Taking the bus home

I sat in my comfortable tourbus seat as we prepared to head back to Krakow. The heater kicked in & the feeling started to come back to my fingers. This was good, cause it made it a lot easier to open my chips & drink & operate my i-Pod!
It was at this time, having spent 5 hours in Auschwitz and Berkenau, that it really hit me. I was heading “home”, comfortable in my clean, warm bus.
1.5 million others never got the chance to leave.
Craig was right in saying that Auschwitz II (Berkenau camp) is where things really hit you. Row after row of huts still remain. hundreds, if not thousands more were burned down when the Nazi’s left.
Considering the enormity of the place, (it held 100,000 prisoners, only half of the size it would have been were it finished) our guide made things a little clearer and more heartwrenching by noting that most visitors to Berkenau weren’t actually considered prisoners of Auschwitz. Not because they didn’t arrive, but because those that were not fit enough for hard labour (which was many, given that they had lived in Jewish Ghetto’s for a long time) were separated straight from the train & taken to the shower blocks. They were told to put their names on their baggage, reminded to remember the hook number where they hung their clothes, they even had shower heads that were in the gas chambers, though they weren’t hooked up to water!
I didn’t cry as I sat in the bus and contemplated these things that I have heard before, but now actually seen. Instead I felt a little numb. Encountering something so closely, I just couldn’t comprehend the sheer size and efficiency of what went on there. Even gold fillings and peoples hair was recycled. Even now, 24 hours later, I can’t really comprehend the enormity of it all. I hope and pray that man never has to comprehend something like that again…
In other news:
Krakow itself is a lovely city. In the last 3 days I have:
1: Visited a salt mine which saw me almost 150 meters underground in the worlds largest underground chapel carved entirely out of rock salt.
2: Been to an authentic Polish restaurant where I ate soup from a bowl made of bread and ate lovely meat pierogis.
3: Played “Emporer and Scum” with a bunch of internationals, and a bunch of different types of Vodka, all till 3am.
4: Seen the lovely city square, and eaten sausage from a store that appeared to sell any part of the pig you wanted, just cooked in different ways. The store next door had a whole pig on a spit!
1 more day in Krakow & then off to my final mainland stop of Prague, before back to England for Christmas!


3 thoughts on “Taking the bus home

  1. Tim! You had pierogis? Rock on 🙂 My husbands family is Polish and we have those every year at Christmas 🙂 Sounds like you’re enjoying your adventuresome treks 🙂 I’m still envious! And still cant wait to see your pictures!

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