Monday, 1 August 2016

Krakow the beautiful

Parts of our trip to Poland were indeed harrowing (see previous post here), but much of it was hugely enjoyable. Named one of the most beautiful cities in Europe by Conde Nast, Krakow is a delight. The picture-perfect Old Town has a medieval market square, a castle overlooking the river, quaint courtyards and cobbled thoroughfares. Oh yes, and just about everyone under the age of fifty speaks English, which was very helpful because neither of us speak Polish. Plus the food is wonderful, and the majority of menus are written in Polish and English. 

Preparations for World Youth Day and a visit from Pope Francis were in full swing when we arrived. A countdown clock in the city centre was counting down the days and hours until the event and Cracovians were gearing up for a large influx of visitors. By the time you read this World Youth Day will be over and no doubt the cleaning up will be well underway. 


Krakow Main Market Square Hejnalica Tower

Evening in Main Market Square, to the left is St. Mary's Church with its towers of different types and appearances and beside it St. Adalbert's Church. 

The loftier Hejnalica tower is 81 m tall, while its companion bell tower rises to 69 m. Every hour on the hour, a bugler sounds the “Hejnal” bugle-call from the west window just below the spire of the higher tower. Next the same bugle call is played towards the east, the south and the north but each time the melody ends abruptly.

Krakow Main Market Square Henjalica Tower

The Henjal, dates back to the Middle Ages when it was played to announce the opening and closing of the city gates. The bugler also played to alarm his fellow citizens whenever he saw a fire or an enemy approaching. The abrupt ending is said to commemorate a trumpeter from Krakow who was shot through the throat by a Tatar archer in 1241 when the Mongols besieged the city. 
The imposing interior of St. Mary's with its nave and two aisles; in the background is the pentaptych alter by Veit Stoss.

The market square and the streets around it are always busy;

Krakow Main Market Square






Krakow Main Market Square



We didn't take many photos of ourselves, but these two should make you smile. I’m not sure why this chap decided to dress me up in his hat and sword, but I got off lightly compared to Terry!


I’ve done lots of reading over the last few weeks, mostly thanks to recommendations from other book bloggers and my local Waterstones.  If you want to find out more about any of these, please follow the links.



In a dark dark wood a wonderful debut novel from author Ruth Ware: Review by Curious Ginger Cat

Bloom of youth by Rachel Anderson: This was a spur-of-the-moment charity shop buy which I love. It's funny and yet melancholic and very much of my era set as it is in the 1950s. Ruth and her older sister Mary struggle with the chaos of their parents' attempts to support five children by renting a rambling country house and running it as a holiday home for children. When their father dies, their increasingly desperate mother turns her efforts to the two hapless girls. Eager to marry them off, she plunges them into dancing classes and presentation at Buckingham Palace as phoney under-age debutantes. There are two more books in the series, both now added to my must-read list.

Black eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin a dazzling psychological thriller, shocking, intense and utterly original. Lit Lovers




84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff:  A series of letters sent by Helene Hanff to the staff at Marks & Co, Booksellers in London and their replies to her. I loved it! Reviews at Goodreads

The shepherd's life by James Rebanks: My favourite book of the year so far recommended by my local Waterstones and reviewed by Mark Avery


The Chosen by Kristina Ohlsson: Review by All the books I can read

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Thanks for your company. Just one more holiday snap before I go...


Wisla (Vistula) river.

This photograph only came about because I was fascinated by what appeared to be a tiny house dwarfed by a factory or office complex. The larger building is constructed in such a way that it straddles the smaller one. Even odder is the upside-down pig in the centre of the Wisla (Vistula) river. A local tour guide had no idea of its meaning, but an online search revealed the following;

"Mateusz Okonski, a Krakow-based artist, issued a challenge to his city's inhabitants - instead of following the local "tradition" and putting up another horrid monument, he offered a realistic sculpture presenting a dead boar at the stake. He located it in a place full of various meanings: in the vicinity of national sanctities - St. Stanislaus Church at Skalka and the church at Wawel, between two former abodes of the Jewish population - Kazimierz and Podgórze, in the area of the former municipal slaughter-house, which is currently a shopping gallery, on the water that purifies both literally and metaphorically and evokes the topic of passing and change and, finally, on the concrete pillar of the Wanda well, which was a water intake for the formerly existing power plant".


