Leaving sunny Split was sad, but the first week in a new city is always exciting and overwhelming, regardless of how frigid Prague was. We were welcomed off the plane with way lower temperatures than we had experienced on the trip, and gloomy clouds that spread over the sky as if it had never seen Split sunset in its life. But as usual, we made the most of it. This week I:
- Continued the birthday celebrations of Mark and Sami at a bar called Hangar, where we all drank too much and danced too hard. Wait. No. Dancing too hard isn’t a thing. But if it is, we do it often. It was a LOT of fun.
- Woke up, hungover, and did a chalkboard wall for a sustainability market. I was approached by the city manager to do some chalkboard “signage” but it turned out that it was actually an entire wall. As I gulped down an espresso at 8:30 AM while navigating the Vietnamese market that the place was surrounded by, I somehow churned this thing out.
- Walked around said Vietnamese marketplace and discovered some very odd things, which made more and more sense as the month progressed. Many questions came from this market. “Why is this pen holder getting boinked by the pen?” “Why are there dildos next to these children’s toys?” “Why is Sami disgusted and then intrigued in these two photos that were taken back to back?” Some questions have been answered, some remain a mystery…take a guess at which are which.
- Walked all around the city with some fine folks and discovered even more weird things. Like this pair of pantyhose that we can only assume was used as some sort of slingshot. Because we used it as one and it worked, so…
- Realized that my job and the time difference was really starting to wear on me. I was on calls at 3 AM my time and my sleep schedule became so messed up that I wasn’t really sure how to keep up. More on this later.
- Went to Poland. SHOCKER, but I’ve been really into spontaneous trips lately, and this one was VERY spontaneous. I didn’t plan on doing many side trips in Prague because there’s so much to see, but when I heard a group was going, all I could think of was my Grandpa (who was from Poland) and how I wanted to see where he grew up. Though I didn’t get to visit his city, I did have some depressing things on my list to see: mainly, Holocaust things. My grandpa was a Holocaust survivor and was the only one in his family to make it. He went through 22 concentration camps. TWENTY TWO. Some people didn’t even survive ONE. This has always fascinated me, and because I have such a connection to it, I’ve always been very into learning about the Holocaust and World War II things. Anywho, I wanted to visit concentration camps and what not. So I bought a train ticket the night before, hopped on a train, then a bus, then somehow ended up in Krakow, Poland. (Also, it was snowing in the town where my train to bus transfer was. SNOW!!!)
Anyway, in Poland I:
- Ate this amazing Polish food and oh my god I really just wanna marry this soup. I ate it at almost every meal. Also, whoever decided to stuff pasta with potatoes should be given a carb-queen sash. Ate my weight in those here. Also, the picture below was what me and one friend ordered. No wonder the lady at the counter looked at us as if we were crazy. (Just crazy hungry, woman! Stop judging!)
- Ate all of the things, actually, at this Christmas market.
- Took pictures of Lucy eating all of the things.
- Saw some more kickass street art.
- Went on a walking tour of the Jewish quarter. Learned that Krakow was the only city whose Jewish quarter wasn’t destroyed. Why? Theories are varied, but it’s believed that Hitler intended to keep it in tact after the extermination of Jews to serve as some sort of “museum”. WHAT THE ACTUAL F.
- Went on a solo night adventure. First stop was the Schindler museum, which was pretty interesting. Schindler’s List was actually filmed in Krakow, which kind of restored parts of the Jewish quarter because people flocked to see it after the movie was released. However, it’s a bit inaccurate…you can research that on your own.
- Had craft beer and a few work phone calls in random cafes.
- Met up with some guy from Couchsurfers for a beer, who ended up not being a traveler (he had never left Poland) and was apparently using the app for dating. I found this out when he tried to kiss me at the end of our already very awkward conversation. Dude. Seriously? That was a fail, and I’ve now found out that this is common – I’ll get to that in my next post.
- Visited Auschwitz and Auschwitz II (the concentration camps). Excuse my French, but holy shit. This hit home for me, as I assumed it would. My grandfather lived at this place at some point. Strangely enough, I also learned that he was liberated in Czechoslovakia. My mom sent me a bunch of newspaper clippings and handwritten documents of his that I had never read; one being that he was a Polish, Russian, German, AND Hebrew language interpreter in Germany where Nazis were being prosecuted for war crimes. SAY WHAAAA? G-pa was mad smart. The original Auschwitz had a bit more to see in terms of buildings and facts and horrible, horrible sights – like the room of BRAIDS, unfit for picture taking. Yes, braids. Of hair. From women who were living there. Once exterminated, the Nazis would cut off their hair to send over to a company that would make textiles out of it. I gagged when I saw it out of pure shock and horror. And that’s saying a lot. I don’t have a gag reflex. Also seen: a room full of shoes, a room full of hairbrushes, a room full of things that the Nazis possessed from people leaving – Jews would take their most prized belongings since they could only take a certain amount of stuff. Then get it taken away, before being killed.
It’s still unreal to think about this week, but especially that Poland trip. It wasn’t planned but I have a feeling that it happened for a reason. Everything that I saw and experienced was so unbelievable – literally (and I hate saying that but) I still can’t believe all of these things happened. When it comes to family, I’ve never felt closer to my grandfather. In fact, it made me want to finish what my mom and I think was the beginning of his autobiography – which would take a ton of time and effort, but I am thinking about it. Would you read it?
Don’t want to end on a damper, so here’s a picture of a puppy.
Coming up – more spontaneity and unplanned trips, one of which includes me actually tripping. And falling. And spraining my ankle very badly in a city alone at night. (But really, does this surprise you?)
Professional writer, designer, and do-it-aller. Remote Year citizen/alum. Currently living in San Francisco and probably trying to avoid the terrifying amounts of pigeons.