and staying there, what better time to start planning your sunshine get away? Delhi is the first part of the Golden Triangle and the cheapest place to fly in and out of. A room in a hotel can cost you as little as £15 a night so once you’ve arrived, the world is your oyster…

Here are my top 5 things not to miss:

 

  1. Old Delhi

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Hire a rickshaw and head into the bustling heart of this crazy city; electrical wires zigzag across the streets at eye level; sequins and spices nestle alongside street hawkers, taxi drivers and fifteen lanes of traffic all moving in apparently random directions, beeping and swerving around rickshaw drivers as they head the wrong way around the traffic islands: Delhi is a feast for the senses – and a total culture shock.

Being one white face in a city of 18 million people you’d think you might disappear, but – like a penguin in a cage full of flamingos – you are instantly obvious and anyone who spots you will try to ‘befriend’ you in hope of giving you some sort of information which warrants a tip. Walking down the street is an adventure in itself; dodging the cracked pavements, random cows and the one thousand other people hurrying about their business. From the grinding poverty of makeshift homes on the side of the road to the holy Sadus, dressed in orange, crouched on street corners, or tuk tuk drivers sleeping on mats in the sunshine, what will strike you most about Delhi is its seemingly endless mass of teeming humanity.

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After a day in the old town you can head to the Gates of India, a remnant of colonial British rule, set in a huge park which even by night is filled with families and vendors selling food: the perfect end to a perfect day.

 

 

  1. Qutb Minar

 

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The minaret is made from plundered Hindu temples

Built in the city’s trademark red sandstone and started in 1193 by the first sultan this five story, 73 metre high tower is the crowning glory of a World Heritage Site which contains the oldest mosque in northern India.

An inscription over the eastern gate, left by the victorious army, boasts that it was constructed from the ruins of 27 Hindu temples. The highest tower in India, Qutb Minar commemorates the defeat of Dehli’s last Hindu ruler and an ancient iron pillar stands as silent testimony to almost 2,000 years of history in this – one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world.

The hassle factor in India is enormous. In the centre of Delhi it can be quite annoying and at its major attractions there is an endless supply of strange men attempting to offer you ‘tours’. Whilst it is wise to rebuff most of these don’t be too upset if you are approached by strange people who want to take your photo – it isn’t a con, (unlike everything else!), they really just think you look funny and want you to pose with their mum. Relax, be polite and enjoy your temporary celebrity status.

 

  1. Humanyan’s Tomb

 

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A family pose in the grounds of the tomb

Wild green parrots and screeching peacocks are the sole inhabitants of this lovingly restored garden tomb, the first ever to be built on the Indian sub-continent.

The inspiration for the Taj Mahal, unlike a lot of other historical buildings in India, the colours and patterns are bright and the tiles and dome still intact.

It can be reached via the Indian equivalent of the London Underground, which is swish and modern and surprisingly clean, (bins are non-existent elsewhere). However, a word of warning – as a women – even travelling with a man – avoid the packed tubes at rush hour as there are a few men who will try to take advantage of you; I had a nasty experience with a man who tried to rub himself against me, despite being with my husband at the time.

 

  1. The Red Fort

 

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The fort is now a war museum

The ultimate symbol of Mughal power, this impressive octagonal fort was created by Shah Jahan after he moved his capital from Agra to Delhi in 1638. The man responsible for creating the Taj Mahal, it was originally built in white and red, but after a century of occupation by the British, who used it as a barracks, it lost its original colour, although this is gradually being corrected.

The downside of visiting sites in India, aside from the fact they are unlikely to contain much furniture or other remnants of the people who occupied it, is that they all smell of …wee. A combination of no public conveniences and a slightly different take on hygiene means you are never far from a stinky corner of an ancient monument. Nice.

