Trip Start Sep 14, 2012
Trip End Oct 15, 2012

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Where I stayed
Hotel Polonia apartment
What I did
Auschwitz and Birkenau

Flag of Poland  , Southern Poland,
Monday, September 24, 2012

Up first for a slash and then to put on some heating linament, the soft mattress the cause. Had my shower before 0600 and then did the diary update. Some chit chat with Arjan about who gets what rooms on the trip and going in the van that doesn't include big mouth Rose, whatever Polish brother I wind up with.

Brekkie was fine: meats and cheese, a bun and butter, tea and OJ.

We were off at 0749, all five Canucks [Jan, Ria, Nathalie, Don (Juan) and moi] and Arjan in the van of the quiet brother. Frankly, people wanted to rest early so it was a good choice, the talkative bro apparently less so while driving.

At the Czech/Polish border within a half hour. Don had the best idea for a photo re a shot straight down over the 'C/P' demarcation with one shoe in each country. Other than that, navigator Don was hopeless in the front seat, sawing wood in great chunks.

Arjan saw a massively wide tractor in front of us, wondering how Rose had passed us, her wide ass on display. Arjan is a bit more circumspect with his comments on Two Ton Tessie than me but he likes such jabs.

Our morning break in Cieszyn for money exchange and coffee. Exchanged 700 Czech crowns for Polish zloty and an additional $70 US therein, figuring 300 Polish zloty should do the trick for two days. Into the Hotel Plast for a java 6 PZl, Barry Manilow's Mandy playing in the back-ground. Rose was talking about eating all the perogies she can in Poland: that should halve the available supply by half.

Back on the road, Arjan figured out that 'Terry' in Polish was 'pain in the assky', Nathalie not doing anything for national unity by laughing.

Pulled off before a toll road to pre-order our lunches, then taking the A4 toward Katowice, a nice four lane road. Arjan claimed it was worthy of a news bulletin when Don would not take a picture.

By 1120 we were doing 120 kph, the speed limit apparently 140 kph. Arjan loves to carp about KFC outlets almost as much as McDonald's. Our navigator is pretty sleepy, not helping at all.

We got on to the topic of Rose [yet] again, Arjan suggesting every step she took up St Stephen's cathedral lowered the dome, the funniest line of the day from the Dutchman. Our driver got up to 130 kph.

Pulled off the main road a bit after high noon for our repast at Litwor restaurant 10 M later. I had pork in plum vodka and a Warka beer 30.5 PZl.

Back on the road at 1307, Ria worrying about money [Earth to Ria, you just exchanged money]. Arjan thought when our driver was on the radio with his brother that the latter was reporting his vehicle could not get uphill...with Rose as a passenger.

Auschwitz and Birkenau: the terms may as well be synonyms for utter human depravity re the actions of the Nazis. The 'why' can never be adequately explained, be it here or the killing fields of Cambodia, Rwanda or the fractured Yugoslavia. A few isolated details paint but a scant depiction of the Nazis' 'final solution'.

Human ash was used as fertilizer. No crematoria at Birkenau have survived, the Nazis blowing them up at war's end. Just 7.5 kilogram of Zyclon B could exterminate 2,000 people. Canada was thought to be a prosperous place so the camp warehouses were called 'Kanada'. The existence of the concentration camps was known as early as 1942. Of roughly a quarter million children to arrive at Auschwitz and Birkenau, but 700 survived. Only Block 4 in Auschwitz is original. These places demand the silence deserved by the dead but much gibberish was spewed by many in the group.

We arrived at Auschwitz around 1400 and were there until 1545, proceeding for the next hour to tour Birkenau. Not much is left of the latter, its horrors gone but memories lingering.

Spent about 30M on back roads before hitting the A4 again for the final spurt into Krakow. Spotted signs for our digs and we were there before 1800.

The wifi had a code so I had to go get it. Between that delay and tempermental wifi, I told Jan to tell Peter I was bagging the group walk to try to confirm my rendezvous with Gregor; a go! I moved the blog along, not realizing the last day in Prague had to be uploaded too, in addition to the Teplice nad Muteji day. Some emails and news took me up to my rendezvous time.

A big hug from Gregor. We just went around the corner for dinner. I had pork in a green pepper sauce with potatoes and vegetables, drinking Zwyiec beer and a shot of vodka, the latter as usual readily felt upstairs. He's had a couple of difficult family issues since our trip but we also chatted about politics, from the euro to the US election to the Quebec election.

I had not realized he Gregor lived in Katowice, a town we passed near coming into Krakow. As 2130 rolled around, he had to leave to get a return trip.

Dunno if the group is home asleep or still out but the halls are pretty quiet. Got the day's diary done as well as the blog so you should be happy, Roddy.

Not sure when brekkie is but will probably take a walk early in the morning before sorting out with some of the group the trip to the salt mine. Bed c 2315.

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