Poland Day Thirteen: Krakow To Warsaw: Snow, Castles, Czestochowa And A Change Of Plans

The horrors of Auschwitz were still troubling my mind when I awoke on another cold and rainy morning in Krakow. Fortunately, we had another busy day ahead of us, and I knew the best thing to honor the victims was to live and enjoy life, but always remembering  the events that lead up to this holocaust. We must never forget. Auschwitz exhibits -46

So, after another   delicious breakfast  at our hotel,  my sister, my niece and I met our guide for the day , Maciek, a intelligent young man with a vast knowledge of Polish history.  We soon  were off to Warsaw, with a stop at  Czestochowa. We learned so much more about the city of Krakow as we drove it’s busy rush hours  streets. Poland Day Thirteen KraKow to Czestochowa -1

 As we left the city limits of Krakow and entered the countryside the clouds began to clear and we saw blue skies, and snow! Lot’s of snow.  We were told this is a very unusual occurrence for this part of Poland in late April. Poland Day Thirteen KraKow to Czestochowa -8

The snow made for a scenic ride through the rural Polish countryside, and again this part of Poland reminded me of the hills of my home in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Poland Day Thirteen KraKow to Czestochowa -43

However everything was not the same as we came upon these unique rock formations in one of the many local and national parks in the area. Poland Day Thirteen KraKow to Czestochowa -16

Our guide told about the history and culture of the area as we visited a number of the many 14th century castles, some in ruins, Poland Day Thirteen KraKow to Czestochowa -38

and others well maintained that are know at the “trail of the Eagle’s Nest”. These castles were built atop rock ledges along the border of Bohemia in the 1300’s. Poland Day Thirteen KraKow to Czestochowa -18

We stopped at a few of them, and drove by others as we made  our way to Czestochowa.  Poland Day Thirteen KraKow to Czestochowa part two -19

I enjoyed the ride through the rural back roads, passing parks, farmland and the occasional small town. Here is a link to some more photographs from our ride through the Polish countryside. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Thirteen-Krakow-to-Czestochowa-April-20-2017-Poland Day Thirteen KraKow to Czestochowa -36

The unusual heavy snowfall was quite deep in some area drifting onto the road and giving us an idea  of what the Polish landscape would look like in the winter. Poland Day Thirteen KraKow to Czestochowa part two -13

We passed a few more castles as we made our way through the back roads of the countryside to Czestochowa.  Soon we were on the outskirts of the city and in sight of the steeples of Jasna Gora. .  Here is a link to some more photographs from our scenic ride to Czestochowa. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Thirteen-Krakow-To-Czestochowa-part-two-April-20-2017-Poland Day Thirteen KraKow to Czestochowa part two -6

We parked at the monastery and I again entered the famous gates that withstood the Swedish assault attributed to the protection of the “Black Madonna”. Poland Day Thirteen Czestochowa -2

Our guide Maciek arranged a very esteemed tour guide for our visit to the monastery. The very affable Father Simon. Poland Day Thirteen Czestochowa -27

This lovable old monk, a Pauline priest, gave us a wonderful and emotional tour of the famous monastery, it’s museums, and most importantly the Shrine of Our Lady of Czestowchowa.Poland Day Thirteen Czestochowa -4

We first stopped at the museum where we saw the various robes that adorned the famous painting of the Black Madonna over the centuries.  Poland Day Thirteen Czestochowa -7

There were many important historical treasures here, too many to mention, including this cross made from the steel from the World trade center.Poland Day Thirteen Czestochowa -9

I had already visited this Shrine which played such an emotional role in my father’s life. He was dedicated to Her and told me that none of his children would be here since She saved his life during his service in World war II. More of my first visit a week earlier can be seen in my earlier blog post. Poland Day Thirteen Czestochowa -19

This time, however, Father Simon, during a mass, took us up to the painting and allowed us to photograph the sacred image up close. It was the first visit for my sister Linda and niece Kelly and they, like me, had a very emotional experience as they knelt in the presence of the icon so loved by my their father and grandfather. Afterward my sister and I agreed, Father Simon was sent to us by dad. Poland Day Thirteen Czestochowa -17

We next proceeded  to the The Cathedral Basilica of the Holy Family, the beautiful church where I attended mass on Easter morning. Poland Day Thirteen Czestochowa -38

Father Simon explained so much history, about Poland, the Shrine and the monastery,  with many colorful stories, in such a short time. Poland Day Thirteen Czestochowa -22

We next visited the Treasury of the Blessed Virgin Mary   where we saw so many wonderful votive offerings  donated to the monastery over the centuries. Poland Day Thirteen Czestochowa -43

Father Simon, who spent many years in the United States, including a few years at a parish in Shenandoah,  not far from my home in Northeastern Pennsylvania, gave us many insights of his travels and world view. He had to rush off for another tour but we thoroughly enjoyed our time with this delightful old monk. Here is a link to some more photographs from our visit to the monastery. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Thirteen-Czestochowa-April-20-2017-Poland Day Thirteen Czestochowa -33

After ending our tour and leaving the monastery, we had originally planned to spend the rest of day in the town  Czestochowa and then board a train to Krakow at 6:30 p.m. However,  because of the cold weather, we inquired of our guided if he could drive us to  Warsaw.  He placed a call to the tour agency to see if he could drive the approximately 140 mile trip while we had lunch at U Braci  a nearby pizza place. Poland Day Thirteen Czestochowa -42

We were happy to learn that Maciek would be able to drive us to Warsaw and we were soon on the major highway to Poland’s capitol city. The highway was much like our interstate highways here in the United States. Poland Day Thirteen Czestochowa to Warsaw -15

We chatted about Polish history and culture as well as world affairs and life in general, as we drove through the Polish countryside.Poland Day Thirteen Czestochowa to Warsaw -16

The country landscapes changed to a more suburban one as we neared Warsaw.Poland Day Thirteen Czestochowa to Warsaw -13

We passed many of the same sights we would see in the suburbs of any large United States city. Poland Day Thirteen Czestochowa to Warsaw -12

We saw the skyline of downtown Warsaw and it wasn’t long until we were at our hotel, the Warsaw Hilton. We said farewell to our great guide and we were soon checked in our rooms. Here is a link to some more photographs from our drive to Warsaw. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Thirteen-Czestochowa-to-Krakow-April-20-2017-Poland Day Thirteen Czestochowa to Warsaw -18

It was late in the afternoon, but we wanted to have a look around so we were soon walking the busy streets of Warsaw. Poland Day Thirteen Warsaw evening -8

The area around the hotel was just like any large city, with crowds of people walking the streets congested with automobiles, buses and taxis. Poland Day Thirteen Warsaw evening -7

Dominating the skyline near the hotel was the “Russian wedding cake” also know as the Palace of Culture and Science. We would learn much more about this gift from Russia and constructed in the 1950’s. Poland Day Thirteen Warsaw evening -1

it was late and we were hungry so we found a local restaurant and had a nice dinner of, of course, mushroom soup, andrailroad hike -1

pierogi. Both were very good. railroad hike -2

We made our way back to the hotel and i was soon asleep after another long day in Poland. I was looking forward to  the morning and some more exploration of Poland’s capitol. Here is a link to some more photographs from our evening walk. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Thirteen-Warsaw-evening-walk-April-29-2017-Poland Day Thirteen Warsaw evening -18

 

“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.” – Saint Augustine

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Poland Day Twelve: An Evening In The Wieliczka Salt Mine

We did not have much time to rest  after returning from our tour of Auschwitz and Birkenau.  We had arranged an evening  tour of the famous 700 year old  Wilelczka salt mine about a half hour bus ride from Krakow, another UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Poland Day Tweve Salt Mine -1

The mines have been operated continuously for 700 years bringing great wealth to their owners since salt was one of the only ways to preserve food in the middle ages. It is also famous for the many sculptures made of salt that the workers created, and which are displayed, in the almost 2 miles of  the Poland Day Tweve Salt Mine -2mine open to the public. 

