Poland and thereabouts (so much booze and death)
Trip Start Jul 2003
50Trip End May 2005
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Carried on through the same country where we finished, as we read that 95% of the people who visit it only go to the capital (r).
We travelled south east to a new town stronghold (s) founded by the Hussites. Arrived after a few hours and walked for 2 hours to wonderful town square to find that the campsite was several miles outside of the town walls. Sweating like bananas we opted for a 'Pension' in the old town and wandered into the vaults of an ancient house, so cold under the vaults of the town.
The biggest dog in the world was also seeking refuge and would have probably consumed us has it not drowned in its own perspiration if it had moved. An elderly couple welcomed us in and their once lost son found new favour with them by speaking to us in English (a rare commodity in the area)
Sobered up in the morning we climbed up the 'safety regs failing' church tower (amazing), and them immediately afterwards wandered into the cattacombs of the town (17 km, although we only got lost from the party after the first 2, very embarrassing).
Took train to big town (t) with the small name (only 4 letters) and walked 3 miles with rucksacks to campsite on edge of fluroescent (?) green lake (huge dam). Town had Cappuccine Monastery with possibly the strangest thing we've seen: crypts with benefactors of the monastery. These ranged from powerful lords who had been removed from military service from being too 'excitable', to just local wealthy types whose bodies could survive just lying in a box for all to see (all very Indiania Jones). When the abbotts of the monastery passed away they were just dropped scantily clad in the basement (we come from nothing etc). Above their decaying corpses was an ancient written phrase on the stone walls:
What you are, we once were. What we are, you will be.
New country and city (u). 5:30am and mist looked spectacular. Popped tent somewhere and fell asleep on grass for an hour. Town then saw us drinking 3 litre containers of beer, under bars, on bars, women on dogs, electric cars through synagogues, strange blue men in shops. Far too much food, presenting far too many dilemmas for fat children. The current Pope is from this town. The Jewish quarter (Kazimierz), once numbering tens of thousands, was reduced to an almost silent 100 during WWII. Everything looked almost black and white, and we could see the ghosts of stormtroopers hammering rifle butts on big oak doors, emptying the occupants out into vans and driving them away forever.
Then more frozen vodka.
Train to Auschwitz. Displays of thousands of suitcases, shaving brushes and shoes very moving. Then we saw tonnes of women's hair, stained monotone from the Zyclon B from the four gas chambers. Moth ball infused air was almost too much to take and then we saw the desolate gas chambers at Birkenau (Auschwitz II)(largely intact from incomplete Nazi demolition). Until the camp was liberated the hair had been used to make textiles for the Nazi war effort: did the fighting axis troops know?
Not the best snoozing due to bubbling sleeping mats, strange dreams.
Blazing fires along the tinder-dry railway tracks, with the train bursting through in circus style, took us to the next city (v).
Will and Emma