So many miles from home yet I still have exactly the same possessions as I began with. Definitely moments have changed me yet so many things are still the same. I have re-learnt many life lessons from the experiences I’ve had and created opinions on the world and its people.
The weather today was perfect. Pure blue skies, very little headwind and not too many hills. Finally I was about to reach the final country of the trip: Poland. But first another reminder that the Red Army passed through here liberating it from the hold of oppressive Nazi reign.
Crossing the border I was excited for this final culture with just one more day before reaching Auschwitz, the final destination. The road on the border was immediately better paved. People were also suddenly friendlier and every smile I gave was returned, every wave saw another back. I felt great. However the road didn’t last long. It got worse and worse until it was the most lumpy broken excuse of a road I have ever ridden.
Stopping in the next town I sat in the sun reflecting how far I had come and how many places I had seen. I walked into the adjacent supermarket and something felt familiar. I felt as though I had not left the comfort of the M25. I was in a Tesco and everything was exactly the same. Except for the signage being in a strange accentuated language. I grabbed a familiar Coke bottle and paid through the self checkout in English. The world is such a big place yet sometimes things can be identical across the globe.
Just before reaching my stop in Katowice, a large monument stood for all to observe. Remembering those sacrificed for the liberation of this country. There is interesting symmetry to these memorials around the demarcation line I saw in the Czech Republic which signified where the British and Russian Armies met whilst liberating the land. The only difference of these memorials is the language.
I lay awake restless last night thinking about the numbers. I have travelled just over 2000km, thats 2,000,000 metres. Two million metres. 6 million Jews were killed in the holocaust. If there was a Jew standing at every metre that I have travelled hard over 24 days then I would have to turn back now, get home and come back again, with a Jew at every metre each way. This magnificent number is so difficult to comprehend. Having achieved such a great distance I can still but imagine this number.
I haven’t even begun to mention the soldiers from all sides as well as civilians.
My final day tomorrow will include a guided tour around Auschwitz. I have brought a British flag along the whole route and picked up meaningful tokens too: sand from the beaches of Normandy, dirt from the hills of Verdun, rocks from outside of the Nuremberg trial rooms, gravel from the Flossenberg concentration camp and conkers from the camp at Terezin. I will lay these down next to the main monument at Auschwitz-Birkenau in a moment that I have imagined for weeks.