 

  1. Jama Masjid

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Dominating Old Delhi this giant mosque – The Friday Mosque – is the largest mosque in India. The courtyard can accommodate 25, 000 worshippers and climbing the 121 steps to the top of the minaret offers spectacular views across a city of 18 million people, – how far you can see depends on the air quality, which is amongst the lowest in the world.

What is wonderful is that all around you are Hindu, Buddhist and Jainist temples, Sikh Gurdwaras and Christian churches – Delhi is a place where all of India lives alongside one another, a true melting pot where animal and humans of all types huddle together. A visit to India will change your perspective – for the better.

8 Reasons to Visit Georgia

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Where East meets West, this tiny Asian country is the furthest outpost of the European Union. Boasting the jaw dropping Causcasus Mountains, it’s known for it’s fine wines and hospitality.

 

Here’s 8 reasons why you should put Georgia on your travel itinerary.

 

1. For the simple life. 

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Outside tumbledown houses, cows and pigs wander lazily across the highways, framed against a backdrop of snow capped mountains.

In Kutaisi wild horses reclaim the streets late at night, whilst packs of stray dogs race the cars. Almost every house you pass is selling something – set up on a small table outside – homegrown veg and honey or bottles of brown, pear-drop flavoured lemonade.

Wood must be bought to fuel the stove; chickens reared and live birds bought at market for eggs or Sunday lunch. Leather faced old ladies, dressed in head scarves and wearing traditional long black skirts, keep watch whilst the men, dressed in beanie hats and sturdy jackets against the worst of the Winter weather, advertise Ladas full of logs to passers by.

IMG_8858.JPG          Kutaisi Market

 

2. It’s now a budget destination

It may be nearly 3,000 miles away but Kutaisi is the latest town on the WizzAir flight path and at February half term it’s incredibly affordable – return flights cost around £85; if you’re travelling in the Summer expect to pay around £70 extra.

Apartments go from as little as £16 per night and a pizza is £2 each so Kutaisi is a cheap date. However, with 20% of the population living below the poverty line don’t expect all mod cons, unless you’re booking a fancy hotel.

Fabulously, interior decoration hasn’t changed much since the days of the USSR, so if you brave a private apartment you may find yourself waking up in a delicious remnant of a bygone Soviet era.

IMG_8782.JPG                    Step back in time to a bygone era…

 

3. Georgian Hospitality

Even looking slightly lost in Georgia will attract the attention of a helpful passer by. There is nothing to worry about: honesty is valued and unlike other countries in Asia, they aren’t on the take. In fact, they can boast of being the least corrupt country in the region and the only one with a free press.

Oddly enough, last year they were granted inclusion in the Schengen zone; despite being completely disconnected from any other EU country!

IMG_9032.JPGFebruary in the mountains

 

4. Natural beauty

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The white peaks of the Caucasus form the backdrop to almost every scene in Georgia. An hour’s travel in any direction will take you to into breathtaking countryside.

For some gentle exercise head to Okatse Canyons for stunning waterfalls and explore the Sataplia Nature Park to see the dinosaur footprints, taking time to admire the view from it’s stylish glass walkway overlooking the surrounding hills.

Get up early and you can also fit in a trip to Prometheus Cave (about 30 mins outside the town). These impressive caves stretch for 1.4 km, visitors can see 6 of the chambers, each large and simply dripping in stalactites and stalagmites.

IMG_8990.JPG                    Prometheus Caves

 

5. The Katskhi Pillar

The 130ft high home of a lone Stylite monk. He only leaves his home twice a week so supplies have to be winched up to him and he spent the first few months living in a fridge. When he wants to go home he has to spend 20 minutes climbing an extremely long, slightly dodgy looking ladder, and believes the height of the pillar brings him closer to God.

IMG_8884.JPG                        The Katshki Pillar

 

6. It’s A Soviet Museum

Dangle precariously over the mining town of Chiatura in a Soviet era cable car. These slightly terrifying remnants of a time gone by are unique and fabulous. Shut in the dark with only a metal grill for a window, it’s no wonder these contraptions were nicknamed ‘metal coffins’.

