We’ve been back for a little while now, time to put down my final thoughts on Poland.
We have visited other formerly Communist countries: Estonia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia. But Poland felt the most thoroughly European. There were still signs of the past, but a coat of paint or a building veneer hid much of it. But Poland seemed like it had been Western for a long time.
We were impressed with the Poles. They were helpful and friendly. And thin! We were amazed that almost all the Poles we saw were a healthy weight. And it reminded us how much of a problem obesity is in the US. We saw couples having wedding pictures taken everywhere. That symbolized hope and optimism.
Poland acknowledged its history, that its major cities had been 1/4 to 1/3 Jewish until World War II. The monuments and memorials were in very public places throughout Warsaw and Krakow. And Auschwitz and Birkenau are chilling and life-altering places to visit. Having just been at the concentration camps, it made the current situation in Gaza strikingly clear: when you are dealing with an enemy unwilling to recognize your right to exist, you have to take those threats deadly seriously. Having also been to Dachau, I think we may be done with concentration camp visits though.
It was a pleasure visiting a European country that wasn’t outrageously expensive. Our most expensive dinner was $70. Our SIM cards cost $5 each. Poland is very affordable.
I think we are now done with bringing a separate GPS. This was our 2nd trip that we used Waze on my phone as our navigator, and it worked perfectly. Where we travel light clothes-wise, taking just a weekender suitcase, my backpack weighs too much. So I’m looking at all the equipment I haul around to lighten the load.
I hope you enjoyed traveling along with us. We don’t have a next big trip planned at this point. Our upcoming move will take much of our attention (and money) in the near future. We have committed to a 30th anniversary trip in December 2015 to Cuba. But there will be trips before that!