A little late, I’m aware. Better late then never though, right?
Crazy to believe that over two months ago I embarked on my eurotour, with 65 other exchange students living in Sweden. 9 countries, 17 days, some 5,000+ kilometers on a double decker tour bus. Definitely wasn’t a trip I will be forgetting anytime soon.
Krakow was our 2nd destination, after Berlin (read about Berlin, here). When my mom came to visit me in May, we made a stop in Krakow as well. So this was my second time in Krakow, and I can tell you that I just love this city. It wasn’t bombed in WW2, all of the buildings are still intact and there is one that is almost 1,000 years old. The city is quiet, yet there are still lots of people roaming the streets and many things to do during the day and at night. One of the reasons I love Krakow so much is the Wawel castle. That castle was attacked by seemingly everyone way back when (Much thanks to the Swedes, Austrians, and Prussian Armies) thus parts of it were rebuilt over the years, repeatedly.
When our group arrived in Krakow, we had a traditional Jewish dinner accompanied by a live Jewish band. A person on the bass, one playing the clarinet, and the other on the accordion. They put on a show for us and had every exchange student clapping and stomping along.
The next day we had a tour of the city, which included the main square (Rynek Glowny), Wawel hill, and the Jewish district.
After the group tour we had two hours to eat lunch, get coffee, and explore Krakow a little bit more before our next tour at Auschwitz. The lunch we had at a restaurant in the main square was arguably one of the best meals I ate on this Europe trip. It was a chicken salad but damn, it was nice to have something other than Schnitzel (every other meal on the trip was Schnitzel. Not even kidding.)
Our time at Auschwitz was a mixture of emotions. Writing this post and seeing the pictures brings back these emotions. It’s impossible to talk about what happened there without bringing upon a wave of feelings. It was a sort of “down” in our trip to go there. It wasn’t a happy time, but more of a learning experience. Which believe me 100% was worth it. We were almost 70 exchange students from all over the world. Like the quote above says, if we don’t learn about this tragic event, odds are it could repeat itself again.
The experience I took from Auschwitz was a better understanding of the conditions. I don’t want to go into details. Once you are actually there, where you read about in a history book back in a school that is 5,000 miles away about people being murdered, you understand just how real it is. The feeling you get as you walk through those gates and those doors is uneasy.
It is unbelievably sad that I have stood on ground where people were inhumanely treated and killed.
While we visited Birkenau the weather set the mood. Dark clouds started to form in the sky. At the end of our tour, while we were standing in a residential building (if you can call it that) it started to pour. Water was leaking through the ceiling. There was no hope of the rain letting up, so we made a run for it back to the bus. We were wet and cold, and to be quite honest, we felt like we just escaped Birkenau. Is this something to joke about. Absolutely not. However, it gave us the smallest, tiniest, minisculptular feeling of the living conditions people here experienced. I cannot fathom any of it. How they were forced to live like this.
Next stop is Budapest, Hungary. (Where I am actually typing this post from at the moment! I’m back!)