Our pre-cruise trip to Warsaw, Auschwitz, Copenhagen and Malmo introduced us to many places we had not seen previously.
We found Warsaw, the capital city of Poland, to be a delightful city. It was clean and modern while also making way to remember its history. The guides, young by our standards, reflected that. They knew their history and they had built upon it – in the spirit of ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’. They were proud of the heritage that their antecedents had held to so steadfastly in the face of the atrocities visited upon their citizens in the past seventy years and they were proud of what the nation was building in the post-Communist era.
Our visit to Auschwitz was confronting. When I asked a guide how people in Poland responded to those who would deny what had happened here, she said, “We laugh. It is a joke. We have the evidence in front of our eyes. And we will not forget.” There were thousands visiting the sites of Auschwitz and Birkenau on the day that we were there. In 2014, over 1.5 million people visited the museum. The world, it seems, will also remember. The rooms of human hair, spectacles, shoes, suitcases, prayer shawls and everyday kitchen wares that spoke volumes of promises and hopes betrayed are the most stark images that I have carried with me.
Copenhagen in Denmark, is one of those places that I have long wished to see. My Grade 5 teacher, Miss Caithness, had visited and wove wonderful stories around it for us. Of prime importance for me were the The Little Mermaid statue, Tivoli Gardens, and the royal palaces. Added to those was the delight of discovering salted licorice (who’d have thought?) and a wander around the University area. Our accommodation was out of the city in the midst of what is a growing technology and industrial area so provided an immediate contrast to a city centre dating back to the 11th century.
We took a train from Copenhagen across the Øresund Bridge to Malmo, Sweden. As a fan of Henning Mankell‘s detective stories, I was interested to see Wallender’s Malmo. We walked through the town, a spotlessly clean place, and on to Malmo Castle which houses a natural history museum and aquarium.
The train took us back across The Bridge that was the inspiration for a television series of the same name. Watching the V-shaped struts of the bridge, as the train sped past, created a stroboscopic effect to create the optical illusion of a black, flapping rag. It kept me entertained for a little while and became the focus for the haiku and the title for the blog post.
One more night in Copenhagen and we were off to Ireland.
(You’ll note I’ve returned to the 5-7-5 haiku style.)
turns steel struts to flapping rag.