Warsaw, Poland Warsaw was completely bombed and destroyed during World War II. On Black Monday(September 25, 1939), 500 tons of high explosive bombs and 72 tons of incendiary bombs were dropped, and there was heavy artillery shelling. Jews were rounded up and forced into a ghetto. Overall, Warsaw suffered approximately 25,800 civilian deaths. The Warsaw of today is an exact restoration of what it was before the War.
From Zakopane, I continued north to Gdynia to stay with a friend of a friend. While there, my friends/hosts/tourguides Krzyzstof and Bart showed me around Gdynia, Sopot, and Gdańsk…tricities on the sea. I had a couple days there to get shown around the area with good food, good beer, and great riding through the city, which makes riding around a city in the US feel like kindergarden.
Gdańsk has a very long history…Its over 1000 years old, and for most of it’s life has been a free city. It didn’t actually become a part of Poland until 1945. Being the largest seaport in the area, and not being a part of Poland is what brought about the development of Gdynia. In 1920, Poland no longer wanted to face the expense of having all the imports and exports going through a free city, so they built up Gdynia as a large seaport. We also went to the the site of the start of WWII. On September 1st, 1939, Gdańsk was attacked from the sea.
The Much-Talked About Culture
Next, I was in Zakopane, Poland, in the Tatra Mountains, near the border with Slovakia. I loved it there, but unfortunately, it’s still raining quite a bit. It was absolutely beautiful, and pretty cheap too. Sure it was offcseason, but even in the off season in a similar town back home (say, Breckenridge), a hotel room hasn’t been had for $13 since 1947. And then there’s the meals…amazingly delicious, and huge meals, all at TGI Friday’s prices…and good beer for cheap too! And after a day of hiking in the cold rain, nothing beats a nice porter, with a garnish that’ll make you feel like you’re on the beach.
Kindness might be constrained but cruelty knows no bounds!
Next was the Wieliczka salt mine. It was an active salt mine for about 700 years, closing down and turning into a full time museum in 2007. A hallway carved out of the rocksalt, and logs used to support the tunnels, caked in the salt after centuries of exposure. The various jobs that existed in the mine, depicted by gnomes…it felt a little bit like Disney world. All the tunnels and chambers in this mine were carved out completely for mining purposes…nothing was natural, yet it was surprising how cave-like some areas felt.
Grand Old Eastern European Ambience
A trek to Rogi is a must for everyone who wants to see the amazing amalgamation of greenery and the barren mountains. It helps one to understand what they can expect once they venture into the Spiti valley.
It gives me a thrill in walking across borders!