After my brief stay in Prague, I made my way over to the U.K. to visit family friends! I stayed in a quiet village outside of London, but made my way into the big city twice for full day trips. One of those days resulted in the worst blisters I have ever dealt with and the other led me down a dark hole of temptation that included a lot of vintage and thrifted clothing as well as pounds of chocolate in both solid and liquid form.
My time in Prague was far too short, and I wish I could have enjoyed more outside of Old Town. Nonetheless, it was a beautiful (and bustling) city that I am glad I saw in such beautiful weather! Its colours and cobblestones and castle were delightful (and my company, too).
We began our journey to Białystok by taking time to tour the Museum of Struggle and Martyrdom in Treblinka on the grounds of the former extermination camp. The grounds show little sign of the former camp, but the space is wide open and cleared of trees (except for those which surround the area, illustrating how it would have been concealed during its operation). However, there are stones and slabs of concrete everywhere with the names of villages and towns and countries from where individuals were taken to be transported to their death. It was an emotional experience to walk through the space that carries so much weight but now looks so empty.
After some time for reflection, we boarded the bus once more and, before reaching Białystok, we visited the small town of Tykocin and saw its synagogue and museum and then had dinner. We reached Białystok shortly thereafter and were delighted to discover our accommodations as well as the beautiful surrounding town and market square, where we topped up our bellies with some lody (ice cream)!
It was a bit of a surprise to us all when we realized we were a bit sad to be leaving Oświęcim – it had been a long 12 days. However, after we had received a very heartfelt farewell from our hosts and individual certificates of completion noting 80 hours of education on site, I felt like I had done something really unique and special and that an incredibly precious opportunity had just come and gone. I believe I will continue to reflect on and appreciate this for a long, long while.