Poland 2014 · Uncategorized

Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II Birkenau

Even though I’m supposed to be one of those well educated Swedish people there was just so much that I didn’t know. I didn’t know that the Soviets were the ones that liberated Auschwitz. I didn’t know that there was a one, and two, and three. I didn’t know that when they showed the entrance of Arbeit macht frei and then when they got of the train inside the camp, that there were actually two different camps. It’s so easy to believe what you see on TV, it’s harder to believe what you see in real life.

I had a wish, since we were going to Poland, to go visit the concentration camp of all concentration camps, and I got what I asked for and then some. I have turned all the pictures into black and white for the sole reason that I think gives the history the respect that it should have, and the fact that for me, black and white photos makes it feel more real than color. That might me an figment of my imagination, however this is my blog and a I cry if I want to. And trust me, I wanted to.

We started with Auscwitz one, the one with the famous sign that a terrible sorry poor bastard of Sweden was part of stealing a while back. How any money in the world can be enough to steal something like that, I can never understand, I do understand though that in the age we live in there is not enough respect for what once happened here. And I think forever that this sign (bad pic I know) should make us remember what went on here, not forget, not want to make money beacuse some crazy collector wants it in their collection, not to deny!

HistoryWhen you are walking around in the camps, it’s hard to determine of what to take pictures and what not. There are some places you are asked, specifically, to not take pictures, and those I respected. Then there are areas where I guess it’s up to your own concionuse if you are willing or wanting to take pictures at all. 

For example, when our amazing guide showed us the small area where they shot people and told us that the origninal wall was destroyed so the one in place is a replacement for the museum, I chose to take pictures, still knowing that many people lost their lifes in this spot. I did not however take pictures of the poles, in the same area, where people were hung by their arms behind their backs, Imagine the pain, the cruelety of that torture, personally, I would have wished to be shot.

The wallThere are so many pictures, I will have to let some of them speak for themselves, beacuse I can speak for them. The moment you enter the camp, there is a emotional dull that lies heavy on you. It’s pretty impossible to not feel the importance and sadness of the place you have entered, at the same time the numbers are so high that they are hard to comprehend.

Fences

Houses

We have all heard about the crematoriums, most of the ashes from those crematoriums where amongst other things used for the roads in the camps. Some of the ashes was recovered and placed in an urn, this urn represents the ashes of all those who were cremated in the crematoriums. It’s a beautiful thought according to me.

The ashes

The biggest moral dilemma was the gas chamber, the big ones in Birkenau are all destroyed, as the Germans knew they were loosing and decided to attempt to hide their tracks. However the one in Auschwitz one is still there. What do you do? Think about the people that died there and opt out of taking a picture? Or do you see it for what it is today, with a flower in the middle as a memoriam. You see the room, you see the holes in the roof where they dropped the gas, you try and understand what happened. I chose to take pictures, and then I chose to feel relief that the big ones were destroyed because my soul hurt enough at the small one, not sure that I could’ve handled to visit the big ones however it would have been disrespectful not to.

The gas Gas cans Gas chamber Hole in the roof

Personally, I decided against taking pictures in any of the rooms that showed personal belongings of the people that died during the years of the camp. The only room that the museum asked you not to was the room with the hair, the 2000 pound of human hair that they found when they liberated the camp. The hair that they hadn’t already sent back to Germany to be used. I found it hard to watch the people that couldn’t respect the no photo sign in this room, how can you when faced with all this human hair, shaved of the people being prepared to be gassed to death, think about taking a picture. I remained in that frame of mind when seeing the glasses, the shoes, the suitcases, the personal belongings that the people brought with them thinking they where going somewhere where they would have use for them. I could only watch, and wonder, how on earth anyone can claim this never happened. How can anyone deny that people where brought to this place to die, and then to remove all traces, burn them into ashes.

Oven

There is an unnerving peasfulness to the area, it’s so quiet, so large and so unsettling.

Never ending 2 Never ending 3 Never ending 4 Never ending

How can you fit at least a hundred people into this? Can we, with our need of our own housing, with several rooms and a certain quality of living, ever understand how you can even think of fitting a hundred people into this small cart?

