Camping in Auschwitz



Nearly two weeks in a tent and still I’m a bit sad we’re leaving soon. The semi-winter we arrived to has developed into full spring, and the trees around us are booming as we speak.  If you’ve read the previous posts from this month, you’ve understood how I’ve loved this time in Auschwitz.

Camping wise we operated as hardcore scouts (Ive obviously learned a lot from Ross) already from day II, and even before arrival we had agreed to stick to a strict day routine in order to get our work done. Every day we get up early to a full bird orchestra, have a coffee and make a proper viking style breakfasts at the camping site. The weather has definitely been on our side and we always sit for a while observing the changes of colours in the garden while planning the new day.







After breakfast, while Ross gathers brushes and pallets, cuts up canvases and goes to Birkenau, I move over to the cafe at the Center for Dialogue and Prayer. (CDP). Ive been sitting there 10 hours per day working on my current assignment. In fact it’s to be handed in today, which feels fine as I’m quite content about it.



The peaceful surroundings helps on my productivity, and the only noise at site stems from hordes of teenagers (most commonly Norwegian or Germans) that flock to the center with their teachers daily to carry out their programmed educational tours to learn about Holocaust (I told about this two days ago). Part from observing the youth that comes by, I hardly see people at daytime.

Ross normally comes back from the forest between 7 and 8pm. Commonly drenched in paint, with a smile on his face, despite the many emotions this work takes him through in that place of dreadful histories. However he really feels good about this project and is confident it will be something very different.


Some days we’ve met for lunch at the cafe next door to the tourism information in Auschwitz I (in a building of the previous concentration camp that now is a museum), other days we’ve met for dinner here at the CDP. Mostly we’ve made our own food in the camp with Ross’s kitchen equipment.




Regarding Ross’s art Ill hopefully be able to update you on some of it asap, when he tells me what I can show you. By now what I’ve seen of his paintings (that are put to dry towards the wall at the camping toilet) is just incredibly beautiful and actually impossible to describe with words. While waiting for more you can get a peak at some drawings he has done.



To change some air and eat a bit more varied for dinner, we’ve gone to town a couple of times. Some days ago we’d had a tough day and got a little hard on the whiskey Ross brought from Scotland. Thirsty for some local vibes, we found the most fantastic bar called Bazyl, named after the owner’s dog (a crazy Boston terrier) and attacked it (the bar, not the dog).

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A beautiful couple came over and turned out they speak English surprisingly well. Anna and Jakob grew up here in Oswiecim and work and study here. They told us it is very rare that tourists come to this bar, and they loved to get some friends from outside. They love music, random art and booze, and seem super reflective regarding growing up in such a special place on earth, and their long time dream is to go somewhere else soon, hopefully to Berlin.. We connected instantly and learned a lot of things that would be difficult to find out about life in Oswiecim (literally) through talking to them.

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We spent all our money on drinks and I fed the guys with Snus (swedish tabacco bags) before we decided to call it a day. We shared a taxi home and decided to meet again soon.

When we arrived to the gate of CPD the driver stated our friends hadn’t paid for the trip (something I knew they had as it had been a topic we were out of money. Besides, I deliberately got Anna to confirm it). I tried to explain, but he didn’t speak a word of English and quickly started waving with his arms and yelled “Curva, Curva dobchya cortzy werchka Curva and said “Polizie Polizieee, dobra!?”. To Ross’s surprise I yelled back: “Dobra! Perfect, so take us to the police station! We’re fine with that”.

The driver brusquely maneuvered the car around on the parking lot while he continued swearing. For a moment big-eyes Ross looked at me as he agreed it could be a funny experience to be reported for fraud by a taxi driver that tried to rip us for some money. And that we’d be communicating such with our body languages and Polish swear words.

Instead we agreed that our tiredness was worth more than another crazy story and called it off with the overly grumpy driver. It still bugs me though, cause I’m really not a fan of local people ripping tourists of, and in this case I was confident! Besides, the driver was so rude.

Anyway, it was late and in true Responsible Tourism style we decided to justify the driver’s attempt to fool us with his low salary and have him some coins and left in peace. After all we found ourselves outside of the Center for Dialogue and Prayer!

Ach, Camping Life in Auschwitz…

One comment

  1. Pingback: Meeting a concentration camp survivor | All that JAS

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