Okay, seriously, KRAKOW! The most amazing city! I fell head over heels in love with this city the instant we stepped out of the train station and into the glorious sun! It is stunningly beautiful and so rich in history! I loved every second of being there and did not want to leave!
Really though, it is like stepping into a fairytale world! The stunning medieval buildings, the horse drawn carriages stomping through the city center…. ugh, I loved it! And the weather could not have been better! We left behind 40 and 50 degree weather that we had been having for the past week in Lithuania and entered into 70 degree glory!
Honestly, the only drawback was the 6 hour bus ride to Warsaw followed by the 3 hour train ride to Krakow, makes for a little bit of a long day! But it was so so so very worth it!
We stayed at Greg and Tom’s Beer House Hostel on the recommendation of the other group of ILP volunteers in Lithuania. It was a great price and included so much! We paid $10 each and got free breakfast AND dinner. And when you booked your Auschwitz tour through the Hostel, you got free lunch too! And the tour was only $30 and included transportation and a guided tour to both Auschwitz and Auschwitz-Birkenau! I feel like I was robbing the people running the tour and the hostel for how cheap it was! The drawback to this hostel was that it was a beer house hostel which means it had a night club downstairs and did pub crawls every night. It was quite loud, and they kept offering us shots everywhere we turned. But, if you can tolerate the noise it really is a killer deal! The staff was very friendly and accommodating of all our needs!
Okay, so Auschwitz. Seeing Auschwitz has been something I have wanted to do pretty much forever. I love studying World War II, it is just so complex. After visiting London when I was younger and seeing the destruction that was still left there from the war, I have tried to study it as much as possible. My primary focus was always on the war in England specifically because that is what I saw, but concentration camps have always baffled me. The things that happened in them were truly atrocious, but there is so much about them that we don’t get taught enough about. The fact that many of the prisoners packed their nicest belongings to go to these camps because they believed that they were going to find a better life as the Nazis had told them blows my mind. Not because I find the prisoners to be naive, but because Hitler and the Nazis were able to get so many people to believe in what they were saying and teaching even though they would not typically believe those things. I truly believe that everyone should go tour Auschwitz to see and hear about all the things that went on there. Because, at least in the United States, it is not taught enough. When they show you the rooms which house mountains of shoes from prisoners and the guide reminds you that each shoe represents a life that was taken inside of Auschwitz and you look at the thousands of shoes in front of you, that is truly haunting. When they show you the different types of cells they would keep prisoners in when they had disobeyed or even been randomly selected for punishment, it is horrifying. They would suffocate people and starve them for doing nothing! And then of course there is the gas chamber and the shooting wall… I have no words. It really is something that you have to experience for yourself.
Other than the tour of Auschwitz, we just wandered all around the old town and took in all the breathtaking views. The cloth market is a must for all your souvenir needs! There is such a variety of goods in there! Had we had more time, I definitely would have done a day tour that went to Schindler’s Factory and the Jewish Quarter, but those dang time constraints! I guess I will just have to go back! 😉 So check out a few more pictures and then plan your trip to Poland!
P.S. If you are looking into doing ILP and teaching abroad, they just opened a school in Krakow. Seriously, DO IT! You will not regret it!