Saturday, October 31, 2009

We Were in Eastern. Europe. ...

I should probably preface that last entry by saying that the camps aren’t the only thing that is in Poland. We weren’t purely “horror-tourists”.

We stayed in Krakow for 3 nights. That is really a fantastic town. Basically, all of the unique and interesting things from Bruges are in Krakow, but they’re 10 times better. It’s also significantly cheaper. That’s the one advantage of traveling outside the EuroZone for sure. We had a map of the town with recommendations from Gabe on cool places. I tried to hit as many of his spots as I could. Started with an excellent Italian meal. I got the best mussels of my life in Poland. We moved onto a hookah bar from there serving some primo shisha. Not a bad night, eh?

We toured the city the next day and got to experience a rather tourist version of the Polish town. I found the pieces of information on Oskar Schindler, and the movie, really fascinating. I watched that movie for the first time just before heading to Europe with my family, so it was still fresh in my mind. Needless-to-say, standing in the filming spots was humbling. I spent that night on the internet talking with people from home and loving it. It was a perfect mental break, especially with the camps waiting the next morning.

Auschwitz-Birkenau was a sobering, awful, teaching, and otherwise overwhelming experience. The poem that I previously posted is really the only way I can describe the experience. I felt myself just hoping to get out of the place on multiple occasions, and only kept myself from breaking down by mentally repeating verses, or songs, or even God’s name.

Yeah… that was a pretty rough day.

Coming back after the camps was a totally different experience, though. For a bit, I had felt as though I was in some sort of a social funk. I think I just had the idea that the camps were coming up looming over my head and it was affecting me more than I knew. But after that day, I’ve felt much more as myself (besides being sick), and am enjoying my fellow travelers significantly more.

Now, I’m just reveling in my last three days in Berlin. Coming back here felt somehow like coming home. How’s that for eerie? There’s just so very much to enjoy about this city. Especially the people. Last night, Gabriel had us over to his flat to eat a massive Greek dinner and basically have something of a party. No, not a college-kid (emphasis on the “kid”) party, more like a yuppie party. Lots of talking, laughing, and sipping wine. That kind of a thing. Anyway, during the night, I got to talking to Gabe’s good mate, whose name I can’t spell due to its Germanity, who also happened to be the very talented guitar player from our Karaoke experience. He is just a stand-up guy. He must have asked me everything about our trip, and then always followed it up with a question about how it would affect me, or what I could take away from it. Pretty cool huh? After a decent amount of the group had gone back, Gabe gets everybody’s attention and says ‘hey, my mate who owns this really cool bar came over and asked if we wanted to come over. It’s a bar that’s in a flat building next door. It’s basically a speak-easy, there’s no advertising for it, and it’s just the size of a small flat. It’s also a haven for graffiti artists. Berlin’s been known for its graffiti, but you haven’t seen any have you? Well, this is the place where the art actually is. So, what’d ya say, you guys wanna come?’

So, I spent a significant amount of last night in an underground speak-easy graffiti bar in East Berlin.

There will not be a whole lot of times in my life where I will be able to say a sentence as cool as that one.


This was all written a bit ago, updates from Prague and Four-Day are on their way...

1 comment:

  1. Gotta be honest, I'm a bit jealous you are in one of my favorite countries of the world for the first time, and I am not there to show you all my favorite spots as well.

    Glad you loved Krakow, it is a wonderful city. Looking forward to showing you around Cairo a bit. Airfare prices are not looking good however...

    Much love bro,