The Old Captial of Poland (dunno why it was moved)

Trip Start Jul 14, 2007
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16
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Trip End Feb 05, 2008


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Flag of Poland  ,
Friday, August 17, 2007

This city was 50x nicer than Warsaw, with a more lively old city center and happier people. I don't think I saw anyone smile in Warsaw, and I think I saw half of the people smiling in Krakow. Since we only had half a day to wander about the city, we hit up old town right away. This turned out to be a stones throw from out hostel, which was called Bling Bling Hostel, oh yeah.

The old town was super nice and rather large. The square is apparently the largest medieval square in Europe. You enter old town through the last remaining castle gate, and the first thing you see is a McDonald's. The old town may look old, but the shopping is very modern. There was even a Puma store. We walked all the way through the old town to the royal castle that was situated on a hill overlooking the river. Very nice location, with nice grounds. The castle wasn't very elaborate, except for the roofs of all the buildings. They all had a different type of dome and spire on them. We walked around a little bit and then went back to the square for some lovely outdoor eating. Buy pure luck we found an AMAZING Italian restaurant and ate until our stomachs couldn't fit any more.

We planned a tour to Auschwitz later that afternoon, so we went to the meeting point after lunch. It took about an hour to get there, even in the pouring rain (which I don't think our bus driver noticed because we were still driving extremely fast and passing cars on the one lane roads). We arrived there for a 4 hour tour of the original concentration camp and the secondary one they built once the Nazi's realized the first wasn't sufficient enough to hold/murder all the people. It was absolutely terrifying yet eye opening to see this place. We walked through the rooms they used to stay in, which now house exhibits about prisoner life and death. The original Auschwitz was a Polish Military Training facility, therefore it already had barracks and housing facility's. These were used to house the prisoners, but were definitely not as nice as they were for the soldiers. We even walked into the gas chamber and crematorium. There are no words.

We then went over to the second Auschwitz which was built by the Nazi's in 1943. This camp had train tracks that ran directly into the camp and directly to the gas chambers. These facilities were even worse than the first camp, because the houses they lived in were really horse stables with no heating. This camp was also more spread out and covered much more land, but most of it was in ruins because the Nazis tried to destroy the evidence before the end of the war. Some of the houses (if you can call them that) are still there as well as the guard towers, which we were allowed to go in. Needless to say it was a very depressing day, but I am so glad I went and witnessed this sight. This is definitely one of the instances where you can read about it as much as you want, but until you actually see it, you can not fully understand.

We managed to get back, again it was pouring rain. We booked an over night train to Prague that night, which Braden was getting all worked up over because our guide book says people get gasses and then mugged while they sleep. We managed to reserve seats in an 8 person compartment next to 6 huge Ukrainian guys, who tried to speak English to us. It worked for a while, but then they had to get off the train at the boarder. This was because (and they told us this) it was easier for them to get out and walk across the boarder...seemed a little sketchy, but they were super nice guys even though they smelled really bad. And we made is safely to Prague the next morning. We didn't get gassed, but we really didn't get any sleep either.
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