Cart

I have so many pictures, I feel like I can show them all, and you all will feel what I felt when I saw pictures before I went there. It happened, ok, then move on. What impacted the most on me was our guieds finishing line, she told us that Poland opened the camps as museums in 1947 because they wanted to know the world to know what happened there and for us to learn and make sure it didn’t happen again, but look at the world today, did we learn? No!

shot_1406200569208And lest not forget, these camps came about because one people thought they had the right to banish other people, it wasn’t just the Jews, it was all that didn’t work with what Hitler wanted. It was the gypsies, the intellectuals, the resistance. So lets make sure we keep the intellectuals, that we keep resisting the people that want injustice to people that are different to who we are, lets just make sure this never happens again!

 

 

 

Poland 2014

Krakow to Warsaw to Home

Thursday started with, you guessed it, another early morning. This morning started with a not so good hotel brekkie, where the coffee was totally instant and I couldn’t finish the cup.

Brekkie

Before I checked out of this hotel, I just had to take some pics of its old fashioned self, I mean the door even needed a key, I really mean a proper key, that you had to turn in the lock.

Key in the door Carpet Tiles

After the brekkie and the photo moment of the old fashioned hotel it was then time for the early morning reason, we were picked up for a trip to Auschwitz, something that will be getting it’s on post, for this post though; we were good little tourists running around whit the badge and all around our neck and got cheap microwaved lunch.

Tourist

Lunch

We returned back to Krakow after a 6,5hr ride and it was, due to our train schedule, time for dinner, the rain was pouring down at this stage still we managed to find a place that was out doors with some cover, and I know at least I would’ve loved it if the weather would’ve been nice.

Restaurant Dinner Beer

After “dinner” we went and got our bags from the hotel, walked down to the train station, and guess what! The train station in Krakow does have a Starbucks with Frappuccion happy hour, guess what I got!

Starbucks

Then it was train time again, and it was shown that the free coffee, tea, water with wafer that we got on the way down wasn’t a lucky thing, it’s something that they really do on the Polish trains.

Train coffe

Back in Warsaw we managed to find our way to the tram (not the easiest thing, I tell you) and made our way to the hotel without issue.

Tram

I still had a can of beer left that I had been carrying around for some days now, and did something that I have childhood memories of (sorry mum), beer in plastic cups in hotel rooms.

Last beer

After yet another early night (thought vacations where there for the other way around) we went home, however Warsaw gave me a beautiful goodbye.

Good morning

 

Poland 2014 · Uncategorized

Dinner at Restauracja Sąsiedzi Krakow

This beautiful restaurant that we found on our afternoon out in Krakow deserves it very on post, because it was just so fab. The name of the place is Restauracja Sąsiedzi and if you are ever in Krakow I can totally recommend it, you find their webpage here. They are also recommended by Guide Michelin, always a good sign.

The restaurant

As so many other places in Poland, it looks like a rather small, quaint little place from the outside but when you enter it’s like a labyrinth of small little rooms and walkways. This place had a back garden partly glassed in and partly not, as for this evening the rain was pouring down so we were happy for the glass roof.

Dinner

The place is beautifully decorated so I spent some time in-between the courses taking pictures of everything and nothing, as you will notice. Now to the food, I started with an absolutely amazing little salmon tartar, I just love salmon, and tartar so the mix of them can really never go wrong.

Starter

I cleaned the plate, I can tell you that. While waiting for the main course to be served, I was playing photographer, this is our table lamp;

lampMy order for main course was the Pork tenderloin skewers, baked potatoes, pickled cucumber and garlic sauce that was served in the most amazing way. It was a bit hard to take a picture of it so the picture of me hiding behind my food taken by Lady T will have to describe the experience.

Me and my food Table (2)

After this meal, I figured enough was enough, there is no way there could be more room in my tummy, it appears that my oldest niece is right – the dessert tummy always have room. Thus, I accidentally managed to order ice cream with warm raspberries as well. I was especting a small bowl with a couple of spoons of ice cream and some raspberries, instead I got this;

Dessert

I think that even the waiter was impressed with me once I finished it, and I think I entered into a small food coma. But damn this food was good! I think I’m getting cravings for it now, anyone wanna go to Krakow with me, like now?

We then of course also received the strange little cherry after dinner drink, that I politely sipped and decided that I still don’t like.

After dinner drink

After dinner we returned to the hotel for an evening drink before bedtime, becuase as you might have guessed Thursday came with an early morning.

Poland 2014 · Uncategorized

Warsaw to Krakow

This vacation is now having more early mornings than a normal working week for me, Wednesday saw us getting up and about to make the morning train to Krakow. The things you do on your time of. At 7:30 in the morning, I now organized a little tram chaos (you know me and transportation) so we had to get of in the middle of the road, jump on the metro for one stop before we made it to the train station with big hopes that the trainjinx would stay away.

