Poland Day Fifteen Sopot And Oliwa. So Nice To See The Sea Again.

After our tour of Gdansk we  boarded a local train for the short 15 minute ride to Sopot. Along the way we passed the famous shipyards of Gdansk where Lech Walesa began the solidarity movement that, with the help of Pope John Paul, brought down the Communist regime in Poland. 

We soon arrived at the train station in Sopot and walked through this resort town  seeing some of it’s famous landmarks,

including the famous “crooked house”.

We walked into the square which contained many restaurants and shops. One of them was serving this delicious looking treat, waffles, ice cream and strawberries. 

It was well past lunch so we decided to eat,  and this time, something besides traditional Polish food.  So we stopped in the Avocadoa Japanese style restaurant.  The food was delicious, one of the best Japanese meals I was ever served and I have eaten in a lot of Japanese restaurants on this planet. I never would have thought I would have such great Japanese food in Poland. 

After lunch we walked down to the beach. It was good to see the  Baltic Sea again. I last saw in it Helsinki Finland when I toured Scandinavia. Photographs and comments about this trip can be found in the archives of my blog. 

As my sister, niece and guides walked the pier I found myself photographing the many shore birds in the waters next to the pier. 

I enjoy watching the seagull and other shore birds and can spend hours at a beach photographing them. I was watching three seagulls interact and was ale to learn it was a family and mommy was feeding her youngster. Here is a link to some more photographs of the birds I saw  at Sopot. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Fifteen-Sopot-birds-April-22-2017-

I wish we could have stayed here for a few hours, or days, or weeks, but it was now getting late in the afternoon and we still had a few stops planned before our train ride back to Warsaw. . We walked back to the train station and took a short trip to Oliwa a section of Gdansk.   Here is a link to some more photographs from our visit to Sopot. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Fifteen-Gdansk-Sopot-beach-April-22-2017

Our guides chose a visit to Oliwa for two reasons, one was the beautiful 16th century Oliwa Cathedral, and the other a visit to, reportedly, the best pierogi restaurant in Gdansk, Mandu. 

We left the train and walked the peaceful streets of this quiet town to make reservations at the Mandu restaurant. We were told there was a line and it would be an hour wait. Kasha volunteered to wait in the line in the hope of getting a seat for us and we continued on to the Cathedral. 

It was a nice walk in the late April sunshine, and we made our way through a tree-lined park with canals, 

flower gardens,

and ducks. 

As I had  found in every city, town and neighborhood during my visit to Poland there was always some sort of remembrance to the horrors of the Nazi occupation during World War II.

We arrived at the Cathedral

just as a local orchestra was starting to rehearse  for a concert. So we were able to view the beautiful altars, 

painting and

relics as they performed soothing classical music. Here is a link to the music on. my YouTube channel https://youtu.be/ddWQ8HUrk9s

As do most churches in Poland there was a memorial, altar, painting or statue of the Polish Pope, Pope John Paul II. Here is a link to some more photographs from our visit to the Cathedral. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Fifteen-Oliwa-Cathedral-April-22-2017-

We were hungry but we hadn’t heard form Kasha so we walked back to the restaurant to still find long lines and a half hour wait. We all tried to implore the hostess of our plight, we had a train to catch, and we wanted to try the best pierogi in Poland, but it didn’t work.  

We left, disappointed and hungry and took the local  train back to Gdansk. As we waited for a train we all watched the antics of this local cat in a yard next to the train station. Here is a link to some more photographs from our visit to Oliwa. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Fifteen-Oliwa-walk-April-22-2017

After a short wait at the train station in Gdansk, and an interesting visit to the bathroom,  we were soon on our way back to Warsaw. I had a surprisingly good meal, for train food, on the ride. .

We arrived back in town late and I was soon in the hotel, realizing the next day would be my last in Poland. I also started planning my return. It is a wonderful country. And I have so much more to explore.  

Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.”- Andre Gide

 

 

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Poland Day Fifteen A Train Ride To Gdansk And Poland’s Baltic Coast.

