After a nice breakfast ( but you wouldn't want to eat the eggs), we headed out for a city tour of Old Town Krackow with our guide. We learned about the royal circle around the town, the circular park that used to be a moat, the Wawel (pronounced Vovle) castle that was last occupied by a Nazi general, and about Polish pride, despite being over run by the Austrians, the Germans, and then the Russians.
And just like we lucked out on the May-Day celebrations in Budapest, we happened upon a holiday in Poland: May 3 is Constitution Day, similar to July 4th, our Independence Day. We saw a parade, military marches and bands, as well as a former prime minister introduced.
Many shops were closed for the festivities but we found a wonderful restaurant to have pierogies.
Then we we were off on our own for two hours, so we visited some churches, which all had masses and the Black Madinna on the walls, and then headed to the Jewish quarter where Oskar Schindler had his factory and the movie Shindler's List was filmed. We learned that the following were from there too: Max Factor, Helen Rubenstein, Billie Wilder.
But the highlight, AND also the shock, of the day was our visit to Auschwitz. I really cannot describe how powerfully horrible this place is from the two tons of human hair, to the human ashes, to the children's clothing, to the shoes, to the cooking utensils to the barbed wire, to the barracks, to Mengele's hospital where experiments were done on children and twins, to the women's sterilization house to the final horror of stepping into the one remaining gas chamber and crematorium. Finally to the faces on the wall with the date of entry and date of death meticulously catalogued.
When we got back, we sat in our room and had coffee, trying to perk ourselves up, trying to process such atrocities, knowing that such horrors are still going on around the world.
Luckily, we met up with Cathy K's cousin Antoni for dinner, distracting our minds. He was so much fun to talk to, and we learned more about the country, what life is like, his family, and the political climate of Poland, such a nice way to end the day, visiting a new friend.