Our tram Tram chaos

Road to the station

Breakfast was purchased in one of Poland’s own coffee shops at the station, I tried to drink my coffee straight away instead I had to spit it out and then walk around for the rest of the day with a blister in my mouth and no taste on the tip of my tongue, so much for heat control. However, about an hour later when I wanted to eat my tuna sandwich the coffee was also cold enough to drink.

Brekkie (2)

A little something that the Swedish train companies can learn from, was the sweet little lady that walked through the train handing out free coffee, tea or water. I opted for a bottle of water, and was given a chocolate wafer with it. Customer service in a nutshell. The ride down would have been perfect if it hadn’t been for the fact that we were in the kids cart where they had an area for kids to play in. Something some kids took advantage of for most of the three hour ride, lucky me I slept for most of it (and seriously if that was the worst the polish train gods can throw at me, they have nothing on the Swedish ones).

Free water and cracker

Arriving in Krakow we set out on the about fifteen minute long hike to our hotel hoping to be able to check in early, and for the second hotel in a row, that was easily sorted. Then it was lunch time again (gotta love the vacation eating) and we decided for yet another touristy square. I chose a Cesar Salad with my beer and the first glance it’s the smallest Cesar Salad ever, one should never judge a book by it’s cover though as it turned out to be a pretty deep hole in the middle of the plate.

Lunchtime view Lunch BeerWe then spent the afternoon walking around the square, checking out some stores and the likes as proper tourists.

Tower The square House on the square The square (2) Building on the square

And after several hot and sticky days something magnificent happened, the rain came! I love when that happens and you feel like you can breath again (and to be honest, I’m melting away on my couch right now waiting for the exact same thing to happen here). We hid out in a quaint little bar while waiting for the rain to pass, you guessed it, yet another vacation afternoon beer 🙂

Rain beer Painting on the wall Rain Rain (2)When the rain passed, we walked around for a bit more, saw some more old nice buildings, checked out the oldest Synagogue in Krakow in the Jewish part of town. Touristy stuff – check!

Olddest Synagogue Building (2)

We also walked past something called Svensson, and with the blue and yellow sign it just have to be Swedish so I just had to take a picture.

Swedish

While walking around in the Jewish area we also found a Michelin recommended restaurant that looked real adorable, so we made a reservation for dinner later in the evening but before that I had to go back and get my standard afternoon nap, and rest my feet a bit as they were hurting big time at this point.

 

 

Poland 2014 · Uncategorized

Warsaw

Tuesday morning we woke up to a full day in Warsaw that started with a proper hotel brekkie, as required when out travelling.

1. Hotel brekkie 2. Hotel brekkie

Then we headed out and about, starting with the Jewish neighborhood right next to our hotel, where there are memorials, museums and statues in memory of the Second World War and the Holocaust. It’s impossible to not walk around without taking a moment and think about what happened then and then think about what’s going on in Europe at the moment.

Memorial (2) Memorial (3) Memorial

After the walk down history lane we decided to visit a park that according to the map had a couple of palaces and other beautiful things, including Poland’s Versailles. After all the walking the day before we also decided on trying out the Warsaw public transportation in the way of the Metro. Nice and clean like everything else in Poland, think we Swedes can learn a bit from this country (especially when it comes to public toilets, theirs are awesome ours are not).

Metro Metro (2) Metro (3)

The first thing we needed when we finally made it to the park (didn’t really take that long) was coffee for Lady T and morning vacation beer for me. We just couldn’t resist this little place that looked very much like a Hobbit house, and the interior and garden was absolutely a-mazing. I could spend the whole day in there with my book.

Hobbit placce Hobbit place (3) Hobbit Place Hobbit Place (2) Hobbit place (5)

 

Amazingly enough I only took one(!) picture in the whole park, I must just have been in awe about how beautiful it was. The buildings might not have been as big and lavishing as expected, the park was beautiful though, promise.

Park

As we were making our way back towards the more central part of Warsaw, we must have exited the park in the wrong end so we got a nice little hike next to the highway in boiling heat (not recommended) however, underneath the overpass we saw some real cool graffiti (not sure I made it justice in this picture). My experiences tells me that if you are interested in graffiti, highways are usually a good bet.

Graffiti

 

With all the walking, and walking, and walking. Lady T started to loose it a little bit in the heat I think as she wanted to go have a chat with the rainbow. Before you all throw yourselves on the phone to call the looniebin, there was an actual rainbow.

