Sunday, March 19, 2023

Poland: Final Post

This will be the final post of my Poland adventure. I came for work and also did some exploring. It was a great trip. 

My impressions and observations:
  • Polish people are very kind
  • The food is good. Lots of potatoes. 
  • The architecture in Krakow is beautiful
  • The history of Poland is difficult but rich and important
  • The cost of things is reasonable 
  • Krakow feels very safe
  • There are no pedestrian crossing lights in Krakow. When they see you at a crosswalk all traffic stops. You cannot stand on the sidewalk and wait for them to pass; they will stop for you. 
  • Lots of men look like Ukraine President Zelenskyy, especially when dressed in army green
  • Polish people walk super fast
  • My Cora dress and Moto jacket, with tights, is a great work outfit. 

I’m collecting Delta trading cards you get from the pilots. If anyone has something they want to trade hit me up!

Final stats: 
- Three countries: United States, Amsterdam, Poland
- New Country: Poland (#27)
- Miles flew: 12,474
- Miles walked: 46.77 (4.67 mi/day)
- Workshops for work completed: Five (5)
- Page views: 253,455

Here is my Polarsteps overview:

To my new wooly friends, welcome. I only post when I travel so I will see you on my next adventure!

Safe and happy travels everyone! Rae Ann

Friday, March 17, 2023

Poland Day 9: Zakopane

I had a free day before flying back and a local team member suggested I visit Zakopane and take the cable car to the top of Kasprowy Wierch. It was amazing! 

I woke early to grab a 6:30am bus from Krakow to Zakopane, which took 2.5 hours. The morning walk to the bus station was lovely. 

I purchased tickets for the cable car the night previously, as was suggested, due to the long queues. Since I had a couple hours to kill I walked the two miles up the hill. It was exhausting. Along the way I picked up a oscypek. When I saw the cart it looked like bread, which I love. But when I bit into it I realized it was all cheese! They put the cheese into a press and smoke for a day or two. It was nice. 

I continued my walk up and had to kill 90 minutes so I stopped for mulled wine and pierogis. That wine must have been laced with some alcohol because it knocked me out. Or maybe it was the altitude. Or jet lag. Or the alcohol. Regardless, I took a little snooze in a corner booth. 

The cable car was filled with skiers and boarders. They just free ski down this huge mountain! Crazy. 

My return bus ride to Krakow was uneventful. I stopped at the hotel bar for a Jameson, to celebrate the Irish, and returned to my room for some work and pack. Tomorrow I head back to the states. 

Poland Days 5-8: Work

Since the purpose for this trip was to work I had to…work. I led a week long workshop for a global company. 

This was my office in the hotel. 

The name of the project is Mandalorian. I didn’t have the heart to tell them I have no idea what that is. 

We had some team dinners with mandatory vodka shots. 

And I ordered room service as well. I love that it took two men to deliver all my diet Pepsis. They were so tiny!!

Poland Day 4: Krakow and Goodbye

Annie and I slept in, had breakfast, and went on a walking tour of Krak√≥w’s City Center. 

This is St Mary’s church where someone plays a trumpet every hour from the window high above. It was how they used to open and close the city gates every day. 

Wawel Castle is where the kings lived and as they changed reigns, each would add a portion in their own style. It looked like a hodgepodge of structures. 

A Banksy! 

We went out for dinner and beer. Our time was coming to a close as Annie was getting on a night train back to the Czech Republic where she lives. 

I just love Annie’s sense of adventure and lust for travel. I love hearing her stories and look forward to seeing more. 

Before I left America I asked Annie what she wanted me to bring her. She said “Red Marlboro cigarettes”. Annie is into collections like me and I found this request odd until she said her boyfriend collected the smokes because each state had a different label. 

So I went into “Rae Ann Mode” and asked friends throughout the states to buy me cigarettes. I cannot tell you how happy it made me to deliver this gift to Annie. It reminded me I have so many great people in my life and I love doing things that exceed people’s expectations. 

I also learned it is illegal to send smokes in the US and you can only import 200 cigarettes into most countries. Oops. 

Annie and I said our goodbyes as she grabbed her night train back home and promised not to wait another eight years before seeing one another. 

What a day!

Poland Day 3: Annie!

In 2014 our family hosted an exchange student from Slovakia. When I told Annie I was going to be in Poland she offered to come my way and I was so grateful! We spent 40 hours together non-stop talking. 

She arrived via an overnight train and we went straight to a full day tour of Auschwitz and Schindler’s Factory. Not a light day but I was glad to share the experience with Annie. 

The entrance to Auschwitz. “Work sets you free” The orchestrated lies by the Germans is so disturbing. 

Rows and rows of photos of prisoners killed in Auschwitz. 

Prisoners arrived via rail. 

It was cold. Like, freaking cold. My California ass froze, as did Annie’s. We used umbrellas to hold back the wind. 

After Auschwitz we went to Schindler’s Factory. I was disappointed. I thought it would tell more about how the Polish helped the Jews but it did not. It was a museum about the overall occupation. 

I’m not going to lie, I struggled with jet lag something terrible. I had only slept a few hours the night before. I, once again, fell asleep during the Schindler’s tour. 

We returned to the hotel for dinner and wine. Both of us were exhausted. We got in bed and talked until the other didn’t respond. I fell asleep with a smile on my face. 

Poland: Return to Work Travel

I have not traveled for work in three years and my first trip following COVID was to Krakow, Poland. A bit crazy considering my territory is the Americas but I was excited to hop across the pond on someone else’s dime. 

The three flights were uneventful and super productive as I worked a ton. 

After 22 hours of travel I landed in Krakow, and despite being exhausted from giving up sleep for work, I joined a walking tour of the Jewish Quarters. My goal while changing time zones is to hit it hard and get on the schedule as soon as possible.

The tour’s topic was heavy but the guide was very informative. I’m not kidding when I say I fell asleep standing up. I was exhausted. 

The City Centre is beautiful. The Nazi’s did not destroy the city, like Warsaw, because they used it to capture slaves for their work. 

A jewish cemetery that survived the Nazi occupation because they used it as a garbage dump. 

The Jews lived in tight communities to support one another, which included their homes, horse stables, and working quarters. This is a location where Schindlers List was filmed. It is where the Nazi’s broke into homes and threw personal belongings over the balconies.

This is a square in Krakow called Hero’s Square. The chairs represent the chairs the Jews would bring to this square to wait for processing by the Nazi’s. 

I ended my first night eating Pierogi’s with a shot of vodka at the hotel.