I was fortunate enough to spend February in Poland, specifically in Warsaw, Krakow and Gdansk, whilst travel writing for Globe Hopper Guides. Poland is always somewhere I’ve wanted to go, but also somewhere I’ve always stereotyped as being cold and inaccessible. Whilst I was certainly correct with my first assumption, I couldn’t have been more wrong about the latter…
A culturally and architecturally diverse capital, Warsaw is the place to go if you like eating a different worldly cuisine every evening, love the arts and the sciences (there’s the Chopin Museum and the Copernicus Science Centre within a stone’s throw of each other) and are a real city person who likes to witness a bit of ‘edge’ when they travel. My highlight of the city, however, was slightly different. Even though I love all of the things listed above, I was truly blown away by the accessibility in every single attraction we visited and the fact that there were dipped kerbs…literally everywhere! Result! I’ve been to quite a few cities now, but I’ve yet to see another one that lets passengers at each tram stop know when the next wheelchair accessible one is arriving by displaying a little wheelchair icon on the arrivals board. Trust me, that’s such a welcome sight in -4 temperatures!!
Next, we moved onto Krakow, a vibrant place of contrast, filled with jolly stag parties and laced with an unspeakable past. I was aware that, as a wheelchair user, I’d struggle to visit Auschwitz, a place preserved as much as possible to show the horrors that happened little more than 60 years ago. I didn’t quite realise, though, how accessible the likes of Oskar Schindler’s Enamel Factory, the MOCAK and the Salt Mines would be – all worth a look and a visit, wheelchair user or not!
Last but not least, we made it to beautiful Gdansk, a UNESCO Heritage site full of harbours, seafood and nautical treasures, all surrounded by astonishing buildings and a (nippy!) sea breeze. Whilst not the most accessible place on our Polish list, it is most certainly worth a visit…. If you can contend with the cobbles!
A country steeped in history, tragedy, pride and strength, I could not recommend Poland enough to any traveller wanting to learn from the past, whilst embracing the promising charm of Poland’s future.