The town itself is unchanged since Stalin died; rows of concrete housing line the river and it’s easy to imagine yourself in another era. Not to be missed.

DSC02870.JPG                      Dangling in a metal coffin above Chiatura

DSC02877.JPG                      Chiatura is a mining town

 

7. Rock Houses

Hiding from Mongol attack in the 12th Century, Queen Tamar ordered this amazing cave labyrinth to be hewn from the rock. Boasting 6,000 apartments including a still inhabited monastery, this mountain hideaway is a fascinating place to explore.
IMG_8960.JPG                Hewn from the rock: Vardzia Cave Homes

IMG_9177.JPG               Snow in the Caucasus

8. It’s A Secret

With the advent of cheap flights it’s almost bound to catch on. The much needed injection of cash is sure to bring change and Georgia will lose some of it’s other-worldly charm.

Get there ahead of the hoards and experience this rustic haven whilst you still can.

IMG_9047.JPG                Georgia is working hard to attract tourists to it’s natural parks

 

Southern Sardinia – Life is Beachy

The first thing to know if you’re planning to visit Southern Sardinia and see anything other than the nearest beach, (and maybe even if you’re not that fussed), is that you’re going to need a car. I can’t speak for the North but certainly in the South the pavements outside the towns have a nasty habit of disappearing, making walking anywhere a bit of a hairy experience.
Being more mobile also gives you chance to appreciate the fast changing landscape; to the North, the open farm land around Barumini; to the East, the mountains of the interior and, all around, the miles and miles of pristine coast line.

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If seaside is what you are after, you won’t be disappointed. The best beaches rival the Carribean for breathtaking vistas and although the sea hasn’t had chance to warm up yet we still managed to get burnt in April.

Capo Carbonara is featured on many of Sardinia’s postcards. The sand is white, the sea clear blue and the low lying rocks are fun for a spot of clambering about. Sandstone, the local rock, has been blown by the coastal winds into weird sculptures which halo the bay.

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To the West visit Chia, with lake and mountains to one side of the beach and the crystal waters of the med on the other – the sea and sky are impossibly blue and the sand actually sparkles.

Unfortunately in April there are no toilets open by the sea, as high season starts in May, so, if like us, you take advantage of the cheaper deals at Easter, you’ll have to make your peace with finding a spot for a wild wee in the surrounding bushes.

Another cool feature of both beaches and of the shallow waters heading West from the city is the large population of pale pink flamingos. Going about their business, these beautiful creatures are two-a-penny in the surrounding landscape.


Sardinia is home to the remains of an ancient and unique civilisation – the Nuraghe. Su Nuraxi, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is definitely worth the trip. The Iron Age inhabitants of the island built a village complex in 1500 BC and, thanks to being buried under a hill for thousands of years, it’s still there. Using dry stone techniques the main tower initially stood at 22 metres, although these days it’s reduced to 15.

Still impressive and surrounded by four other smaller nuraghe, or beehive shaped towers, the homes were built at different stages of history up until 5 AD. The stone walls of the dwellings are often intact, (though the wooden rooves have naturally disappeared), there are also surviving fireplaces, cooking stones and home shrines for water worship. However, despite all this ancient wonder, my son’s favourite part was when the guide told us the surrounding countryside, covered in suspiciously unnatural looking but, (in actual fact), natural hillocks, was named, in Italian, ‘breast’ and quite literally, (as interpreted by the boy), ‘Boobyland’.


Once you’ve done that your ticket entitles you to visit any of the other ten sites in Barumini associated with the Nuraghe, including the Casa Zapasta where a Nuraghe village was found under the floor and which can now be visited via a series of glass floors and walk ways.


