Sunday, August 12th
With a knot in our stomach, we left Sweden. We had such a blessed time in Sweden and Norway. We did not really want to leave, but knowing that up here summer end quick and fall was upon us it was better to go in still great weather. We boarded the ferry from Stockholm to Gdansk. That about a 19 hours trip. The boat clearly was older and more run down than the Stenaline that had brought us to Sweden from Germany. We left around 6pm. Anna said goodbye to Sweden. Big tears and crying for Mia, our Swedish friend. It was a beautiful time that we will remember and cherish.
Monday, August 13th
The night on the boat was a little restless with a rough sea. Fortunately, we had brought our own coffee machine and we could enjoy a delicious ‘bakkie’ before breakfast as long as Ewout was willing to hold the coffer maker above his head in the hall way as the power output wouldn’t supply the needed watts in our cabin. The boat would arrive around lunch time. We walked around the deck, played in the kind of play corner and did a morning nap in the hut. Once arrived in Gdansk we were happy to see Bloomie and Bakkie in sound condition below deck. In good spirits we drove of the ferry on to discover Poland.
Tuesday, August 14th
We stayed in a small cottage at a lake. Turned out not to be ideal for the nights as there was ‘kinda one bedroom’ in the attic where you could only move around crawling (advertised and confirmed on request as ‘2 bedrooms’). Livia slept in the living room so the evenings where forced to be outside and silent. Yet there was a slide into the lake and a swing suspended above the water. We enjoyed a BBQ and a beautiful sunset. But we decided to travel on the next day, as sleep wasn’t the best here and that is key to enjoy your day after all (for us at least it is), to the south of Poland to visit Krakow where Ewout was for business a few times and had a (former) colleague we could meet up with.
Wednesday, August 15th
We made a stopover in a beautiful part of Poland, 1.5 hours north of Krakow. In the middle of a region where a hiking and climbing is number 1, 2 and 3 of the activities. We end up at a campsite where the owner was a big fan of Norway. Funny to see typical Norwegian products being sold in a fairly remote store in Poland.
Thursday, August 16th
Today we went to visit a castle nearby. There are many in this area so Anna could choose which one see wanted to go to. She chose ‘the nice one’ and after we had bought entrance tickets we could go on a (mandatory) guided tour. This tour is only and entirely in Polish… ‘Typical Dutch’ Ewout and Anna escaped the tour an went on an adventure through the castle. After we had seen everything also awoke and was ready for her bottle. We went back to the car for that, but had to discover that we couldn’t exit the castle as the tour was still ongoing and the entrance was locked.. In our best ‘hands and feet’ Polish we asked to be released and got out early, probably thanks to a crying Livia :). Satisfied and full of milk, we drove back to the campsite.
Friday, August 17th
Now that we were close we wanted to visit and pay our respect in Auschwitz. We had never been and it seemed something needed to be visited…. But do you do that with a 4 year old that is like a sponge but can’t yet understand the layers of complexity (and profanity) of human nature? With all her ‘why-questions’ and her head that always seems to be spinning, we did not sure what was wise to do. We decided to together anyways, but to skip the most confrontational parts (gas chambers and the like). We could no longer buy tickets online so we had to queue. It was a short drive so we set the alarm early and left very early with Bloomie and Bakkie in the direction of Auschwitz. Once there, the first impression was different than expected: in the middle of buildings there was a parking lot full of buses and people. We parked afterwards and walked to the entrance. We had to stand in line for a ticket. Fortunately, we were on time and did not take long (behind us the queue was quickly expanding). If we would have arrived about 30 minuted later it would have taken us at least an 90 minutes extra to ‘get in’. Once inside it was crowded, full of guided groups of people (grouped per language). The tours were quiet in a certain way as the guides voice was delivered via headsets. For Anna it was a visit full of questions and impressions. A visit that we would like to do again, but then in spring or autumn, with more peace and space for silence and reflection then during ‘high season’. All in all, it is a impressive place and make you silent and humble. ‘That we never forget’
Around lunchtime we got back into Bloomie to continue the journey. Weird to realize how easy we could walk in and out this seemingly god forsaken place during the war where so many people where exported to and never walk out again. And also thinking of the little amount of survivors that keep on returning as this is the last place they say there spouse, kids, parents, family or friends and the impact this place made and still makes on them and there families.
We arrived at the campsite near Krakow in the course of the afternoon. We set up camp and made plans for our visit to Krakow the next day.
Saturday, August 18th
From the campsite we walked to the bus stop. From the bus to a tram that delivered us in the city center. Anna discovered the horses with carriages and after all weeks of traveling without any horse ride (that we did promise would happen) we gave in and decided to do this tourist thing. Not something we would choose ourselves to do, but that’s how we keep traveling fun for everyone :). She selected the, in her eyes, most beautiful carriage and with Livia soundly asleep we made the 15-20 minutes through the city center. Anna was ecstatic. This was her dream of being a ‘princess in a carriage waving to the people’. After the ride we walked even further explored the city center. It is a beautiful city with many historic (and well maintained or rebuild) buildings. A rich history much lay here. Still full of all the impressions from yesterday and today we decided not to make the day too long and we returned to the campsite in time.