It was another early start on Saturday morning.  No time for breakfast. We met our young guides Kasha and Karol  in the lobby of our hotel around 6:00 am We  then proceeded to the nearby  train station. Our train left Warsaw at 6:15 am. 

It was a three hour ride to the city but the train was modern and comfortable and I enjoyed watching the passing scenery under the April sunshine. .  Our train crossed over the bridge I walked to on my first morning in Warsaw and we were soon outside the city limits. 

The train traveled through mainly rural areas, farms,

and woodlands, occasionally passing a small town or industrial area. 

It was a pleasant ride and the countryside again reminded me of my home in Northeastern Pennsylvania. We began to pass larger  towns and commercial areas  and  I knew we were near Gdansk when we passed the magnificent Malbork castle, home of the famous Teutonic Knights. We wanted to stop here  but there was no time on our schedule this visit. Hopefully I will get back to visit it since it is one of the largest  castles in Europe. 

We arrived at the grand old train station in Gdansk under sunny skies but still cool temperatures. Here is a link to some more photographs taken from the train on the ride to Gdansk . http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Fifteen-Gdansk-train-ride-April-22-2017- 

We set out on our walking tour of this 1000 year old city, once a member of the Hanseatic league and one of the richest cities in Europe. 

Unfortunately, like so many cities in Poland there was much destruction during the war but much of the city has been rebuilt. 

We walked the busy streets of the city and entered the old town through the Highland Gate that was built in  the 16th century. The gate is the beginning of the Royal  Way that takes one through the medieval city and ends at the Green Gate. Here is a link to some more photographs from our walk to the Highland Gate. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Fifteen-Gdansk-Walk-to-city-gate-April-22-2017 

Once inside the gate,  you immediately were transported back in time and felt like you were walking in the city of the Middle Ages. 

The narrow streets were filled with many statutes and artifacts that were salvaged from the ruins of the destruction left by World War II. 

And there was  the splendor of the reconstructed Gold Gate that was the entrance to the main Avenue of the city,  Ulica Dluga. 

We leisurely strolled the old street taking in the many wonderful sights including the small shops along the way. 

It was now late morning and we decided to have breakfast.  We  found a charming little place,  the Cafe Bar Mon Balzac  where we enjoyed a wonderful breakfast. 

After breakfast we walked over to the impressive Church of St. Mary. This massive church is the largest medieval brick church in Europe. 

It’s construction was began in 1343 and took over 150 years to complete. 

We first made the long, and exhausting climb  up the 410 steps to  the tower,

and we were rewarded with spectacular views of the city below and the surrounding towns and Baltic Sea to the north. 

To the west were the shipyards which Lech Walesa and the solidarity movement made famous. We enjoyed the magnificent views in the strong northerly wind and then made the long climb down the 410 steps to continue our visit to the church. Here is a link to some  photographs  from the church and tower. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Fifteen-Gdansk-St.-Mary’s-Church-part-two-April-22-2017-

The church was filled with may splendid paintings and artifacts which adorned the many altars. 

I enjoyed the medieval astronomical clock, it reminding me of the one I  visited in the cathedral in Lund, Sweden. Here are some more photographs of our visit to St. Mary’s church. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Fifteen-Gdansk-St.-Mary’s-Church-

After leaving the church we continued our walk through the old town and past the town hall and the famous Fountain  of Neptune. 

We soon came to the Green Gate, which ended the Royal Route. We walked through the gate and onto the old streets and rive walk along the Motlawa River. Here is a link to some more photographs of our walk through old town Gdansk. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Fifteen-Gdansk-old-town-April-22-2017-

 

Passing through the gate was like walking into another world. We gazed up the blue waters of the Motlawa River canal and the ships, buildings and Ferris wheel, which seems to be present in all river and port cities around the world these days. 

The large ships in the canal attest to Gdansk’s importance as a port and trading center, and to which it’s wealth over the centuries could be attributed. 

We walked along the river walk taking in the beautiful scenery and watching this crew team practice on the calm waters of the river. 

We also had time to visit one of the many amber shops in the city. Amber, fossilized tree resin is another source of the wealth of Poland’s Baltic coast over the centuries. My sister and niece enjoyed the many items for sale and even I, not  being  a big shopper, purchased a small insect encased in amber millions of years ago. 

