Trip Start May 31, 2008
Trip End Jun 01, 2009

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Flag of Poland  , Southern Poland,
Monday, April 27, 2009

We arrived in Krakow in the early morning and did some shopping in the Cloth Hall. Then we went to Aushwitz, which is actually two concentration camps--the second is Birkenev. The prison was surrounded in electric fence and was extremely scary. The storeroom where all the confiscated items (hair, shoes, artificial limbs) was called Canada--the land of plenty. There used to be five large crematoriums but they were destroyed by the retreating Nazis. It was very sad to walk through the camp, and I wondered how Germany, and all of Europe, ever got over the unbearable suffering caused during the war. Six million Jews died during the Holocaust and 3/4 of Hungarian Jews were killed at Aushwitz. It is hard to come to terms with, even after 60 years.

We started the next day with the obligatory pastries and coffee. We walked to the Wawel Castle from the main square and took a guided tour through the private royal apartments and the state rooms. The porcelain wares, the rugs and the wooden furniture were spectacular, and the sheer size and detail of the tapestries were amazing. 

That night we went to classical music concert at St. Paul and Peter Cathedral. We all really enjoyed the concert, lots of famous and easily recognizable pieces. The cello solo in particular was great.

The Schindler's Factory, in the Jewish Quarter of town, was fascinating and gave a thorough history of the man and his story. We had delicious perogies for lunch at the square, and then were off to the salt mine factory. The best part was the intricate carvings all made of salt--the Last Supper, Flight of Egypt, Jesus Preaching. Salt was one of the most valuable commodities in ancient times, surpassing gold and silver, since it was needed to preserve food and feed an empire's army. Miss President of India was also visiting the salt mines and her security team blocked elevators, so we had to use the scarier rudimentary elevator to exit.

Then it was off to the train station and on our way to Prague!
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