 We  entered an elevator and descended into the mine, beginning  our tour at one of the upper levels of the mine, although we were  still almost 300 feet underground. Poland Day Tweve Salt Mine -5

We learned how the mines began and  and how they changed as new technology improved the mining methods over the centuries. And we saw various exhibits depicting the various mining methods employed over the years. Poland Day Tweve Salt Mine -7

We also got to sample the salt, by licking the walls of the mine, as we were constantly amazed by the beauty of the sculptures we encountered. Poland Day Tweve Salt Mine -15

We proceeded downward, learning about the different levels of the mine and visiting the many sculptures made form the salt along the way. Here is a link to some more photographs from the first part of our tour. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Twelve:-Wieliczaka-Salt-Mine-April-19-2017-Poland Day Tweve Salt Mine -30

We climbed down a number of stairways and reached the beautiful  Chapel of St Kinga with it’s many altars, sculptures and chandeliers all made of salt. Poland Day Tweve Salt Mine -42

It was hard to believe the beauty of this massive chamber almost 400 feet underground. Poland Day Tweve Salt Mine part two -1

We learned about the chapel and many of the sculptures from our guide.Poland Day Tweve Salt Mine part two -9

And we then were given some time to explore beauty of these unique works of art. Poland Day Tweve Salt Mine part two -4

After visiting the chamber we continued our tour visiting an underground salt lake, Poland Day Tweve Salt Mine part two -26

and encountering this very real ghost roaming the mine.Poland Day Tweve Salt Mine part two -27

We came to a large chamber which was supported by massive wooden trestles and more elaborate salt sculptures. Poland Day Tweve Salt Mine part two -29

I am a big fan of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of The Rings and I could not help but imagining I was in the mines of Moria as we continued our tour of the mine.Poland Day Tweve Salt Mine part two -37

Out tour ended at an underground restaurant and gift store where we had some time to shop or grab a quick bite to eat. I just sat and reflected at yet another wonderful place, one of so many, I had discovered on my visit to Poland. Poland Day Tweve Salt Mine part two -46

There was also a chapel, were weddings were performed and a health spa located nearby. We next boarded a very small elevator where a lot of us were crowded into a very small space for our long journey up to the surface. It was not a ride for a claustrophobic person.  Poland Day Tweve Salt Mine part two -47

We returned to our hotel, where we had a nice late dinner, and a glass of wine. I was soon fast asleep, a little sad, knowing it would be my last night, but also looking forward to the adventures that were ahead as we traveled to Warsaw. Here is a link to some more photographs from our visit to the mine. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Twelve-Krakow-Wieliczka-Salt-mine-part-two-April-19-2017-Poland Day Tweve Salt Mine part two -48

“A person does not grow from the ground like a vine or a tree, one is not part of a plot of land. Mankind has legs so it can wander.”
Roman Payne

 

 

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Poland Day Eleven: Krakow. Chopin And Pierogi, Some Relaxation After A Long And Reflective Day

It was late  afternoon when we returned to out hotel after our long walking tour of Krakow and  emotional visit to the Schindler Factory museum. The rain and cold weather had taken a toll on us and we were tired but we had little time to rest. We had early dinner reservations  at the famous Wierzynek  restaurant  located near the Main Square.Poland Day Eleven Krakow Wierzynek -2

This was not only going to be a meal but a history lesson as well. The restaurant hosted the wedding feast of King Casmir the Great’s granddaughter in 1364. Yes, 1364. That was a long time ago. Poland Day Eleven Krakow Wierzynek -4

As I  entered the restaurant I was immediately impressed by the lavish furnishings.Poland Day Eleven Krakow Wierzynek -1

The list of guests includes many kings, heads of state and famous folks throughout the centuries, including all of these famous folks. Krakow -1

Just kidding, I am sure Cleopatra did not eat here, but this famous painting is a modern version of this older painting in one of the many dinning rooms. The founder of this marvelous place was the same person who funded the restoration of St Mary’s church in the 14th century, as I  mentioned in an earlier blog post.Poland Day Eleven Krakow Wierzynek -8

Our meal was delicious. Of course, we sampled the pierogi, and I had the fish soup and halibut both of  which  were prepared to perfection. Poland Day Eleven Krakow Wierzynek -16

We could not stay long and enjoy the ambiance of the restaurant since we had reservation for a Chopin Concert that started at 7 p.m. a few block away at the Chopin Gallery on Sławkowska Street. Here is a link to some more photographs taken at the restaurant. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Eleven-Krakow-Wierzynek-Restaurant-April-18-2017-Poland Day Eleven Krakow Wierzynek -5

We quickly walked through the evening crowds of people in the Main Square and made our way to Slawkowska and the old building, once the home of the Royal huntsman, that housed the Chopin Gallery. Chopin -1

We arrived just in time to enjoy a glass of wine before  the young talented  woman, Anna Boczar  began her performance. She has won numerous international piano competitions.   She performed a number of Chopins’s works for our small audience . Chopin -2

I enjoy listening to classical music but have to admit I am by no means knowledgeable about this type of music. I enjoyed the performance as best I could but my niece Kelly, also a classical pianist, appreciated it far more than I could. Chopin -6

It was a pleasant hour where listening to the soothing music of the piano let my mind reflect on my wonderful trip to Poland and also the horrors we learned at the Schindler factory earlier in the day. Here is a link to some more photos from the Chopin Gallery concert. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Eleven-Krakow-Chopin-Concert-April-18-2017-Chopin -3

We left the performance and began our walk back to our hotel through the now much quieter streets of old town Krakow. Poland Day Eleven Krakow Chopin Concert and walk home -21

It was not my first time walking beneath the towers of St. Mary’s at night but it still  was  an awe inspiring sight.Poland Day Eleven Krakow Chopin Concert and walk home -7

I was surprised, and pleased to find that the Church of St. Wojceich  open. Built in the 11th century it is one of the oldest churches in Poland and we got to have a look at it’s ancient interior.Poland Day Eleven Krakow Chopin Concert and walk home -10

