Trip to Krakow, Poland
After landing in Krakow, we dropped our bags at our hotel and then walked through the city to Schindler's Factory – a museum at the original factory in which Schinder employed Jews to save them from facing the concentration camps. We then all got 'golf-buggy taxis' back to the hotel.
On the second day, we made our visit to Auschwitz's. We first looked around Auschwitz 1, the smaller camp which used to be Polish army barracks before Nazi occupation. There were lots of exhibitions in the buildings and they were very thought provoking. In some rooms were belongings the Nazis had taken from camp prisoners: glasses, named suitcases, thousands of shoes and even two tonnes of human hair. After a short break we then went to Auschwitz 2 – Birkenau - which was the biggest Nazi concentration and death camp. This is where we were able to get a sense of the scale of the genocide and realise how huge the camp was. Our tour guide showed us one of the huts that prisoners were forced to live in and took us down to the bottom of the camp perimeter where we saw the remains of the gas chambers and crematoria. The experience of visiting Auschwitz was very interesting but it was also an emotional day with some things difficult to see. In the evening, we looked around the Polish market at the city square then went to a traditional polish restaurant and then went on a horse drawn carriage ride around the city which went past the castle which was lit up at night.
In the morning of our last full day we visited a Jewish museum where we met a Holocaust survivor who told us her amazing story. It was very moving to hear story as we were given a first-hand account of events by someone who was there themself and lived through a terrifying time in history and we were privileged to meet her.
We then took a train out of the city to visit a salt mine. The salt mines offered some amazing sights of underground churches with salt chandeliers, underground salt lakes and salt statues.
Overall, everybody thoroughly enjoyed the trip to Krakow. It was an amazing experience and we managed to do and see a lot in the days we spent in Poland. It was great to explore a different country and culture and our visit to Auschwitz was very interesting and gave us all a new perspective on Jewish and WW2 history.