For history buffs there is also Nora, a site first settled by the Phonecians in 9 BC. The site was a perfect vantage and trading point was therefore settled by all sorts of other people too. The last lot and the ones to have left a lasting mark are those indefatigable Romans who built all the usual manner of mosaiced buildings, including baths, a teatro, a forum and various homes and shops. The English guide comes with the entry price and, if you time it right, once you’ve finished your tour group will be gathered up and taken up the Spanish look out tower next door.


All across the Southern coast towers were built to protect the Sardinians from raiding North African pirates who were wont to show up and steal their women and children. They appealed to the Spanish king, who initially meant to build 200 watchtowers but ran out of cash. In the end, 105 were built, of which only 65 remain – but 65 is still a lot. They appear on every horizon, finding their way into every picture.


In search of a boat ride around the caves on the coast of Capo Sperone we headed for the island of Sant A’ntioco. The winding mountain road was a bit slow and twisty but really worth it for the views. The interior of the island is very green in April, although having visited Sicily in August, I imagine it’s probably more yellow at the height of summer.

At last we arrived at the harbour of the eponymous capital. Unfortunately, this being April, there were no boats operating, despite all the enticing signs up and down the promenade. In Southern Sardinia nothing is running as it should until May, which is fabulous if you want the beaches to yourself and free parking but not so great if you are looking for things to entertain the kids or tourist attractions to be reliably open. The caves we had hoped to see at Grotte is Zuddas were also shut, apart from weekends and that was when we were going home. It was a pretty disappointing trip made worse by the fact we missed the beach we were heading for on the way home and ended up on a seaweedy coastline covered in bits of flotsam.

However, it wasn’t an entirely wasted trip, the mountains are beautiful and if you’d like to get out into them you could do worse than visit the WWF reservation at Oasi di Monte Acruso. It’s home to a range of indigenous species of plants and animals, not to mention supporting a very worthy cause.


Cagliari itself is the place to head to if you are looking for some thing a bit more lively or just some variation in your diet. There is only so much pizza one person can eat, especially when it’s as big as about three of your heads. Local cuisine is very fishy, as you might expect on an island, and features ravioli in large quantities.

Head to the back streets for quaint passages, beautifully crowded with pot plants and sun kissed yellow and orange buildings. There are a few sights to see, St Mary’s Basillica and the view from the Castello but really compared to the splendour of Italy they’re nothing to write home about.

The Devil’s Saddle rock which sits above Cagliari

Head to the harbour afterwards for gelato and watch the sail boats before scaling the rock known as Devil’s Saddle, thrown there, as legend has it by the Archangel Gabriel himself.


If you are looking for a spot of enforced relaxation Southern Sardinia is perfect. You simply can’t run out of perfect sands to gently cook yourself to bronzed perfection.

If you’re more of a culture-vulture you might be best to limit your stay to a few days in the South before heading up North to continue the adventure.

It is a place of wild, unspoiled beauty. The lack of tourist resorts and it’s natural gifts are refreshing and revitalising. Unwind, chill out and enjoy.

 

 

 
Tags: Sardinia, beach, vacation, relaxation, holiday, flights, Europe, Italy, island, Mediterranean
Categories: travel

Poland – from top to bottom

Let’s Gdansk!

Given the abundance of Polish workers in the UK, I (foolishly) surmised there might be something wrong with Poland – why would so many people leave? Was Poland dreadful? Were the streets of the cities filled with poor? What could be causing people to head west their droves? To be quite honest, I’m less sure now than I was before I left.

Poland will surprise you. I grew up as the Berlin Wall fell and still had in my mind Soviet era images of Eastern bloc countries where old ladies stand in queues for bread, men work in factories and the buildings are concrete, colourless and perfectly matching. Despite 30 years of history, Eastern Europe was still shrouded in mystery in my mind. By contrast, modern Poland is the eighth largest economy in the EU, visited by 16 million people a year. Compared to our little island it’s enormous. A road trip beckoned. But where to start? A problem easily solved by a quick glance at Easy Jet – the cheapest ticket flew us to Gdansk so we decided to start there, driving down the country until we finished at the jewel in the crown – Krakow.

