School trip to Krakow
On Friday afternoon of the 22nd of March, our group of TY and 5th year students embarked on the journey to Poland. We arrived in Shannon Airport and had no trouble with our flight over.
Upon arrival into John Paul II Kraków-Balice International Airport, we got two buses back to Hotel Apis, where we got some food.
On Saturday the 23rd our day began at 8 am for breakfast. At nine we left for the old town. We split into three groups and my group was lucky enough to get a very informative and sweet guide. She brought us to see the old town of Krakow which was such a beautiful area filled with outstanding buildings and history. We visited the Jewish quarter of Kazimierz, which was unlike anywhere I’ve ever been before. We made our way to The Wawel Cathedral which was breathtakingly beautiful. We learned about the history of the Polish kings and saw many of their resting places. We then moved onto The Church of St. Mary, which was also outstanding with magnificent art works. We then got around two hours to ourselves and then made our way to the Wieliczka Salt Mines. When we got there we were greeted by a friendly guide who gave us a small radio with an ear piece. We walked down stairs 50ft underground. We were told we were only covering 1% of the mines on our tour which shocked us all. The mines itself isn’t used anymore but is only there for tourists. All the walls and floors were made entirely from salt which many of us had to lick just to make sure she was telling the truth- she was. We saw many beautiful features created from salt and all of our breaths were taken away when we made it into the Salt Cathedral. Massive chandeliers made from salt hung over our heads with sculptures of Christ and paintings, all made from salt were along the walls around us. We continued our journey until we were 139ft under the surface. Then finally we made our way back up in a lift. We arrived back at the hotel for a quick dinner and then we were off again to the Aqua Park. Everyone, including the teachers, all had a blast on the slides and in the lazy river!
Sunday was a much earlier start as we were out of the hotel at 8:45am. Our bus to Auchswitz and Birkenau Concentration camp took around an hour. On approach of the camp I could already feel the eeriness of the place begin to set in. We were spilt into groups again and given a radio and headpiece too. We had to go through a security section and then our tour of Auchswitz began. We entered many buildings that were once barracks where many people slept their last sleep. We saw things like shoes, glasses and suitcases that once belonged to the former inhabitants. We saw more graphic objects such as the hair of the deceased that was shaven off hours before their death. We saw the gas chambers and crematoriums and cells where Jews were held. The whole experience was quite hard and dark to go through. We then got on our bus and set out to Auchswitz number two-Birkenau. I was taken aback at the sheer size of the camp. It was so eerie and quiet, it didn’t help that it was a quite overcast day making it more emotional. The train tracks ran through the camp and even the thought that this is where millions of people disembarked from a train not knowing they were going to die, made me feel cold inside. We then went back to the hotel for some food and then went bowling for the evening.
On Sunday we spilt into 5th years and TYs, with the 5th years heading to Schindler’s Factory Museum at 9:15am and then the TYs at 10:15am. In the museum we saw where they filmed the movie, Schindler’s original office and many other exhibitions on the history of the Jewish community during the war.
After that we got around 5 hours to shop at GaleriaKrakowska Shopping Mall, which was absolutely huge. It had many shops and food places and everyone had a lot of fun there.
At around 6pm we headed for the airport and arrived back to Nenagh around 1am.