Thursday, September 24, 2009

9/23: Oświęcim i Kraków

The morning started with a rude 7am wake-up call - I'm not sure why we decided to start our excursion to Auschwitz so early - but we hit the ground running like Hanna Barbera cartoon characters. A day trip to Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II Birkenau is a numbing experience, it's difficult to feel much after this.

The first camp was a former Polish army bunker that was converted to a work camp by the Nazis when they annexed this area of Poland. Here they systematically and scientifically experimented on the most efficient way to commit genocide. Once the most efficient methods were determined, they built the second camp to these precise specifications, centered around the rail lines leading straight into the gas chambers.

We headed back to Krakow in an attempt to regain our appetites, ending up at Arka Noego (Noah's Ark), a Jewish restaurant in the Kazimierz (Old Jewish district). I must admit that I felt guilty eating meat dishes there -- with there being only two of each species -- so we focused on aquatic and flying animals that I want to imagine didn't need Noah's help.

Luckily, their homemade gefilte fish was the best I had ever had (which doesn't say much), along with turkey shish kabob, Krupnik (Polish chicken/veggie/barley soup), and of course hot miodowe wino (honey wine). On our way out, we stopped by a piekarnia pastry shop for nalesznik, which are folded pancakes with custard inside -- yum!!

With very full tummies, we headed to the Main Market Square, where we had heard there would be a free orchestral concert. It turns out the Krakow Philharmonic Orchestra was playing with a local Klezmer band, which should've been a great show, except for some reason we couldn't keep our eyes open. It was a wonderful sleep though with fun background music.

After an hour of snoozing, we headed to Pod Wawelem, a fun Polish Hofbrau-type place at the foot of Royal Wawel Castle with local oompah bands, Polka dancing, greasy fatty foods, and lots to drink. Now full, exhausted, and well toasted, we decided to call it a day.

Olga's bloggerific:

1 comment:

theresa_hart said...

I hope you guys polkad. (sp?) Tell Olga that is a better bonding with the locals activity than all the talking in the world.