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Published: August 21st 2016
Pierogi, vodka, architecture, history, gnomes, and people who actually wait for the cross walk signal even with no cars to be seen anywhere!
I spent exactly one month in Poland. I stayed in 6 different hostels, visited 4 cities, and did 2 different 6-day volunteer weeks with Angloville. I will share a bit about each below!
In general though, I loved this trip. I learned so much about Poland, it's history, the history of Europe and I feel like I got in touch with my heritage on my mom's side. Every city I went to had gorgeous architecture, easy to use trains, and just about everyone under 40 years old spoke English. Poland was also fairly inexpensive. For a point of reference: a single scoop of icecream on a cone cost less than $1!
Angloville: A program that uses native English speaking volunteers to help teach English to Polish people! I did two different 6 day volunteer session. I went to Dwor Moscribody outside of Warsaw and Chojnik outside of Wroclaw. The two locations were in secluded, rural settings, all room and food included. No cost at all to the volunteers. You work 9am-8pm with breaks, basically just
Gnomes of Wroclaw
Symbols from the Orange Alternative peaceful resistance to communism. There are about 300 gnomes in the city.
talking to the Polish people all day long! I met so many incredibly interesting people - both native English and native Polish speakers. Yes, I recommend it, and yes, I'd do it again maybe in another eastern European country.
Highlights: Polish Your Cooking class (so much fun!), Polin Museum of History of Polish Jews (excellent museum), Warsaw Uprising Museum (not my favorite), Fountain light show (Fri and Sat nights at 9pm?), Castle (free on Sunday), L(w)azienki Park for outdoor Chopin concert (Sundays), Yoga at "Astanga" and "Yoga Republic", Park Pole Mokotowskie to cool feet in fountain and people watch!
Hostels in Warsaw: Kanonia = great location near old town and castle; and WDJ = near train station, had laundry.
Highlights: Schindler's Factory Museum (free on Monday; excellent museum), Rynek Glowny Underground Museum (free on Tues but not really worth it), Wawel Castle (amazing! get the audio-guide), wandered in an old Polish Catholic cemetery (peaceful and beautiful), Polish folk music and dance show (booked through viator and so awesome!), Zakopane (2 hour bus ride away, glad I went, I'd go back to stay there and actually do some hiking).
Hostel in Krakow: Heynow
In the Wroclaw Botanical Garden
= very friendly, only female-only dorm, great location right on the main street.
Highlights: Everything. I loved this city. I would go back to Poland to just spend time in Wroclaw. Gnomes, Japanese Gardens, Botanical Gardens, University and Mathematical Tower, Cathedral Island, all the bridges. I did 3 different walking tours here and learned so much! Best pierogi ever at Pierogarnia Momos.
Hostels in Wroclaw: The One = room 202 was a to-die-for view! with breakfast; and Centrum = good location
Highlights: St Mary's Cathedral, European Solidarity Center, Oliva Park, Malbork Castle, walking tours, pottery store, lots of amber shops!
Hostel in Gdansk: 4-Friends = amazing location right on river at the end of the main street, very friendly staff
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