Krakow, 10th to 12th of May

My trip to Auschwitz had spanned the middle of the day and taken a good five or six hours, including getting there and back, but it hadn’t really involved lunch. I should have been starving, but the heat had sapped my appetite. I needed something, however, so I headed off to a restaurant that promised Polish food and beer. I settled in and ordered soup and a beef pancake with mushroom sauce, and a Tyskie beer to wash it all down. ‘Large or small beer?’ the waiter asked. ‘Ooo, large please,’ I replied, thinking cosily of the “large” half-litre beers in Germany. Then I looked at the menu and realised I’d accidentally ordered a litre of beer. Oh well, if there’s one thing I’ve learnt in Germany, it’s how to behave in the presence of a lot of beer. Continue reading Krakow, 10th to 12th of May

Auschwitz, 10th of May

Arbeit macht frei
The infamous sign over the gates of Auschwitz read ‘Work gives freedom’. This is a replacement – the original was stolen a couple of years ago and although it was recovered it was too badly damaged to be put back up.

Today I visited Auschwitz. It was extremely incongruous to see such a place on a sunny summer’s day, and the sheer scale of the events that occurred there are overwhelming. I’m not sure I can easily describe the experience – the data is available for anyone to look up, but seeing where such things happened is a different matter. Even after seeing Auschwitz and Birkenau in person, it’s hard to grasp the extent of what happened there. Continue reading Auschwitz, 10th of May

Krakow, 9th of May

Some people come to Krakow for the history, others for the party scene. Me? I come for the dentistry. A nagging pain had started up in one of my teeth in the last 48 or so hours and, having alarmed myself with visions of dental abscesses and root canals in Mongolia, I resolved to deal with it first thing in the morning. Thus, after some much-needed sleep, I tootled off to the Tourist Info to ask them about dentists and vaccinations. Well, I do try to be original. The lady recommended a dentist just around the corner, while the chap did a quick Google and gave me the address of a clinic that supposedly did travel vaccinations. I decided to do the tooth thing first to get it out of the way. Continue reading Krakow, 9th of May

London to Krakow, 7th to 8th of May

How does one begin an epic train journey? I wasn’t sure, but I was fairly confident that it shouldn’t begin on an aeroplane. Consequently, May the 7th found me on a Eurostar train from London to Paris, an experience that mostly went smoothly. I spent most of the journey quietly working and trying not to accidentally kick the feet of the guy sitting opposite me. The Eurostar deposited me in a balmy Paris, with plenty of time to stroll from Gare du Nord to Gare de l’Est and grab a bite of supper before boarding my next train, a CNL sleeper to Berlin. Continue reading London to Krakow, 7th to 8th of May