The weekend in Kraków Poland was great… The adventure started by us being picked up by a taxis at 5.30 am. our friends were already in the car, my Red Wheelchair slipped easily into the back and off we went. I was a bit stressed though tried not to show it as our friends were a little concerned as well as they are not experienced travelers, I because this would be the first time abroad since being diagnosed with MS, so was concerned how it would all go, starting with how I would be dealt with on the plan, but needn’t have worried, we went with Ryanair and I only give them a mention as the service I received was fantastic, we only had hand luggage so once booked in went straight through to customs, the chair obviously set off the metal detector, but the officer the other side checked me over with her wand and gave me a body search, she was very good and smiled which I’ve never seen a customs office smile before, so far so good, took the train to our boarding gate and was met by a man who escorted us to the desk giving our boarding passes, all four of us plus the escort got into a lift and down to the ground floor, our friends boarded a bus to take them to the plane, and we went on all I can describe as a (police bus with an outside lift) once next to the back door of the plane the (police bus) rose to the entrance and the door opened, a walk way was sent out so I could be pushed onto the plane in my chair, I didn’t need their wheelchair as my husband helped me walk/waddled the few steps to the rear seats where our friend were already seated I was positioned in my seat, my wheelchair was taken out and placed in the hold. I was relieved it went better than I expected.
The flight was a bit uncomfortable as I’m 6 foot 1 inch and big with it so don’t travel well in confined spaces, airline seats were not made for someone my size, but the flight was only 1 hour 50 minutes so managed. The same thing happened at Kraków airport but in reverse once all the other passages disembarked. A woman meet us and took us through customs and out to our waiting taxis. We had arranged for a taxis to collect us from the airport and take us to our hotel, which it did with no waiting or hanging about.
Best Western Hotel (Old Town Kraków)
The hotel was central to the old town just a short walk or push in my case, the staff were very friendly and spoke excellent English, they couldn’t do enough for us, we had leant at least hello, please and thank you in Polish, which they appreciate, always think if you can a least say please and thank you in the language of the country you’re in shows you have tried. We had booked a room that was suitable for a wheelchair user, this was on the ground floor and had lots of space both in the room and the bathroom, with all I needed including a walking in shower with a seat, and raised toilet seat. The restaurant was easily assessable as was the outside area where we could sit, drink coffee and plan our days out.
So what to do first, we decided to get our bearing and headed for the city centre which was only a 5 minute walk from the hotel, so we were in a good position to explore our surroundings, the first thing we noticed was how clean and tidy the place was, but how uneven the pavements were ( be aware of that if you have trouble walking) but that aside when we arrived in the square which our taxis driver had told us was the biggest city square in Europe, we were not disappointed it was lovely as you can see by the picture at the top of this post, the architect was spectacular and the original city well 90% was not bomb during the war so goes back many centuries, the square had fantastic open white carriages with two white spotted horses (just like dalmatian dogs) bespoke with feathers and decorate harnesses and uniformed women at the front controlling them, beautiful sight, the area was surrounded with shops and outside cafe, we did spend most days there at sometime or another just people watching, shopping, drink and eating, well we were on holiday after all. The food was good and cheap the people spoke excellent English and were very friendly.
Sunday to the Salt mines also with a guide and wheelchair access. The Salt mines where accessible at a stretch, to get into the lift that takes you down to the mines rather than descending several hundred and I do mean hundreds of steeps, most wheelchair will not fit into the lift you have to transfer to all I can say is a child’s wheelchair, but our friend folded my chair and took it down in their lift so I could transfer to my chair at the bottom, once again just be aware of that, but saying all that the discomfort was worth it just to see the spectacular sight.
We have already organised two trips, the first was on Saturday to Auschwitz with a guide and wheelchair access.Unfortunately Auschwitz was not really suitable for disabled or wheelchair users as the paths are incredibly stony and there are steeps to get into the huts, so even though we did tell them I was in a wheelchair and they told us it would be fine it wasn’t, so just be aware of that if you intend to pay a visit.
Even though it’s not suitable for disabled people to tour the site it’s incredibly atmosphere and I found it intense, very moving and if nothing else tells us we must never ever let anything like this happen again. Where I sat in my wheelchair while the others took the tour (which I insisted they did) I absorbed the atmosphere, looking at boards that showed photos with capitols as to where the photos were taken, something came over me, how can humans treat each other like that, I just can’t understand how one race can treat another’s in such a hiatus way, and how could one person control others to undertake such crimes against men, women and children. I found myself looking at the stony path thinking of those that had gone before, I wanted to pick up a small stone to take home as a memory of being here but I couldn’t it would feel like robbing a gravy, so I left the path as I found it well trodden with many memories, for those that don’t belive it ever happened just come and see then tell us it didn’t happen, God bless those that survived and those that passed.
I think that it is impossible to find words however this plaque sends a very important message.
I would certainly recommend a weekend break to Poland.
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