The following morning, wayhey! Its proper raining again! After another walk around town, this time in daylight, I get myself a cheap lunch consisting of some sort of fried cheese thing in a stale baguette but I'm not hanging around. I'm off to Poland today, Krakow in fact. I'm staying with Nick, a friend of a friend and thankfully he's sent me some directions on how to get to his place. I think I like Poland as soon as I cross the border as when I'm riding alongside a railroad track, the driver gives his horn a big honk and as I turn round to look, he gives me a 'go on my son' kind of nod so it's already more sociable than the Czech Republic. Riding into Krakow, I find it's a really attractive place. Not only does it have beautiful looking old buildings and cobbled streets but its got cool old trams running down the middle of the roads. The high stone built tenement buildings also remind me of Edinburgh a bit. Nick turns out to be a really nice guy and he has a fantastic flat where I get my own room. Over the next few days, Nick shows me around town and we go out for quite a few beers, God I'm out of practice!
I enjoyed having a few days just kicking around not really doing much in Krakow which was just what I needed. I did however take a ride out to Auschwitz which should have been quite straight forward but I ended up on back country lanes, dirt roads and dead ends, all within sight of the actual road I was trying to take. Unfortunatelly no rice paddy fields this time but I think as a detour, Michelle would have loved it! No matter, I got there eventually and this time joined one of the tours. I didn't know too much about this place apart from the obvious but there are really separate two sites. Auschwitz 1 is the start of the tour and was actually a former Polish army barracks that the Nazis helped themselves to and isn't really that big a site. 3Kms away is Auschwitz 2 (Birkenau), the place we all recognise from the pictures of the railroad heading under the brick archway. This place really is huge but there are actually less buildings to see here. Our guide thankfully doesn't suffer fools gladly and will just pause and give one hell of an icy stare to anyone caught making a noise during her talks. The exhibits are quite incredible, most notably the huge piles of human hair (about 2 tonnes worth), thousands of suitcases and even massive piles of children's shoes. It was during that exhibit that the irritatingly loud English couple (who's mobile phones kept going off during the guides speeches) and their free spirited sprog stopped and looked at the pile of children's shoes.
Mum to daughter- 'Ooh look darling, those shoe's are just your size'
(Fucking hell- this was just after the guide had explained that any children on the trains coming into Auschwitz were pretty much taken straight to the gas chambers as they were of no use to the Nazis)