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 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 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 Ten: Back On The Road, Or Train, Again. Czestochowa to Krakow

I awoke on another rainy and cool morning in Czestohowa. Poland was experiencing one of it’s coldest April’s in years during my visit. I quickly dressed and headed outside since I wanted to get one last walk in before my train ride back to Krakow. Poland Day Ten Czestochowa morning walk -2

I again walked down the central avenue paying closer attention to the many stores, businesses and restaurants along the way.  I love just roaming aimlessly through the streets of a foreign city observing how folks live by seeing the products they consume and how they advertise them Here is a link to some more photos http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Ten-Czestochowa-morning-walk-mPoland Day Ten Czestochowa morning walk misc-2isc-April-17-2017 .

It was a holiday here in Poland so the streets were quiet. I made my way through the heart of downtown and into the more less developed residential and abandoned commercial areas of the city.Poland Day Ten Czestochowa morning walk -19

I wanted to visit the Jewish memorial located near the Warta river. Almost every Polish city, town and village has a memorial, reminding us of the horrors that occurred with the German NAZI occupation during World War II.  Poland Day Ten Czestochowa morning walk -27

I spent a few moments reflecting at the memorial, again wondering, as I did so often on the trip, how and why could we allow this to happen. Poland Day Ten Czestochowa morning walk -26

I was now near the Warta River and walked a trail along it’s banks  back to the main avenue. Poland Day Ten Czestochowa morning walk -29

I noticed that they have a few of the same problems we have to deal with here in the United States, graffiti, Poland Day Ten Czestochowa morning walk -31

and the invasive and ugly plant, Japanese knotweed. These obnoxious weeds  have  taken over many areas in Pennsylvania  and destroys the native wild plants anPoland Day Ten Czestochowa morning walk -32d flowers. 

I walked back along the route I had walked many times the last two  days, this time finding the oldest church in Czestochowa, St. Zygmunt’s open so I was able to stop in and visit the beautiful interior. Pope John Paul visited this church on his first visit to Poland as Pope in 1979. Poland Day Ten Czestochowa morning walk -36

I walked back to the hotel, enjoying, one last time the mainly empty streets of downtown Czestohowa.  I encountered this jolly monk near the Monastery and although we did not share the same language we shared greeting on the rainy morning. He was more than happy to allow me to take his photograph. Here is a link to some more photographs  from my morning hike.  http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Ten-Czestochowa-morning-walk-Monday-April-17-2017-

I returned to the hotel, showered, finished packing and enjoyed another hearty breakfast before taking a taxi to the train station. I arrived early and  made sure I was in the right place. While waiting for the train I had a pleasant conversation with a retired gentleman from Czestochowa and a young student from France. We talked about, life, politics and travel while we waited for the train. Poland Day Ten train to Krakow -1

The train arrived exactly on time and I found my assigned seat very comfortable. I also learned there were bathrooms!  I settled in for the two hour ride back to Krakow and enjoyed the passing countryside. Poland Day Ten train to Krakow -5

At first we traveled through farms lands with an occasional small town located  at a train station, Our train went directly to Krakow so we didn’t stop. Poland Day Ten train to Krakow -8

As we neared the city the landscapes changed as we rode through more commercial areas of the suburbs.Poland Day Ten train to Krakow -20

We arrived at the train station in Krakow and as I made my way outside it was, of course raining again.  I soon found a cab and was on my way to the Sheraton hotel. Here is a link to some more photographs from my train ride to Krakow. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-day-Ten-Train-to-Krakow-Monday-April-17-2017

Poland Day Ten train to Krakow -27

“Walkers are ‘practitioners of the city,’ for the city is made to be walked. A city is a language, a repository of possibilities, and walking is the act of speaking that language, of selecting from those possibilities. Just as language limits what can be said, architecture limits where one can walk, but the walker invents other ways to go.”
Rebecca Solnit

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Poland Day Eight: Czestohowa: The Splendor Of Jasna Gora , Home Of The The Black Maddona, And A Hike To A Lake

After my long morning hike I returned to the hotel for  breakfast, consumed a lot of coffee,  and spent some time editing the many photographs I had taken this past week in Poland. Around noon, looking out my hotel window, I noticed  a lot of folks carrying Easter baskets as they walked toward the monastery. Poland Day Eight Czestochowa Monestery -1

