Poland and Ukraine

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mooseontheloose

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I'll be headed to Poland for a work conference in early March and I'll be able to make a vacation out of it due to the fact that it will be uni holidays here in Japan. The conference is in Warsaw, and I'll probably be there for 4 days (maybe get a day trip or two from there as well). I plan on spending another 5 days in and around Krakow (including of course Auschwitz-Birkenau and the salt mines) and a couple of days in Lublin (for the town itself and Majdanek camp). I'll have an extra 2-3 days for another area - I was thinking Gdansk/Malbork, but I'm open to other suggestions (Łódź?) . I won't be renting a car for the cities but I would consider it for other locations - like the wooden churches of Małopolska. After Poland I'll be headed over to Ukraine, mostly Kiev, as I've always wanted to visit Chernobyl and will be doing a 4-day photo tour there. I had hoped to also visit Lviv, but I don't think I'll have enough time on this trip to do it justice. That said, I'm hoping someone can convince me otherwise. :wink:

In any event, I'm not only interested in suggestions about places to visit in the cities mentioned above (or other, doable day trips), whether it be for general/historical interests or for photography, keeping in mind the time of year I'll be there (early to late March). In addition, I'd really like to know where to pick up some film (ideally HP5+, Tri-X, or Delta 400) either in Warsaw, Krakow, or Kiev. Of course I'm going to bring as much as I can (within carry-on limits), but I'm also afraid of running out before I get to my main photographic priority at Chernobyl, so I want to have a secure back-up just in case.
 
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himself

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It's difficult to get to, but the north east of Poland (lake region), especially around Szurpiły is beautiful.. Or if you go to Gdansk the seaside to the west is really nice. The coast in Poland is considered national park and is protected by about a km or 2 of pine forest, so the beaches are really wild (there are also some amazing sand dunes and Europe's biggest "desert") with almost no construction. It's generally about a 1 - 2 hour drive from the city depending on how far you want to go, so great for a day trip. Just keep in mind that you'll have about a 35 minute walk from the car through the forest to the beach if you do go. I can give you some more specifics if you like.

Łódź is very interesting, especially if you like post-industrial cities that are beautiful but run down. Lots of amazing decaying architecture. It might also be worth looking up Katowice, another "industrial" town, by which I mean became rich during the early 1900s, so lots of interesting architecture. It also has quite a thriving art scene at the moment and the city is trying to encourage cultural activity so lots going on.

There are a couple of places around Warsaw that make good day trips that locals do regularly. The 2 towns people usually go to are Sandomierz and Kazimierz Dolny, which are 2 of only a handful of small complete medieval towns in Poland. There's also Toruń, about 3 hours from Warsaw and a good day trip, which is one of the oldest cities in Poland.

There are plenty of places to see, but It kinda depends on what you're interested in really :smile:

Film is easy to get in Warsaw, there's a chain called Profilab that has a few shops dotted around the city, but can be expensive. The "best" is Czarno Biale, which is on the 2nd metro line near Rondo ONZ (United Nations roundabout - which is not actually a roundabout).

But when you're in Warsaw, I would definitely recommend a visit to fotoplastikon!
 
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mooseontheloose

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Thanks for the detailed info - exactly what I was looking for. I find guidebooks only get me so far, and I distrust big generalist SNS sites like Facebook where people just repeat what everyone else says without any context. Ill defitely have to do some more research!
 

himself

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No problem, and if you want any more specifics, or if you find somewhere you think might be interesting and are looking for some advice on how to get there, or whatever, just let me know.

And I know what you mean, guidebooks are great if you want to go to like standard places, but for something a little different they aren't so useful.

Incidentally, the Jewish graveyard is also worth a visit in Warsaw. It's a very beautiful place, sadly due to a lack of maintenance, but because of that it's so overgrown it's like visiting a graveyard in a forest. you'd never know you were in the city.
 
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mooseontheloose

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I will! I'm looking at a map of Poland at the moment trying to plan out different itineraries. It's hard to choose where to go and what to do, there are so many appealing places! I'll definitely be in touch if I have more questions.

The Jewish graveyard is already on places to visit in Warsaw - I've already been to a few during my travels in Europe - the oldest one in Worms, a very overgrown (and photogenic) one in Venice (Lido), and of course the iconic overcrowded one in Prague.
 

himself

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sounds great. I've never been to the one on Lido, just the one that's an island of it's own near Venice, but I'll keep that in mind for next time in there : )

but yes, there's way too much choice and the problem, given Poland's shape, is that everything is really far apart. Not sure if it's possible, but if you do decide to go to a few places in just the south, it might be possible to make a day trip to the Stołowe Mountains - if you're interested in hiking and oddly shaped mountains : )
 

Kodachromeguy

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Poland has some fascinating places to visit. I was there in 2016 and drove around the southern part of the country. Driving is easy and roads are well-marked, but traffic is heavy, so allow much more time to make distance than you would anticipate. The people are really nice and food is great (if a bit heavy). I used Tri-X 400 in a Rolleiflex in many places. Some ideas:
Krakow:
https://worldofdecay.blogspot.com/2016/12/nowa-huta-planned-communist-town-and-it.html
Auschwitz and Birkenau (book your ticket online ahead of your visit):
https://worldofdecay.blogspot.com/2016/11/the-heart-of-evil-birkenau.html
https://worldofdecay.blogspot.com/2016/11/the-heart-of-darkness-auschwitz.html
Lodz (this is so interesting and is off the normal tourist route for Americans):
https://worldofdecay.blogspot.com/2016/11/tragic-memories-jewish-cemetery-of-odz.html
https://worldofdecay.blogspot.com/2016/11/mills-of-odz.html
https://worldofdecay.blogspot.com/2016/10/courtyards-of-odz_28.html
Wroclaw:
https://worldofdecay.blogspot.com/2016/11/where-old-trams-retire-depot-no-5.html
 
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mooseontheloose

mooseontheloose

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Interesting blog Kodachromeguy! Actually, the more I research Łódź, the more interested I am in visiting it. Which probably means cutting something else out.
 
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