Friday, January 6, 2017

Auschwitz, Poland

After our overnight train we arrived in drizzly Krakow, Poland. See a theme? The rain followed us constantly. The rain matched our sight for the day, the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau.

Visiting Auschwitz isn't something you enjoy. And perhaps a strange place to visit on your vacation. However, I highly recommend it for its sobering significance in history and a dark reminder that we must be better.

The infamous "work sets you free" sign
We got there mid morning and all of the English tours were sold out for the day. Between 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. a guided tour is mandatory so we selected Spanish (because it was the language closest to Portuguese- Jacob is fluent). It was a little frustrating not being able to understand the tour, but the sites often speak for themselves.

Respectful pictures are encouraged, as the Polish do not want the atrocities to be forgotten. Pictures are allowed outside but not in the museums.

However, some of our fellow tour mates didn't quite understand the "respectful" part. Instead, they took selfies and bro pics in front of firing squad chambers and a glass case full of inmate's hair like they would at a sporting event. I was pissed and infuriated. It still fires me up to think about it.

So please, share the story to remind ourselves that we cannot let this happen again. But do it respectfully.

Should you visit?

It was a hard, depressing and sobering day. I was sad and angry. But I recommend visiting.

Other notes:

  • You must check any bags, even small ones. They allowed me my camera but I'm glad that I brought a plastic bag because it rained a lot throughout the day and much of the touring is outside. 
  • We arrived via public bus departing from Krakow's main bus station for less than $2.50. 
  • We visited both Auschwitz I & II. You can access II via shuttle bus and tour it yourself. The bus back to Krakow departs from Auschwitz I.

Traveled May 2015.

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