This is another Polish custom my dad had always followed, as did many others in my home town who were  of Polish decent, the blessing of the Easter baskets. I decided to walk on over and have a look at how they observe it here in Poland. Poland Day Eight Czestochowa Monestery -19

At home most families packed  a rather large basket. Our family included kielbasa, bacon, dyed and peeled eggs, butter shaped like a lamb, ham, paska bread and red and white horseradish. Here in Poland the baskets were much smaller and seemed more ceremonial. Here are a few a woman allowed me to photograph. Poland Day Eight Czestochowa Monestery -47

And there seemed to be no set religious service. People, mostly families, the entire few hours I was at the Monastery, came, had their baskets blessed by a priest and left. In my Parish at home there was a single service at which time all of the baskets in the community were blessed.  After having their baskets blessed, many people stayed and enjoyed the impressive grounds of the Jasna Gora Monastery, which is actually a medieval fortress.  I also decided to stay and explore this historic place.Poland Day Eight Czestochowa Monestery -12

I again visited the beautiful Basilica and Shrine of the Black Madonna and did not take photographs out of respect. I have since learned that photography is allowed.  Unfortunately, because of the Holy Days the museums were all closed but there was still plenty to see. Poland Day Eight Czestochowa Monestery -32

I made my way up to the upper walls that surround the Monastery.  They withstood the onslaught of Swedish attackers in the 17th century and it was attributed to the protection of the Black Madonna. Poland Day Eight Czestochowa Monestery -44

They also provided me with a nice view of  downtown Czestochowa and I was able to see were I had hiked earlier in the day, beyond the smokestack in the distance. Poland Day Eight Czestochowa Monestery part two -30

Above the walls were the towering steeples that can be seen from all around the surrounding countryside. Poland Day Eight Czestochowa Monestery -14

And below  the walls were the beautiful statutes depicting the Stations of the Cross. This is a link to some more photographs of the many sights of this impressive and historic structure. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Eight-Czestochowa-Monastery-Saturday-April-15-2017-Poland Day Eight Czestochowa Monestery part two -41

And, of course their was another, and more important aspect of the ancient fortress, it’s religious and spiritual importance to the Polish nation. As mentioned in my early post the Black Madonna arrived at the Monastery  in 1382.  During the middle ages hundreds of thousands of pilgrims visited the shrine. Poland Day Eight Czestochowa Monestery -25

And on September 8 1717 the Polish King declared Our Lady of Czestochowa as the Queen of Poland.Poland Day Eight Czestochowa Monestery -6

It was a favorite pilgrimage site of Pope John Paul II and almost 4 1/2 million pilgrims visit the shrine every year. Poland Day Eight Czestochowa Monestery part two -33

But it’s importance to me stems from it’s importance to my dad and his devotion to the Black Madonna until the day of his death. I feel so at peace in this place. Poland Day Eight Czestochowa Monestery -16

I spent a few hours exploring the many nooks and crannies of the old fortress and the many paintings and statutes that adorn them. Here is a link to some more photographs from my tour of the Monastery.http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-day-Eight-Czestochowa-Monastery-part-two-Saturday-April-15-2017-Poland Day Eight Czestochowa Monestery part two -13

I left the Monastery through it’s main gate as still more families were entering to have their Easter baskets blessed. Poland Day Eight Czestochowa Monestery part two -46

This proud grandfather and his grandson were happy to pose for this photograph. Poland Day Eight Czestochowa afternoon lake walk -29

I decided to explore more of this charming city and so I headed to a lake I saw on the maps.  I again walked through mainly upscale residential neighborhoods.Poland Day Eight Czestochowa afternoon lake walk -14

But as can be found everywhere in Poland there was always a church,Poland Day Eight Czestochowa afternoon lake walk -5

and a restaurant mixed in. Poland Day Eight Czestochowa afternoon lake walk -25

It was another mile to the lake and, having walked a lot earlier in the day, I was tired when I finally found it. It was a quiet  little lake, with a few swans swimming about and some locals casting their fishing lines into the waters. I would liked to have stayed a little while and enjoy the peace and quiet but it again looked like rain so I decided to head back. Poland Day Eight Czestochowa afternoon lake walk -11

The rain held off, and it was a nice, but long walk back to my hotel. I knew I was close when I came to the beautiful park that is situated between my hotel and the Monastery.Poland Day Eight Czestochowa afternoon lake walk -34

It was another wonderful day in Poland and the lovely city of Czestochowa. And the one  thing  needed to make it complete was to find a good restaurant for dinner. And this I did. I had a delightful meal at the famous and highly recommended Dobry Ro. This was their interesting version of mushroom soup, made with a puff pastry. Delicious. soup-1k.

