March 18 - March 20
First group trip with the big D (that's Deloitte y'all) and of course they are all American expats. It’s Michele’s last day of work in the UK before she starts heading home to the US so we wanted to do a final goodbye trip. Speaking of which, my group of friends are mostly ending their program this year and heading back home – Please don’t leave me!! We arrived in in Krakow, Poland and started heading towards the apartment. Our driver ignored us the entire time until he heard Michele whisper if our apartment was in the castle. He laughed and shook his head. We arrived at the apartment and it was beautiful – More than enough room for 6 people. The best thing about Krakow? How incredibly cheap everything is.
That evening we went out to dinner and had my first pierogis (first of many) and we walked around the Krakow Main square just to see the city at night.
Saturday morning started off bright and early with a bus tour to Auschwitz Concentration Camp. I can’t emphasize enough how important this was. We sat on the bus for two hours and watched a documentary on the history and impact of Auschwitz and heard testimonials of witness accounts. At one point it presented a scene of the doctors doing testing on Jewish babies and started cutting some open and I suddenly became nauseous. I had to look out the window and listen to the documentary.
In that moment, I disliked everything. In that moment, I didn’t understand anything. How can people hate like this?
We arrived at the Camp (Auschwitz 1 and Birkenau) and toured the grounds starting with the gas chamber. I kept having internal conflicts about how I felt taking pictures there. Most of me felt like it was wrong to take pictures of this but part of me thought it was important to help tell the history… to help feel the history. Walking through the grounds we tried to really put ourselves in their shoes – imagined the sleeping conditions, the abuse, the smells, the starvation, the punishment, and so on and it just sent chills down my spine. As with the video when it came to children and babies, I kept getting nauseous.
I can go on about the history and how it affected so many nations but here’s the important part. Our tour guide ended on two important notes -->
Note 1: Be Careful because history has a way of repeating itself (and then she stood there silently) and
Note 2: We are luckier than those affected during the Holocaust because we get to come home to Love. (I’m going to leave it at that. Think about it)
We were pretty silent on the ride back (party sleepy partly hungry partly introspecting on everything we had just seen and spoke about). After a quick refresh, we headed out for the rest of the evening. They had Easter markets up in the Main Square and we did our souvenir shopping at Cloth Hall (supposedly the oldest shopping mall but i could totally be making that up) in a beautiful Renaissance monument. For as old as this city is, most of the buildings looked very much kept up and new. We went to dinner at a nice restaurant with a view of Wawel castle and there was live music. After dinner, we went to a hipster bar and danced to some hipster music and ended the night at Café V (as if we were still in London). Michele has perfected the pretending to type on her phone while she’s asleep but I'll save her the embarrassment of posting those pictures.
Sunday morning we went up to Wawel Castle and St Mary’s Basilica before heading back home. Wawel castle was very cool so dear future husband, I would like to live in a castle, please. It was great to see the original castle ruins and artifacts from that time (swords, armour, etc). We went to the exhibit to see Leonardo da Vinci’s famous painting, Lady with an Ermine and I can tell you I don’t appreciate art as I should. Anika and I ended up throwing out words like color or texture or shadow and pretended to have an intelligent conversation about it. I should probably research about the importance of this painting...