16 people , including Rotarians and spouses, travelled on Colwall Rotary’s Biannual Cultural Trip, this time to Krakow in Poland. Not all made the first night dinner in Krakow; some slow coaches failed to make the connecting flight in Frankfurt and instead enjoyed the delights of Hauseman’s in the airport. The meal was less plush than our counterparts had in Krakow , but washed down with lots of beer was certainly enjoyable.
On the first day the main party had a guided bicycle tour of Krakow . The pace was gentle and we had lots of stops while our guide informed us of the history and folklore of Krakow , with his own embellishments in places and plenty of humour. As a way of getting to know what was where in the city and acclimatising ourselves it was excellent. A small number of ladies went on a walking tour instead which seemed to dissipate into a shopping spree.
On the second day the choice was between Auschwitz-Birkenau and the Salt Mines.
Those who went to the Salt Mines were surprised by their vast scale even though they had been told beforehand. Over the nine centuries of salt extraction the salt mine has transformed into an underground city in which a specific, therapeutic microclimate has developed. Kilometres of underground corridors with impressive chambers, chapels and emerald salt lakes hide the history and secrets of the Mine, unveiled by a local guide, who explained how, over the centuries, the miners extracted the white gold – the salt.
I’m not sure what to say about Auschwitz-Birkenau, it was an experience that no one who went would have wanted to miss, but it was terrifying to see the scale of man’s inhumanity to man which took place there. Alan Bridge said, “Very humbling. No real words for it” Chris Mill said, “it was an amazing insight into the madness of mankind.’
On the last day, the theme was carried on with visits to the Ghetto and to the Schindler Factory. Both were very worthwhile and both emphasised the depravity of what had happened here in the war.. As the sign said in Auschvitz, “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it”.
It was not all serious though. There was plenty of time in the day for other sightseeing, shopping and to find out more about the local cuisine, beers, wines and cocktails.
Each evening Simon, our tour leader, led us through the streets to another local restaurant serving up the best of local food and wines.
All in all it was a super trip and out thanks and congratulations must go to Simon for his detailed organisation and for putting up with all our repeated questions and idiosyncracies.
You can find all the photos of the trip either on Colwall Rotary Facebook site or on the website by going to "In the Community" ... "Photo Albums"