I returned to my hotel tired but  with many new and wonderful memories.  I felt so much at home in this foreign.. Here is a link to some more photographs from my afternoon hike. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Eight-Czestochowa-afternoon-walk-to-lake-

And the day wasn’t over, I had fallen asleep around 9 pm so I was pretty much in a deep sleep when at 11 pm I heard explosions. Awakening from my sleep I first thought I was at home  and it was  July or New Years Eve. Seeing the strange room of my hotel I realized I was in Poland and now really started to wonder what was happening. I went to the window and figured out that the source of the explosions was fireworks coming from the direction of  the monastery. I posted this on Facebook and was told, by some friends the Eastern Orthodox churches in Europe do this to celebrate Easter. Interesting.  Here is a short video I uploaded to my YouTube channel.  https://youtu.be/H3Jsrk1UzCY   The fireworks  were over soon and, fortunately, I was back asleep, getting rest for another wonderful day in Poland. fireworks -1

“…I pray that young people from East and West will walk together along the path of freedom, working to overcome all conflicts between races and peoples, so as to build a world of authentic brotherhood and carry the liberating message of the Gospel everywhere.” – Pope John Paul II,                                                Czestochowa, Poland, 1991

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Poland Day Four: Off To The Mountains; A Bus, Taxi and Van Ride to Tatra National Park

It was raining when I awoke on Tuesday morning but I wanted to take one more walk through the streets of Krakow before I headed to the mountains.  I put on my rain gear and headed out into the cool and wet morning. . It was early and there was no one on the cobblestone streets of Old Town Krakow. Poland Krakow day Four walk Krakow-3

I liked having the old city all to myself and wanted to have one last look at the Main square and the impressive towers of St. Mary’s Basilica. It looked so different, old and  desolate in the rain,  but still impressive,  without the crowds of people. Poland Krakow day Four walk Krakow-6

I walked down deserted Grodzka Street passing Pod Aniolami, the restaurant where I had dinner the previous night.Poland Krakow day Four walk Krakow-20

As I continued on  Grodska Street, there wasnow  an occasional person walking in the early morning rain. The street is closed to motor vehicle traffic, as is much of the old city. I passed  the closed shops, restaurants and businesses and past the historic St. Peter and Paul’s and St. Andrew’s churches, imagining the countless people who walked the same streets over the centuries since St Andrew’s first towered over them. Poland Krakow day Four walk Krakow-23

I  came to Wawel Castle and the memorial of the Kaytn Forrest Massacre, stopping to again reflect on the horrible events that occurred in 1940. I found the memorial strewn with flowers. Poland Krakow day Four walk Krakow-33

This time I turned to the left, away from the Castle and into the narrow streets of Kazimierz, the former Jewish District of Krakow. Poland Krakow day Four walk Krakow-44

I soon came upon a synagogue, a   sign of the Jewish presence in this area, which had been continuous for almost 500 years until the NAZI occupation during World War II. Poland Krakow day Four walk Krakow-46

Unfortunately, that presence ended with the removal of the Jewish population to the ghetto in Podgorze and ultimately, for many ,  to  the concentration camps and gas chambers. . Recently, however the area has been recovering some of it’s former atmosphere and is again regaining it’s Jewish population. It  has become a popular tourists area celebrating it’s traditional Jewish culture and remembering the horrors of the German NAZI  occupation in WWII with monuments and memorials. Poland Krakow day Four walk Krakow-64

There are now many  Jewish restaurants and shops.as well as museums. Poland Krakow day Four walk Krakow-52

