Yesterday we started off the day with a tour of the Jewish quarter in Krakow. After catching a few trams we finally made it there. The distance away from the center of old town and town square was really evident by how long it took to get there even by tram which made me think about the fact that the Jews were brought into Poland to help jumpstart the economy yet they were living far from the place where all the economic activity is supposed to happen. It really felt like they were separated from the rest of the city with the only positive being that they were protected by the king there. Our polish tour guide really didn’t mention the relationship between the ethnic poles and the Jews, which makes sense because it wasn’t a very good relationship, especially around the time the war started. I’ve noticed that the Polish people have a great sense of nationalism and they talk about all the great things that has happened in their country, but those things happened long before the horrible things did. There really isn’t a whole lot of mentioning that they were in reality giving up their neighbors and fellow countrymen to the nazis. The threat of death was definitely real but at the same time would you be able to give up your own neighbor/friend just to save your own life? It’s the toughest question I’ve come across while visiting these places and hearing their histories.
Today we left Krakow and continued our journey to Lublin. About a five hour trip through the Polish countryside. A highway system pretty similar to ours but definitely not the autobahn. Lublin, although definitely not as vibrant, looks a lot like Kraków. We got the the hostel which is a cool place located right next to a little cafe/ bar in an old European looking building. Surprisingly recently renovated and actually pretty nice. Walking to the old town area though didn’t feel like Kraków at all. Few people walking around and pretty dead. Not until we got to the old town did it pick up and actually got pretty busy with a monster bmx show and other small shows going on as we walked. I thought the castle was pretty cool. Lots of medieval things and a really neat chapel with paintings over everything from the walls to the ceilings. The painting had been covered over in plaster when the Russians took the castle and then were restored years later. It’ll be fun to figure out more about this place and explore it some more the next few days.