Secrets of Poland – Exploring Warsaw and Krakow

After Warsaw, we then went on to visit Krakow in the south. There we went to the Historical center, the Christmas markets, Oscar Schindler’s enamel factory, and the Jewish districts that were once the infamous ghettos. We took a day trip to the Wielicksa salt mine and to Auschwitz Berkenau labor camps to learn about the WWII atrocities in person. The trip was truly unforgettable and made Poland one of our favorite countries to visit yet!

Milk Bars – Poland

Hearkening back to its communist days under soviet rule milk bars continue to serve traditional dishes at incredible rates. These are indeed relics from a different era and here you can find the heart of Polish cuisine to find out why they haven’t disappeared.  Perogies, dumplings, cabbage dishes, pickled sides of everything imaginable.  They even serve some meat dishes and typical Polish meals. The milk bars were established by the government as subsidized restaurants for people to afford to get a meal out on occasion without breaking the bank.  They seem to be a communist version of social security of sorts.  That said, the prices are very low and much can be had for very little money.  It is worth getting a bunch of items and sharing with the table to experience the cuisine of the people and get a feel for how your gramma might have cooked it at home, as most of the establishments are run by no nonsense, older ladies who expect a quick order and prompt payment. They have no qualms about running out of items or rushing your order.  They are there to cook, not for the ambiance, and its kinda charming in its own way. 

Tomb of the Unknown Solider – Warsaw

The Tomb of the Unknown Solider in Warsaw, Poland is the only surviving piece of what used to be the Saxon Palace. Among many structures the Germans blew up, Saxon Palace was destroyed in retaliation of the Warsaw uprising in effort to COMPLETELY demolish the city. Another structure worth noting in this square is a monument commemorating the victims of the 2010 tragic plane crash in which a large portion of the Polish Government died, including Polish President Lech Kaczynski and more than 90 others. They were on their way to a memorial service to mark the 70th anniversary of the massacre at Katyn Forest (that’s a whole other story) when the plane crashed near the Russian city of Smolensk.

Tchorek Plaques – Warsaw

Named for the sculptor who designed them, Karol Tchorek, they memorialize places of mass executions during German occupation. More than 200 are scattered throughout

Unstoppable Spirit of Polish Resistance – Warsaw Uprising

In an effort to take back their city after 5 years of German occupation, struggling Poles rebelled in what is known as the Warsaw Uprising. Barely armed (it is said 1 in every 10 Poles had a rifle) and with the Germans brutality (going door to door, shooting every inhabitant including elderly, sick, women, and children), it was a losing battle from the start. Remnants can be seen throughout the city, especially in the concrete.

Mausoleum of Struggle & Martyrdom – Warsaw

Mausoleum of Struggle & Martyrdom is one of the many places the Gestapo interrogated, tortured, and murdered.  It is a free exhibit, just 2 hallways, and by far one of the most enlightening, moving, fascinating, devastating, and underrated (I was the only one there) sites I visited in Warsaw. That evening I remember feeling I was in a dark place…but

Chocolates in Poland

While Warsaw is home to the oldest confectionery manufacturer in the world there are now many boutique chocolate shops  to discover. On our adventure through the country we found a lot of high quality chocolate shops and couldn’t resist sampling a few of the more renown Polish makers. Karmell makes an amazing array of beautiful chocolates filled with every imaginable ganache, caramel, or fruit filling you want! The dark salted caramel chocolates are spectacular, creamy, rich centers with quality couveture