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POLAND | Friday, 25 July 2008 | Views [580]

Krakow was our first city in Poland. It has the largest public square in Europe or so we read. We did not have a host so we stayed a few nights in a hostel. It was noisy and populated by brits, Irish and a few swedes. Not a bad place but not as good as many of the hosts we have stayed with. We arrived by overnight bus, not fun but necessary. The Poles are verz concerned with smuggling cigerettes and vodka. We were stopped twice in themiddle of the night to search our bus. I think they figured the only Americans on the bus were not smart enough and too sleepy to smuggle anything good!

Our first day in we visited an underground salt mine. Been in existence for something like 700 years. Pretty cool and we licked the salt. I think we were were about 135 meters below ground. The picture of the chapel with chandeliers is in the salt mine.

The second day was our big day so we traveled to Auschwitz. There are not many things I could say about the camp other then a few facts I learned when there. One thing I would say is that this camp is a reminder of how brutal humans can be and how amazing the human spirit can be to rise above the brutality. Auschwitz is also three camps and the second one called Birkenbau is 176 hectres. Simply put it is huge, I had no idea. And to view the railroad tracks that lead right into the camp and stop is almost too much to comprehend because that is were people were split either straight to the gas chambers or straight to work. The main gas chambers are destroyed but you still get a sense of how frightening and maddening this was.We left Krakow the next day on an overnight train to Warsaw.

Warsaw was not that exciting and we only stayed two nights. The best part of our stay was our hosts Alek and Joanna. They were great people and made us feel very welcome just like all our other hosts. Even when I lost §100 (oops, that hurt)they tried to help us out. They were even leaving for Barcelona the day we left but still managed tohost us and show us around. Joanna was also working on a cartoon for the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising museum. They were having a contest and she was working hard on it while were there, we can't wait to see it. Oh and they ate lots of veggies, which we appreciated. I also learned to love cherries and now am eating them everywhere. Now the day train to Berlin!

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