That last piece of information answered the question about the origin of the building, and this confirmed it;


Situated on the banks of the Vistula‚ just above the embankment wall‚ Cricoteka does not try to blend in with its neighbourhood nor gently catch the eye of passers-by. Indeed‚ it stands out like a strange theatrical prop that’s landed on the riverbank as part of a performance. One prerequisite of the original architectural competition was that an existing power station on the site should be adapted and integrated with the new structure. So the architects designed their new building to stretch over the old‚ like a table on two legs‚ with a hole cut through it for the latter’s chimney to poke through. This design was inspired by artist Tadeusz Kantor’s drawing of a bent man carrying a table on his back and his idea of an object or work of art integrated with a human body. via  Uncube Magazine Blog

So there you have it!


Next week I will be sharing a delightful guest post by Dagny McKinley. 


48 comments:

  1. Looks like a beautiful place. A Polish friend of mine has an alternative meaning for the boar. It's very funny but quite rude.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Roger, you’ve left me guessing now! I will have to Google ‘Polish boar alternative meaning’ and see what I can find. Perhaps I should prepare to be shocked. ;-)

      Delete
  2. Bless! Goodness! It's like being at school..!
    If l did'nt learn anything from this, l'll be
    back in my usual spot in the classroom, in the
    corner with a pointed hat on....with a 'great big'
    D on it...! :).

    The only connection l have with Poland, is that my
    Godfather..NO! Not the Sicilian kind...My actual
    Godfather was Polish, Joseph, he was married to an
    Italian lady, who is still with us, aged 98..! Lives
    in Wimborne, and l still visit..! Lovely lady!

    But, it ALL looks very lovely, love places with traditions,
    costumes, buildings and food...! And each country having it's
    own traditions...lovely...HeHe! EU Naigh! Waste of time..I
    voted 'OUT'...so there! :).

    Terry put to the sword...I watch the film Cromwell, yesterday
    afternoon...Richard Harris, and poor old Alec Guinness had his
    head chopped off..he must have recovered, cos he went on to make
    more films...! :0). Brilliant!
    HaHa! And, the pig...half expecting the wood to be lit...!
    Riverside Barbeque!!! Did you know...You can eat every part
    of a pig, except one thing....The Squeak...!!! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sit up straight young Willie, there will be questions at the end of this lesson and hell to pay if you don’t know the answers!
      We missed an awful lot of the comings and goings of Brexit because we were away. The only problem was Polish people were also talking about it. We came home with the impression that the younger people would be all for leaving (if and when it ever comes to them making the same decision) while the older people would want to stay in… Just about opposite to what was going on over here at the time. Anyway, we’ve done it now (we voted the same way as you) and will just have to live with the consequences – hopefully they will all be good.
      Poor Terry really didn’t enjoy the incident with the sword. He reckons it was sharp! Still it made for a good photo opportunity. I just look silly dressed up like a toy soldier, but it made the people around us laugh so all good.
      The pig in the river reminded me of those horrid ‘hog roasts’ give me a nice salad sandwich any day.

      Delete
  3. BARBARA! Good morning and welcome home! You know, Europe is one big history book. There are just too many places I want to see and my focus has been on France but as you know, I must get on over to England. But Poland and a few other places are stops I must observe and this is one of them. MY goodness, you look ravishing! Your husband, well, under the sword! GOODNESS! :)

    Enjoy every moment of quiet and book reading. Your selections look intriguing!!!! Much love, Anita

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How kind Anita, ravishing is not a word I usually associate myself with, but I’m happy to accept the compliment. :-)
      Perhaps you could do a tour taking in a few different places. I would love to do that, and maybe we will one day. We only saw a tiny part of Poland and would love to do more.
      Goodness indeed but the sword ‘incident’ was all done in jest – so no harm done. Hugs, Barbara

      Delete
  4. Beautiful, indeed! How blessed and lucky you were to get to visit. (That pig is hysterical and disturbing at the same time.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Bish, you are right about us being lucky and about the pig! :-)

      Delete
  5. What great photos! I have never visited Eastern Europe but now I know I must! I love history and architecture. That Cathedral's interior is unreal!

    I lived in Bath several years ago and I remember Waterstone's and also that it seemed almost every corner held a bookstore (and tea shops!) Truly a haven for a caffeine drinking book lover like me!

    Thanks for sharing your experiences.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Sharon, I absolutely agree with you about Bath; it is a very special place. I love the second-hand book fairs held there in the Assembly Rooms on the corner of Alfred & Bennett Street. The next one is in October, and I’m already looking forward to it.