 We then made our way through the cobblestone streets of Krakow. Poland Day Eleven Krakow Chopin Concert and walk home -23

We soon were near  the towers of Wawel Castle and back to our hotel. It was a long day and I soon fell into a sound sleep while   reflecting on the many things I  experienced on another wonderful day in Poland.  Here is a link to some more photographs from our walk back to the hotel. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-day-Eleven-Krakow-evening-walk-April-18-2017-

“Bach is an astronomer, discovering the most marvellous stars. Beethoven challenges the universe. I only try to express the soul and the heart of man.”
Frédéric Chopin

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Poland Day Eleven: Krakow: Kazimierz and Schindler’s Factory: Good, Evil And The Horrors Of Hate

Sorry for the  delay in my blog posts about my recent trip to Poland  but I had some technical problems with  some photo galleries. I think I figured it out now . In my last blog post,  we were entering our van for the short ride  to the Kazimierz district of Krakow. Poland Day Eleven Krakow kazimiez -7

I visited this district  one week earlier when I first arrived in Krakow and here is a link to a blog post from that visit. http://wp.me/p5GeDV-jPl..  This time I learned so much more from our guide Ada. Like my previous visit,  it was  raining when we left the van, but that wasn’t stopping us. Poland Day Eleven Krakow kazimiez -2

We first visited  a Jewish community center where a woman my sister and niece befriended on their flight to Krakow worked. . It was a pleasant, and appropriate visit since the Kazimierz district is once again regaining it’s Jewish culture which it had for over 500 years  prior to the horrors that occurred in the Nazi occupation of World War II.Poland Day Eleven Krakow kazimiez -3

We left the community center and walked the mainly residential neighborhoods and made our way to Plac Nowy (New square). which was once the center of the Jewish community,  Poland Day Eleven Krakow kazimiez -5

In the middle of the square is a  round building that was one  a  ritual slaughterhouse for poultry  for the community.Poland Day Eleven Krakow kazimiez -6

It still has some butcher shops inside but is more famous for the small shops that serve zapiekank, a pizza like sandwich. A fellow who just purchased one was kind enough to allow me to take a photograph. Poland Day Eleven Krakow kazimiez -4

We continued our walk passing  an old Synagogue and  some Jewish cemeteries and learning how this community thrived before Word War II and how it was made famous in  the movie Schindler’s List. Poland Day Eleven Krakow kazimiez -13

We visited the house where we were told a famous scene in the movie occurred. It was the scene where the woman was hiding her daughter from the NAZI’s.Poland Day Eleven Krakow kazimiez -14

We made our way to the Remuh Synagogue built in 1557 and still active. Unfortunately it was closed for the Passover.  We made our was to  Old Synagogue, built in the mid 1500’s and which now houses a museum. Poland Day Eleven Krakow kazimiez -36

We visited the museum and learned so much more about Jewish life in Poland over the centuries. Poland Day Eleven Krakow kazimiez -45

We then walked through  the surrounding neighborhood, where many of the well preserved old building now house restaurants specializing in Jewish food. I hope to visit again on a sunny day and enjoy  a meal in one of the outdoor tables. Poland Day Eleven Krakow kazimiez -30

We  stopped at  a memorial to the many residents who lost their lives during the occupation. We would learn more about them at our next stop.  We again boarded our van for the short ride to Schindler’s factory. Here is a link to some more photographs from our visit to the Kazimierz. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Eleven-Krakow-Kazimierz-Jewish-section-April-18-2017Poland Day Eleven Krakow kazimiez -32We crossed the Vistula into the Podgorze  district of Krakow , a large portion of which was turned into a Jewish ghetto by the NAZI’s during the occupation of World War II. We drove past  Plac Bohaterow Getta square and the  memorial of large bronze chairs commemorating the many Jewish residents  who died in the ghetto. Poland Day Eleven Krakow kazimiez -49

We soon were at the factory made famous by both the man, and the movie about him, Oskar Schindler, a German industrialist. He was famous for his heroic efforts to save his Jewish workers at his enamelware factory from sure death in the Nazi concentration camps by bribing Nazi officials. Poland Day Eleven Krakow Schindler's factory -1

There is so much to say here about this man and his story but let me use two of his quotes to try and  sum it up.Poland Day Eleven Krakow Schindler's factory part two -44

” The persecution of  Jews  in occupied Poland meant that we could see horror emerging gradually in many ways. In 1939, they were forced to wear Jewish stars, and people were herded and shut up into ghettos. Then, in the years ’41 and ’42 there was plenty of public evidence of pure sadism. With people behaving like pigs, I felt the Jews were being destroyed. I had to help them. There was no choice”  Oskar  Schindler   Interview at Am Hauptbahn No. 4 in Frankfurt Am Main, West Germany (1964)Poland Day Eleven Krakow Schindler's factory -16

“I hated the brutality, the sadism, and the insanity  of  Nazism . I just couldn’t stand by and see people destroyed. I did what I could, what I had to do, what my conscience told me I must do. That’s all there is to it. Really, nothing more.” Oskar Schindler. Poland Day Eleven Krakow Schindler's factory part two -23

The museum is housed in the actual factory where enamelware was manufactured  using  Jewish forced labor. Poland Day Eleven Krakow Schindler's factory part two -28

The  museum depicts the lives  of  both  the Jewish  residents of Kazimierz and the Polish  residents of Krakow before and after the German Nazi  occupation  and how the occupation so horribly changed their lives. Poland Day Eleven Krakow Schindler's factory -8

The museum was very informative with many  historical depictions of what occurred as well as illustrations of everyday life before and after the occupation. Poland Day Eleven Krakow Schindler's factory part two -21

As we made our way through the museum the horrors of these events  became so real.Poland Day Eleven Krakow Schindler's factory part two -4

We learned how the Jewish  residents of the  Kazimierz district we just visited were moved to a  ghetto across the river, a walled prison were they were used as forced labor. Poland Day Eleven Krakow Schindler's factory part two -8

And, later many were transferred to the concentration camps and their deaths. Here is  a link to some more photographs I took in the museum. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Eleven-Krakow-Schindler-Factory-Poland Day Eleven Krakow Schindler's factory part two -38

The museum had  some original  furnishings in the office used by Schindler and some information on his life. He was honored by the 1200 Jewish workers after his death and was buried with honor in Israel.Poland Day Eleven Krakow Schindler's factory part two -29

I learned there were many residents of Krakow, and Poland who, in the spite  of the horrors of the Nazis, stood up and saved many Jewish people who would have perished in the death camps they created.We would be visiting one of them the next day. Poland Day Eleven Krakow Schindler's factory part two -32

 How  anyone with any soul or  empathy for their  fellow human beings could allow such hatred to exist is a question we must still ask ourselves  today.  As I  type I am watching  the news of yet another terrorist attack in Manchester .  This  hate for our fellow humans on this small planet we share  has to start somewhere it and must be nipped in it’s bud, wherever it starts to grow. Poland Day Eleven Krakow Schindler's factory -17

I don’t have time  to reflect  much here, on my blog, since it is such a difficult problem. I think  it can best be said in the words and lyrics  from this song by Peter, Paul and Mary    “…. when will they ever learn”   Here is a link to some more photographs from our visit to Schindler’s factory. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Factory-part-two-Poland Day Eleven Krakow Schindler's factory part two -15

Whoever destroys a soul, it is considered as if he destroyed an entire world. And whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world. Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:5; Yerushalmi Talmud 4:9, Babylonian Talmud Sanhedrin 37a.

