Thursday, April 18, 2013

Back to Athens: April 5th

Hayley Kelly
April 5
Back to Athens

            What a long ten days living out of a backpack has been. I cannot wait to arrive in Greece to feel the warmth once again. My body needs to be thawed out from the ice-covered Poland. I’m excited to go back to my Athens home because we only have a few weeks ahead of us before heading back to the states. The time has flown by.
            Overall, the trip to Italy and Poland was full of mouthwatering foods, beautiful ancient architecture, and tons of laughs. I experienced several different places with a variety of cultures.  In Italy things were much more similar to America. People were less friendly, moved at a quicker pace, and were rushing everyone else around. In the other countries I have visited, this was the most touristy. Rome restaurants wanted a quick turn over, which I forgot what was like. In Greece you sit at cafes and have to ask for the check because they expect you to sit for extended periods. However, no one in Rome seemed interested in what had brought us there or how long our stay was, or anything about us. Anytime our group of eleven people roam around from place to place, the locals looked and asked questions out of curiosity. In my opinion Italy, Rome in particular, is the most tourist-involved place out of all places I have visited throughout my European travels.  Don’t let me discourage you from traveling to Rome, or Italy, because there are many beautiful attractions with a lot of history behind them.
            Poland was a very emotional trip for me. I have always tried to better understand the Holocaust because I never have fully understood how Hitler and the Nazi Party got away with murder for so many years. Through my stay in Poland I now better understand the Holocaust, but still have so much more to learn. My knowledge was mostly extended in Schindler’s Factory Museum.  I learned more details about World War I, which helped me understand how easily manipulated the Germans were by Hitler.  I also gained knowledge on the tactics the Nazi Party utilized to get people on board, the main one being you are either with us, or against us. Anyone who was against the party and was caught was placed into the camps as slaves alongside of the Jews. I also did not know there was a large population of people who were not Jewish that were put into the concentration camps. Many Poles, Gypsies, Russians, and others were all massacred with the Jews or were moved to Auschwitz- Birkenau.
Auschwitz- Birkenau was the largest concentration camp. It was turned into a concentration camp after the Germans invaded Poland in 1939. From 1942 to the liberation in 1944, the camp was used as part of the “final solution” to exterminate the Jews and anyone against the Nazi party. Over 1.3 million people were killed in Auschwitz. Those who were not killed in gas chambers died from starvation, exhaustion, diseases, and medical experiments. When the Soviet Troops arrived on January 27, 1945 only 7,000 people remained alive in Auschwitz. The Nazi’s destroyed the gas chambers and crematories to attempt hide the evidence of their cruel behaviors.
Krakow was full of sadness because of all of the horrible historical events that had taken place. Although, when I walk around town and see people smiling and hear people singing songs about the German sky bombers no longer in the sky, from their balconies.  My heart  was lifted with a sense of happiness. These people’s family had to fight through everything and have regained their spirits.
One of my favorite parts about Krakow was the traditional Polish food. I am Polish, so eating perogies and golabkis every night was fine with me! My favorite place we ate at as a group was the Milk Bar. The Milk Bar is an old traditional Polish restaurant. An original Milk Bar is set up with two starters and only three main courses on the menu. You get to pick a starter and main dish for a set price. This Milk Bar was more modernized and still offered the original type meals for a set price but also gave you other options. I ordered off the traditional menu and indulged in homemade veggie soup and then Polish meatballs covered in a tomato sauce.
Overall, ten days of travel is never enough to see everything through two countries. It just means I’ll have to go back one day!
As we make our way back to Athens we are all excited because we only have 9 days total left in Athens. We created a bucket list of things to do before we leave Athens. The list consists of activities like revisiting the Acropolis, climb to the top of Mount Lycabettus for sunset, get a fish pedicure, and many other things. I hope we will have time to fit everything in before we leave. The islands are quickly approaching along with the two-week marker. Time flies when you’re having fun!

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