Monday, August 1, 2016

Kraków - Part 1

Na zdrowie!  To your health!

Joe and I landed in Kraków three days ago and have been busy seeing the sights ever since.  This amazing city is vibrant, alive and interesting.  It's loaded with culture, history, delicious food and incredible buildings.  Its proud and friendly people have welcomed us with open arms. 

These two little guys are the sentry guards to the street where our apartment building is located.  They bark at whomever enters the narrow one way road. 

Kraków at night.

Dzień dobry!  Good morning!

A sidewalk cafe in the Old Jewish Quarter.  There are many restaurants serving Jewish food in this now trendy area.  The irony?  There are only 150 Jews living in Kraków.  All these establishments are owned and operated by Polish Catholics.

Jewish cemetery.

We go out of our way to eat in family run restaurants serving Polish food.  I can't get enough of perogies, kielbasa, cabbage, borsht and lard sandwiches.  Oh, and don't forget the wódka!

Seen on Stradomska Street.

Which do you prefer?  Painted white or au naturel?

The proverbial kid in a jam store.

This city is an architect's dream.  So many buildings in so many styles!  Gothic, Art Nouveau, Baroque, Rococo, Romanesque.  It's all here.

World Youth Day was this past weekend.  Millions of young people from every corner of the planet gathered in Kraków.  They brought great energy to the city!  They laughed, they sang, they danced.  Everyone looked so happy.

A guitar playing nun guarding her friends' gear in front of Saint Mary's Basilica.

Inside Saint Mary's Basilica.

The medieval cloth market is now souvenir central.

Many, many happy pilgrims.

There was a strong security presence during World Youth Day.  Lots of police and soldiers with military helicopters criss-crossing the city's airspace.

Joe loves to research local food wherever we are in the world.  We went to a 'bar mleczny' (milk bar) one day.  In the communist era, the government subsidized the food at milk bars. The idea was to allow workers to afford a meal out. The tradition continues today and the prices remain low — our bill for this tasty lunch came to $10.00 Cdn.

What a beautiful building.

In the early 1800s, Kraków's medieval city walls and fortifications were demolished and its wide moat filled in.  The 'Planty' is now a 4 kilometre green belt surrounding the Old Town.

Rapid transit.  These trams run day and night.  

Polka anyone?

Four of the twelve disciples outside of Saint Peter and Paul Church.  This city rivals Rome in its number of churches.

My love of windows continues.  As does my love of blue and brown together.

Chillin' in the apartment on Katarzyny Street.

Seen on Meiselsa Street.

Old Jewish Quarter.

There is such a dichotomy in so many buildings in Kraków.  Some parts of a building are well kept while other parts of the same building are left to crumble.

Francis and Joe.

Two mornings after we arrived in Kraków, I woke up to a very loud mechanical sound coming from outside.  I thought, "What the hell?  They do construction work here this early on a Sunday morning?"  The noise stopped.  I heard voices down below in the street.  I thought nothing of it.  I tried to go back to sleep.  Until the loud mechanical noise started up again.  I got out of bed and looked out the window.  It was 5:00am and the street was full of people.  

One woman started to wave frantically for us to join them on the street.  Joe and I still weren't certain what was going on as we pulled on our clothes.  When we opened our apartment door, we smelled smoke.  Once outside we learned the restaurant on the ground floor had caught on fire.  The loud noise I had heard was coming from the fan the firefighters were using.  

There were no fire alarms ringing in the hallways.  No one came and banged on our door to alert us to the fact that there was a fire in the building.  In fact, the firefighters seemed quite apathetic.  Once the fire was extinguished, they climbed aboard their truck without a backward glance and drove away.  The woman who had waved to me said, "This is terrible.  I am so pissed off.  Next time we will die.  It is not like Canada here."

Hello little neighbour across the road!

We had one heck of a thunderstorm the other day.

Yesterday we hired Marta to take us on a 4 hour walking tour of Kraków.  As you know, I love to walk and learn.  And I am very happy when I get to do both of these things at the same time!

Modelling my traditional Polish shawl that I bought at the flea market in the Old Jewish Quarter.

The Kraków Ghetto was a major metropolitan Jewish ghetto created by Nazi Germany during the occupation of Poland in World War II.  The Ghetto was liquidated between June 1942 and March 1943.  A vast square has since replaced the ghetto and has been converted into a memorial to honour those who lived here and lost their lives in concentration camps. Big metal chairs sit on raised platforms, symbolic of the various household items left behind by the families.  Each of the 68 chairs represents 1,000 people. 
A sculpture of an artist who painted large canvases.

A covered walkway of the Cloth Hall.

Fun with art.

I can't get enough of Kraków's buildings!

Wawel Castle.

We went to a wódka shop last night.  We tasted all sorts of flavoured wódkas.  This is what Joe is bringing back to Canada.

Joe and I have one more day in Kraków before we fly back to Stockholm.  We are going to fill tomorrow with as many perogies as we can!  And wódka.  Can't forget about the wódka.

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