 

 

 

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Poland Day Eleven: Krakow: Chilly , Rainy Weather But An Informative Walking Tour With A Heartwarming Guide

I awoke early the next morning in Krakow  to find the unseasonably cold and rainy weather continuing in Poland. I again dressed in my rain gear and headed out into the cold rain that was falling. We had a walking tour arranged for 9:30 a.m but I wanted to do some early exploring and decided to check out some of the city outside of the old town. Poland Day Eleven Krakow evening Tuesday morning wallk-3

I walked along the tree lined planty for a few blocks and then turned into the city which was now much busier than it had been over the Easter Holy days. Poland Day Eleven Krakow evening Tuesday morning wallk-8

The narrow roads were busy with cars and cabs and the sidewalks were crowded  with a steady stream of pedestrians,  including students, workers and a few tourists walking in the rain. Poland Day Eleven Krakow evening Tuesday morning wallk-14

I walked the streets taking in, once again the many advertisements of the foods and goods consumed by the residents of the city. Poland Day Eleven Krakow evening Tuesday morning wallk-39

And I also noticed some  signs, that, despite the cold weather it was still Spring. i found this peony  shoots , which produce some of my favorite Spring flowers, and which grow in many a garden of my Polish neighbors back home. Poland Day Eleven Krakow evening Tuesday morning wallk-35

Like I  often love to do, I found a few apartment buildings open,Poland Day Eleven Krakow evening Tuesday morning wallk-17

and had to venture in to get a look at how  and where some of the local folks live. Poland Day Eleven Krakow evening Tuesday morning wallk-19

It was raining hard now and I wasn’t quite sure where I was  so I decided to head back and  soon enough found myself at the Vistula River which led me back to my hotel   in the steady rain.Poland Day Eleven Krakow evening Tuesday morning wallk-43

The ducks and swans that live on the river didn’t appear to mind the rain. Here is a link to some more photographs from my morning walk.  http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Krakow-Day-Eleven-morning-walk-Poland Day Eleven Krakow evening Tuesday morning wallk-4

After a hot shower I had a delicious breakfast, which included many Polish dishes, with my niece and sister. A sort time later, in the lobby, we  met out pleasant guide for the day, the lovely and knowledgeable Ada.  After our introductions were once again on the rainy streets of Krakow headed to Wawel Castle.Poland Day Eleven Krakow evening Wawel castle-1

I learned more on my walk to the castle then I had from reading all of my tour books. We stopped at the famous dragon’s cave and sculpture and learned the true story of the legend. Poland Day Eleven Krakow evening Wawel castle-2

As we made our way to the castle grounds we learned a lot more of this long history of the castle and Poland. Wawel is actually the hill on which the castle, the cathedral and other buildings were built.Poland Day Eleven Krakow evening Wawel castle-3

We got tickets for the actual Wawel Royal Castle which was hidden behind  more recently constructed buildings.  It was a splendid Renaissance residence when designed in early 16th century. However, when the Polish capitol was moved to Warsaw it fell into disrepair and served as a barracks for some time. It has been restored to it’s original splendor but,  unfortunately, we were not allowed to photograph the   rooms  or  their furnishing inside the castle. Poland Day Eleven Krakow evening Wawel castle-11

We also visited the older Gothic Cathedral of Saint Stanislaus and Waclaw. Erected in the 14th century it conained  many ornate tombs of past Polish Kings and Saint Stanislaus and Saint Hedwig. It was a magnificent church and the church were Pope John Paul offered his first Mass as a Priest here and served   here after he was ordained as Bishop in 1958. Again photographs were not allowed. Poland Day Eleven Krakow evening Wawel castle-17

We next ascended the steep steeps of the bell tower were we saw the largest bell in Poland, the Zygmunt Bell and learned more about the history of Poland and Krakow. Poland Day Eleven Krakow evening Wawel castle-18

We  then  made our way to the crypt were we saw  more of the tombs of Polish leaders including President  Kacyznski who died in the controversial plan crash on April 10 2010. Here are some more photographs from our visit to Wawel castle. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-day-Eleven-Krakow-Wawel-castle-Tuesday-April-18-2017-Poland Day Eleven Krakow evening Wawel castle-29

We again walked down the Wawel hill into the old town learning so much about the history of the ancient city. I had photographed this “lion” above a doorway on an earlier walk but now learned that, in the middle ages, there were no street addresses and houses were located by the animal sculptures above the doors. And, the sculptors were really sure  of what a lion looked like. Poland Day Eleven Krakow walk and visit St. Mary's -10We walked up  Grodska street, which was pretty deserted because of the rain. our guide provided many details about the history of the old town and answered our many questions. Poland Day Eleven Krakow walk and visit St. Mary's -6

We stopped at the famous  Church of  St. Mary were we stopped in for a visit.Poland Day Eleven Krakow walk and visit St. Mary's -12

I had visited this church before, please see my earlier blog post, but I learned a lot more about this history of the church and again photographed the splendor of the wooden altar and other carvings, statues and paintings. Poland Day Eleven Krakow walk and visit St. Mary's -44

It was a very interesting and informative morning despite the cold and rain. We left the church and into a van awaiting us to continue our walking tour in Kazimierz, the old Jewish District of Krakow. Here is a link to some more photographs from our morning walking tour of old town Krakow. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Krakow-Poland-Day-Eleven-walking-tour-Poland Day Eleven Krakow walk and visit St. Mary's -14

 

History with its flickering lamp stumbles along the trail of the past, trying to reconstruct its scenes, to revive its echoes, and kindle with pale gleams the passion of former days. ~Winston Churchill

 

 

 

 

 

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Poland Day Ten: Back To Exploring Krakow, And It’s Churches, History And Food

It was a 10 minute taxi ride  from the train station to  the beautiful  Sheraton Hotel in Krakow, which is  located near Wawel Castle just outside of old town. I arrived  around one p.m.  After checking in the hotel and settling in my room I  immediately sent my cloths for some much needed   laundering. Krakow-1

 I looked out my window at the scenic Vistula River and noticed the sun had broke through the clouds. I decided to take a walk and join the many residents of Krakow, who were on holiday, and walk along the river in the April sunshine. Poland Day Ten Krakow Vistula River -5

A lot of folks and families were feeding the swans and ducks living on the river. It was a pleasant afternoon for a walk. Here are some more photographs from my short stroll along the Vistula.http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Ten-Krakow-Vistula-River-hike.- Poland Day Ten Krakow Vistula River -3

