Am I a narcissist?

I was on the bus a few weeks ago and was listening to a middle aged couple talk about the yoof of today and how awfully narcissistic my generation are. It's all selfies and social media. We only think about ourselves and how we're too busy being vain to be of any use to anyone. We validate our lives by how others perceive us.

It got me thinking. I've been taking pictures of my mug for the internet for the past seven years. Shamelessly posting it all over social media and writing about my favourite clothes and make up. Put a camera in front of me and I'll happily strike a pose - so long as I get to take 76563543 pictures so I can choose the most flattering. So why exactly do I post pictures of myself on the internet for everyone to see?

Of course it's nice to hear people tell you like they like your outfit you've spent a good hour deciding to wear and when you hit 50 likes on that cake you've spent a whole morning slaving over on Instagram. It does give you a warm fuzzy feeling inside. But this isn't how I validate my life. I promise.

I've always been the one to take lots of pictures even back in the days when it was cool to take a disposable camera out to a Saturday night out in a grimy, sticky-floored club. So why change the habit of a lifetime? I post pictures on my blog and social media because I love to keep an online diary of what I've been getting up to. It's so easy to forget those little moments in life as you get bogged down with the mundane. I scroll back through my Instagram and blog with a smile on my face, remembering all the dreamy holidays, fun days out with friends and ridiculous outfits I once thought looked stylish. It's a way of hoarding my memories.

So no, I wouldn't class myself as a narcissist. Where's my iPhone? I need to take a picture of my face thanks.

Exploring Poland: Auschwitz-Birkenau, Auschwitz, Poland

I was really torn about writing this post. Auschwitz-Birkenau is such an emotional place and I felt such rage about how people behaved there. I felt really uneasy about people taking selfies, people filming videos of the exhibition rooms and saying crude things as they walked around. I snapped a few photos of the outside and then felt an feeling of guilt. But I honestly believe that everyone should make the trek to the camps at least once as it's so incredibly important to see it with your own eyes. This is why I decided to blog about it.

Everyone knows the background of Auschwitz-Birkenau. It's something we learn about all throughout School and from family members. Personally as well as my Secondary education, I also studied the rise of Nazism for A Level history. It's terrifying to see the signs today, it seems as if people have forgotten what happened in the 1930's. Forgotten how someone like Hitler rose to power. Being European, it's a place that's ingrained in our conscious. You know the horrors and the sheer brutality but I don't think you can truly quite understand what happened until you see it for yourself. Until you see those gas chambers. Until you see that execution wall. Until you see those mugshots on the wall of the people who passed through those gates. Until you see the tiny brick huts where prisoners slept. Until you see the endless pile of human hair piled up behind a glass wall taken from prisoners.

I left with such a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach and filled with anger. It was terrifying to see just how close Hitler was to achieving his ultimate goal. But I was also so glad that I finally was able to visit. We did a guided tour with Escape 2 Poland and I learnt so much. I honestly thought I knew all about it but our guide was so knowledgeable that I found myself in awe. He really did make the trip.

If you find yourself visiting Krakow, then please do schedule in a trip to see the camps. Despite it being so difficult to visit, it's also so important to visit. It's so important to make sure history never repeats itself as sometimes, history can be forgotten.


Exploring Europe: Malbork Castle, Malbork, Poland

If you've been following this blog for a while then you'll know I love castles. Literally love them so much. Blame the fact I was a slightly strange child who was obsessed with The Tudors who happened to live in lots of castles in England. Disney princesses? Nah give me Henry VIII. Anyway when I found out we were a short train ride away from the biggest castle in the world measured by land mass, it was immediately put into the itinerary. Pronto.

Around an hour by train from Gdansk, you start to grasp the sheer size of the castle as you pull into the station. It is absolutely huge. One word of warning, do check train times before you go as we came unstuck and it ended up being a bit of a nightmare journey back to Gdansk. So come prepared. It's also best to book you tickets online as you will have to queue to get tickets.

Pick up an audio guide - one of the best ones I've listened too - and start walking. Dating back to the 13th century, the castle was built by the Teutonic Order and is now one of Poland's official national Historic Monument. Heavily damaged during the Second World War, it undertook extensive restoration, finished in 2016, and the work completed in the main castle church is incredible.

I'd recommend to set aside half a day to really take it in. Go early in the morning as it does get very busy and try to visit on a weekday if it fits in with your plans. There's some medieval-esque huts to grab a bite to eat and a drink if you get peckish. After all, who doesn't want to have a hotdog and some mead in the grounds of a castle?

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