By Sarah Friggieri, www.glutenfreefoodie.com.au
Read the Part I HERE
Sarah Friggieri, Australian blogger visited Europe and several countries, including Poland. In the PART I she explained why she decided to visit Krakow and what was her first reaction after visiting Auschwitz museum. Below you may read the second part of the story.
Almost two hours later, we were transported to Birkenau, and the shock on our faces was immediately evident. The sheer size of this camp makes sense of the number of Jews who perished under Nazi ruling. The sun bearing down on us, we walked the same long route victims were taken from the train to the gas chambers (if they’d failed selection) – their horrific demise. The difference is that we had water to keep us from fainting, and would eventually be allowed to walk free from this hell. Once Germans learnt that the Russians had invaded Poland, they blew up all of the chambers here to rid the area of any evidence of their crimes – cowards – so most of what is left is crumbled remains. One building that still stands, and that touched my heart, is the place of rest for women who no longer worked to their full potential. Five to a ‘bed’ (really just planks of wood), and they would’ve fit, too, considering how malnourished they would’ve been. The beds were stacked three high, with the weakest women forced to sleep on the brick floor and defecate there too. Perhaps just as sad is the fact that visitors to this UNESCO World Heritage-listed site have chosen to etch their names and dates in to the walls of this building. Where’s the respect?
After an emotionally tiring day, I was extremely grateful to arrive back at Vienna House, draw myself a bath and soak away the stress that afflicted my mind and body. Then it was off to Mavericks, the hotel’s new California-inspired restaurant, for a beautifully prepared gluten-free dinner.
Ideally located for those just wanting to stop in for a takeaway coffee en route from Old Town to the main railway station and Galeria Krakowska shopping complex. For me, it was all about sinking in to a lounge, taking in the tropical surroundings, and indulging in a meal I know was safe for me, as a coeliac, to eat. Since I couldn’t decide on an entree, I opted for both the peppery cream of corn soup and bruschetta-reminiscent stuffed taco shells, distinct flavours that encouraged me to ask for more – but I held back, in favour of the baked lemon chicken on basmati rice, a light yet satisfying meal infused with sweet spices. Then I walked across the hall to the ever-ambient Bar Smok for a free glass of wine (instead of having our room cleaned, we chose to do our part in saving the environment, and were thanked with free drink vouchers).
STAY / Vienna House Andel’s Cracow / Vienna House Easy Cracow
My only regret from our visit is that I didn’t give Krakow more of a chance when I planned the itinerary. There’s so much more to explore here – Jewish Ghetto, Old Town, medieval salt mine Wieliczka – and when I next visit (how could I resist?), I’ll be sure to fit them all in, using Vienna House as my base.