Who could have known that a strange night in the Wadi Rum desert of Jordan would lead me to Poland five years later? Well that’s where I met my friend from Krakow.  We stayed in contact over the years and she was ultimately the reason I choose to visit Poland for 6 days. I was able to see Krakow, Gdansk, and a little bit of Warsaw during the trip.  Unfortunately, I had a major stomach virus in Gdansk and Warsaw and didn’t see as much as I intended.  I also visited Spain and Portugal on this trip, but those are covered in separate posts here and here.

Day 1: fly overnight from NYC to Warsaw
Day 2: connecting flight to Krakow, explore Old City of Krakow and Wawel Castle, overnight in Krakow
Day 3: full day to explore Old City and Kazimierz, overnight in Krakow
Day 4: full day to explore Podgórze, overnight in Krakow
Day 5: early morning flight to Gdansk, full day to explore Gdansk, overnight in Gdansk
Day 6: morning in Gdansk, afternoon train to Warsaw, overnight in Warsaw
Day 7: morning in Warsaw, early afternoon flight to Madrid

I used 30k United miles to fly one-way from New York to Krakow. The flight from Krakow to Gdansk was cheap.

Norwegian (economy): WAW-MAD
The direct flight from Warsaw to Madrid was $60 on Norwegian Air, a low-cost airline.

Holiday Inn Krakow – moderate – 10k IHG points per night
Good location near Old City and was upgraded to a spacious corner room.
Recommend: Yes

Radisson Blu Gdansk – luxury – free night from Club Carlson credit card
Perfect location on main pedestrian street, but rooms are on the backside of the hotel and very quiet.  I was upgraded to a beautiful, large suite.
Recommend: Yes

Westin Warsaw – luxury – 4k Starwood points per night
Very nice room and good location.
Recommend: Yes

I took the high speed train from Gdansk to Warsaw. Polish trains are nice and cheap. I walked mostly but I did use Uber for the airports in Gdansk and Warsaw.

Schindler’s Factory Museum
The historical museum is located in the Oskar Schindler’s former factory and covers the events in Krakow during the Nazi occupation. The museum’s layout is very intimate.  The exhibits can be experienced broadly in an hour or several hours if you take the time to read all the detailed descriptions and stories.

The old jewish quarter is a hip area filled with history, cafes, outdoor markets, and street art. I spent a full day there checking out museums, taking photos, and eating tasty snacks.

St. Mary’s Basilica, Krakow
This is one of the most beautiful cathedrals I’ve ever been to. The interior is filled with deep colors and gold accents against a red brick backdrop.  There is a charge for taking photos, but it’s worth it.

Main Town, Gdansk
Gdansk’s center is very small and can be covered in a few hours.  The center was destroyed in WWII, but has been beautifully restored. The colorful facades look like a fairy tale.

Salt Mines
To be honest, the salt mines didn’t appeal to me much.  They generally get mixed reviews from travelers.  I loved the salt mines outside of Bogota, Colombia, but I thought these looked less interesting in comparison.

I thought 3 days in Krakow would be enough, but I was wrong.  I had booked a tour to visit Auschwich on the third day, but ended up staying local for three reasons: I was starting to feel ill, my friend was available to hang, and I wanted to see more of Krakow.

I was pretty sick for my one day in Warsaw and only ventured out briefly in the evening and managed to walk a few blocks around the Palace of Culture and Science.  My original plan was to explore the Old Town, parks, and a few musuems.

My original train trip from Gdansk to Warsaw included a five-hour stop in Malbork to visit the Malbork Castle, one of the largest in the world.  My ongoing illness prevented me from visiting, so I hope to return.

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