After picking up our hire car and finding the hotel, we hit Gdansk old town, entering through the arch of Swan Tower, a lone reminder of the ancient Teutonic castle which once stood in the city. The area’s rich trading past is never more than a stone’s throw away and shops and stalls overflow with glittering amber – Baltic gold. As always, however, we were travelling on a shoe-string, so as much as I wanted to rush in and gather up all pretty treasures, I restrained myself and we set about working out what to do for free in Gdansk.

It’s easy to give yourself a quick walking tour through city centre. Quaint and classy, the old town is flanked by the majestic ‘Green Gate’ at one end and the ‘Golden Gate’ at the other. The harbour is a feast for the eyes, a mixture of maritime history and venerable old buildings, including the Mariacka Gate and the SS Soldek, the first seagoing ship completed in Poland.

Whilst in Gdansk we did take a quick trip to the beach but I wouldn’t recommend it unless you have kids with you, like British seaside towns it’s stuffed with amusements and fast food and nothing to write home about.

Before heading off we stopped at Stutthof Concentration Camp. This was the first concentration camp outside German borders, gruesomely placed in Poland because the Germans didn’t like the smells coming from their own back yard. It was also the very last to be liberated. Trapped between the Nazis and the Red Army, Poland spent many years abused by more powerful neighbours and the scars still cut across the country, carefully tended and dressed but still achingly close to the surface. Travelling the country you can’t help but feel how unkind history has been to the stoic Polish.

Torun

Heading down the E75 our next stop was the massive red brick pile, Malbork Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage site. We didn’t pay to go in but you can walk inside the grounds for free so, since we were on a tight budget, it didn’t really feel necessary.

At the time it was built it was the largest red brick castle in the world, however it was slightly spoiled for me knowing most of it had to be rebuilt after the war, so a lot of what you see isn’t original.

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Nearby Torun, also a World Heritage site, is stuffed full of culture and medieval architecture. The square is dominated by another beautiful town hall and you can visit the home of Copernicus as well as sampling the town’s famous gingerbread. There are old town walls, a tower to climb, (we love to climb towers!), and a planetarium too, definitely worth a nights’ stop-over.

We’d been told lots of scary stories about traffic and bad roads from our Polish friends but we didn’t have any problems at all during our stay – maybe we got lucky, or perhaps given the traffic on the M1, it’s all relative.

Poznan

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Poznan is an affluent city with big business, a booming student population and night life to match. The centre is chocolate box pretty and, because a lot of it was rebuilt after some serious bombing during World War Two, the paint is fresh and brightly coloured – a Saxon style rainbow. The big open square that characterises Polish cities is bursting with life.

We had a fabulous night out here and since we’d been on the road for a few days we were pleased to discover the Polish enjoy a drink as much as English. There is the obligatory selection of vodka, German lager, (it’s just over the border), and plenty of pubs and restaurants to choose from. Poland in general has quite a lot of rock venues, few and far between in the UK these days. There is, of course, also plenty of history and architecture to gaze at.

Wroclaw

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What is not to like about a town filled with over 100 tiny gnomes? We had a fantastic time in Wroclaw, hunting for the little men who are literally hiding all over the city. I’m still not entirely sure who put them there, or why, but they did go a long way toward making Wroclaw my favourite part of the trip (I think the cherry vodka we drank later in the evening might also have had something to do with it).

Wroclaw has been in an out of Germany, Czechoslovakia and Poland during its history and this is reflected in the character of the buildings, although to me it all seemed very Polish – a big open square, colourful buildings and lots of bars and restaurants. The streets of the old town are quaint, the night life is fantastic and we spent our evenings chatting up the locals in various taverns and ‘testing’ quite a lot of different flavours of vodka. We were lucky enough to meet a very friendly bloke who spent the entire night answering our questions about life in Poland under Communism and offering his views on pretty much everything. Which sums up our general experience of the Polish – friendly and welcoming (but not so keen on queueing or saying ‘excuse me’).

