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Daytrip from Krakow to Auschwitz?

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Apr 4th, 2014, 09:45 AM
  #1
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Daytrip from Krakow to Auschwitz?

DH and I are planning to visit Auschwitz on Friday, May 16th. For those who have visited, what do you recommend for transportation to Auschwitz and what type of guide do you recommend? We both love history and want to learn as much as possible.

Thank you,
Kim
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Apr 4th, 2014, 09:53 AM
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For public transportation you have buses and trains - buses I think may go closer to the two sites (Auschwitz and Birkenau - about two miles apart and Birkenau the more horrifying place as this is where the trains emptied on platforms that are still there with many sent to the gas chambers, whose remains are right near the tracks and others to work. Auschwitz was largely a work camp and has more intact remains than Birkenau.

Of course there are guided bus tours from Krakow. But on your own once there you can get guided tours at the entrance/welcome building at Auschwitz.

I would be aloof to experience this as part of a large group as I think solace and quiet reflection on your own is needed. I took no guided tour and found the explanations in English adequate along with the English guidebooks sold at the entrances.

buses I believe go between Auschwitz and Birkenau - I walked but it is a couple of miles.
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Apr 4th, 2014, 02:41 PM
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When i went with a friend we took the guided tour offered at the entrance and found it good. e had enough time to see all we needed to and for our own thoughts, we had a taxi from Krakow and he waited and took us to Birkenau where we met up with the guide again.
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Apr 4th, 2014, 03:31 PM
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We took a taxi (the same guy we arranged to pick us up at the airport). There were four of us and we paid around $30.00 each. Granted, this was 2-1/2 yrs ago. I needed to be alone while visiting both places.
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Apr 4th, 2014, 05:06 PM
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I joined a guided tour group from Krakow. I don't normally enjoy tours, but I was very favorably impressed by the knowledge, tact, and sensitivity of the guides. And even though there was little conversation among the tour group members, I was glad not to be alone while visiting this extremely powerful place.
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Apr 4th, 2014, 05:15 PM
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You all are right about needing to be alone to reflect on the horrors of mankind. DH, DS, and DIL and I went, got a guide at the door who was a retired professor from Krakow and he quietly took us under his wing and made the experience very special THEN we each sort of picked out our own sites and wandered about.He said he did this to help heal his wounds as he was a young Pole living in hell and at the time helpless...A startling and profound experience. You will need an kleenex or several. Be prepared to be impacted. Both sites are very, very moving!!!
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Apr 4th, 2014, 05:20 PM
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Being on your own, in the sense of one person, turned out not to be such a good idea. (if there were four of you, you were not alone!) I visited Auschwitz/Birkenau solo, although I went round at least part of Auschwitz with a guide - I think it was required at the time - and the experience was so powerful it took me several days to recover. I think I would have been less devastated with more human contact.
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Apr 4th, 2014, 06:02 PM
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Thank you all for your suggestions. I know how emotional I get, and I will take many extra tissues. I have been to Mauthausen in Austria. I know that visiting Auschwitz will be extremely sad.
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Apr 4th, 2014, 07:52 PM
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Being alone to contemplate the sensitive guided tour was what I meant about being alone. I needed it and so did the others..
And now as I tap out words the visions are bombarding me. Yes, it was really something!!
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Apr 4th, 2014, 11:05 PM
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I would recommend joining the tour offered actualy at Auschwitz. You see a short film before you commence the tour. We too had our own driver who waited and took us to Birkenau.
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Apr 4th, 2014, 11:06 PM
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Having visited Auschwitz, Birkenau and Dachau, each have a different feel and experience but being alone (my wife had seen enough) at the small buildings in the much larger Birkenau where women and children were segregated and most of their lives ended in those courtyards was overwhelming!

Silently reading their stories of what happened to them in this place was a moving experience I will never forget and being alone was a major part of that. Very impactful!
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Apr 4th, 2014, 11:10 PM
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kja
 
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If you decide to pursue a group tour from Krakow, you might want to confirm that it includes everything that was part of the official tour offered at Auschwitz/Birkenau, as my tour did.
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Apr 5th, 2014, 04:34 AM
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One thing to bear in mind is that in May - main season, between 10 am and 3 pm, you have to enter Auschwitz I with a group and a guide. No private visits are allowed. You can sign up for a guide there and then (including English at 40 PLN plus 5 PLN for headphones), book in advance online or you can join a pre-arranged group.
http://en.auschwitz.org/z/
There is no restriction for visiting Birkenau (Auschwitz II).
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Apr 5th, 2014, 04:42 AM
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As I recall, I went with a tour company from Krakow which showed an introductory film on the bus, but then handed us over to the camp's own guides - I had the impression that was required and "outside" guides were not allowed, or at least not encouraged.

This was just as well, since the tour company guide struck me as far too chirpy: even in the depths of winter, there were two busloads of people on the tour, so she wanted to be able to tell which was which and handed us all stick-on colouted patches to wear (I don't think any other point was intended), and advised us to buy any coffee we wanted from a stand outside as "Auschwitz coffee is terrible!".

But the guides inside were thoughtful and considerate and allowed plenty of time for people to take their own time and find their own space.
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Apr 5th, 2014, 04:48 AM
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Kja - do you recall the name of the tour group you used, where they are located, and how far in advance did you need to sign up. I will be there in July. I would rather not sign up ahead of time (I want to decide which day to go once I get there). Thanks
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Apr 5th, 2014, 10:06 AM
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We booked private transportation with Krakow Direct and then had an Auschwitz guide. Krakow Direct dealt with the arrangements. This was during the summer and between 10am and 3pm. It was crowded. Be prepared to see some tourists that perhaps are just there "because it's on their bus tour."

http://krakowdirect.com/auschwitz_tour/
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Apr 5th, 2014, 10:24 AM
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kja
 
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@ isabel - sorry, I don't recall, and it was in 1994, so even if I could recall, things might have changed. As I remember, I booked it through a tourist info office on market square.
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Apr 6th, 2014, 09:26 PM
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I was there last month as part of a study-abroad group focused on the Holocaust. Everything was arranged for us regarding our entrance and guide but I just wanted to point out that I found it very surprising how quiet and subdued it was after the initial noise before entering the famous "work makes you free" gate...perhaps because the guides talk to the groups through headsets (at Auschwitz) so there is not a cacophony of voices.
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Apr 6th, 2014, 09:40 PM
  #19
kja
 
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I was there before headsets existed. It was quiet. I think it is a place that evokes solemnity and reverential quietude. I hope I am not mistaken.
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Aug 25th, 2014, 06:37 AM
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When I was in Krakow I used http://krakowdirect.com, just like you leely2 they organized my tour to Auschwitz.
You can also used a public transport (but I don't know that one day will be enough to do that ""on your own"", you have to add time from airport transfer and pick up from Auschwitz)"
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