I received a message from my sister and niece and learned they would be arriving around 3 p.m. so I decided to again walk the ancient streets of old town Krakow for a couple of hours. Poland Day Ten Krakow afternoon walk churches -2

I walked past the impressive walls of Wawel Castle and crossed the planty into the now familiar streets of the old time and it’s many old buildings. Poland Day Ten Krakow afternoon walk churches -5

I walked to  the “Royal Route” taken by coronation processions, parades and other important state celebrations since the middle ages. It  followed historic Grodzka Street which I soon entered and I again came to the impressive  churches of St. Andrew’sPoland Day Ten Krakow St. Andrew's -17

and St Peter’s And Paul’s.Poland Day Ten Krakow St. Peter's and Paul's -32

This time I found St Andrew’s to be open  and entered this church that dates back to the 11th century. Poland Day Ten Krakow St. Andrew's -3

The old stones walls sheltered families from sure death during a Mongol attack in 1241 when  churches served a dual purpose as a house of worship and a fortress. Poland Day Ten Krakow St. Francis -3

A nun allowed me to enter the altar and take photographs of the many icons, relics and holy images that have adorned the walls of this church for  centuries. . Here is a link to some more photographs of the  St. Andrew’s Church. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Krakow-churches-St-Andrew-Poland Day Ten Krakow St. Andrew's -12

I left the peace and quiet of this church and walked a few yards to  it’s neighbor, the splendid church built in the Baroque style, Saints Peter and Paul. St Peter's and Pauls's Church Krakow -1

I entered this majestic church,  the construction of which began in the 16th century, and again was awed by it’s beauty. St Peter's and Pauls's Church Krakow -18

I  visited it’s many side chapels and again the numerous religious icons, paintings and sculptures.  Here is a link to some more photos of this splendid church  and it’s interior. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Saints-Peter-and-Paul-Krakow-St Peter's and Pauls's Church Krakow -20

I continued my walk on  busy Grodska street and joined the many tourists, residents and others enjoying the  April sunshine.Poland Day Ten Krakow afternoon walk churches -9

I made my way to another church, the impressive Church of Saint Francis. Again I left the bright April sunshine and entered the dim light of this beautiful church. It’s construction was started in the 13th century although there were many alterations over the years. Poland Day Ten Krakow St. Francis -22

The altar was both impressive and beautiful. Poland Day Ten Krakow St. Francis -4

And there were many side chapels, again adorned with many precious and beautiful religious sculptures, paintings, and icons. I could spend hours in the old churches exploring and just taking in their beauty.  Here is a link to some more photographs of St Francis church. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-day-Ten-Krakow-St.-Francis-April-17-2017Poland Day Ten Krakow St. Francis -9

It was now near 3 p.m so I decided to return to the hotel to meet my sister and niece taking a different route outside of the old town. I crossed the wooded trails of the planty and onto the busy streets of down town Krakow. Poland Day Ten Krakow afternoon walk churches -20

 I walked through the traffic of the businesses districts just outside the tree lined boundary  of old town and returned to my hotel. Here is a link to some more photographs from my afternoon walk. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Ten-Krakow-afternoon-walk-churches-April-17-2017-Poland Day Ten Krakow afternoon walk churches -21

I was excited to see my sister Linda and niece Kelly  in Poland and after they got settled in, and we had   a cup of coffee or two, all three of us were off again exploring the streets of Krakow. Poland Day Ten Krakow evening walk -1

I served  as a somewhat limited guide, taking them to what I thought were some of the cities highlights, and, of course the first was nearby Wawel Castle.Poland Day Ten Krakow evening walk -7

We visited the dragon  below the castle and climbed the stairs to the castle grounds and the many overlooks of the Vistula River.Poland Day Ten Krakow evening walk -4

We walked through the grounds of the castle. and then made our way  back down  and to  the “Royal Route” or Grodska Street taking in the many famous churches and buildings which I have come to know and love. Poland Day Ten Krakow evening walk -10

We slowly walked the busy street filled with tourists and local residents shopping or having dinner at one of the many outdoor cafes. We walked onto the Main Market Square. and my sister and niece  enjoyed this remarkable place for the first time. Poland Day Ten Krakow evening walk -16

We quickly peeked in a few churches, knowing it was getting late and we had planned a walking tour of the city for the next day. So we continued on the “Royal Route” now walking past the two towers of St. Mary’s and onto Florianska Street and it’s many shops and cafes. Poland Day Ten Krakow evening walk -14

We stopped in and checked  out a piano bar, since my niece is a talented pianist. Poland Day Ten Krakow evening walk -22

We walked up to the Florian gate where we were entertained by a woman with a most beautiful voice singing in to the passing crowds. Poland Day Ten Krakow evening walk -31

It was now getting late and we were hungry so we found a nearby restaurant Pod Ziota Pipa where we had dinner. The found took some time to prepare but it was very good when it arrived. Of, course we tried the pierogi  and I  had a very good fish dish as my main course. IMG_8941

We left the restaurant in the April twilight and made our way back through the emptying streets of old town Krakow. It was a long day for all of us  and we looked forward to getting some sleep, and seeing more of this truly wonderful city in the morning. Here is a link to some more photographs of our evening walk. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Ten-Krakow-evening-walk-April-17-2017-

Poland Day Ten Krakow evening walk -36

“But that’s the wonderful thing about foreign travel, suddenly you are five years old again. You can’t read anything, you have only the most basic sense of how things work, you can’t even reliably cross the street without endangering your life. Your whole existence becomes a series of interesting guesses.”
Bill Bryan

 

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Poland Day Six: Walking In The Footsteps Of A Great Man: Karol Józef Wojtyał

After arriving at the Hotel Grodek in Krakow,  I  set up my electronics in my room and soon was in the lobby meeting my guide for the afternoon, a friendly and knowledgeable fellow by the name of , Adam. I arranged for him to drive me to Wadowice, the birthplace  of my favorite Pope, Pope John Paul II. Poland Day six Wadowice drive-3

Adam spoke fluent English, having taught himself listening to tapes and talking with tourists.  We talked about the history and customs of Krakow and Poland as we drove through the busy streets of the city. We soon were on scenic country roads passing small towns and farm lands. Poland Day six Wadowice drive-32

it was a most enjoyable one hour ride and I learned so much about the everyday life of a Polish family as we road through the beautiful countryside. Poland Day six Wadowice drive-10

We tried to visit the hilltop monastery  located in the town of Kalwaria Zebrzydowska   but the road was closed to traffic because of holy Thursday services. Poland Day six Wadowice drive-9

We soon made our way to the small town of Wadowice,  where Karol Jozef Wojtyal was born and roamed the streets as a child.  I had admired John Paul II since I first learned of his selection as Pope on a sunny warm October Day while in Philosophy class at King’s College. My philosophy teacher asked any person of Polish decent to stand, wherein, he informed and  congratulated on the selection of a Polish Pope. Poland Day six John Paul II sanctuary -33

