Auschwitz, Krakow

The truth is I have never really thought about visiting Krakow in Poland. To me, vacations are about visiting places that conjure happy images and well, Krakow was never in that bucket list.  I have caught glimpses of Schindler’s List and those were certainly not happy. But Auschwitz was in my sister’s bucket list. So we checked it off as part of our trip to that part of the world.

It was not as easy to get to Krakow from the other cities we wanted to visit. We set off from Berlin. The train journey including a transfer took us almost 10 hours to reach Krakow! 
Berlin Train Station Berlin Train Station

For most of the journey, we were sharing a cabin with 4 other people on their way to Warsaw. That was really the more interesting part of the journey – random chats with a Spanish couple, a Polish student and a Ukrainian professor –  as we were transported from Germany (top pictures of Berlin Train Station) to Poland (bottom pictures of a train station near Warsaw). Feel the contrast? Must add that Krakow Train Station is really modern to our surprise – will share pictures in another press 
Warsaw Train Station  Warsaw Train Station

The first place we visited in Krakow was Auschwitz I. It was quite easy to get there from Krakow Bus Station – a direct bus ride that took over an hour. The atmosphere at this concentration camp was rather solemn or so I felt.
Auschwitz I, Krakow, Poland  Auschwitz I, Krakow, Poland

We crossed the gate with the Nazi concentration camp motto – Arbeit macht frei  (Work brings freedom). Quite ironic because so many lost their freedom and life here… We followed a guide who took us to several buildings in this museum to learn about (and see some artifacts) about the Holocaust.  Had some sad takeaways… 
Auschwitz I, Krakow, Poland Auschwitz I, Krakow, Poland

A shuttle bus from Auschwitz I took us to Auschwitz-Birkenau. No guided tour was available so we explored the camp on our own. It was raining. It was a rather sad feeling.  
Auschwitz II–Birkenau, Krakow, Poland Auschwitz II–Birkenau, Krakow, Poland

Also felt very catastrophic when we visited the bunks, some of which were meant to be stables. I could not imagine the living conditions back then.Auschwitz II–Birkenau, Krakow, Poland Auschwitz II–Birkenau, Krakow, Poland

The main entrance where the inmates arrived by train. For many, it was a one-way trip. Auschwitz II–Birkenau, Krakow, Poland

As I look through the pictures and press, I have goosebumps as I recall the trip. There are some vacations where the memories are vivid even after a long time, and there are those that brings back vague memories after a while. This is definitely one of the former.  And if you are reviewing your bucket list, I think Auschwitz is worth considering…

About cyndichan

Write for a living. Live for travel, run and art.
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