The train ride through the Polish countryside was uneventful - lots of agriculture and small towns, just like the rest of the world. Al's sense of adventure is more developed than mine, but I followed along while he figured out how to take the tram from the train to the Kazimierz district of Krakow, which is the old Jewish neighborhood, which was quite dilapidated, but in recent years has been slowly restored (there is still a long way to go, but they are working on it). We're in what was once an old tenement building but now is a bright and modern apartment. With a kitchen, so you know who likes that part.
We've seen dozens of old and ornate churches here. Isn't it surprising what church architects could do hundreds of years ago? We've walked miles (Al suggested that he was my hero when he found his way on the map, but I told him that the only way to be a hero was to call a taxi) and seen how pretty this town is. Yesterday's highlight was an hour at the Castorama, Poland's version of Home Depot. One of us was thrilled to sit in the garden department for a while, the other was like a pig in mud with all the tools.
That wasn't really the highlight because the next stop was the Schindler Factory Museum, which is located in the administrative building of the real factory. It's very well done, telling not only about the people who worked for Oskar Schindler, but what life was like in Krakow while the Germans were here. We would still be there, but they locked the doors.
Today can't be described. We visited Auschwitz and Birkenau but I just can't find the words to describe the atrocities there. We've all seen the photos, read the books, watched the movies, but until you stand right in that road, it's just not imaginable. The survivors insisted that it be preserved as a museum and it's pretty much as when they left it, but cleaner. Most of the barracks are intact, the "shower room" is part of the tour, and the rubble of the crematoriums are just as they were when the Germans blew them up to destroy the evidence. It's the most graphic reminder that could possible exist.
The tablet isn't cooperating well about posting pictures, but I'm going to try to put them up on another post. You can go to www.en.auschwitz.org/m/ to see more.