Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Auschwitz and Salt Mines: What a Day

When we booked our trip to Krakow, we also booked a day trip to Auschwitz and the Salt Mines. I did some research and it seemed like most people recommended doing these two activities on the same day. Auschwitz, the largest Nazi German concentration camp, is obviously a heavy morning. The salt mines are fun and light and can help ease you back in to your vacation. We hired a driver for the day, and he was fantastic! I highly recommend Krakow-Auschwitz.

Entrance to Camp: "Work Will Set You Free"

Auschwitz is as disturbing as you'd think it would be. The buildings are all pretty much exactly the way they were at the end of the war when the Soviet army liberated the camp. Between 1940-1945, 1.3 million people (90% of whom were Jewish) were brought to Auschwitz. 1.1 million were killed.

Victims' suitcases

Victims' shoes

Sleeping quarters: 4-6 people per bunk

Gas chamber

Auschwitz II-Birkenau, built in 1941, is larger than Auschwitz and was designed exclusively as a death camp. Scenes from Schindler's List were filmed on these train tracks.

You can tour the camps on your own, but I was really impressed with our tour guide. He was very knowledgeable and respectful. He really put things into perspective for us.

After a heavy morning at the camps, we made our way to the Wieliczka Salt Mine. I wasn't sure what to expect, but it wasn't this. Chapels, salt carvings, chandeliers, lakes...wow! Pictures do not do it justice at all. It was so impressive.

Huge chapel. Chandeliers are made of salt!

Last Supper

To get to the mines, we walked down around 400 steps! Luckily, a small miner's elevator took us back up at the end. Our tour covered more than two miles of the mine, but that's only 9 percent of the total!

We ended our day with a fantastic meal at Miod Malina. We ate like kings and queens in Poland. And everything was so cheap! Especially compared to England.

Traditional tea with jam

My favorites were definitely the sweet cheese and cherry pierogi. Yum!

It was a day that I was somewhat dreading, but it turned out to be lovely. Auschwitz isn't somewhere that people want to see, but it's so important. I'm really glad we went. 

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