We were picked up from our hotel so spent 45 mins collecting our fellow tourists before starting the 1.5 hour bus ride to Auschwitz. On the journey we were shown the films taken by the Russians when they liberated Auschwitz. Not for the faint-hearted. When we arrived we had a brief opportunity for a drink and 'comfort break' before our guide, Katrina, took us into Auschwitz. We were joined by another tour group and an Auschwitz tour guide. The local tour guide spoke no English and played no appreciable part in the tour. Katrina was excellent. She was easy to hear through our headphones, her english was good and easy to understand, and she told the history of the camps frankly and with respect. The first half of the tour is in Auschwitz, and is largely inside the accommodation blocks where exhibits tell the story of the camp. I think this took about and hour and a half. We progressed at a steady pace through the rooms, with Katrina guiding us and explaining the exhibits. Some reviewers have said they felt hurried. I didn't, the pace seemed comfortable, the group was subdued and well led by Katrina. After a brief comfort stop and a short bus ride we went to Birkenau, where we walked from the train ramp to the gas chambers and crematoria, then back down the huge site to one of the accommodation blocks. This part of the tour took about 40 minutes and then we had a very short amount of time before boarding the bus. Not enough time to queue for a coffee. If you are thinking of going be aware that it is a full day trip. We were collected at 08.20 and back at our hotel at 16.00. You cannot take bags bigger than A4 size into the site. You can take bottles of drink, but not open cups of drink and not food. Food is available at both sites but it is expensive and the time available is minimal. Some of our fellow travellers took sandwiches. We had a large breakfast! You can take cameras on to the sites but there are some areas where you can't take photos, some areas where no flash allowed, and some areas where silence is requested. Birkenau in particular is exposed and was cold and windy, so wrap up warm. You can leave stuff in the bus if you want to, you don't need to carry everything with you. Today (13th Feb) there is a sprinkling of snow on the ground. Auschwitz paths were fairly flat and dry, but Birkenau had wet muddy and puddled areas so my trainers were only just up to the job and we all had spatters of mud on the backs of our lower legs. If you only do one thing while visiting Krakow it has to be this. This trip is harrowing, but you will never forget it.