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Monday, January 14, 2008

Monaco, Oslo, and Auschwitz

from top to bottom

random contemporary art in Oslo
street shot of Oslo
shot of Oslo from a hill
Auschwitz gas chamber
Auschwitz entrance gate that says "work makes you free"
sign in Aix-en-provence commemorating the Americans liberating the city in WWII

Sunday January 13, 2008 from Krakow, Poland

So I'm in POLAND right now but I'll get to that in a minute. Me and Phil ended up going to Monaco for a day trip for fun which was country 11 for me over-all and number 7 on this trip. We took the bus to Nice which was kinda too expensive and then we hopped on a bus for Monaco. We got there and walked around for a while but it was really quiet and all that there was were a lot of really nice, expensive cars and buildings and rich people and a lot of really expensive shops. So me and Phil decided to go back to France and spend some time in Nice because its more interesting and cheaper (but still expensive). BUT we couldn't figure out how the buses worked to get back so we ended up finding a train to Nice for 3.4 euros so we just took that and as soon as we bought the ticket we found our bus hahaha. But the train didn't leave for a while so by the time we got back to Nice we had to basically just hop back on our bus to Aix. Overall my stay in France was nice, I had a nice relaxing time before my next big leg of traveling started.

On Thursday me and Phil packed up and headed on the bus to Marseilles to catch our realllly cheap flight to Oslo, Norway. We got to the airport in Oslo and the bought really expensive tickets to get to the city because the airport is actually much father away, like 120 km. Once we finally got to the city it was about 10 pm and really cold and rainy and wet. So me and Phil had to walk around for a long time and look for our hostel and then we finally found it without taking a really expensive taxi. We got there just in time because they close the front desk at 1130 and checked in and headed up to our rooms. To our surprise there was someone yelling in the room so I knocked and opened the door and there was just a some girl in there alone and she seemed really surprised that we were there so she went down to the desk to complain because she thought only girls would be in that room. (i guess she is an actress and she was practicing her lines by yelling them haha)But she ended up being wrong and came back and was just really jerky for the time we were there. Me and Phil on the first day went to the museum for the Norwegian Resistance during WWII and some art museums. I got to see a version of "Scream" which I happen to like a lot and a lot of other paintings and some crazy things at the contemporary art museum. We had lunch at burger king to save some money cuz I thought it would be cheap, but no... it was about 20 dollars. Norway is expensive! Don't go unless you really want to or have to! A bottle of coke cost over 4 dollars, a bottle of water is about 4 dollars. It costs over 4 dollars per ride on the metro or the bus, a super cheap meal if you can find one starts at maybe 16 to 20 dollars and go much much higher. So we basically didn't do anything Friday night because it would cost so much to go out, so we watched some movies on my computer. On Saturday we got up and went to the national museum and saw another version of Scream and a lot of other paintings and then we headed to the bus station to catch the bus to the airport so I could go to Poland and Phil could get back to France.

I left Phil at the airport and went through passport control and got a stamp for leaving Norway yay and then went and got on my Wizzair flight to Katowice airport. The flight got in a bit early and I found my shuttle bus to Krakow and we left about 45 minutes later and got to Krakow at about 945 at night. I knew where I was on the map and I knew where I was going and everything... but I still just couldn't seem to find my way to the hostel, I walked around for a while but I finally gave up and took a taxi (9 zloty or about $3.50) to the street it is on, which was really close. I got to my hostel then and checked in and everything and I really like it. They have a few big rooms, maybe 6 or something I don't even know, and then 4 bathrooms with showers, a kitchen, a common room and free wifi and its open 24 hours which is also a plus. So far everyone here is really nice but not to talkative with me. Most of the people here are Australians and maybe a couple of Americans. I just took a shower and stayed in last night because I was exhausted from traveling and I had to get up early to go visit Auschwitz and Birkenau concentration camps.

I got up early and had free breakfast then headed to the tourbus on the hour bus ride to the camps. We had an English speaking tourguide and the whole thing took about 4 hours. It was realllly depressing, kinda like I felt after I visited Hiroshima in Japan. They showed HUGE rooms full of things like glasses and brushes adn clothes they just took from the Jews before they killed them. They also showed things like hair they shaved off of women to make socks and the gas and torture chambers and everything. I took a lot of pictures but not of any of the stuff in the buildings because they didn't allow it. We also went to Birkenau which was Auschwitz II where they murdered most of the people, but it was mostly destroyed from the war whereas Auschwitz was kept up. We were kinda rushed through by the tour guide lady, I would have like to mull around a lot longer and just look at everything, maybe sometime in the future I can come back and visit it again.

Also... luckily while I was in the midst of writing this I got an e-mail from my Taiwan program CIEE saying that IU selected me for $1000 dollar scholarship and sent it off to CIEE. This is really surprising because I have no clue what it is from or what it is for, but it will sure help out A LOT with all the random expenses, especially the airfare. So thanks to whoever gave me or helped me get this scholarship!! I really appreciate it! Tomorrow I am getting up a bit early to head out and visit all the places I have in my book and then I'll be back to write about them tomorrow maybe and hopefully add some pictures :o)


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