Travel Heading

Map of Poland25th September 1997
Warsaw, Poland  1820
So the bus ride was terrible.  Overnight trips are the worst.  I got little sleep and a sore neck.  We were woken up to cross the border and my first baggage search!  Not a very comprehensive one, but they looked inside and felt about, for guns or drugs I guess?  It's funny watching the border guards look at my passport.   They check every page and also the front cover.  Like they have never seen one before!  I think they are inquisitive too, to see where I have been.
So I arrived in Warsaw at 7:00am and spent the day looking around, including the World Trade Centre and the old town, as well as a monument to the child soldiers who fought in the wars, due to shortages of troops. Poignant.

Child Soldier Palace of Culture
Royal Castle Warszawa Old Town Square

27th September 1997
Kraków, Poland   1200
A three hour train trip bought me south to Kraków, not all that far from the Slovak border.  After finding accommodation, I walked around the old town.  I particularly enjoyed the main square.  Kraków is a very beautiful city with some fantastic buildings and a mighty castle.  The town square is the largest in Europe apparently!  I have given up on self preparation of food for these past few countries, it's pointless, you can go out to a restaurant and have a good meal for alot less money!
I met a girl called Monica in a shop and we went out for a beer.  I am amazed at how little people earn here, and disproportionably to the lower costs.  Peoples' attitudes are different here too, they never excuse themselves, just push past other people and they don't wait in lines, everybody just moves towards a counter.  It is what we would called disorganised, rude, chaos, but to the Poles, who have grown up like this, I suppose it is normal, and I am the one who is out of place.

Telephone Card - Rynek Glowny, Kraków from Air Wawel Castle
Sukiennice / The Silk Hall Rynek Glowny
Florian Gate The Church Tower
The tomb of Kosciuszko Salt carvings in Wieliczka Salt Mines

27th September 1997
Kraków, Poland   2300
Today we went to the old salt mines, about 15Km out of town.  It was very interesting.  We went 135M underground to some huge caverns carved out of salt.   The carvings were absolutely amazing, although the tour was in Polish language.   But it was humorous!  The two little Polish girls in front of us in the line were running along licking the walls and pulling funny faces at each other after the taste of the bitter salt.  It was very funny!  But I wonder about their health!
Tonight I watched a band in the main square, who were quiet good. Called Dominica, I think.  I didn't understand of course!  It was all in Polish.

29th September 1997
Oswiecim, Poland   2145
Today I went to the two largest concentration camps that ever existed.   Auschwitz and Birkenau.
An absolutely shocking sight.  We entered through the front gate of Auschwitz under the gate which read 'Arbeit Macht Frei' which means in German, Work Makes Free.
Most of the buildings remain and I was able to walk through the barracks, gas chambers and crematorium.  After spending some time here and seeing the size of this hideous crime, I moved 2Km up the road to Birkenau.  I was not prepared for what I saw.   This camp is massive, 175HA, with 300 barracks and 4 gas chambers capable of holding 2000 people each.  Electric lifts were installed to lift the bodies to the crematorium.  This was a killing machine.  It's estimated that over 2 million people were exterminated here.  I am blown away at the magnitude and harshness of this place.  Walking through the barracks you can see how cramped it was and a stale smell still emanates.

It is horrific.

Main Gate Halt Sign
In between the barb wire fence The firing wall
Crematoria Birkenau Main Gate & Railway
Concrete Toilet Block Train Track


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