I have followed this kind, loving and  man from that day until the time of his death. I was fortunate to have traveled to Rome and attend his funeral. I have read many of his writings and the biographies written about him.  To walk the  streets he walked and to see  the house he was born in,and the church he attended was a very fulfilling and emotional experience for me. Poland Day six Wadowice Basilica -22

It was raining as we walked through the town square and entered the church where he attended mass , prayed and served as an altar boy, the church of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.Poland Day six Wadowice Basilica -4

 There was a service being conducted, but, the priest, when asked by my guide, was kind enough to let me photograph and share this beautiful  church.  I reflected on how it much have looked to young Karol attending it while a child. Here is a link to some more photographs of the church. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Six-Wadowice-Basilica-Thursday-April-13-2017-Poland Day six Wadowice Basilica -12

The Pope was born, and was raised in the house next to the church. It was now a museum but, unfortunately the museum had closed for the day.Poland Day six Wadowice Basilica -17

It was raining so I didn’t get to walk around the town but my guide did take me to a shop where we got enjoy the Pope’s favorite dessert, kremowka.  As a boy, he and his friends would save their money to buy and share this cake. It was delicious. Poland Day six Wadowice drive-23

We drove back through the scenic countryside and entered Krakow at the end of the rush hour traffic. Poland Day six Wadowice drive-35

My guide next took me to visit the impressive, and newly built,  John Paul II Sanctuary.  It was built with the intention of being one of the main shrines devoted to this great man, Pope and recently canonized Saint. Poland Day six John Paul II sanctuary -38

The shrine had many paintings, exhibits and personal possessions of the Pope, including blood stained robe he had worn during the assassination attempt that occurred in May of 1981. The Pope was never quite the same after this incident yet he forgave the man who tried to kill him. Poland Day six John Paul II sanctuary -31

There are many beautiful altars located in the shrine and I wish I had more time to spend and reflect on them. But we had one more stop and so I had to leave this beautiful place dedicated to the life of this saintly man. Here is a link to  some more photographs from my visit to the Sanctuary. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Po;and-Day-Six-Krakow-John-Paul-II-Sanctuary-Thursday-April-13-2017-Poland Day six John Paul II sanctuary -24

 

We next drove the short distance to the  Divine Mercy Sanctuary, which is also the final  resting place of the Catholic Saint,  Faustina Kowalska.I will confess I did not know much about this Sanctuary or Saint but I knew my mom, a devout Catholic would be glad I stopped to visit. Poland Day six Sanctuary of Divine Mercy. -1 Poland Day six Sanctuary of Divine Mercy. -22

This Sanctuary was also just built recently. I took a quick tour of the beautiful interior of the sanctuary including a few of the many splendid altars.  Poland Day six Sanctuary of Divine Mercy. -2

We then proceeded to the viewing tower were we took an elevator to the top and were treated with spectacular views of the city of Krakow. Poland Day six Sanctuary of Divine Mercy. -8

After taking in the view, and a lot of photographs we took a quick walk through the grounds of the sanctuary. Here is a link to some more photographs of the Sanctuary. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Six-Krakow-Sanctuary-of-the-Divine-Mercy-April-13-2017-Poland Day six Sanctuary of Divine Mercy. -25

and a quick look inside the altar of the older Sanctuary adjacent to the new one. it was not nearing sundown and i was hungry and tired so my guide left me off at the Hotel. I was glad to have met Adam and i learned so much from his informative tour of Wadowice and Krakow.  Here is a link to some more photographs from my tour. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Six-Krakow-Sanctuary-of-the-Divine-Mercy-April-13-2017-Poland Day six Sanctuary of Divine Mercy. -27

It was late, so after a quick shower headed into old town Krakow where I had a nice dinner of, of course pierogi and mushroom soup, at the Wesele restaurant located near the Main Square.  poland Day six krakow evening -10

The skies  had cleared and, although it was a bit cool, it was a nice night to again stroll the cobblestone streets of old town Krakow.poland Day six krakow evening -7

I wish I could have stayed longer but it was another long day, and i was on the road again in the morning so I had to head back to my hotel. Here is a link to some more photographs from my evening walk. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Six-Krakow-evening-hike-poland Day six krakow evening -12

 

“The earth will not continue to offer its harvest, except with faithful stewardship. We cannot say we love the land and then take steps to destroy it for use by future generations.”
Pope John Paul II

Poland Day six John Paul II sanctuary -25

 

 

 

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Poland Day Six: A Final Walk In The Tatra Mountains And A Bus Ride Back To Krakow

My hopes to see some sunshine on my last morning in the Tatra Mountains were disappointed when I awoke  to another cool and cloudy day. It looked like rain, or snow, but  I only had a few hours until my bus left for Krakow so I was left the hotel at dawn for one last hike in the National park. Poland Day five Kalatowki morning walk -4

I heard the rushing of a  stream near the hotel on my previous hikes so I decided to have a closer look. I walked through the fields toward the stream and found another trail, that ran along the stream,  to Kuznice. Poland Day five Kalatowki morning walk -10

It, again, was a steep trail and I knew the hike back up would not be easy. Poland Day five Kalatowki morning walk -15

I  found more of these flowers, which I have come to love, , growing all along the trail. Poland Day five Kalatowki morning walk -16

The trail soon approached   to the fast running stream and I stood for awhile and listened to it’s roaring waters, as well as the singing of the birds in the treetops above the stream.  Here is a link to a  video of the stream I uploaded to my YouTube channel. https://youtu.be/3cXOWutz6aEPoland Day five Kalatowki morning walk -20

I continued down along the trail, passing beneath the cable car towers that ascend Mount Kaspowry. Poland Day five Kalatowki morning walk -27

I soon was on the outskirts of Kuznice, and I wanted to explore the village,  but realized I had to head back and I  knew the walk back up the steep trail would take much longer than it was getting down. Poland Day five Kalatowki morning walk -28

It was an exhausting but nice hike under the spruce and pine trees. My timing was good that morning since, just as I  was nearing the hotel it  began to rain. Here is a link to some more photographs from my last hike in the Tatra mountains. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Six-Kalatowki-walk-morning-April-13-2017-Poland Day five Kalatowki morning walk -11

After another light breakfast I finished packing. Upon  checking out of the hotel I joined a father and his young son in a van for the bumpy ride down to Kuznice. They had their skis, rain gear and back packs and were probably going to take the cable car up the mountain and ski down.Poland Day six bus ride to Krakow -2

I left the van in Kuznice and took a taxi to Zakopane. My driver spoke good English and he was surprised when i told him how my dad kept all of the Polish customs and traditions. We even sang, well I attempted to sing,  some Polish Christmas carols. I really feel in love with this area. I will miss the mountains of Poland.  Poland Day six bus ride to Krakow -3

I arrived at the bus station to find a full bus to Krakow.  And once again it left the station exactly on time at 10:20 am.Poland Day six bus ride to Krakow -4

It was pouring rain as we began our journey back to Krakow.  I decided to stay there another night. We were soon driving through the streets of Zakopane passing it’s many wooden homes and businesses. Poland Day six bus ride to Krakow -9

