I began the tour by picking up my father in Brussels and we proceeded to catch the 3rd leg of the Tour De France, ending in Huy, Belgium. It was a desire of his to catch the Tour De France and always a thrill for me to see the color and excitement.
After this quick stop, we passed through Czech Republic with an overnight stop in Pilsen to visit the Pilsener Urquell beer factory and then on to a couple of days in one of my favorite cities, Prague.
We then spent a nice weekend in the Czech countryside before finally getting to Poland and our first stop in Krakow. Krakow was an absolutely charming city and a great first stop with it’s beautiful castle located next to the Vistula river.
In addition to the castle, there were two highly recommended stops, one very interesting and the other very somber. The first was the Wieliczka Salt Mine, located just outside Krakow. A truly unbelievable place with underground caves and tunnels and the most amazing underground chapel I’ve ever seen! Everything was carved out of salt to include the wall carvings and chandeliers!
The next day was much more somber with a visit to Auschwitz Concentration Camp. It was an overcast day which only added to the despondent feeling experienced throughout the tour. It was just really sad to these this testament to the evil that people are capable of. Very depressing but also a place that anyone visiting Krakow should make an effort to see.
Following the week in Krakow, we proceeded North to Warsaw where I dropped my father and friends off at the airport and continued to tour Poland. Warsaw was a very nice city with a lot of interesting sites but nothing as spectacular as the Palace of Culture and Science, a gift from the USSR to the Polish people (not that they really wanted it!). They even have nicknamed it “The Elephant in the Lacy Underwear”! I do have to say it is well worth taking the elevator to the top floor and catching the 360 panorama of Warsaw!
That about wraps the first portion of the trip. In the next blog post, I’ll head up north to Gdansk and then go hit some nature in the lakes, forests and mountains! Stay tuned!