We walked along the river and the many shops but had to leave this wonderful place and exited  the river walk area of the city through one of the many ancient  gates. 

We walked the  streets of the city, passing  quaint, well maintained housed, many adorned with symbols of their proximity to the sea. 

As we made our way back to the train station we passed a number of squares churches and monuments depicting the long history of the city. 

And like all cities there  were all kind of products for sale. I just photograph, I don’t judge. 

We passed another nice park before finally arriving at the train station, where we were going to take a train to another part of Poland I have not yet explored, the sea coast! Here is a link to some more photographs from our visit to the river. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Fifteen-Gdansk-Motlawa-River-walk-April-22-2017

“You have sea, you have boat, you have oars, and then why on earth you are rotting in the port?” 

Mehmet Murat ildan

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Poland Day Fourteen. Our Walk Through Warsaw Continues.

After leaving St Ann’s church we continued  our tour  of Warsaw, now walking along the Royal Route and the many beautiful buildings, churches and monuments that are found there. 

We walked past this impressive statute of Adam Mickiewicz, a famous Polish poet, 

There were many statues along the streets which were crowded with tourists taking in the sights and local residents walking on to the many restaurants and shops in the Old and new Town just visited. 

We passed the  residence of the Polish President, 

and made our way to Pilsudski Square where many historic events have taken place over the centuries and where Pope John Paul II held a mass on his first visit to his native Poland after  becoming Pope. 

Near the square was  the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, guarded by two young soldiers. 

We next made a short visit to the beautiful grounds of the University of Warsaw, and some of it’s buildings.   Here is a link to some more photographs from our walk along the Royal Route. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Fourteen-Warsaw-Royal-Route-walk-April-2017

Before leaving this area we visited the church of the Holy Cross. 

The Church is resting place of Frederic  Chopin’s heart.  It was removed from his body, which was buried in Paris, by his sister who brought it back to Poland. 

We spent some time here admiring the beautiful altars and relics. Here is a link to some more photographs from our visit to this famous church. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Fourteen-Warsaw-Church-of-the-Holy-Cross-April-21-2017-

We had one more stop in this section of Warsaw, one of particular interest to my niece Kelly, the Frederic Chopin Museum. 

Kelly is a very accomplished pianist and she often played Chopin for my dad, her grandfather. He was so proud of this Polish composer. And even more so of his granddaughter Kelly when she played his compositions. 

We spent about an hour in the Museum learning much about the life of this talented man. Here is a link to some more photographs from our visit to the Museum. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Fourteen-Warsaw-Chopin-Museum-April-21-2017

It was now getting late in the afternoon, but we had one more place to visit, And we arrived there after a short bus ride,  the beautiful buildings and gardens of Lazienki park.

The weather turned cooler when we arrived and the skies threatened rain so hurried through the tree lined paths of the park, quickly viewing the many statutes and monuments, such as this one of Chopin. He is very popular throughout Poland. 

We walked past the many stately buildings in the park, 

and encountered some local residents along the way such as the many peacocks that live here, 

and  a few of these beautiful ducks. 

We made our way to the Palace on the Water and the famous baths the park is named after.  Here is a link to some more photographs from our walk in the park. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Fourteen-Warsaw-Lazienki-park-April-21-2017

It was now  late in the afternoon and starting to rain so we had to end are daylong tour of Warsaw. We took a cab back to the Old Town section of the city where we enjoyed a great dinner. I started with a  very flavorful sorrel soup, 

and local trout for my main course. 

It was already dark when we finished our meal and arrived back at our hotel. It was an exhausting but exciting day, having learned so much about the history, people and culture of Poland. I was soon asleep, since we had a 6:15 train to catch to Gdansk the next morning. 

