The third and final stop on our Spring Break extravaganza was the Polish city of Wroclaw. Prior to the redrawing of Europe’s borders post-WWII, it was the German town of Breslau. It was both a Hitler stronghold and center of Jewish intelligentsia and, pre-dating the war, has a fascinating history. Tony and I have both been interested in it since reading Fritz Stern’s “Five Germany’s I Have Known” and getting there was a priority for us. We are actually lucky we made it – after a morning of pottery shopping in Boleslawiec, dreary rain, and fried little boys, I think we would have driven right on home if we hadn’t already paid for a hotel room. Once we arrived, though, we were so glad we put the extra effort in. It was much like a Prauge or Krakow, but without the tourists. And the boys loved it because the city has hidden little bronze gnomes all over the place. Ali, in particular, had a blast looking for them and getting his picture taken
On Monday morning, we hit the road again and headed even further east to Krakow, Poland. Jenny’s friends Ben and Angel, who went through A-100 (Foreign Service orientation) with her hosted us for an amazing 4 days. They even watched the boys for the day on Wednesday so we could go to Auschwitz. It was a sobering visit, although the crowds of people took away from the experience a bit. We were really impressed, though, by the relatively new Schindler Museum located inside Krakow. It’s development was supported by the State Department and it did an incredible job of documenting through multi-media Krakow/Poland under the Nazis. We highly recommend it to anyone headed that way. Beyond that, we had a great time being shown around Krakow by Ben, Angel, and their 4 kids (whom the boys quickly latched on to ). Krakow’s town square is considered one of the most beautiful in the world and it lives up to its reputation. We took a carriage ride one morning that the boys loved. We also tried out all of the great foods sold by stalls in the square (candied nuts, fried breads dipped in chocolate, mountain cheese, etc.). Most of all, though, the boys continued their love affair with chasing pigeons. It was truly a fantastic visit, in large part because we couldn’t have had better hosts!
It seems like not so long ago, Spring Break had a much different connotation that it does these days. We figured out when we went to France during the winter, though, that the boys’ German progress really suffers when they are out of school. As a result, we decided to take advantage of the Easter break they had in March and hit the road. We headed first to Prague, where we had rented an apartment with our friends Elizabeth and Ryan and their son Graham. We headed out on Thursday afternoon after the boys got out of school. We knew it would be a late night, but figured we’d then be settled and able to take on Prague as soon as we woke up on Friday. Unfortunately – and for the third time in Europe – we forgot to take our passports with us. So, about halfway into the 6 hour drive, we turned around and headed back to Weil. It was already the boys’ bedtime when we arrived, so we decided to let everyone get a good night of sleep and leave at 5am the next morning. We arrived in Prague without further incident and went on to have a fantastic 3 days exploring the beautiful Old Town and Prague Castle.