There were a lot more stops on the trip back to Krakow but I enjoyed seeing the small Polish towns and cities. Poland Day six bus ride to Krakow -11

I also enjoyed watching the passing scenery of the farms, towns and wooded hillsides. Poland Day six bus ride to Krakow -20

The rain stopped and we had some clearing as we neared Krakow. I continued to watch passing scenery, now becoming more suburban, and, like most modern cities, including many gas stations, restaurants and businesses. Poland Day six bus ride to Krakow -29

Soon we were in the suburbs and the many shopping centers, malls, car dealerships and other evidence of our modern consumer based planet. Poland Day six bus ride to Krakow -16

I was soon able to determine where I was when I saw this now familiar sight, impressive Wawel Castle towering over the Vistula River in the distance. Poland Day six bus ride to Krakow -39

We drove through downtown Krakow and I soon found myself at the bus station, not far from my hotel. I wasn’t sure were I would be this night but I decided to return to the friendly staff, good food and comfortable and historic rooms of the Grodnek Hotel.  Here is a link to some more photographs of my bus ride to Krakow. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Six-bus-ride-to-Krakow-Thursday-April-14-2017-Poland Day six bus ride to Krakow -32

It was around 1 pm when the cab dropped me at the hotel and I was greeted by the doorman George and a friendly young woman at the desk.  I decided to stay in Krakow for the night since I had another bus drive to Czestochowa in the morning.  However, I wanted to visit Wadowice, the birthplace of Pope John Paul II and wasn’t quite sure how to get there. The young woman at the desk arranged a guide and I was to be picked up at 1:30. I quickly settled into my new room and was ready for a new adventure in Poland.Poland Day six Grodek hotel -1

“Travelling shouldn’t be just a tour, it should be a tale.” Amit Kalantri

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Poland Day Three: The Exploration Of Krakow Continues. So Many Beautiful Churches.

After spending some time reflecting outside  the Schindler factory I decided to walk back to my hotel. The mid April sun was shining in the clear blue skies and the temperatures now warmed up into the uppers 60’s making for perfect walking weather. Poland Krakow day 3 Podorze-36

It seemed a lot  of the folks in Krakow agreed. There were many people  outside enjoying the sun as   I left the Podgorze area and walked along the Vistula River.Poland Krakow day 3 Podorze-37

As in most cities, there was a nice park along the river and it was used by many  young mothers with their children, senior citizens and tourists enjoying the view of the river and the sunshine. Poland Krakow return walk -3

I crossed the  Vistula river on a most unusual bridge.  It was lined with sculptures engaged in acrobatic activities on the wire supports of the bridge. Poland Krakow return walk -6

I did not  have my guide book or map but knew if I continues to  walk in a westerly direction  along the river I would have to eventually come to Wawel Castle. So this I did, at times venturing from the river banks to explore the surrounding neighborhoods. Poland Krakow return walk -7

The areas along the river were mainly residential neighborhoods   with many churches and schools.  There are over two hundred churches in the city, Poland Krakow return walk -12

As I proceeded on my walk I noticed one of these beautiful churches  so I walked over to investigate. It was, I discovered Skalka, the historic Church on the Rock.Poland Krakow Skalka -1

I spent some time touring the church and it’s beautiful grounds. I  learned it was the place of the murder of St. Stanislaus by King Boleslaw the Bold in the 11th century. It had a long history associated with the King’s of Poland. Poland Krakow Skalka -6

I admired the many beautiful statutes and paintings in the interior of the church. Here is a link to some more photographs of my visit to Skalka.http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Three-Krakow-Skalka-April-10-2017-Poland Krakow Skalka -9

I continued my walk and veered from the river into a more commercial part of the city as I neared Wawel Castle.  There were a lot of  small shops and businesses  and a lot of traffic and pedestrians in the area, Poland Krakow return walk -18

I love exploring all parts of a city, from the parks to the industrial areas since it is the only real way to get to truly know a city. Poland Krakow return walk -17

I made it back to the Castle and turned  onto the  the main street, Grodzka Street, also know as  the Royal Road. It was the route coronation processions would follow in the old town through the centuries as well as other dignitaries visiting the King. More on this route, which passes many landmarks, including the historic St Andrew’s Church,  pictured below,  in a  later post.  Today I was tired and just making my way back. Poland Krakow return walk -27I came to the Main Square and decided  I wasn’t ready to head to the hotel, but wanting to get out of the now intense mid April sun, I decided to visit the historic church that dominates the square, St. Mary’s Basilica.Poland Krakow St Mary's part two -39

This church was established in the  13th century. Amazing. It was destroyed by Mongols but rebuilt in 1320  and expanded a number of times, including a major expansion with the help of Mikołaj Wierzynek. Remember that name. Poland Krakow St Mary's part two -32

I purchased a photography permit for  eight  zolty, about two US dollars, and it sure was worth it. The photographs of this magnificent church, it’s  exquisite wooden alter and carvings, it’s starred ceiling do it no justice but at least allow me to share an idea of it’s splendor. Here is a link to some of the many photographs I took of the interior of the church.http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Three-Krakow-St-Mary’s-part-two-April-10-2017 Poland Krakow St Mary's part one -2

I spent an hour in the church taking photographs but also just sitting and admiring the beauty of the historic church. Poland Krakow St Mary's part two -21

There is so much history to tell, and it would take a long book to tell it all, but I will relate one of the most famous legends associated with the church. When the city was attacked by the Mongols in the 13th century a trumpeter was  sounding the alarm form St. Mary’s church. In the middle of the alarm he was struck in the throat with an arrow. So every hour  a live trumpeter sounds the alarm and breaks off in the middle of the tune to commemorate the trumpeter who died doing his duty for his country almost a millennium ago. Poland Krakow St Mary's part two -36

I wish I had more time to see all of the church but I had some errands to do and had to move on. Here is a link to more photographs of the beautiful interior of St. Mary’s.  http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Three-Krakow-St.-Mary’s-part-one-April-10-2017-Poland Krakow St Mary's part one -6

I walked the short distance back to my hotel, past the many crowds, many of them tourists,  enjoying this splendid Spring day. Here is a link to some more photographs from my walk back to the city. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Three-Krakow-Podgorze-return-walk-April-10-2017-il-Poland Krakow return walk -38

This would be my last day in Krakow. I was leaving to visit the mountains of Poland the next day. I had  a hotel, the Hotel Gorski PTTK Kalatowki , but wasn’t quite sure how I was going to get there yet. Krakow evening walk -3

The staff at the front desk at the Hotel Grodek helped me make my decision and said a bus would be my best option. They could have obtained a ticket on-line but I decided to walk to the bus station and purchase the ticket myself. I walked along the  tree lined planty again, but this time in the opposite direction and soon found myself outside of the quiet of old town and  in busy central Krakow. Poland Krakow bus stop -13

I walked with the large crowds of commuters rushing to catch their  buses and trains at Krakow’s central bus and train stations. Poland Krakow bus stop -15

