Part 12 – Krakow [FINAL]

Krakow is one of the oldest Polish cities and the brick and mortar of the city was largely was untouched by the Nazis during their takeover. The Nazis used this as their headquarters. It also became the site of a very large concentration camp. We ladies took a trip down to visit this area. Lolita came with us and Lavern blessed us by making all of our lodging arrangements for us.

We took an older train south to Krakow leaving very early on Monday morning. It was fairly crowded and did we ever rock on!! Literally. As I said it was an older train but it traveled at the speed of the newer trains so because it wasn’t built for those speeds, it bumped back and forth every time it got over a certain speed. It was quite a bit cheaper but on the way home we knew we’d be tired so we took a better train with private compartments. It worked out well because we really were  pretty much worn out by the trip coming back! 🙂

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[train on return trip]

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[Polish countryside]

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Our first plan for the day was catching a bus to the Auschwitz concentration camp. There are 2 sites to this large camp. The one site has many buildings which had been a military training camp for the Polish army. The Nazis took this over as well as adding a site several miles away where the masses of people were trained into.

I’m not going to add much information on this. This is the second concentration camp I’ve seen and it is hard to put into words, well, actually, it’s hard to even comprehend a smidgen of what happened in these camps. It is just as hard to put into words what visiting a place like this does to you.

You can read more at the Auschwitz website.

[One way in. No way out alive.]

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[latrines]

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[bunk house]

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This next set of pictures are from the site that had been the Polish army compound previous to Nazi takeover.

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[a sign of false promises over the entrance below: works makes free]

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Items from prisoners

[prayer shawls]

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[suitcases & shoes]

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[eyeglasses]

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[prostheses]

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While Jews were the main target, they were not the only ones imprisoned and killed.

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We stayed a cool European apartment in the old town. I forgot to take any pictures of the apartment. Lolita had hoped to have us eat at a restaurant they’ve eaten at before but we couldn’t get in.  We found a Georgian restaurant.

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I had some kind of chicken dish smothered with mushrooms and cheese. It was delicious!

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We wondered around the square for a while, chatting and de-compressing after the nearly overwhelming evil depicted at the camps.

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I went all paparazzi on them (I can’t remember what started it) and even though they aren’t good pictures technically, is a good shot of what is right and good in life.

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The second day we visited some salt mine. In Wales, we descended into the slate mines via a tiny car. In the salt mines we walked down wooden steps. Down, down, down. There were lots of other people touring this day and surprisingly it didn’t feel claustrophobic.

Some of the rooms of the salt mine were huge!

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This mine is around 900 years old.

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Because salt is good and not harmful to the lungs, working down here could be considered therapeutic! In fact, there is a sanatorium for people with asthma & allergy problems 300-400 ft. down.

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This is a small restaurant deep down in the mine.

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Here’s a closeup of the chandelier. All of the “crystal” are made of salt.

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We went into an undground cathedral. See the 3-D Bible scenes carved into the salt walls …..

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When leaving we went through a large room used for formal occasions including concerts. We were funneled down into a small room. This was probably the most claustrophobic room of all. While we were waiting for our turn to ride the elevator up, they brought a lady through who was having a panic attack. They took her to the front of the line. When we finally made it to our turn, we discovered they “squished” the cages full before sending them. It was so funny! There was us 5 ladies, an older couple, and 2 cute guys who looked Italian. The doors swing in so whoever was in front of them had to squish into the group to close it. Thankfully, it really was cage so we could see out, kinda, and there was plenty of air. We giggled our way to the top and the others in the cage with us were laughing too. When we got to the top, the exit door opened on the opposite side of the cage from the entrance door. The look on Lita’s face was priceless when she realized she would have to “squish” into us for the door to swing open. So squish we did and as we walked out through the groups of people waiting to go down, we were still laughing. I’m sure they were wondering what in the world was so humorous about a salt mine!

There is much more to Krakow than just salt mines and a concentration camp. We didn’t have time to see much else. There is a castle which had been the residence of kings for centuries …

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And we saw the bus of the soccer team from the Netherlands. They were probably doing a little sightseeing before the Euro Cup in Warsaw.

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One of the first days were were in Poland we visited a local market. Peonies were starting to bloom and I was delighted to buy a big bunch for everyone to enjoy at Lavern & Lita’s house. This was taken about 4:30 AM on the Monday when we left to go to Krakow. I think I was still sleeping, even if my eyes are open.

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This is the conclusion of the trip. At long last I’ve gotten it all posted, even though there are many stories and details un-posted. I hope you have enjoyed following along, despite the way it has dragged out!!!

4 thoughts on “Part 12 – Krakow [FINAL]

  1. Wow, I can now understand how it was difficult to know how to even post all these things about Europe, and what to include and what to skip over! You packed SO MUCH into your trip!! I’m so glad you blogged it though, it sure has been fun tripping along with you. 🙂
    The concentration camp… I was at one when I was twelve, in Germany, and it made such an imprint on me I can remember details like I was just there. Yes, it is so hard to believe such atrocities happened, and not even that long ago. There really are no words to describe your own emotions, much less describe the camps…

  2. I loved seeing your trip all over again! The part of the concentration camp is hard to see….especially the photos of their belongings. In a way, it puts faces on all them and makes the atrocities that much more terrible.

    And the peonies…. I could really handle some about now, although my pink tulips that I bought today will have to suffice. I’m ready for some spring and some posies again!

    1. Marylou

      My peony bush that I was given several years ago actually has blooms on it. I’m holding my breath that this weeks warm weather won’t stop them from actually opening up!

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