I came upon this  memorial to those who lost their lives as a result of the hatred of the NAZI’s. I remained for  some reflection at this memorial before I had to head back to my hotel Here is a link to some more photographs from my walk through Kazimierz http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Four-Krakow-Jewish-Ghetto-Tuesday-April-11-2017-Poland Krakow day Four walk Krakow-62

On the way I explored the old neighborhood and  some of the old  apartment buildings.Poland Krakow day Four walk Krakow-68

I entered a few that left their doors ajar peeking inside and wondering about the current residents and the many folks who lived in these old structures over the years since they were built.. Poland Krakow day Four walk Krakow-69

I continued my walk, and the rain  picked up as I made it back to the planty and my hotel. Here is a link to some more photographs from my morning walk. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Four-Krakow-morning-walk-Tuesday-April-11-2017Poland Krakow day Four walk Krakow-71

After another delicious breakfast of traditional Polish foods I said farewell to the staff and took a taxi to the bus station.  I arrived five minutes before the bus was scheduled to leave and discovered there were no bathrooms on the bus. I asked the driver if I had time to run to the bathroom and he said no. It was going to be an interesting trip. Poland Day four Krakow to Zakopane -1

The bus had only a few passengers as we made are way through the morning rush hour traffic of Krakow. Poland Day four Krakow to Zakopane -7

The sun broke through the clouds as we drove into the suburbs, which, like I found all over the world, contained large shopping centers, automobile dealerships and restaurants. Poland Day four Krakow to Zakopane -10

We were soon, for a short while,  on major highway, but this didn’t last long. We were headed  south into the mountains and soon entered more rural areas and the highway became two lanes and more congested with trucks and rural traffic. Poland Day four Krakow to Zakopane -13

The rain returned as we made our way through the   pretty countryside.Poland Day four Krakow to Zakopane -21

I was surprised by the amount of construction in the many small towns we passed. And the roadsides had plenty of billboards advertising the many goods and services common to all of the modern world. Like it or not, we are becoming a global community. Poland Day four Krakow to Zakopane -38

I enjoyed the approximately 2 1/2 hour bus ride. I liked watching the countryside of a new country, however, the lack of a bathroom was the only drawback.Poland Day four Krakow to Zakopane -31

We were soon within the picturesque town of Zakopane, with its famous, and beautiful wooden homes. This is a ski resort town in the Winter and a base for hiking in the Tatra Mountains in the Summer. and like all tourists towns it had it’s share of shops, restaurants and travel agencies. Poland Day four Krakow to Zakopane -39

I was dropped off at the small bus station, and, of course immediately found a bathroom. I had my two zloty ready since almost all public bathrooms charge two zloty, about 50 cents in US dollars,   for admission. After my much needed visit to the bathroom, I hired a taxi, and failing to communicate, he spoke not a word of English, I called my hotel and they advised him where to drop me off.Poland Day four Krakow to Zakopane -42

I was staying at the Hotel Gorski Kalatowki located within the boundary of the Tatra National Park.  To get there I first had to travel about three miles to the tiny town of Kuznice. There are no private roads to this town and you must take a bus or a taxi.  Located within the town is a cable car that ascends the Tatra Mountains to the summit of Kasprowy. It is used by skiers and hikers throughout the year. The cab driver, not speaking a word of English drove me there to have a look. He seemed quite proud of it. Poland Day four Krakow to Zakopane -45

The town of Kuznice  appears to have been deserted, and the taxi driver dropped off me and  my luggage and left me, alone, at this road at the edge of town.  It was raining lightly and I was sure hoping someone from the hotel would show up. Poland Day four Krakow to Zakopane -49

They did. I was relieved when a van came down the cobblestone road and stopped to assist me with my luggage. The fellow  driving the van spoke no English and did not appear to be too happy. He directed me to the rear of the van where I sat on a bench as we made it up a steep, wet cobblestone road. I soon learned why he wasn’t happy.Poland Day four Krakow to Zakopane -50

The road soon turned to snow and I am sure it wasn’t easy driving in the snow, up a steep incline on a cobblestone road. The ride was most interesting.  Here is a link to some more photographs from my bus ride from Krakow to the Hotel Gorski Kakatowki. . http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Four-Krakow-morning-walk-Tuesday-April-11-2017

Poland Krakow day Four walk Krakow-2

 

We live in a world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open. – Jawaharlal Nehru

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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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