Being away from my husband for the last two months, meant that we both wanted a little bit of time to reconnect. Just as us – doing the thing we both love. Travel.
Our chosen destination this time, a place which Vince has wanted to visit for a long time, Kraków. I’ve never wanted to visit Poland, although have been interested in the concentration camps and German occupation of europe. Living with a father who was in the RAF and a mother growing up in our bomb blitzed town. Bomb shelter at the bottom of the garden, tape across the windows and curtains tightly closed at nighttime to maintain blackout.
The reason. A trip to Auschwitz.
I’ve grown up with many stories about the atrocities and the indomitable spirit of our country during this time. I can always remember as a teenager, sitting in a cafe with my mum, as we were served our cups of tea by a waitress. As she reached out, there was a number tattooed on her arm.
“Do you know what that tattoo means?” My mum asked. I was clueless.
That means the waitress was a prisoner in the concentration camps during the war. I felt my gaze rest on her – not knowing what I thought someone who’d been through such an ordeal, should look like.
She was ordinary really. The exterior of a person never really shows what has gone on during a life lived. You need to get to know a person, listen to their stories and hold judgement to understand what they’ve gone through and why.
When we travelled the world, our fascination for the second world war was piqued in Pearl Harbour. During the 4 days we stayed in Waikiki – two of these were spent travelling the long distance by bus to this splendidly interesting war memorial. My emotions melting as they connected with my parents. Through the music, its smells and talk of the second world war.
We had booked our accomodation through Air BnB. In the heart of bustling Kazimierz. The Jewish quarter. A historical district of the little city, full of winding, cobbled streets, hummus shops nestled amongst residential apartments – traditional and contemporary bars restaurants and cake shops.
Our little studio apartment was situated on the second floor, facing an internal courtyard with the smell of garlic and fresh bread, billowing up from the traditional restaurant situated directly next door. It was a beautiful and quiet location, close to everything. The only complaint I had, was the smell which perpetuated from the bathroom. The room in itself was lovely and clean – as was the whole apartment but there was a smell which, if it had permeated everywhere would have made the stay unbearable. But, it didn’t, it wasn’t and overall everything was fine. There was everything you needed for a short stay. Booking a hire car for the duration as we wanted to do a self tour of the concentration camps, we managed to park outside everyday. It was an easy place to be and Poland from our point of entry elicited a calm, I couldn’t quite put my finger on.