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.
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
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.
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.
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