Rainbow

And I don’t really think she wanted to chat so much with it as sitting down in this little square for some liquid intake. I of course opted for another local specialty.

Beer (2)

We are now closing into the afternoon we realized it was lunchtime and headed out to find a place to eat, we must have been super hungry because I totally forgot to take a picture of the food (oh, my, god, I’m such a horrible blogger). I managed to get one on the dessert though, love Starbucks Poland for their frappuccino happy-hour, half price here I come!

Starbucks

After Starbucks we returned back to the hotel for a nap and some cool after a long hot day. At least I took a nap, Lady T went for a run. Not sure if I should be impressed or call here crazy. When I woke up again, it was already dinner (are you seeing the perfect vacation? beer – sun – food – beer – sun – food – beer – frappuccino – food) and we settled for a place that called itself the best Mexican in Warsaw. As it was the only Mexican we had seen, they might just be right, and the food was fab.

Dinner (2) Dinner (3) Dinner (4) Dinner

We ended the evening with walking up Lady T’s favorite street, walking past a real cool car;

Cool car

and then sat down at a place that we walked passed a couple of times that looked real cozy. It was, the service totally sucked though which was sad because I would have recommended it otherwise. When looking for the bathroom you had to go down in the basement that turned out to be a huge gallery.

Evening drink Evening drink (3)

We then returned to the hotel and bed as we had a relatively early start on Wednesday morning.

Poland 2014

Take off (second attempt)

The other day, while still in Poland, I spent loads of time writing a post and then trying to find a WiFi that was stable enough to upload. When I did, the post uploaded empty and all my text and pictures were gone, so I gave up on trying to blog during the vacation. So here goes, I hope it works this time!

* * *

Finally it was time for the real vacation to start, a little trip to Poland, a country that I never visited before. The trip started super early in the morning, I woke up at 5 am, with a 6:10 bus to the Malmö airport.

1. Departure 2. Morning coffee

The trip both to the airport and the flight went surprisingly smoothly for being me traveling, and after a quick taxi to the hotel that were kind enough to give us a room even if we arrived hours before check-in,we headed out.

First stop was a nice cold, cheap Polish beer and some salmon salad lunch at one of the touristy places closest to the hotel, still in the beautiful old town of Warsaw. And a cute little puppy guarding our table.

wpid-shot_1405933669254.jpg wpid-dsc_0044.jpg wpid-shot_1405934502341.jpg

Then the walking begun, I don’t know how much we walked during these days, but man my feet were hurting. I have also taken loads of pictures of beautiful buildings, fountains and the likes, I won’t bore you with all of them.

9. walking some more 10. Walking some more 6. Walking around 5. Walking around

Walking makes you thirsty, especially in the heat, and for the first time in my life I had a Spritzer that wasn’t made by Miss Legal, it was good however Miss Legal makes better ones. We also got a little after food drink even if we didn’t eat, unfortunately neither me or Lady T likes the taste of cherries if it isn’t actually a cherry so this wasn’t for us.

7. Spritzer 8. After spritzer drink

The walking then continued, and continued, and continued. Luckily enough we found a Starbucks so I could enjoy what would be the first of many, Strawberry and Cream Frappuccino.

StarbucksWhen we finally arrived back in the hotel in the afternoon, I just crashed into one little sweaty and tired pile of needing to sleep. I managed to get maybe an hour before waking up, starving for more food. So we walked back to the old town square for some more touristy food for dinner. We got two starters to share, after they arrived we realized that one to share was enough.

12. Starter 14. Starter 2 13. The restaurant

For dinner I tried the famous Polish Pirogi, or dumplings as they call them in English on the menu. I have to say that I expected something completely different, more like the pirogi I make at home rather than the dumplings that was on my plate. And since of course the cheese I had to start out with wasn’t enough, I also had cheese in my cheese and onion pirogi. They tasted better than expected and I could now say that I had tried some typical polish food.

16. Pirogi

We finished of this looooong day with a drink overlooking a beautiful square and a Palace. Warsaw is a very relaxed city and it was easy to let the shoulders down and just enjoy the beautiful evening.

me 17. Evening drink

I also have to mention that I totally appreciate the fact that right next to the hotel there was 24hr alcohol store, heaven for someone from Sweden with limited access to alcohol thanks to the government monopoly.

18. 24hr alcohol

Poland 2014

Take off

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