Poland Travel Guide
The front gate and main point of entry for prisoners of Auschwitz
What to Know Before Going
Auschwitz needs no introduction, but there are a few big picture items to understand that will help put things in context from the get-go. Commonly referred to as a single unit, Auschwitz is composed of three different camps: Auschwitz, Auschwitz-Birkenau, and Auschwitz III. The first two were the largest and main camps, and also the two you will tour.
Auschwitz is the German name for the city in which these camps exist. The Polish name is Oswiecim. People only think about the camps, but it is actually a living, breathing town of 40,000 people. We recommend penciling in a meal or even an overnight in the town of Oswiecim itself. It is here that you can gain perspective on what it was like to live in the town during World War II when the camps were at the height of their operations.
While other stars hit the beach in The Hamptons or Hawaii, Rihanna spent the Fourth of July weekend in Poland where she was one of the headliners of the Heineken Open'er Festival 2013, along with Kings of Leon, Arctic Monkeys, Blur, and Queens of the Stone Age.
And, instead of staying holed up in her hotel on her downtime, Rihanna decided to hit the beach in the resort town of Sopot, which turned out to be a colossal mistake.
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If Warsaw's been on your bucket list for a while now, be sure to line up your visit with the opening of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews. Easily one of the most hyped-up museum openings in Europe right now, the box-shaped structure has been in the works since the early 90s, and is said to contain eight multimedia exhibitions and galleries spanning the entire Jewish-Polish history (1,000 years), plus a concert hall and educational facilities—not to mention the reconstructed roof of a 17th century synagogue.
The TImes of Israel recently reported on the ornate frescoed roof, which was unveiled on Tuesday to a very enthusiastic response:
"The ceiling is a rich panoply in milky blues and brownish reds of zodiac signs and animal symbols, along with inscriptions in Hebrew…The animals include a red bull and a leviathan — a serpent-like sea monster — wrapped around Jerusalem."
And if sea monsters and ceiling frescoes don't get you excited, then keep this in mind: the museum's opening (no date has officially been announced, but certainly within the next few months) this year is timed to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, a historic act of rebellion by the Jews against the Nazis in 1943. In one of many such commemorative events taking place all throughout April, hundreds of volunteers will take to the streets and hand out paper daffodils to passersby.
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A LOT Dreamliner on the Boeing factory line
At this point we should probably start telling you who doesn’t have a Boeing 787, as Dreamliner deliveries have really picked up over the last few months. This time Europe is getting in on the fun, as the first carrier on the continent accepts Boeing’s new bird. We mentioned how pumped they were to get their new plane, and now the time has finally arrived for LOT Polish Airlines to receive their very own 787.
Yesterday was the big day for the airline, as plenty of suits, officials, and other head honchos were on hand over in Warsaw, Poland to welcome the plane to the hangar. Obviously they need to get down to business, so that’s next on the new airplane to-do list. Now that the 787 has arrived over in Europe it sounds like they’ll be practicing throughout December on some short-haul routes. After that it will likely transition into their service between Warsaw and Chicago, and eventually Dreamliners will make their way onto other long-haul options to New York and Toronto.
New Routes / LOT / AIrlines / Airline News / Poland Travel / Boeing 787 / Boeing / 787 / Boeing 787 Dreamliner / → All Tags
A LOT Dreamliner on the Boeing factory line
It might be a little early to nominate an airline for a Jaunty award, but we’ve got our eyes on LOT Polish Airlines. Sure they’ve been flying between Poland and the rest of the world for decades, but it seems that they’ve got their eye on the future. This is especially the case when you consider some of the planes that they have on order and where they’re planning to utilize them.
The airline has plenty of those shiny new Boeing 787s on order, and if things remain on schedule—and we’re thinking that they will—the first deliveries should happen this November. That makes LOT the first carrier in Europe with the Dreamliner, and they’re understandably pretty eager to brag about it.
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We admit to sneaking a smile when we see a plane smiling back. That's why it is with great pleasure we announce the newest airline with a grinning livery: Bingo Airways. Bingo, based out of Poland, is the newest way for Poles with wanderlust to get around Europe on the cheap.
It's basically a charter airline group flying to Mediterranean holiday destinations from Warsaw, Poznan, and Katowice, Bingo promises to keep the fun in flying from take-off to landing by operating a budget-based carrier with food and drink for purchase on-board. And by drink, we assume lots of vodka.
