On Wednesday the 19th of April, 8 history students accompanied by Mr. Campbell and Mr. O’Donoghue left Dublin Airport bound for the Polish city Krakow.
Having arrived just after 9 O’clock the previous night, the boys were up nice and early for a guided walking tour of Krakow’s medieval Old Town. Braving freezing conditions, the lads visited landmarks such as the Wawel Royal Castle and Wawel Cathedral, not to mention the huge Market Square, learning about the ancient history and culture of the Polish city. After a short bite to eat, it was off to The Wielickza Salt Mine for an excellent tour of one of the oldest mines of its kind in the world.
Walking through the 13th century caves where all walls, floor, and ceilings could be licked to be tested for salinity, we were treated to amazing sights and sculptures such as salt chandeliers and a full-size replica of Da Vinci’s “The Last Supper”, all of which were carved entirely from salt.
After a brilliant tour, it was back to the hotel for the night. Friday Morning was the main event: a tour of the infamous concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau. The 4-hour tour was well received by everyone present as many sad sights were seen, such as the 80,000 shoes found left behind and the infamous “Arbeit Macht Frei” sign. Seeing the gas chambers intact was very profound, the prisoners’ pictures very moving. The sheer scale and size of Auschwitz-Birkenau II was incredibly difficult to comprehend, 10,000 people arriving by train every single day.
After such an incredible experience, the history students made their way back to the hotel by the wifi-enabled bus (the highlight of Stephen Hogan’s trip). After a bit of miscommunication with the evening’s entertainment, a game of bowling ensued where Mr. Campbell promptly demolished the competition. With the weather eventually warming up on Saturday, the group had another walking tour of Krakow, this time of the historic Jewish Quarter, including synagogues and Schindler’s List’s ghetto filming site. Having learned about the Jewish culture and history, a few World War 2 souvenirs were picked up at the Jewish flea market. After walking around the city a bit longer it was on to the gigantic Galleria shopping centre for some last-minute shopping. Eventually a tired but happy group of students made their way to the airport for the return flight, having had a very memorable few days in Krakow.
Eileen Freeman May 5th, 2017
Posted In: Blog