 

 

 

“Put all your soul into it, play the way you feel!”
Frederic Chopin

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Poland Day Fourteen: A Walk through The Heart Of The City, The New And Old Town Warsaw

After breakfast at my hotel in Warsaw we met our tour guides for the next three days. A young Polish couple, Karol and his girlfriend Kasha. They are relatives of my niece Cassidy’s best friend and they offered to show us some of Warsaw and northern Poland. After our introductions, we began our tour of the city at the nearby  metro station and shopping center.Bus ride and New town walk -7

The shopping center or Złote Tarasy (Golden Terraces) is housed in an award winning modern building and, it and the nearby  buildings attest to the modernization of the city taking place. Bus ride and New town walk -2

After a brief tour of the area, we soon boarded a bus and headed to the New Town section of the city. The name is misleading in that  the New Town dates to the 15th century. Bus ride and New town walk -8

Our bus left us off near the Monument to the 1944  Warsaw Uprising. We would learn so much more about this heroic effort to rid the city of the Nazi invaders, the betrayal by the Russians, and the destructive retaliation of the Germans, later in our stay in Warsaw. Bus ride and New town walk -14

We walked the busy streets and made our way to our first visit to one of Warsaw’s  many historic churches, St. Jacek or St Hyacinth. St Hyacinth Church -1

The original church was constructed during the early 17th century but, as we learned, like so many other churches and historical buildings, it was destroyed by the Germans in World War II. Like many churches and buildings, it was rebuilt and now houses some of the relics, paintings and treasures that were salvaged from the ruins. Here is a link to some more photographs from our visit to this church. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Fourteen-Warsaw-St-Hyacinth-Church-April-21-2017-

We walked the streets of the “New Town” visiting an old square and these odd looking bear statutes. Bus ride and New town walk -30

We continued our exploration of the square and then made our way to the banks of the Vistula River. Bus ride and New town walk -32Bus ride and New town walk -46

It was a cool April day but I imagined how nice the parks along the river would be on a sunny and warm Spring or Summer day. And  I thought how many people enjoyed these days over the centuries. Here is a link to some more photographs of our walk through the New Town. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Fourteen-Warsaw-Bus-ride-and-walking-tour-New-Town-April-21-2017-

Our guides next took us into the Old City, separated from the Old City by the Barbican or city wall. There is little remaining form the original destroyed during the war. The wall was rebuilt from bricks from buildings destroyed in the war. Old Town -7

We walked past the colorful homes situated on the streets leading to the Old Town and stopped to enjoy the view.Old Town -3

We made our way to the Old Town Square, surrounded by houses and building reconstructed after the war. It, like the square in Krakow, and most old town squares in Europe,  was a center of activity for both residents of the city and tourists. Old Town -19

As in all cities there  are many restaurants and  gifts shops lining the streets of the square. Old Town -32

In the middle of the square is a statute of the mermaid of Warsaw. This statute replaced the original one that fell into disrepair. There is a legend that local fisherman rescued her from a merchant who captured her in the Vistula river and she now protects the city in gratitude  to the fishermen. Old Town -16

As we   continued through the narrow streets of the Old Town I enjoyed taking tin the many site and watching the interaction  of the local residents and tourists. Old Town -29

We next walked past the impressive Royal Castle, again a reconstruction of the original,  that was completely destroyed during the war. We didn’t have time to visit the castle, but I hope to return. Old Town -42

It was now lunch time and we had walked all morning so we stopped and had a nice lunch at one of our guides favorite restaurants. Old Town -49

After lunch we visited another church. St Ann’s. across from the Royal Castle. St Ann's Church -14

First we went up the observation deck in the bell tower to get  a nice view of the Old Town and the rest of Warsaw. St Ann's Church -6

We  then visited the interior of the  church and the many beautiful altars, artifacts, paintings and relics. Here is a link to some more photographs of  the church and the view from the bell tower. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Warsaw-St-Ann’s-church-St Ann's Church -33

After our visit to St Ann’s we continued our marathon walking tour  along the Royal Route. Here is a link to some more photographs from our walk in Old Town Warsaw.  http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Fourteen-Warsaw-Old-Town-walk-April-21-2017Old Town -48

 

“Cultivation, old civilization, beauty, history! Surprising turnings of streets, shapes of venerable cottages, lovely aged eaves, unexpected and gossamer turrets, steeples, the gloss, the antiquity! Gardens. Whoever speaks of Paris has never seen Warsaw. […] Whoever yearns for an aristocratic sensibility, let him switch on the great light of Warsaw.” ― Cynthia Ozick