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We already know about Japan Airlines' plans to bring their newest toy, a Boeing 787, to Boston from Tokyo-Narita. Later in the year, Houston, San Diego, Seattle and San Jose will also get some Dreamliner love, but what about the middle of the country? In an exciting announcement for the midwest, LOT Polish will make such a dream come true for Chicago.
Beginning about two months after the Polish carrier takes delivery of their first shiny new Dreamliner at the end of this year, plans are to fly it back and forth from Warsaw to Chicago. If you have ever been to Chicago, you understand the close ties it has with it's Polish heritage, so the move makes sense. LOT is the first European carrier to take delivery of the new bird and plans to show off in the good ole U.S of A.
Although a trip to the outskirts of Krakow, Poland to visit the most notorious of all Nazi concentration camps in winter is not the most ideal holiday vacation, many tourists visiting the site this week will notice something distinctly missing: the much-photographed "Arbeit Macht Frei" gate, through which you enter the compound. This is the Auschwitz I camp, and prisoners here during World War II were made to walk through the gates to the music of an orchestra; the German sign translates to "Work makes (one) free."
The sign was stolen last night from the ground of Auschwitz by a group of three thieves, believed to be neo-Nazis who might be part of the group that believes the Holocaust was exaggerated. The Times UK reports:
'It seems that a gang of perhaps three people unscrewed the sign between three o’clock and five o’clock on Friday morning,' said the spokesman for the police in southern Poland, Dariusz Nowak, 'they must have used a ladder and had a car waiting for them.' 'The camp museum directors have already stated that a replica has been made of 'Arbeit macht Frei.' The neo-Nazis could try to establish that the sign is fake – and thus, by extension, claim that much of the camp is as well.'
If you're already super-psyched about the big UEFA European Soccer Championship in 2012 in Poland and the Ukraine, we highly recommend holding off for a while on getting a jumpstart on your travel plans.
You see, if you plan it all out now, you could end up flying into Warsaw's congested Okecie airport rather than the brand-spanking-new airport they're just beginning now to build outside of Warsaw, in the town of Modlin. The $140 million dollar airport is being built specifically to ease the bottleneck of soccer fans arriving for the UEFA Championships, and will no doubt be fully kitted out in soccer regalia to get you in the spirit.
· Poland To Build New Airport For 2012 European Soccer Championship [Today In The Sky]
· Sports Travel [Jaunted]
With a recent experience of Polish vodka still tingling our taste buds, it's no surprise we had our attention grabbed by a weekend Age article about finding the best vodka in Warsaw.
Turns out that the Polish aren't quite as fascinated with their vodka as we are, seeing it as a bit of layman's drink, but that won't stop us trying a few more. The Age reporter was lucky to sample quite a few, including:
Krupnik, a honey vodka drunk for breakfast in the mountains, as well as subrezty, a sour-sweet vodka, a cherry flavoured vodka and Siwucha, a potato vodka.
The favorite turned out to be the potato vodka, but our personal vote is for the honey vodka. And who says breakfast time is too early to start drinking? Not the Polish, obviously.
· The Best Vodka in Town [The Age]
· Polish Cuisine in Melbourne: Borsch, Vodka & Tears [Jaunted]
· Poland Travel coverage [Jaunted]
Take a break from reality this weekend and hit up the theater to see "The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian," the next installment in the series of the the Pevensie sibs.
This time the charming English foursome find that hundreds of years have passed since their last trip to Neverland, er, Narnia, and a new villan, King Miraz, has taken over the throne. Of course they enlist help from all the Narnia creatures and then have to figure out how to get home. This one's full of mythology, some new local characters and even a night raid on a castle.
In that vein we encourage you to explore Narnia this week. We kid, we kid. Instead, try checking out some of the below hotspots in Poland, where parts of the film were actually shot:
Where to Stay: Hotel Grodek, Krakow Part of the Donimirski family of boutique hotels, the Grodek features distinct rooms (you can view them all online and decide before booking) and is tucked away in the Old Town area of the city.
Ah, trams. They've always seemed so safe: slow-moving, confined to a clear track, occasionally driven by bare-chested men, especially in Eastern Europe. But head a little north from Bratislava (home to the "look Mom, no hands!" school of tram drivers) and the recent drama in Poland makes us feel a little less certain about the reliability of streetcars.
It turns out that a 14-year-old school boy in the Polish city of Lodz was clever enough to hack into the tram network. He configured a TV remote control so that it would get trams to change tracks instead of flipping channels on the telly. The result of his fun was several accidents and four derailments, but fortunately no fatalities.
Sounds like a boy with a brilliant career ahead of him, if only he can put his amazing tram powers to work for the good guys.