We left Krakow bright and early (well it was overcast and rainy, so it wasn’t really that bright) at 7 am to head off to Auschwitz. We stopped in at Auschwitz I first where our local tour guide took us around the main buildings, which had been converted into museums and filled with the personal belongings of the victims that the Allies found when the camp was liberated. I was doing okay with the visit until we got to the room that was filled with real human hair that had been shaved and collected from victims for use in cloth and textiles. Then the enormity of it all sunk in and I’m going to admit I got a little teary eyed (I definitely wasn’t the only one). Following that we headed over to Auschwitz II/ Birkenau, which, with the train line running straight up the middle, is the camp most people think of when they hear the word Auschwitz. Once again I struggled to even begin to comprehend what went through the minds of the people stepping off the trains and being separated from loved ones into the death or work groups.
We all then solemnly hopped back on the bus for what was probably the quietest drive of the trip. Got into Prague early evening so there was time for a quick dinner at the hostel and then we took the metro into the city for a late night tour and check out the Prague nightlife. The next day, we took the metro back into the city and retraced the steps of our tour to see the sights during day. Started at Wenceslas Square then headed down to Old Town Square to see the Powder Gate/Tower, Old Town Hall and the Astronomical Clock, Tyn Church and St. Nicholas Church. While we in Old Town we decided to see another famous Czech tourist spot pointed out to us by our tour guide the night before, the Sex Machine Museum. After that eye opening experience we walked back into Old Town Square for a fancy lunch of a sausage on bread and Trdelnik, the Czech version of Chimney Cake.
With some food in our stomachs, we were able to muster up the energy to walk the over Charles Bridge and up the hill to Prague Castle. And I’m glad we did as the views of the city from the Castle were amazing. We also took the time to check out St Vitus Cathedral and wander through the gardens. Took the metro back into the city and then found our way to the Museum of Communism. It wasn’t particularly grand or sophisticated but presented a rather vivid account of what life was like in the Czech Republic under communist rule. Plus they had an awesome collection of old communist-era stone busts and sculptures. From there, we made our way home on the metro back to the hostel and had a lazy evening spent relaxing and catching up on sleep and some much needed washing.
The only traditional Czech food we ate on our trip was our lovely lunch of sausages while out exploring the city and that was what I was planning on making for Germany in a couple of days time. So I had a bit search for Czech food and found what is claimed to be their “national dish”, roast pork, sauerkraut and bread dumplings. The Roast pork was easy enough to cook and the bread dumplings were definitely interesting. The bread dumplings use a yeasted bread dough with fresh bread mixed into it and then boiled. They would also go well with a stew or something else with a lot of gravy. Also I’m usually not a big fan of sauerkraut but cooked together with onions and some bacon helps to balance out the flavour. And it complemented the pork nicely.
When finding a sweet pastry item to cook for Prague, I had to look no further than the delicious Trdelnik we sampled in Old Town Square. So I set out to find a recipe, this part turned out to be easy however most of them required a open air grill to cook on so I had to look a bit further into whether they could be cooked in the oven. Thankfully I found someone else who had done it and was able to improvise with a soup can and my oven. I wrapped the dough the can around before coating in egg white and cinnamon sugar and then baking with the can standing up. This caused the dough to slide down a little on the can and squish the bottom rings a bit but once cooked it still looked pretty good (and tasted pretty good, if I don’t say so myself).