scary things

Krakow Travel Blog

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In honor of Halloween, I went to visit the concentration camps at Auschwitz and Auschwitz-Birkanau today.  After all, what could be scarier?  That is, what aside from the disturbing trend of french maid costumes for toddlers? 

The camps were nothing like what I thought they would be.  For one thing, they just looked...nice.  If you didn't know better, you would think they were camp lodges or forest ranger homes or something.  And when it's all sunny and bright like it is today, it just looks like a fairly non-descript row of brick houses.  But then you go inside and all the buildings are full of different displays like the effects of the Holocaust on different countries, methods of execution, and historical exhibits. 

And seeing as we've all passed 3rd grade, you know what you're going to see, but no matter how much you see it really is different when you go there.  Like the rooms full of shoes - I must have seen pictures of that room everywhere on touristy fliers and books, but when you're there and looking around, and amidst the piles of worn black leather you see a tiny kids shoe or a red strappy platform with embroidered flowers, and you think, "well, some people clearly didn't know where they were going that day" and it really is pretty tragic.

Also in how big it is.  Both camps seem endless, but the second, Auschwitz-Birkanau, where the gas chamber was institutionalized really is massive.  All that space really allows you to feel isolated, despite being in a major tourist attraction in the country, which makes it all even more depressing.

Speaking of Halloween, I never thought about this, but in other countries, it's an actually holiday, not just an excuse for debauchary and excess chocolate consumption.  We passed a few big cemetaries on our way to the the camps and they were packed with people bearing flowers, candles, and other things.  And tomorrow is an actual bank holiday here.  It's like the asian holiday where you all go to the cemetary!  But recognized by the government.  Another new holiday: Paczki Day.  The Polish varient of Fat Tuesday where (the locals swear it's true), you eat doughnuts.  All day.  Everyone goes to the bakery and orders a dozen doughnuts and you eat them.  That really is frightening.  It makes American king-sized candy bars seem moderate in comparison. 

Not nearly so tragic in light of remembering the dead and those lost in various ways, but you know what I really miss now that I've been travelling so long?  Staples.  I need pens.  Just, regular pens.  It is ridiculoulsy difficult to get my hands on any.  I've even lowered my standards - I no longer require the uni-ball rollerball gel ink.  I would settle for a box of Bic.  Not only can I never find any pens besides ones with dragons and dancing babushki in tourist shops, but half of them are always BLUE.  I abhor blue ink.  I wonder if ships to Europe?  To all of you coming out here for the holidays: please bring one box of black in pens each.  Thanks.

Happy Halloween, all...someone eat a Snickers for me.
aichuwu says:
Thanks for your vivid stories!
"Be careful about what you wish for", you may get too many black pens and Snickers!
Posted on: Nov 01, 2006
vivo says:
i know what i'm bringing you for xmas! :)
Posted on: Nov 01, 2006
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