Yesterday we arrived in Poland at 7 a.m. We had a full day of sightseeing, visiting many of the cities greatest attractions. First, we took a walking tour of the city, which started at the Church of the Virgin Mary. Our tour went through the main square, visited the ancient wall surrounding the city, and ended at Wawel Castle. The Wawel Castle houses the Kings of Poland and his family, and was a beautiful landmark on top of the hill looking over the city. In these two hours, we received a lot of information about the city and saw the major tourist sites. We then had a relaxing evening, eating traditional polish and Jewish food. After dinner we found a Polish bakery for Leonardo to take a picture in front of, as was the request of my little, August :).
Today we had an emotional day, visiting the main site of the atrocities of the Holocaust: Auschwitz. I saw mounds of real human hair, 40,000 pairs of shoes of victims, walked through a gas chamber, and much more. We walked through original barracks that housed hundreds of prisoners at one time. We visited two camps; Birkenau (the death camp), and Auschwitz I (the work camp). It was astonishing to see history come alive while having an experience that I could not wrap my mind around. Although heartbreaking, I believe every person should visit a Nazi concentration camp once in their life. It is important to experience history so as to make sure it doesn’t repeat itself. As I walked through the camps, I felt an eerie sense of despair in the air. After this experience, we came back to Krakow to have another relaxing night.
Tomorrow we will have another eventful day in Krakow and take the night train back to Budapest. Krakow is a unique city with lots of Jewish influence and history of the Middle Ages. The city seems to have the most Eastern European influence of any city we have been too. Although this weekend may not be the most ‘fun’ weekend of the entire trip, I believe I will remember it as one of the most life-changing experiences of the trip.