March 2–8, 2012
This year’s spring break marked the seventh John Felice Rome Center Study Trip to Poland. In total, a group of eighteen made the journey to the welcoming Eastern European country: fifteen students, Student Life Assistant Kelly Garofalo, Student Life Assistant Samantha Sleva, and Father John Chandler.
The trip began in Warsaw with a welcome dinner at Gospoda Kwaity Polskie, a local home-style restaurant. The group enjoyed typical Polish dishes including beetroot soup, potato pancakes, duck with cherry sauce, and, of course, some polish sausage. Considering the food and company, to say the meal was excellent is an understatement.
The following morning, the group was up bright and early to visit the Warsaw Uprising Museum—a national museum that depicts the revolt of the Polish people under German occupation in 1939. Perhaps the most resonating image the students took away was a hawk’s eye view of a demolished Warsaw recorded from an airplane flyby directly after the war. The students were then able to enjoy some free time to shop and wander before the group came together again for dinner.
Sunday the group hopped on a train for Krakow. Once in Krakow, students made their way to the Schindler Museum and old Jewish Quarter. Afterwards, the group took a break from Polish cuisine and enjoyed a spicy Mexican meal.
Monday was a heavier day dedicated to visiting both Auschwitz and Birkenau. Many of the students had never visited a concentration camp before, and the experience was both difficult and moving. After the visit, the students had the chance to share their experience and discuss how it impacted them. In order end Krakow on a happier note, the entire group came together to enjoy dinner at a restaurant rated by The New York Times as one of the best in Krakow.
Tuesday, was a jammed packed day. First, the group visited the ancient Salt Mines in Wieliczka, which have been producing Salt since the 15th century. Here, the students were able to see works of art created by the miners themselves. Perhaps the most impressive piece of work was the chapel of Saint Kinga, which still holds weekly Sunday mass to this day. Afterward the tour, everyone boarded a train back to Warsaw. The evening came to a close with a traditional Polish meal of chicken broth soup and pork cutlets.
The final day of the trip, was a leisurely day in which students had the morning free to do as they pleased. Most students took the opportunity to visit the Royal Castle and do some final shopping. In the afternoon, the group meet up and headed towards Praga—an area across the main river which was virtually untouched by World War II. Several prewar buildings still stand as testament to Praga’s resilience. The trip was officially brought to a close with one last family dinner at Delijca Polska as everyone reminisced with new friends about how they had fallen in love with Poland.