Blogging our way through Eastern Europe
Today we said goodbye to Berlin! It was a bittersweet departure since I fell in love with the city but I’m also very excited to explore Poland (aka the Motherland according to Nicole Mi).
I was very apprehensive about flying on RyanAir since it is considered “sketchy,” but thankfully we survived. As soon as we started driving through Poland, I was instantly in awe of how beautiful the landscape is. Luscious green dominates Oświęcim.
I honestly did not think I would have much to blog about today since we mostly just traveled, but as soon as our bus pulled up in front of Auschwitz, I knew I was proven wrong.
The vibrant willow trees draped over the barracks inside the concentration camp. The sun weaved through the branches, caressing the ground with light in a place where I believed there to be no light. Blooming flowers peppered the side of the road. Ben, sitting beside me on the bus, commented, “It looks so beautiful.” And he was right. In a place I believed there only to be death and darkness, there was an eery light shining through. I knew our hotel would be right across from the concentration camp, but I did not realize how close it truly was. There is only one full street separating this magnificent hotel from the infamous death camp.
After taking a couple minutes to check in and figure out how to turn on the lights in our hotel rooms, we walked around the outskirts of Auschwitz. Once again I was stunned by the contrast between the darkness of the location and the beauty of nature. It does not look like anything I’ve ever seen in pictures or that I’ve ever imagined. It does not seem right.
We’ve all learned about Auschwitz, for me starting in 6th grade. It seems very surreal that I am here, in this very town in Poland, about to step foot in a place of such terror and destruction. I feel guilty about the fact that tomorrow I will be able to leave the camp, when so many others never did. I was often asked by others why I wanted to go on this trip and experience such emotional turmoil and to see such horrific places. But I believe it is important to remember. I believe it is our duty to remember and face the history of humankind.
I am terrified of what I will see and experience tomorrow. Being here makes everything seem so much more real than I could have ever imagined. It is impossible to separate yourself from the history when you are standing inside it.