While in Krakow, Neeley and I visited Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum.
These are my pictures from that visit.
-Matt (24 November 2015)
I know the history. I have seen Schindler’s List. When I was a girl, I visited Dachau. None of that prepared me for visiting Auschwitz. Being there felt like all of the historical tragedies of the past few hundred years were smothering me. There isn’t much left of the camp, but what remains sucked the oxygen from the air and from my lungs. I searched for open space, an escape, a moment to catch my breath, but it was impossible. Everywhere I looked, I was bound by brick, barbed wire, or electrified fences. Escape would not have been possible.
Krakow doesn’t show up as a common destination for Americans, but I wanted to go. My mother’s side of the family is Polish and live in the large Polish community in South Chicago. I grew up learning about that heritage through the foods that my mother and grandmother cooked, holiday traditions, and family visits to Chicago in the summertime. Neeley and I wanted to fit a trip into Poland after Prague, so off we went to Krakow.
We woke up early in Dresden so that we could catch our short, two-hour long train ride to Prague. Prague was going to be a new experience for both of us, and we were looking forward to it. Years ago we discussed visiting, but we never managed to make the trip. Since then Prague has gained a reputation as a major tourist destination, so we were wondering what type of impact that would have on our experience.
Yesterday we were nominated for a peer-reviewed blogger award, the Liebster Award. We would very much like to thank Ankita of Transforming Escapes for recognizing our rookie efforts at travel blogging. We have been spending the past month in Bali writing, editing photos, and working on our blog’s functionality. We are proud of this achievement and the nomination from a fellow travel blogger. We would also like to nominate two blogs we have enjoyed.
Dresden has long been on my list of cities to visit. It was heavily bombed by the Allies towards the end of World War 2. Prior to the second world war, Dresden had a long history as the capital of the highly influential and sophisticated Kings of Saxony. Its nickname during their reign was “The Jewel Box” because of its beautiful and opulent baroque and rococo architecture. It was during the reign of the Saxon kings in the late 1700 that Dresden became a European center for science, innovation, and courtly opulence. Everything from porcelain dinnerware and decorations to scientific equipment, clocks, etc. were produced in Dresden.
Matt and I flew from Kiev to Berlin on November 2. It was nice to be back in familiar surroundings. We have visited Berlin before and wanted to include this fantastic city on our tour of Europe. Matt’s sister-in-law has family in Berlin that we met a few years ago at a wedding reception in the Alps. We hit it off immediately and have been promising to visit ever since, and were able to on this visit.
Neeley and I visited Pripyat and the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone while we were Kiev. Much has been written about the 1986 nuclear accident at Chernobyl, so it makes little sense to repeat it here, you can easily find numerous accounts of the tragic incident on the internet. In the past few years, many photos by other photographers have been published and intrigued us, so we decided to go visit the ghost town and see it for ourselves.
Neeley and I are planning on being in Europe until the end of the year, when we will be teaching a photography workshop in Rome. However, as USA passport holders, we are only allowed to be within the Schengen area of Europe for 90 days every 180 days. Sitting down with a calendar, we quickly realized we would need to leave the Schengen area for about a week to stay legal in our travels. After some staring at a world map for a bit, we decide to go to Kiev and explore a place neither of us had ever been to.
After a few relaxing days in Strasbourg, we took the TGV train to Paris. It was our first trip using our Eurail Pass. We have been to Paris recently, so this trip we wanted to focus on wandering more, taking a bike tour to Versailles, visiting some museums, and discovering a few off-the-beaten path spots.