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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 Twelve: Auschwitz and Berkenau

I awoke to another cold and rainy day in Poland,  which  set the mood for our visit that morning to the death camps of Auschwitz and Berkenau.Auschwitz walk and bus ride -1

We left our hotel early and  walked  in the cold rain the approximately half mile to where we met our tour bus. Walking in the rain on the ancient cobblestone  streets of Krakow really is not so bad.  Auschwitz walk and bus ride -2

We found and boarded our tour bus and were soon on our way to the town of  Oswiecim, known as Auschwitz in German . Poland had been experiencing some real  cold weather  and we even saw snow on our trip . Auschwitz walk and bus ride -9

While on our bus, we watched a very informative and graphic  video about the horrors of the Nazi occupation, the creation of the death camps and the murders of over a million human beings, mainly Jewish but also many Polish residents and citizens of other occupied countries. This is a link to some more photographs from our ride to Auschwitz. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Twelve-Auschwitz-walk-and-bus-ride-April-19-2017-Auschwitz walk and bus ride -5

I have spent a few weeks now reflecting on my visit to these infamous places where so many atrocities were committed. I can write  volumes on the feelings they evoked in me, horror, pity, disgust, sadness, anger, so many feelings. . I have decided it may be best to offer a few brief comments and let the horrific photographs speak for themselves and for the victims of the Nazi hatred. Auschwitz buildings one -18

Auschwitz buildings one -6

We entered the camp, and it was hard, at first,  to believe, that these quaint, well maintained  stone buildings  and tree lined streets could have been the place of such evil.

Above the entrance to the camp are the infamous words “Arbeit macht frei”  or , in English,  “work sets your free”.Auschwitz buildings one -7

The  place almost seemed like a college campus, but, as is often the case in life, looks can be so deceiving. Here is a link to some more photographs of these buildings. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Twelve-Auschwitz-buildings-one-April-19-2017-Auschwitz buildings one -9

Once again we had an informative guide, who, soon made all of us aware of the horrific history of this place. We entered one of the buildings  which contained exhibits explaining how the camp began as a prison for political dissenters and captured Russians. Auschwitz exhibits -25

However, as the Nazi regime initiated it plans for the “final solution”,  the extermination of the entire Jewish race, it soon became an ever more efficient factory to steal from, murder and dispose of over a million souls, most of them Jewish.. Auschwitz exhibits -34

The many exhibits included photographs showing the various ethnic, political and cultural groups chosen by the Nazis for extermination. They included most of the Polish intellectuals,  reporters, lawyers, teachers, doctors, anyone who would question the hatred of the Nazis. Of course most of those murdered were Jews.  Auschwitz exhibits -15

The exhibits included many illustrations and models of the gas chambers and how the Nazis were able, by trial and error, to develop ways to murder and dispose of so many  human lives so efficiently.Auschwitz exhibits -40There was many items of actual evidence of Auschwitz exhibits -44the existence and extent of the murders including the canisters of gas used to poison these fellow humans whose only crime was to be born.  This is a link to some photographs I took of the exhibits. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Twelve-Auschwitz-exhibits-April-19-2017-Auschwitz exhibits -42

We moved to another building or block as they were called in Auschwiz, block 4. which was, for me,  the most horrible in this place of horrors and which affected me the most. It housed exhibits displaying the actual belongings of the people murdered in the gas chambers. Auschwitz exhibits belongings -17

Most of the Jewish people who were transported here from other parts of Poland were told they were just being re-located.  They were only able to bring a few items, and of course, they would be the one’s of greatest value. Upon arrival they were stolen and sold by the Nazis.Auschwitz exhibits belongings -14

As were there shoes, handbags and other personal items. Auschwitz exhibits belongings -23

