Team Trip to Krakow

Kristina Enberg details her first Ryder team trip, which took place in the second largest Polish city.

We landed in Krakow at 22:00 and after checking in, we hunted for a late continental dinner, finding ourselves in a big square with several promising looking restaurants inhabiting its edges.

We started Sunday at 8:15 and, after just over an hour’s drive, we arrived at our first destination, Auschwitz concentration camp. A very unsettling and tough place to visit, words I believe not able to properly describe it. It is truly worth a visit.

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The imposing facade of Auschwitz

After a quick break, we headed towards the Wieliczka Salt Mine. It is the world’s oldest operating salt mine, opened in the thirteenth century and closing 11 years ago. This mine is such a popular attraction to visitors due to the impressively detailed sculptures carved straight out of the salt rock. These pieces of salty art, such as seven Snow White dwarves, were made by miners during their spare time.

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Inside the Wieliczka Salt Mine

Fascinated by the mine, but thankful to emerge up into the sunlight again, we headed back for evening beers in the sun followed by a Georgian cuisine experience.

The morning after, a group of us met at a lovely café by the garden surrounding the old town of Krakow to rejuvenate ourselves with some tasty Polish brunch.

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The team before brunch

We then meandered towards the large square to visit St Mary’s Cathedral, a stunning Gothic brick church, most noteworthy for an impressive carved wooden altar piece. We then headed towards the starting point of a free walking tour of the old town of Krakow. A lively tour guide took us through the wars, religious disputes and politics of Poland from its infancy up to present time.

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The walking tour in Krakow old town

We walked past St Mary’s Cathedral once more and waved to a man playing a trumpet at the top of the cathedral. The tune breaks off midway to commemorate a polish myth where a trumpeter sacrificed his life to save the people of Krakow from the impending invasion of the Mongols. We then continued to Jagiellonian University, the second oldest university in central Europe, and onwards into Pope Saint John Paul II’s favourite church, then finishing the tour at the Wawel castle. Most noteworthy was the fascinating eclectic architecture of the castle’s cathedral, which comprised of Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque styles.

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Wawel Castle’s cathedral

On the last day of the trip we ventured into Kazimierz, the Jewish quarters, for a second walking tour. The area was created as an independent city next to Krakow and was inhabited by most of the Jewish population in the fifteenth century. The tour guide talked about the lives of the Jewish society in this area, showing us sites that were chosen by Steven Spielberg for his renowned film Schindler’s List. Before the Second World War, around 56,000 Jews lived in Krakow. Today the Jewish population is increasing but is still only around 2,000.

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Kazimierz walking tour

Following the tour, we headed to the MOCAK art museum for some insights into the current culture and art scene of Poland. This building was a refreshing piece of contemporary architecture with some interesting features, such as a glazed floor with exhibitions displayed beneath it, adding a sense of danger and unease as you experienced the art. The art pieces on display showed the struggle of Polish nationals to understand their own identity after centuries of foreign occupation.

Boarding the plane that evening, we all felt tired but very grateful to have had the opportunity to do this journey together as a team. It was a fantastic experience and I am delighted to have been given the opportunity by Ryder to go on this adventure with the rest of the team. Thank you for giving us this unique experience!

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The team enjoying one of several meals out

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