I'd never been to Krakow before, and I never really intended to. Katie's family arranged a trip so we booked flights and headed over. Usually, the trips you don't plan for or expect much from (because you don't know what to expect) turn out to be the best. I'm so glad we went!
It's such an interesting city, full of stories, and is placed in a really pivotal part of Europe.
The square in the town centre is a brilliant focal point and a really inviting place to spend time eating, drinking or people watching in the restraints and bars. It has the look and feel of a classic European city that you know is steeped in interesting history.
We went for a long weekend, so didn't have loads of time to explore, but saw more than enough in that time to be really fascinated. (Liverpool also beat Palace away while we there which at least meant the trip wasn't soured by that).
One of the highlights for me was spending my mornings reading with a coffee in Charlotte's, and the mountain top cafe.... no idea where it was though.
Obviously, the main part of the weekend was our trip to Auschwitz/Birkenau. You can't go there and not be profoundly affected. The experience will live with me forever. I'm sure there are far more eloquent people than me who can describe what it feels like to visit, but it's a trip everyone should make.
The most poignant moment of the trip (one of the most poignant encounters I've ever experienced) was walking amongst Orthodox Jews at the central part of the Birkenau concentration camp where groups were reading Scriptures, surveying maps and charts of the camp, posing for photos in the cattle carts used to transport Jews to their deaths and praying. I often think back to that moment and try to wonder what it must have meant to them. I was severely affected by being there as someone unaffected by what had taken place there. I can only speculate, and wouldn't want to try and guess but it moves me still to think about.
My trip there justified the reason why it still stands as a monument...
To remember what took place.
To honour those who suffered.
To make sure it never happens again.