Europe | Poland | Krakow – Wieliczka and Oswiecim
Next day when I awoke I was shocked to discover it was still raining. I got on a bus to the Wieliczka salt mines. You go underground through the hundreds of years old mine. There’s a working church underground with everything: steps, railings, altar, statues etc, all carved out of rock salt. I met some old miners, the pope and the seven dwarves. None of them said much. Probably cause they were all made of salt. It was rather impressive, but I wasn’t in the mood to be dazzled. Which is always a pity. When I got out it was still raining.
The following morning was a little drier so I jumped on the bus to Oswiecim. You might know it better by its German name: Auschwitz. It was unsurprisingly sombre. First you watch a film and then walk around the old barracks and crematoria. There’s a huge collection of appropriated belongings. Suitcases, watches, kids shoes and gold teeth. And a shockingly big room full of human hair that would have been recycled as cloth only thankfully things went wrong for the Nazis.
Brzezinka (Birkenau) is a 10 min bus ride away. For me it was even more stunning. The size of the place blew me away. It took 3 hours to walk around and I didn’t even see it all. You can see the railway line where the trains arrived just like in Schindler’s List. And it’s only a short stroll from there to the gas chambers. There were thousands of pictures of people who were murdered. And loads more little shoes. It was quiet on the bus back to Krakow.