On the last weekend of January, my friend Lindsay, and I arrived to Oslo City Centre by 18:00 on Saturday evening, and stayed at Anker Hostel. Although it was a little ways away from the city, it was only about 15-20 minutes walking distance. We traveled to the Sculpture Garden, but on the way we walked along Johan Street and through the city centre. We saw the cathedral, city hall and …we searched extensively for the Eternal Flame, however found out much later, that it was taken down.
On Sunday morning we wandered about the Akershus Fortress before official opening time. We watched the raising of the flag and enjoyed the panoramic views of the harbor. The clouds were colored with the sunrise and mirrored on the waters surface. Also, the architecture of the opera house was quite pretty, especially since that part of the harbor was frozen. We departed Oslo, and headed for Krakow, Poland. Certainly it was not enough time spent in Oslo- as it were more of a layover, however next time I return to Norway it would be nice to visit the Viking Museum, Edvard Munch Museum and take an excursion around Oslos harbor/fjords.
Although we arrived late to Krakow in the evening – we found ourselves in the market place of the Historic District – after enjoying a bottle of champagne… As we stayed at a Flat in Kazmirez, the walk over was brief and we could spot all of the monuments. We sat in Rynek Glowny – the main plaza – and drank Polish Wodka recommended by our waitress. We were cozy under our blankets, heat lamps and the holiday lights strung around the canopy.
We started early on Monday morning, as we had a full day tour of 2 UNESCO heritage sites, Auschwitz, followed by Wieliczka Salt Mines. I don’t typically do tours unless if I’m limited on time, but we booked with Krakow Shuttle. I would recommend the company as zero stress was involved, and they picked us up outside of our Airbnb flat.
Unlike everyone else, I only took 1 photo during my visit to Auschwitz, which was of the entrance to Auschwitz I. I wanted to be wholly present. The tour started with touring the grounds of Auschwitz I, and was followed by the museum. I’ve heard about the piles of shoes and hair, but personally witnessing and smelling shook me. It’s a very tangible experience. To be honest, when we were brought to Auschwitz II (Birkenau) I wasn’t sure whether I had the strength to see more. But I walked along the road of death and entered the gas chamber with the fingernail markings engraved into walls.
I think if possible, everyone should try to visit – it’s an incredibly powerful and haunting experience.
The Wieliczka Salt Mines were impressive and our tour guide was incredibly witty and comical.
After dinner in our flat, we visited the perimeter of Wavel Castel, and Krakow’s Old Town once more.