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Published: September 9th 2019
Sitting in the bar at street level as I write this. My hotel is on the edge of the Main Market Square so no cars are allowed. The sun is beginning to lower and buildings becoming covered in shade.
The day began early as I was joining a city tour on foot and needed to be at the meeting place quite early. Wasn’t sure what the day would bring as it was quite wet as I looked out my window at first light. Steady rain and the only human life in the quiet of the morning was a robed monk strolling along oblivious to the rain. His pace was meditative and I wondered what his day entailed.
There were temporary event railings all along the promenade which turned out to be a business half marathon for charity.
Our group of 6 (3x Americans and 3x Aussies) and local guide were bussed to the Jewish Quarter and took our risk with the rain and the universe looked after us.
The guide, a young woman, was brilliant. The pace was gentle and her commentary informing. I feel I am so much more informed in the Polish-Jewish story. I have
wondered on my travels why areas under trees often look scrubby and untidy but today I learned with the layers of death during the wars they do not want to disturb the remains of the unidentified and hence the ‘untidy’ cemetery and some parklands. The broken headstones found in post war rubble have been used to make the perimeter fence. The symbolism on a Jewish headstone tells the family story. There are only 8 Jewish communities left in Poland and this one was a growing one.
It was then to Waraw Palace. High on the hill that meant a good hike up to the top. It is a 16th Century Palace ( originals go back to the 14C) with a Flemish tapestry collection from the 16C that was once much larger. Tells the story of Noah and Moses. Massive in size. They have 134 in the collection only because they transported these to Canada for the period of war as the Nazis looted all the treasures and valuables. It is a stunning example of both Renaissance and Baroque design. No photos allowed though. There is also a stunning Cathedral and other buildings that are now private apartments with views
to die for. The down side is that the high security needed means it’s a gated community from 9pm at night.
I also learnt that Mt Kosiosko in Australia is named after a much loved Polish man. Strezlecki was the Pole who named it after him.
From there we ambled down to the Old Town and St Mary’s Cathedral which I had explored myself the day before. So 5 hours later, feet throbbing it was time for a very late lunch with a Prosecco as I watch the Sunday festivities in the Square. It was very busy being both a Sunday and the end of the half marathon.
After lunch, meandered a little beyond the old town and enjoyed the local life. Shops are closed on a Sunday except tourist shops and some artsy ones.
Late afternoon ambled back to the hotel as my feet asking for a rest. The old lower leg rash from inflammation has appeared. Something I always get travelling through Europe. Long hours walking, heat and uneven surfaces. But came prepared which will hopefully keep it at bay.
Back at the hotel I checked a few things for the next day
in Krakow, window open, clip clop of the horses going by with their wagons of tourists. There’s a bag piper playing fairly close also who needs a little more practice. Scottish songs don’t quite sound right in Poland. Once all was sorted I wondered down to street level, bought a glass of wine at the bar next door and watched the world go by from a street table.
As many people were walking out of the city as in. It’s like a changing of the guard. Families heading home, children on bikes, dogs in tow. Every second person with an ice cream in hand. The Poles love their Lody (ice cream). And the inward crowd heading somewhere for dinner and music. It will be interesting to see how Krakow wakes up on a week day.
Fashion is simple, comfortable and practical. Not really much different to Australia with the exception of little girls in dresses more than we would have.
The Europeans have got it right. They know how to relax and family is central. They gather in community- it’s central to life. They bond with those around them. My childhood was like that but we have
lost a lot of it through striving for more than we need.
As darkness creeps in and lights come on I amble to the Square to experience the night atmosphere. Buskers of all kinds, music and the smell of different foods seep through my nostrils.
After a while amble back. An interesting moon.
Another great day.
Krakow is a vibrant thriving city and appears very safe. It was spared destruction during both wars and is culturally delightful. People amble and soak in life. A way of being rather than doing or having.
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