Wednesday 28th July to Saturday 31st July
Wednesday 28th July
The rain was still coming and the temperature had dropped, we were starting to think that was the end of the summer! Especially as now all we were doing was heading North! Depressed we headed toward the Tatra mountains on the border with Poland. We planned on heading up into the Tatras to stand on top and take in the views. But driving past them with the rain pouring down, clouds around their tops, our walking boast still soaked and our muscles still aching from yesterday we decided against it!
We passed into Poland and continued north looking for places to free park. This turned out to be mission impossible though as Poland seemed to have houses everywhere! Even down small roads when you thought you were getting into countryside, we would turn a corner and there would be more houses! We had planned on taking a few days to get up to Krakow, but by the end of the day our only option was parking in a paid car park in the Salt mine town of Wieliczka, just below Krakow! So far Poland hadn’t been what we were hoping for, also the rain just continued and we got more disappointed!
Thursday 29th July
Got up early and headed to see the Salt mines, we had heard they were wonderful containing sculptured buildings underground from salt! The cost was very pricey and we had to go on a guided group tour, as you’re not allowed to wonder around them. I never was and defiantly am not now interested in guided tours! I like wandering around on my own and everything you need to know is usually in a leaflet. This was no exception and the mines ended up being a big disappointment. Rooms full of sculptured salt figures were good and the great church intricately carved out deep underground was impressive. But apart from that the guide was just boring with bad jokes and half the time was spent waiting behind other groups. The rest of the time we just seemed to pass lots of underground souvenir stalls and places selling food, where our guide would stop to see if we wanted to buy anything! Also once underground we were told we would have to pay extra to take photos! I did manage to sneak one picture in though, it’s not the best mind!
It was good but essentially one spectacular carved room and lots of tunnels, maybe it was the price and the fact we weren’t in the best mood to start with!
On a better note when we came back to the surface the sun was out and the rain had stopped. Our next stop though was going to be Auschwitz, so that wasn’t exactly going to be a happy place. We decided to leave that for tomorrow and slowly head there hopefully finding a free parking spot on the way. Although the sun was out Poland still wasn’t being kind to us in the way of free parking places. After a lot of driving to and through, our only option was paid parking again. The problem or for a better word the prospect though wasn’t great, as this paid parking spot was the car park right next to Auschwitz! Still we wouldn’t have to go far tomorrow, the thought though of spending the night next to the place didn’t exactly fill us with happy thoughts! There were other motorhomes there when we pulled up and we made sure we parked facing away from the buildings.
As we were there we did think about heading around now as it was still open. We thought against the idea though, as it would be bad enough going around it anyway. Let alone going around then sleeping next to it! It would be best if we tried to put it out our heads till tomorrow!
We were surprised at the location of the place though, I suppose we thought it would be out the way in the countryside. Instead it was on the edge of the town with houses backing on to it. Also it was a strange car park come TIR stop, with lorries, cars and a small building with cafes and shops! Just seemed weird next to such a place! We weren’t amazingly looking forward to going around it anyway, I mean it just seems strange visiting such a place. But at the same time, it needs to be done to see the reality of everything that happened.
Friday 30th July
Got up to more rain, but I suppose depressing weather for the depressing place we were about to see. Arriving in the building even at 9am there were hoards of tourist groups, making the visit seem even stranger in my mind.
The place I suppose is everything you expect it to be, grim, morbid and thought provoking. Most of the buildings have displays showing the treatment of people and just the mass scale and terrible efficiency the Nazi’s used to work and kill millions! It is a very sorrowful place, full of suffering and hard to grasp people did and could do this. So many wasted lives!
I wanted to take some pictures and felt strange doing so, as I just wanted to capture the grimness of it.
But what amazed both of us were not only the huge amount of tourists about barging past etc, but the way they take pictures. It’s almost done as holiday snaps, you know pictures of smiling people next to a gruesome electric barbed wire fence, behind which are the horrible barracks! Just seems very weird. You can imagine them back home showing a slide of their holiday snaps, “look there’s us on the beach in Croatia, there’s us at Disneyland Paris and there’s us at Auschwitz!!” Just seems strange to me, but each to their own I suppose.
Anyway the whole place and history is good in a way to actually see, but so saddening. There just aren’t words that can describe the tragic lives of the people imprisoned and killed here by sadistic crazy Nazi’s! Human life is just worth so much more.
From Auschwitz, we continued down the road to the other camp of Birkenau. Auschwitz was a converted army barracks, but this place is on another scale and purpose built! It is huge, the scale of it is shocking! A purpose built morbidly efficient factory of death.
The crimes people are capable of are unthinkable, but happen! My god, you walk around thinking how could they of thought they could get away with it, but they did for years! Thank god, well more to the point thank the people who fought in World war two and defeated them! The place breaths death and suffering, it’s staggering and it’s within touching distance of our generation. The poor innocent victims that got led here, to suffer… Will people ever learn is the key I suppose, I hope they will, they need to. I suppose that is why coming here is a good thing.
After this we decided we needed to head away and into Czech Republic. So off we headed on a long drive to a campsite in Czech, near the Polish border, near the town of Trutnov.
Saturday 31st July
Woke up to actual Sunshine and the prospect summer could still be with us! Got on the bikes and headed up to the national park, ready to see the local rock formations here. On arriving we found that we weren’t allowed to take the bikes in and also we had to pay to enter the park! So we paid out and headed around the rocks, it was nice but very busy as it was a weekend.