Krakow was magical not only because it’s a wonderful city, but we got to share our stay there with my family. My Mum, her partner Sean, my sister and my auntie flew out and stayed with us for three nights. After being away for six weeks it was lovely to spend time with them and get a Mumma hug.
Kieron and I arrived in Krakow a few days before my family got there so we used the time to explore the city and see what was around. We did the old town free walking tour with a guy named Jerry, he was full of knowledge about the whole city and its history. So full of knowledge it was a little overwhelming but for anyone wanting to sharpen their history facts, it was great.
We tried a traditional Polish dish, Pierogi, in a few different restaurants and were not disappointed. Pierogi is a big plate of dumplings with filling, meat or vegetarian. It was delicious, especially the dessert kind, and really good value for money.
Of course a trip to Poland wouldn’t be complete without drinking Vodka, so it was Kamikazes all round whilst my family were there and a lot of time spent saying ‘Na Zdrowie!’ which is cheers in Polish.
I also fell in love with a beautiful winter tea. It was a vibrant orange colour made with oranges, lemon, honey and cloves. I definitely want to try making that myself when I’m home!
Kieron and I did a walking tour around a salt mine. It was very interesting and amazing to be hundreds of feet underground with real salt practically ready to eat all around us. I’m always in awe of crystals and the walls inside the mine definitely looked like beautiful crystals (I guess it is really!) so it was definitely an experience.
Once all of us had gotten together, updated each other on what’s happened back home and where we’ve been travelling, we got to exploring. On our first full day together we did a day trip to Auschwitz-Birkenau. It was an emotional day, to say the least. It’s something that I honestly think everyone should do. You can read stories about the war and you can watch documentaries, but nothing prepared me for what we saw there. There were photographs of the victims, scratches on the walls of the gas chambers but most harrowing of all, there were people’s belongings. Absolutely piles and piles and piles of belongings.
When we got to Birkenau you could truly understand the extend of what was going on. As far as the eye could see there were the remains of brick and wooden barracks, barracks that were meant for horses but at some time held 400 helpless people crammed in each. We stood right at the front of what used to be the concentration camp, looking straight through the railway line just like the photograph everyone has seen before. We stood where the German army decided if people should go to the left or the right. If you went to the left, you were killed straight away. If you went to the right, you’ll be worked until exhaustion. We saw the rail cart that had no windows and took people across Europe for days and weeks on end, only to arrive at Auschwitz. We saw the remains of the gas chamber where millions of people died. But most importantly of all, we remembered. The whole time we were there, we remembered the people that lost their lives and their families. What’s important about something so tragic in history is remembering it, respecting it but never, ever repeating it.
I didn’t take any photographs myself but here’s a few that Kieron took…
The next day we also visited Schindler’s Factory. It was a museum full of information and photographs about World War Two but unfortunately you don’t get to see the factory itself, just a remake of Schindler’s office.
After visiting the factory and Auschwitz, we live in a time where we’re lucky enough to go back to our reality and walk the streets of Krakow and stop for food and drinks. We went on a long boat ride on the river and enjoyed feeling relaxed whilst the sun was shining bright. We later found a quaint little jazz bar where I found an espresso martini, result! Mum was served a gin cocktail with a tiny little pepper on a cocktail stick, how cute!
I also over came a fear, or at least got a little closer to doing so, I touched a horse! I’ve been afraid of horses since my young teens and can’t quite explain why, but on that night in Krakow I decided it was time to try and face it and I gave one a little stroke, he was so soft!
On our last day together we sat on the square in Krakow eating yummy food and getting ready to say goodbye for another six weeks. Me, Kieron, Abbey and Karen walked 100 steps up the clock tower to get a view of the city and it was beautiful. We listened to the final hourly bugle call we would hear and then made our way to the train station.
It’s always tough to say goodbye to people, especially when they’re some of the people you love the most in the world. Luckily enough, technology these days makes you feel almost in the same room as them when you call home.
Thank you guys for coming out to share a snippet of our journey with us, it was perfect.