Oświęcim’s rich history is often overlooked to it’s truly horrific claim to fame – the home of Auschwitz. Oświęcim has seen its share of hardships – the town was destroyed during the Mongol invasion of 1241, the town was burned in 1655 during the Swedish invasion and a battle between Austria and Prussia was fought here in 1866. Steve and I only visited for a day, with the intent of spending most of the time at Auschwitz.
How We Got There and Around
I mentioned in our previous post that we didn’t pre-book our tickets ahead of time, so we ended up finding a tour group in the main square and booked a tour with them. It actually worked out quite well. We showed up at 11am with all of our stuff and a bag lunch, they drove about 75 minutes to Auschwitz and we left our bags on the bus. We did the tour from 1PM – 4:30PM, grabbed our bags from the bus and walked 7 minutes to our AirBnb.
Around town, we walked. The walk was quite pleasant, even though our feet were a bit sore from walking all day in Auschwitz. We didn’t see many taxi’s running and when looking at Uber only saw one active car part of the time. It worked out, as we were able to see many pretty sites, plus walk off a gigantic dinner.
Where We Stayed
Our apartment was quite nice. Our host was even better; she gave us plenty of recommendations which included the best Polish dinner EVER!
Our Favorite Foods
Did I mention we ate the best Polish dinner – because we did. Our dinner was at Chat na Zaborskiej.
For starters, we ordered some Piecuchy – large dumplings stuffed with yeast dough, and baked on stone. We tried the cheese, chives and ham, spicy chicken and three cheese. These were delicious.
What We Did
Auschwitz Tour – It is really hard to put into words what it’s like going through this museum. There is nothing I can say that truly does it justice. If you are not familiar with what took place here, check out the wiki article. Reading about it in school, on the internet, or watching movies doesn’t really prepare you for seeing it in person. At one point we walked the same road that the prisoners walked when they were just arriving. It was surreal to know that I was walking next to Steve, when in reality, at that point during the walk, thousands were separated from their loved ones and grouped – Men, Women, Children, Old, Sick, etc. Some marched right into the gas chambers, while others were sent to work, dying off later from starvation, sickness or the gas chamber. It was an unreal experience seeing a room filled with human hair that was found by Soviet soldiers, and rooms of shoes that belonged to real human beings who were most likely killed. To see the infamous Block 11, where prisoners were forced to stand in a standing cell gave me many emotions. I will say this, many people don’t like going to places where tragic events had happened, however, not going to these places is like forgetting the people who suffered. While I was there I said a prayer and thought about the millions of lives this place affected and hoping to know that they aren’t forgotten. Steve and I are happy we went, paid tribute to those souls and learned a great deal about the Holocaust. We also learned a bit about Poland after the war and it is sad to learn that with Soviet rule, it continued to be a hard and horrible life for many people.
Old Town – We checked out Old Town on our way to dinner and even stopped for a beer. Much smaller than Kraków. We enjoyed people watching and very cheap beers.
We are so happy we went to Poland. It felt like there was so much to see, and we couldn’t do it all. Many people put Warsaw on their skip list, but I really am glad we didn’t. We look forward to returning to Poland again. We would love to see Gdansk, Tatra National Park, Malbork, and Bialowieza Forest.