My travel to Krakow was to visit the standing remembrance of one of the most horrific places on the planet, the Auschwitz – Birkenau Concentration Camp complex. Auschwitz was a network of German Nazi concentration and extermination camps built and operated by the Third Reich in Polish area annexed by Nazi Germany during World War II. Auschwitz I, the original camp was first constructed to contain the Polish political prisoners. Later in September 1941, the first extermination took place and then it went on to become a major site of the Nazi “Final Solution to the Jewish Question”. Other than the original camp, there were Auschwitz – Birkenau, Auschwitz – Monowitz and 45 other satellite camps.
I had signed up for half a day guided tour to Auschwitz and Birkenau camps with an expert giving historical accounts. The tour included pick up and drop from anywhere in Krakow, packed lunch, a bottle of water and guided tour of Auschwitz and Birkenau camps. I strongly believe that everyone once in their lifetime must visit a place of such ghastly stature. These places are not just reminder of heinous acts carried out in past but also holds up a mirror which shows, what we humans are capable of in our most twisted mental states. While at Auschwitz, one hears a lot of tales which stays with for a lifetime. Since, the purpose here is to outline travel details and worthiness of the place, my opinion and experiences about the place is for another write up. I strongly recommend to visit this place if you have a heart for it, but at the same time I would suggest to educate yourself with the history of place before heading out. It is one of those places where you go well after being well aware of its history and significance.
I booked my tour from http://www.auschwitztours.info/ which confirmed my booking over mail and asked me to make payment directly to the driver of the van post tour. It cost me 144 Zolty which was roughly 35 Euros. They picked me up sharp at 9:00 AM from my hostel and dropped me off to the Krakow Railway station at 5:00 PM from where I had a train to Warsaw. Auschwitz was my only agenda in Poland, and I regret not seeing more of this beautiful country. But time and money crunch dictated otherwise. My next destination was Vilnius in Lithuania, and since Eurail pass is not valid in any of these countries, I had a bus scheduled from Warsaw the same night. I had not read very good reviews of Polish trains both in terms of safety and punctuality, but mine was an ace on both. I was suggested to take one of the fast trains and I did. I extend the same suggestion. It cost me about 32 Euros and I booked it a day in advance at the Krakow railway station counter. Only time I walked about in Poland was while looking for dinner and finally buying bars of chocolate at a grocery store at Krakow; walking about Krakow railway station while waiting for my train and walking about Warsaw railway station while waiting for my bus to Vilnius. Warsaw station might feel a little shady, but it is a safe neighbourhood. Hog at Krakow railway stations, prices are pretty low. Yes, that is about it from Poland!
06:34 PM – Krakow (Poland) – EIC3114 to Warzsawa (Poland) at 9:39 PM
Premium Hostel Ul. Pomorska 2 , Krakow , 30-039