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Day 8

Today was one of those typical Vinculos days for two reasons. First, everything worked out smoothly and just great despite that it was all more or less improvised. And second, because it felt like the day had 48 hours instead of just 24.

Soła river
Soła, one of the affluents of Vistula, flowing next to Oświęcim.

It would have been crazy to stay one night in Oświęcim and not visit the Auschwitz concentration camps. The problem is that when we confirmed our concert and night here, it was already too late to book a group visit with the usual way, and when we tried to call them they didn’t offer us any solution because visits can only be booked during the week. Fortunately, the day before, a city councilman came to our concert and he make some calls and organized us a tour to Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II-Birkenau with a guide in Spanish.

Auschwitz II-Birkenau
Auschwitz II-Birkenau gate from inside the camp.

For me it was the second time I visited the camps, but I guess it’s one of those places that always cause an impact, no matter how many times you come. I remember the first time I was shocked with some of the numbers that are mentioned in the memorial and museum. For example, that they found tonnes of human hair in Auschwitz, or the huge size of Auschwitz II-Birkenau. This time I didn’t let those numbers stun me, but it was the photographs and one particular story in one of the open barracks that got me ​unprepared. Ines, our guide, told us about Czesława Kwoka and why she had blood in her lips in her “identity pictures”. She explained to us that they hit her because when they call her by her prisoner number (in German) she didn’t understand and didn’t move forward.

Auschwitz II-Birkenau barrack
One of the bunk beds in a barrack for women. 5 or 6 women had to sleep in this space.

We left Auschwitz and Oświęcim in direction to Wieluń. If you check a map, what we did today was crazy. We went all the way to Wieluń to later come back to Kraków, our city for the next two nights. But we couldn’t say no to this concert. It was organized by Jan Książek, probably the most enthusiastic person we have met in Poland so far. We met him after our concert at the Muzeum Warszawskiej Pragi a few days ago. He loved our concert so he asked us if we could repeat the concert in his village, Wieluń, where he works as the director of the Museum of Wielun. Of course we said yes! He also invited all the orchestra to an amazing lunch at W Starym Rynku and even some cake after the concert at his museum. Thank you Jan!

The day literally ended on the bus on our long way to Kraków.