On Friday 30th September 2016, thirty-six Religious Studies, History and Politics students from Years 12 to 14 plus four members of staff set off on their journey to Krakow, Poland.  After an early flight from Dublin, we arrived at our hotel with the temperature reaching highs of 24°.

We went straight to the Old Town Square which is the largest of all Europe’s medieval cities, where we met with tour guide who showed us around the Old Town and the most historic buildings in the city. We visited St Mary’s Basilica which is one of the most famous churches in Poland, along with Wawel Hill: home to the Royal Castle and Cathedral. In the evening, we visited the Oscar Schindler’s Factory. The story of Schindler was retold in the ‘Schindler’s List’ film, which explored the wartime history of the factory and the Jewish workers’ experience under Schindler.

On the Saturday morning we began the 75 minute journey to Auschwitz Concentration Camp. For many, Auschwitz symbolises the Holocaust and the Nazi genocide of the Jews. This was a very raw and emotional experience for everyone as we learnt about conditions in the camps from 1940 until it was liberated in 1945.  It was an experience no one will forget.

On finishing out tour of Auschwitz, we went to the Wieliczka Salt Mines. The mines consist of over 200km of underground passages and include magnificent chambers chiseled out in rock salt, underground saline lakes, majestic timber constructions and unique statues sculpted in salt. We returned to the hotel, where Mr. Orr was quizmaster for the evening! (Result still being disputed)!

On Sunday morning we went to the Aqua Park, where there are three pools with a wide range of attractions including salt-water Jacuzzis; water massage and white-water rafting. After spending a few hours relaxing we dropped our bags off to the hotel and headed into the Old Town where we were able to have lunch at leisure, do some shopping and explore the Old Town. The Old Town contains the world’s oldest shopping mall – The Cloth Hall. When finished we returned to the hotel where we had dinner followed by our evening entertainment of ten-pin bowling.

On the final morning we had a shopping trip to Galeria Kazimierz. Once finished we took a final trip up to the Wawel Hill before going back to the Old Town for some final sight-seeing. We returned to the hotel to collect our bags and headed for the airport. We arrived safely back at Wellington, with a few tired and weary students after an eventful and worthwhile experience in Poland. Our thanks must go to Mrs Fitzsimons and Mrs McKeown for organising the trip and to Dr Agnew and Mr Orr for helping with the visit.

Report by Emma Cairns (Year 14)