Tom here for Friday, July 6:
Up at 5:30 am to take 90 km bus ride to Auschwitz. The 18-seat bus was nothing more than a large minivan (unconditioned, of course), which made the trip exhausting. Mary an I took an unguided tour of the concentration camp. The tour was easy to follow as most descriptions and summaries were in several languages. While many of the exhibits are comparable to the Holocaust Museum in Washington, witnessing the setting first-hand was truly moving experience. Mary and I left Auschwitz disbelieving the cruelty human beings can show one another.
After returning to Krakow, we visited the Krakow Archdiocesan Museum, which was the bishopric of John Paul II before he ascended to the papacy. After paying 5 PLN to enter the small museum, we had to pay an extra 5 PLN to take pictures; Mary and I got our money's worth by taking a picture of almost every exhibit there. Most of the exhibits, btw, were either JPII's clothing/vestments, or gifts he received from around the world.
Pope John Paul II's embroidered handkerchief
We wrapped up our visit to Krakow by visiting the city's Stare Miasto. Their old town is a very quaint and welcoming location, with its narrow streets, many restaurants and shops, as well as street performers. One interesting sight to mention was the Cloth Hall, a gathering of tiny kiosks where the shopkeepers tried to sell their furs, woodwork, glasswork, ceramics, and knick-knacks.
A night train at 10 pm took us to Vienna.
Mary here for Vienna from night train: July 6th-7th:
OK, now I love trains-especially when I get to sit in the engine and "woo-woo" the horn. Sadly, I did not get to do that. But I did get to hear every announcement at every stop with the public address first speaking in Polish then seamlessly switching to German around 3 am. Sleep? It's highly overrated. Our conductor who welcomed us onto the train in Polish, wished us well as we left, in German. Who says Americans aren't multi-cultural?
We arrived at the Vienna station at 6:10 am. Neither of us had any Euros and of course nothing was open on a Saturday morning. We walked. And walked. And walked. By 7:45 we arrived not so fresh at our hotel, whose receptionist in an authentically sincere German accent said we could not check in until 3. Undaunted we cheerfully went on to explore Vienna.
We walked until we realized what a phenomenal transportation system Vienna offered. Who cares that we boarded the wrong tram going the wrong way? Eventually we made it to the Vienna Museum and Karlskirche. We also sought out the Monument Against War and Fascism.
Although exhausted, we went to the top of Stephensdom's spires. Tom took pictures to prove it. In fact, here is one!
To end the day we ate at a Mexican restaurant. Thus far we have enjoyed Polish, Italian, German, and Mexican fare. Oh, I almost forgot, the warmed Apple Strudel with ice cream and real whipped cream was delicious! I highly recommend it.