Street life seems friendly (above) but the proximity of Auschwitz demands reflection too; Statues line the entrance to St Peter’s 8. St Paul’s Church (top right); and the Wawel castle, by the river Wisla

but if you're peckish and on the move. then grab a Zapiekanki. According to my urban regenerator friend. this filling. French-bread pizza type affair represents Solidarity food and will set you back about 50p. If you like vintage clothes. look out for signs reading ‘Na Wage‘. These point to second- hand clothing merchants where you can buy clothes for about £1.50 per kilogram. Poland‘s first bona tide vintage shop ‘Sheik Yerbouti~ has opened above Singer and prices are still a quarter of those in the L'K.

For all the joy and promise that exists in Krakow in 2005. it would seem blinkered to come to this area and not visit Auschwitz and Birkenau. ()swiecim would like to be known for something else. but this little town is where you alight the train to visit these weeping sores on human history. It is possible to take a guided tour. but as you pass under the ‘Arbeit .‘V’lacht Frei‘ (‘Work Makes You l"ree') sign on the gate. it seems more a time for personal reflection.

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Vast piles of hair. shoes and spectacles communicate the sheer magnitude of the operation. Take a free bus to Birkenau and stand in that vast field; brick chimney stacks dotted everywhere. the only remains of countless wooden barrack buildings where the 'lucky" ones lived in squalid conditions before being worked to death. 'l‘housands of miles of train tracks. converging journeys from all over liurope. end abruptly at the gas chambers. Visitors take group photographs standing on the train tracks. tise their video cameras to film inside a gas chamber and fly Israeli flags. Different people react in different ways to this most grim reality of human behaviour. but what are they going to do with that footage'.’ Is this the place to make a political point'.’

Returning on the train to Krakow. I felt a wave of optimism. This is a place that deserves to be seen - a place with an important history and a bright future. It‘s definitely a secret to be shared.


How to get there British Airways iwww.bacom) flies direct from London to Krakow. With prices starting around 571 it) including taxes in October. Hyanair Will also be starting direct flights from PrestWick from Nov 2mber. Where to stay Accommodation in KrakOv-l is very reasonable, You can rent a comfortable. well equipped two person apartment in the centre of town for $200 for seven nights l\.'.".'.'\.‘./.ll()i(}lliKITZlCOWCOllll. A week in the three star Hotel Kazimier/ costs around 525%). Try www.staypolandcom or virvwrkrakowi)I for various acconimodation deals.

What to do You can hire bikes by the half day in Retoryka Street. which costs approxuiiately S‘il. l lOlli'lOiS aren't provided (you might be too wary of the traffic to cycle on the roads anyway). but there are dedicated cycle paths in both directions along the river. The ham to ()svwecim leaves six times daily. costs around 8‘ per person return and takes about EX) minutes. Entrance to AuschWit/. Birkenau is free.

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How much to watch? f

There '3 nothing like catching a home game to get the feel of a place.

I Basketball The US season begins mid-October and tickets to see the legendary Chicago Bulls will sell pretty fast. Check for information on matches. including one against the LA Lakers on 9 December. From 25-264

I Cricket Despite having recently lost the Ashes. the Aussies are still one of the top cricket teams in the world. Get your seat early to watch them in the VB One-Day Series against Sri Lanka and South Africa starting in Melbourne on 13 January. 2006. See for details. From 216-230; £40 for all three games.

I Football There's no doubt that Real Madrid's fans are among the most passionate in the world, so you'll have to be equally committed to fork out for this match against close rivals Barcelona on 20 November. Tickets from www.maineventes. From £281

I Ice hockey It takes a strong constitution to sit ringside at an NHL match. but the fast-paced action that ensues is usually worth it. Try catching the face-off between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Washington Capitals on 8 November. Tickets from From £20—£1 83

I Rugby You’ll be lucky to get a ticket to watch this meeting between last year's Heineken Cup Finalists. Stade de France and Toulouse. on 15 October. But it will be worth heading to Saint Denis Stadium to see whether the latter manage to claim another victory. See for more information. From 23—9241

All prices are approximate and based on the exchange rates at the time of going to press.