Saturday 30 April 2011
Prague – Oswiciem (Auschwitz)
7 hrs 37 mins
It was once again a bright and sunny early Saturday morning in Prague. It was very pleasant looking out over the river Voltava that runs through Prague - chance to reflect and admire this beautiful city in the morning sun for the last time. By 7.30am the wheels were rolling through this very quiet city, it was a short 43 miles to the Sedlec Ossuary in Kutna Hora, or the bone church as it is more commonly known as. We arrived quite early and for the first 30 minutes or so had the place to ourselves. 40,000 people made up the decorations, a very surreal feeling and all because a bloke going by the name of Mark went to the Holy Land and brought back some soil to scatter over the church yard. Because of this people (generally wealthy) wanted to be buried here. With so many bodies to be buried in such a small graveyard, insufficient space to do justice to the burials was available. Consequently corpses had been piled up and buried in a random ad-hoc manner. The monk in charge gave the instruction that something had to be done to provide a fitting resting place for these poor souls. One individual given the task found a novel use for the piles of bones when he not only re-buried many of the bodies, but used the bones from several thousand individuals to create bizarre decorations within the crypt of the church.
The feeling came that it was time to leave when the coach load of tourists turned up, we got rolling eastwards with a brief but seemingly regular stop to fill the tanks, empty ours and grab a bite. With what seemed like a short run we were in Oswiciem, a quiet Polish town but with a dark and sinister history – Auschwitz, the infamous Nazi extermination camp. We got to the hotel early afternoon but after being quite busy, all feeling exhausted. We had a quiet afternoon and opted for an early dinner and an early night as were to be up early the following day to go and Auschwitz museum.
We were discussing over dinner how the trip so far seemed to be revolving all around death (so if you are reading this and are to thinking the same, then yes we are aware of this!). We all knew the history of Auschwitz but were all uncertain as to what we would feel the following day.