Kraków and Auschwitz – Poland.

It was a long driving day to Kraków and after arrival we had dinner along with a large quantity of alcohol and went on a walking tour of the town. Half of the walking tour was spent needing to pee, and the other half just plain cold. To be honest I didn’t take in much of what we were seeing in the dark.
We then joined our pub crawl, and went out for a messy night. The first pub saw me giving some friendly intimate advice to one of the guys on tour and by the end of my teachings, I had 6 guys and a couple of girls staring wide-eyed in amazement. It became known as “life lessons with Leah” for the remainder of the night and for the rest of the trip really. As the drinks and bars rolled on, dancing with the Topdeck crew was lots of fun, but the attitude of a lot of the locals was appalling. Rude, unfriendly, and a very male dominated society where many men felt it their right to put their hands on us as they pleased. We stood our ground but it did detract from the night. Myself and a couple of the guys were on constant patrol to field away the unwanted advances of the men. I think for the first time, many of our male Topdeckers actually understood what it felt like to say “no” and have it disregarded as the men continued to do as they pleased.

I left a little early but my roommates and I stayed up talking until all hours of the morning.
A restless 2 hours sleep saw me rise again to head out to the salt mines. Struggle day was upon me as I battled to stay awake and alert throughout the day. The salt mines were cool, and there were a lot of salt statues etc that had been built down there. The walls still tasted of salt. As we made our way through the dark tunnels there was more than one occasion where I indeed fell asleep standing up as our guide was explaining what was before us. Its a skill I have managed to master over the years. That tour lasted a few hours then we headed out for some lunch followed by a trip to Schindlers factory. We got lost on the way there thanks to some dodgy directions given to us by our trip leader, but we made it in the end. It had a lot of history  there and it is a shame I was so tired that some information was going straight over my head. It was a good segway into the day that would follow though as we learned more about the Nazi reign over the region. That was a solid couple of hours followed by a trip home and dinner.
I had an early night, as I was exhausted and had a very early rise the next day as we headed on to Auschwitz.
Our morning at Auschwitz was very sombre to say the least. We saw some horrific things and the stories of the horrors of the holocaust became very real before our eyes. Scratch marks on the walls of gas chambers, cell blocks, the living conditions, piles of shoes of the victims, and a room full of hair are some examples. I had goosebumps and chills, and overwhelming feelings of sadness for what went on here. We also went out to the site of Aushwitz – Birkenau – the largest death camp of Auschwitz. The sheer number of deaths here is unfathomable. The deceit and malice in the hearts of the perpetrators makes me questions humanity. I simply cant comprehend how people could instigate or even allow these mass killings to occur in this way. It was distressing. I have posted a few photos but out of respect for those who lost their lives here it is mostly of the information signs and exterior buildings. That tour lasted a few hours and a normally loud and bubbly bunch was silent throughout and for hours afterwards as we all reflected on these lives lost and took a new appreciation for the life we live today.

 

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