Krakow

We saved Krakow for the end and it didn’t disappoint. The 13th Century town square, one of the largest in Europe, is breathtaking. Impressive buildings dominate the centre ringed by medieval churches, .

I’ve been a bit spoiled by growing up in a Cathedral City and don’t tend to spend much time visiting European churches however I made an exception for Krakow because they’re too good to miss. As well as the more obvious ones in the centre, take time to visit the Franciscan Church which has retained its Medieval style and typically Polish decoration. The city also boasts proudly of the nation’s favourite son, Pope John Paul II, who is, quite rightly, on display at every available opportunity.

They are used to visitors in Krakow so beware the pricey nik-naks in Cloth Hall, head instead for the tower next to it for a great view from the top. Beneath the hall you can sneak underground for a peek at Medieval Krakow in the excavated caves below.

Once an hour listen out for the trumpet call from St Mary’s Bascilica, cut off part way through, in memory of an unfortunate medieval patriot, (shot in the throat by Mongols before he could finish), who died trying to warn of impending invasion.

For art, visit the famous Wawel Castle and cathedral, once the seat of the Kings of Poland, and now one of the country’s major art galleries.

The real highlight of our visit, (we happened to be there on August 1), was the annual commemoration of the Warsaw uprising, the largest uprising of any nation under Nazi rule, brutally crushed to the tune of 200,000 lives. The chilling scream of an air-raid siren through a warm August afternoon, signaled the beginning of a minutes’ silence. The sky was lit with flares and soon smoke and singing filled the city – a fabulous and haunting memorial, if you happen to be there.

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Auschwitz-Birkenau featured pretty heavily on our ‘must do’ list. Friends who had visited told me of the rooms full of spectacles, shoes and hair which brought tears to their eyes. The wretchedness of these too-short lives really bringing home the horrors of our collective past. Unfortunately for us, we visited the same week as the Christian Youth of the world, (literally – that is a real thing, they filled the entire city, moving in swarms, flanked by millions of nuns).

They had descended on Auschwitz-Birkenau in their droves and as a result all the museums within the compound were shut. Instead we traipsed around a designated path with hundreds of chattering ‘youth’, only able to see from the outside, reading potted histories on placards in the yard. In fact, we were lucky even to do that. We discovered on the way out we only got in because they thought we were with them, it was actually shut to the public…whoops! So at least we got to see it for ourselves. It was still a moving experience but not quite how I had imagined it. We got a far better sense of the tragedy at the Stutthof Camp earlier in the trip, where we could be alone with our thoughts and reflect on what had happened.IMG_3451.JPG

Our next stop was Schindler’s Factory, (from the film!).  If you want to get a sense of what World War Two meant to the people of Krakow there is no better place to go. The story is told from many points of view; Jewish, Catholic, Gypsy – all sorts of different people, a true reflection of the devastating effect of World War Two on the Polish.  Schindler’s Factory is a ‘must’ if you are visiting Krakow.

We finished off with a ‘jolly’ to the Wieliczka Salt Mine which was in operation between 1996 and the 13th century. Now it is the home of some amazing salt sculptures, including a huge underground chapel, complete with the Stations of the Cross and an impressive altar – you can even get married down there if you really want to!  Just make sure you book ahead in August because the queues are shocking.

So there ended our road trip. We stuck to the cities but Poland has plenty to offer in terms of open spaces, from the Masurian lakes to the Table and Tatra Mountains. Poland shares borders with a lot of interesting countries so it’s ideal for sightseeing, you can easily take a few days out and pop to Berlin or Prague. Next time I visit I’m going to make sure I get my visa and head into Belarus or neighbouring Ukraine (the safe bits anyway) and finally satisfy my Eastern curiousity.

Happy travels!