We left our apartment shortly after breakfast, and made our way to the pickup point for our guided tour of Auschwitz-Birkenau.
Travelling by minibus with other English tourists, the journey to the former Nazi concentration camp took 90 minutes.
The name of the camp Auschwitz-Birkenau is made up of the German names for the nearest villages: Oświęcim (Auschwitz) and Brzezinka (Birkenau).
Auschwitz-Birkenau was actually a network of several camps. The memorial and museum are at Auschwitz I, where the bulk of our tour took place; and at nearby Birkenau where the minibus took us to for the third and final part of the tour.
There are some quite strict rules inside Auschwitz – mainly to show respect for those who suffered during the Holocaust. There is Airport style security to get in, and for the guided tour we all wore headphones tuned to the channel on which the guide’s microphone was transmitting – this was so that the guide would not have to raise her voice.
The whole tour of the two sites combined took around 3 hours and included entering the prisoners’ accommodation, which remains largely unchanged since the end of the war. We also went in to one of the gas chambers and to the crematorium and saw the ovens which were responsible for burning the bodies.
We travelled back on the minibus back to Kraków and returned to the apartment and a rest. Late in the afternoon, we went for a walk around the city, before going in to a café for hot chocolate. It may have been cold but that didn’t stop us from sitting outside, next to the fire, with blankets available courtesy of the café (with the wind chill not so noticable today, they weren’t necessary).
We ate this evening at one of the city’s many Italian restaurants: There are so many to choose from – it seems every other restaurant round here is Italian! The one we eventually settled on was the Pasta Bar on Slawkowska Street. I had a big margherita pizza, Corrie had tagliatele. 2 main courses, an apple juice and a beer came to 58 Złoty or £11.
Tomorrow we’re going on another day trip – in to the mountains this time, to visit the area which is Poland’s centre for Winter tourism.
Gute Nacht. (Wrong language, I know).