It's really difficult to put into words how the experience was at Auschwitz and Birkenau. It's something that I think everyone should understand and appreciate. It was completely unplanned but we booked to visit on the 78th anniversary since they were used as concentration camps. There were certain areas we were not able to go into, which was completely justified and we understood. It was nice to see the Polish army dressed and a commemoration for those lost in the times the camps were open, were remembered. Our guide, Margaret, was absolutely incredible, so knowledgeable and very honest about her feelings about the camps and what happened. I thought she made the trip a brilliant one and we'd recommend her highly.
The feeling you get in the camp is indescribable, but I would suggest actually listening and taking in where you are rather than taking photographs every 2 seconds like some of our group did. Some parts were particularly difficult to see, such as children's items and some pictures, and hard to imagine the traumas the people kept there faced. It wasn't a 'nice' experience, but an interesting and important area of our history that everyone should see in their lifetime.
Some recommendations I would make are:
Don't take children. There was a young girl in our group who was too young to understand and you could tell she was bored.
It's an immensely long walk so wear flat/comfortable shoes.
We got a good experience and understanding but we were a bit rushed at the end as most of the group were then going on to the Salt Mine so they had to stick to a time frame. Fair enough but we'd have liked to ask our guide some more questions and take in the experience a bit more.
Overall, an excellent tour to gain a small insight into such a big historical event.
I very much loved the tour, It certainly did open my eyes and got a better understanding about the horrific events that happened many years back during the holocaust. I definitely would recommend this tour and would like to visit again some day, tour guide needs to slow down a bit and not rush it.
The local Krakow agency were excellent switched into English once they knew, picked me up and returned me to my apartment. They took all of the worry out of a stranger in a foreign country wishing to visit Auschwitz. Highly recommended. The Auschwitz experience was extraordinary and I'm still processing it!.