It took a little time to locate the bus station, on the other side of the train tracks, but I finally found it and purchased a ticket to Zakopane for 10:10 am the next morning. Poland Krakow bus stop -14

I was glad I made the trip to the bus station. The tour guides advised that it was a short 10 minute walk to the station. I had planned to walk with my luggage the next morning. It took me almost 25 minutes to get through the crowds and to the bus station. And that was without luggage! I now planned to take a taxi to the station in the morning. Poland Krakow bus stop -9

It was now late afternoon so I walked back   to my hotel to shower and decide where to eat.  On the way I learned they have cats in Poland too, as I ran into this one on my walk. Here is a link to some more photographs from my walk to the bus station. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Three-Krakow-Walk-to-bus-station-Poland Krakow bus stop -1

I did a lot of walking during the day, and I wanted to eat close to the hotel so the staff at the  recommended a restaurant  near the planty and Wawel Castle, about 10 minute away by foot. .  So  I took a pleasant evening walk to find it. Find it I did but I also found it was closed Mondays. Poland Krakow bus stop -2

So I was off looking for a place to eat and decided to try the many restaurants on Grodska Street. On my way I came across a very meaningful memorial for me. It so happened to be the anniversary of the Kaytn massacre, a massacre of Polish nationals by Russian secret police on April 10th 1940. My father often spoke of this massacre and how it troubled him. I stopped and took some time to reflect at the memorial. Krakow evening walk -1

I then made my way up very busy Grodzka street and decided on trying Pod Aniolami  “Under the Angels” Restaurant recommended in the tour guides and by a fellow American traveler I met at breakfast. Krakow evening walk -3

It was a good choice. I had a delicious meal of mushroom soup, zander a Polish fresh water fish and a side of mushrooms in beautiful rooms adorned with paintings and artwork. Krakow evening walk -5

I also visited the dining rooms located downstairs in the medieval cellar which looked more like a dungeon. It was the perfect way to end a perfect day.Krakow evening walk -7

I made my way back through the Main Square, enjoying again it’s carnival like atmosphere. I also took in the rising moon in the east.  It was along day but surely a wonderful one. I knew I would miss Krakow, I had come to love in in two short days, but I was also looking to my trip  to  the Polish mountains  in the morning. Here is a link to some more photographs from my  evening walk. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Three-Krakow-evening-walk-April-10-2017-Krakow evening walk -28

 

“Each neighborhood of the city appeared to be made of a different substance, each seemed to have a different air pressure, a different psychic weight: the bright lights and shuttered shops, the housing projects and luxury hotels, the fire escapes and city parks.”
Teju Cole

 

 

 

 

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Poland Day Three: A Beautiful Morning Walk , And A Then A Visit To Some Of Krakow Unpleasant Past

As is often the case, I did not sleep well my first night in Poland. Jet lag is real and it takes a few days to adjust to the new time change. This, however, didn’t stop me from waking up at dawn to begin discovering more of the history and beauty of Krakow. Poland Day three morning -1

It was a cool morning, but there was sunshine as I began my walk along the tree lined planty the park created on the former moat that surrounded the old town of Krakow. .  

Poland Day three morning -3Most of the trees had young green leaves and there were many birds singing in the branches above my head. It was a beautiful  Spring morning on which to explore a new city and country. Poland Day three morning -4

It was Monday morning and there were already a lot of folks walking, running and biking  on the paths of  planty. And the trams, buses and taxis were busy too. Poland Day three morning -16

I once again walked to Wawel Castle and it’s massive walls atop a hill overlooking the Vistula River.  I climbed the ancient cobblestone steps and again spent some time at the Castle admiring the view of the river below. Poland Day morning Wawel -1

I roamed the Castle grounds for a bit and then walked  down to the banks of Vistula River. Poland Day morning Wawel -14

I had read about the legend of the dragon that lived under the hill on which the Castle was built and had to see it and the the sculpture of the dragon nearby. Here is a link to some more photographs of my visit to Wawel Castle. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Three-Wawel-Castle-morning-April-10-2017Poland Day morning Wawel -24

I continued my hike on the other side of the planty and made my way to Jagiellonian University, one of the oldest universities in the world. Poland Day three morning -18

I walked amid the old buildings of the university thinking about the many famous people who studied here since it’s founding in the 14th century, including Nicolas Copernicus. I wondered if he stood in the same place I did and what his thoughts were if he did. Poland Day three morning -20

The area was filled with monuments, statutes and testimonials to the many great men who studies and thought here. Poland Day three morning -25

I was getting hungry so I headed back to my hotel, once again visiting the famous Main Market Square. Here is a link to some more photographs from my morning walk in old town Krakow. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Three-Krakow-Monday-morning-hike-April-10-2017-Poland Day three morning -38

The breakfast at Hotel Grodek was delicious and included a variety of traditional polish smoked and pickled meats and fish. After eating I decided to try the public transportation of Krakow and visit the Podgorze district across the Vistula River. Poland Krakow day 3 Podorze-4

Unfortunately, I didn’t read the guidebooks very well. I knew the area was referred to as the “Jewish Ghetto” but not much more than that. After a little difficulty at the ticket machine, they were only in Polish, I got a ticket and boarded a tram. Poland Krakow day 3 Podorze-5

I wasn’t sure of my  stop and when I  exited the tram I had no idea where I was. And no one spoke English. So I explored the area, and is often the case, found  an interesting old cemetery. I love cemeteries  so I considered myself lucky. I explored to old graves for a bit and decided I had better try and find out where I was. Poland Krakow day 3 Podorze-9

As I left I knew it had to be a Jewish neighborhood when I found this monument outside the Christian cemetery. Poland Krakow day 3 Podorze-3

I began to walk back along the tram tracks when I finally found someone who could understand a bit of English and I learned I had gone a few stops too far. I decided to walk back through the mixed residential and commercial neighborhood to my destination.Poland Krakow day 3 Podorze-20

 And that destination was the factory made famous by Oskar Schindler during the NAZI occupation and the horrors it brought to Poland, Krakow and this area which was turned into an internment  camp know as the “Jewish Ghetto”.Poland Krakow day 3 Podorze-33

I knew I would be returning to visit the  factory when my sister and niece arrived in Poland in a few days ,. It is  now a museum dedicated to showing the  horrific and inhuman treatment the Jewish population of Krakow  was subjected during the NAZI Occupation. So I sat along the factory and recalled the events of the movie and the actions this man took to save the lives of his Jewish workers. And I also reflected on the countless lives that would be lost, murdered the most horrible ways,  as a result of the policy of hatred carried on by the NAZI party in Germany.  It was the worst of times  in the long history of Krakow. Here is a link to some more photographs from my morning visit to the Podgorze. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-day-Three-Krakow-Podgorze-visit-April-10-2017-Poland Krakow day 3 Podorze-31

“Thou shalt not be a victim, thou shalt not be a perpetrator, but, above all, thou shalt not be a bystander.”
Yehuda Bauer

 

 

 

 

 

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