Merry Christmas from Krakow

Emma admires the cute little Xmas trees on sale in Krakow's market.

Christmas Eve has sort of snuck up on us here in Eastern Europe.  It’s tough to be a foreigner in a foreign land this time of year—are there any Christmas songs not about being home for the holidays?  So, our strategy is to go somewhere interesting to keep our minds off the fact that Santa probably can’t find us.  Krakow is an amazing city with lots to see and experience, and—as a bonus—they celebrate Christmas here in December like we’re used to.

We had a surreal experience at Auschwitz-Birkenau.

We’ve had some time in Krakow to learn about Jewish culture and history, and we spent a full day at nearby Auschwitz.  That was a very sobering experience that can’t be boiled down into a few words.  Suffice it to say it makes you think a lot about human nature.

Yesterday we visited the Wieliczka salt mine, an underground labyrinth mined continuously for 700 years.  It’s an amazing place that’s understandably listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.  There’s at least one more museum and some more cool sites for us to check out in the next couple of days.

You don't need a salt shaker in the salt mines—just rub your fry on the wall.

Our hostel has some fun Christmas activities planned for tonight and tomorrow, so we’ll be celebrating with other travelers from all over the world.  After that, we found a little place to go in the Tatra mountains of Slovakia for a couple days, followed by New Years in a random Czech town that actually doesn’t overcharge for the holiday.  We’ll be back “home” on the third.

As a side note, we’ve been overwhelmed by your support of the “Our Sofievka” project!  We’ve already raised 75% of the needed funding, which is amazing!  We look forward to telling our project partners and friends about it – what a nice New Year’s gift it will be to them!  (If you don’t know what we’re talking about, please check out the appropriate link at the top of the page.)

Happy Christmas to you and your families!  Sending you love and blessings from Eastern Europe!

Enjoying some hot wine in Krakow's main square with fellow PCVs.
Alex decides between fight and flight when he runs into the Krakow dragon.

Summer Summary: Travels with Griffises

Check out pictures from our fabulous Griffis Family Vacation!  Although things can get a bit tense when 5 people are in close contact for almost 3 weeks straight, getting attacked by millions of mosquitoes and lyme-infected ticks, we had a great time and saw a lot of sites.  We got the Western Ukraine experience from Kyiv to Lviv to Ivano-Frankivsk to Kolomiya to Kamianets-Podilskyi, then settled down in Sofievka for a few days to check out real Ukrainian village life.  Enjoy the pics!