Wednesday, April 30, 2008


i took the night train from vienna to krakow after a slightly unexpected delay. it turned out to be a really great one though because i finally got a chance to talk to my mom and dad on the phone... after i hung up with them i waited for a bit before heading out to my platform to figure the train out. its one of those that splits and goes in all different directions like in the cartoons, but i ended up in krakow safe and sound the next morning.

there's something really amazing about krakow and i immediately loved the city. it just draws you in with its markets and accordian players and beautiful architecture.... i really didnt want to leave. i spent my first day there jumping around between bakeries and parks and doing minimal sightseeing. i got a free coffee from a guy at a little cafe since the bills i had were too large for him to break, and when i came back later to pay for it we went for a walk on his break. i didnt even get his name but it was really nice talking with him. the next day i was staying at a different, beautiful little flower hostel and decided that since i was going to be coming home there that night instead of to a roomful of snoring greek guys, i could handle my plan for the day.... visiting auschwitz.

at first i was a little apprehensive about going since i'm freakishly sensitive but it ended up being a really incredible experience. i stopped into the train station to ask for directions and talked to a lady who got me signed up to be part of a tour group for not much more than i would have paid to go independently. i'd never been part of a tour before but i felt like this would be a place where i'd be happy to have a guide... i got picked up in this crazy little tourist bus and we set off to go pick up other people, but there was nobody at any of the hotels so it ended up being just me! so i got a private tour through auschwitz with a really great guide. i of course was crying from the get-go but eric, my guide was really sensitive in allowing me a bit of space, helping me move along and giving me a few shoulder squeezes here and there. after we were leaving one part of the museum i asked him what it was like for him to work there and he told me how its made him more optimistic... he used to be full of anger and now he's full of love... we sat out in the fields overlooking the camp and talked for a long time about the survivors he has met, the former nazi officer he talked with, about hope and the human spirit and resistance. i left there feeling more positive than i could have possibly imagined...

that evening i spent in the most amazing bookstore/cafe in the world! you know how when you have to go to the dentist or sit through something completely horrible and people annoyingly tell you to just "picture your happy place"?? well, for me, this place is it... its this fantastic flat with the walls entirely covered in books and you can just drink coffee and read for the rest of your life there... it was lovely. so my last day i saw some more of the sights around krakow, hung around by the river and had some gelato since i was missing my friend lynn, then took the train to meet up with laura. we headed to budapest together (on another crazy night train adventure) where i am now.

more from me later! take care of yourselves and each other.
love, mary

1 comment:

Lynn said...

I'm continually amazed by what each day brings for you in your travels. It sounds like you had the best tours of Aucshwitz one could possibly have... what a completely moving, memorable experience. I'm sure it will go with you the rest of your life, as most of these other experiences will. I'm happy you had some gelato for the both of us.:) I have yet to visit our spot in Fremont.. it makes me miss you more.