I still get so emotional seeing this photograph of the hair removed from women prisoners. It too would be sold and used for the German war efforts. I recall seeing a ponytail taken,  I believed . from a young girl, and imagined the feelings she had as it was cut. I thought of what her mother  was thinking. And then they were both led to a chamber where they would be told they were to receive a shower, only to be suffocated with poison gas. Thinking about this as I looked at the hair, and hearing our guide tell us how a Nazi leader said that in order to exterminate a race you must start with the children I am not ashamed to say I broke down and cried.  To see these horrors with one’s own eyes is a life changing experience. Auschwitz exhibits belongings -6

As I said, I could write a novel about this visit but I must move on. There were many more exhibits in this block, each item belonging to a human being, with a soul, and destroyed for no reason other then hate and greed. It is a lesson we should have learned  from, hate  is never a solution to any problem, but with the events occurring on our planet it does not appear that we did. Here is a link to some more photographs of the personal items of the victims of Nazi racial hatred. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Twelve-Auschwitz-exhibits-belongings-April-19-2017-Auschwitz exhibits belongings -26

We next proceeded to a block were political prisoners were housed and executed. At first the Nazis would photograph and assign numbers to  the prisoners at Auschwitz, before this became too  expensive and only numbers tattooed on the prisoners were used.

Auschwitz exhibits photos -14 There were rows and rows of photographs on the walls of a long hall. I looked at  the faces of each and every one, each a life extinguished too soon.Auschwitz exhibits photos -10

In addition to the many Jewish people there  were also  many Polish political figures and intellectuals who were rounded up and executed in this  building. One of them was Father Maximilian Kolbe, a Catholic priest who volunteered to exchange his life for a prisoner chosen to be starved to death. The highlighted red link will take you to a website with more information about this compassionate priest. Auschwitz exhibits photos -42

As we left the building we were shown the wall where many prisoners were executed by firing squad.Auschwitz exhibits photos -44

We continued our tour outside and walked  past buildings where experiments were performed on woman. The horrors of this place, and the Nazi murderers who ran it,  were everywhere. Here is a link to some more photographs of these buildings http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Twelve-Auschwitz-barracks-and-photos-April-19-2017-Auschwitz exhibits photos -27

We next proceeded to the most horrifying part of the tour of  Auschwitz, the actual gas chambers were victims were murdered  and  crematoria were they  were disposed of. This is one of the rooms were the gas canisters were dropped into a room crowded with the unsuspecting victims. Auschwitz exhibits gas chambers -28

You could see the marks left on the walls as the victims clawed against them with their last breath.  Auschwitz exhibits gas chambers -29

And here are the ovens used to dispose of the remains of the victims. Auschwitz exhibits gas chambers -34

As we left the horrors of Auschwitz we saw this  old man walk past and we were told he was a survivor, now in his 90’s,  who  works at the museum. I wished I had time to speak with him about the nightmares he witnessed, so I could recount them ,so that we never forget what this unfettered hate, when allowed to grow, did to so many innocent lives.  Here is a link to some more photographs of the gas chambers and crematoria. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Twelve-Auschwitz-gas-chambers-Auschwitz exhibits gas chambers -25

After a short break, we proceeded to the nearby Birkenau concentration camp, the largest of the camps in the Auschwitz complex. Birkenau-5

It was created as the need to house, kill and dispose of more prisoners  increased with the implementation of the Nazi plan for the “final solution” , the extermination of the Jewish race. Birkenau-4

We first viewed the block or barracks which housed the prisoners.Birkenau-12

It was now raining, windy and very cold out, there were snow flurries earlier, and we walked the half mile through the camp to the remains of some of the largest gas chambers and crematoria in all of the Nazi death camps.Birkenau-28

They were destroyed by the Nazis  as the Russian army approached to try and conceal that inhuman crimes that took place here. Birkenau-29

We were told how, on windy days the piles of ashes from the crematoria would blow in the surrounding areas  making them one large cemetery . So it was fitting to have a number of memorials in different  languages  serving as a reminder of these events and a warning to never let them happen again. A warning we should all take to heart as hatred continues to spread across this tiny planet we all share.   Here is a link to some more photographs from my visit to Birkenau. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Twelve:-Birkenau-April-19-2017-

Birkenau-37

“For the dead and the living, we must bear witness.”
Elie Wiesel

 

 

 

 

 

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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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