10.18.2009 - 10.20.2009
We got to Krakow really early in the morning and decided to book a tour and just keep our bags in a locker at the train station. Since we had some time before we could check into our hostel, we booked a tour of the concentration camp Auschwitz/Berkineau. This was a very heavy experience for the both of us. It was a cold rainy day and it seemed to fit the mood we were in as we made the one hour bus ride to the camp. The tour was a very strait forward explanation of the terrible events that occurred during WWII. No questions were asked, and we weren't allowed to take any pictures inside the buildings. We all learn about the Nazi's and the "final solution to the Jewish problem" in high school history, but seeing this place in person is like getting punched in the stomach. We walked through some of the buildings. Many of which contain tangible displays that are meant to convey the shear magnitude of people who lost there lives at this hallowed place. We also walked through a gas chamber. the chamber still has wheel-barrels that were used to dump the bodies into the incinerator. We also saw what is left of Berkineau. The train tracks that carried countless cattle cars of jews to their death have been reconstructed and provided a very haunting display of how so many innocent people where exterminated. This was the first time either one of us has been to Aushwitz and it will most definitely be our last. We only took a few pictures, to truly get a feel for this place you have to experience it in person.
On a lighter note, the city of Krakow is really an amazing city.
That evening we walked around the square and had a delicious Polish meal of Perogi's mixed salad (different kinds of cabbage, coleslaw, etc) and a Pork chop with cooked cabbage on the side. It was soooo good! It really hit the spot after a cold, rainy, dismal day.
The next day it was still a bit chilly, so we decided to take a tour of the city in a little golf cart. As our driver went around the city there was commentary pumped through little speakers above our head telling us about the various sights we were driving by. Here are a few of the pictures we got:
There were pigeons everywhere, and they all seemed to be carrying a little extra weight...I couldnt tell if it was because it was getting cold and they were bulking up for the winter, or if it was because everyone fed them a ton of bread. (Picture above, the lady just gave them bread from the 2 plastic bags she's holding, they were full!)
Later that day we booked a tour of the Wieliczka Salt Mine. It was about an hour bus ride away, but definitely worth it. The salt mine is enormous, and we had to descend 378 stairs winding down into the mine, and we only went to the 3rd level, there are 9 levels down. Our guide said we only saw 1% of the mine.
Since the miners spent so much time underground during some spare time they carved out sculptures in the salt and tied stories to each. They also have a gorgeous church in the middle of the mine and all of the walls are decorated with religious scenes carved out of the salt, extremely detailed; it was beautiful.
View looking down into the church, its kind of hard to tell in this picture, but there are carvings all over the walls.
The Church Altar
The Last Supper
Looking up into a chandelier
Darren in front of a wall sculpture
After we returned to Krakow, we ended up eating at the same place as the night before, this time we got a picture of our yummy food;