      I can thoroughly recommend Krakow and feel sure you would enjoy it, especially with your love of history and architecture. Thank you for your kind words re the photographs. I'm married to a professional photographer and feel duty-bound to make a reasonable job of them. I tend to follow him around now and take pictures over his shoulder – that way I have a half-decent chance of getting something good enough to share. :-)

      Oh and one other thing if you do get to visit Bath again be sure to check out the doughnuts at Krispy Kreme the original glazed kind are delicious. I was probably the last person in the world to try them, but I can’t get enough of them now that I have!

      Delete
  6. Your photos are beautiful, and it looks like such a lovely place!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It really is a lovely place Linda, thanks for your visit. Barbara

      Delete
  7. What a fascinating and beautiful trip! I was so interested in that boar in the river. What a metaphor that is. You've made me put Krakow on my list of places to see.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm sure you won't be disappointed Lee. Krakow is a great place to visit.

      Delete
  8. Another fascinating post, Barbara! Beautiful , amusing and thought provoking photos. All sorts of story lines come to mind about the photos of the Polish "warrior" and you and Terry... This post, for me, is educational as well as entertaining.Thank you also for the books you are reading. 84 Charing Cross Road is one of my favourites. When I re-read it, I miss being a bookseller!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies

    1. Thank you Colleen you do say the nicest things! I know exactly what you mean about 84 Charing Cross Road because I feel it too. Once a bookseller …

      Delete
  9. Krakow looks amazing. I love all the pictures but my favourite are of the two of you in costume. 84 Charing Cross Road is one of my all time favourite reads. I must check out some of your other suggestions. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Darlene,
      I don’t think you would be disappointed by any of the books. I thoroughly enjoyed them all. Krakow is amazing, and we hope to go back one day.

      Delete
  10. I love the photos and stories!! Have you seen the movie for 84 Charing Cross Road? It has Anne Bancroft and Anthony Hopkins. So fascinating to think about what it was like back then to exchange orders by mail and have to wait forever for your book!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Teressa, I haven’t seen it but I want to now that I know about it. I’ve just been reading about it online and I'm sure I would enjoy it especially as it stars Anthony Hopkins.
      When I started selling books, I produced mail-order catalogues which I sent all over the world. Sometimes it would be weeks before a book sold, and if I had to send it to the other side of the world, it would take another week or so to arrive. Things have moved on so much since then, and it wasn’t that long ago. It won’t be long before amazing are delivery by drone in half an hour – now that will be something. :-)

      Delete
  11. Some beautiful photographs and the buildings are magnificent. I hope you enjoyed your visit.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We certainly did Heather. I’m so pleased you enjoyed the photographs.

      Delete
  12. Oh, I can see why you enjoyed it so much. Love the photos of the guy with you both. I think he wanted to cut Terry's throat and run of with you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Sister, thanks for making me laugh but how do you know it wasn’t Terry he wanted to run off with?? It could have been some strange mating ritual or something. ;-)

      Delete
  13. Hi Barbara, another cracker, this time far more cheerful and again beautifully illustrated and I enjoyed reading it. Thank you. A close shave for Terry indeed and as for the pig.....I have not seen a rasher sculpture..........

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you John, your never-ending patience with my attempts at ‘writing’ is much appreciated.
      I had just finished laughing at Sue’s comment when I read yours, a 'rasher sculpture' had me laughing all over again. ;-)

      Delete
  14. You giggling and not feeling 'blue'
    We did good then me and Sue.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nope no more feeling blue
      Thanks to you and to Sue!

      Delete
  15. Oh wow...what an amazing trip. I can only imagine how incredible it must have been to see all of that in person.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It really is a wonderful place Stephanie and one I would happily recommend.

      Delete
  16. Hi Barbara,

    What a superb piece of writing, Barbara. In-depth and with wonderful photos that captures the essence of Krakow. You certainly did get of lightly compared to Terry!

    Polish up on your Polish, perhaps? :) Thank you for this posting.

    Gary

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much Gary, I really appreciate your kind words.

      You are quite right about us polishing up our Polish!!! ;-) In hindsight it might have been a good idea to do a little polishing before we left home!

      We would have been utterly lost but for the kindness of strangers (who spoke English) and believe me, they were all really kind.

      Delete
  17. I love this post! I was in Poland last summer (for my third visit). I have gone to Krakow at some point during each visit. What a beautiful city! So much to see and do and reading your post and seeing your pictures brings me right back. :) I did not know anything about your last picture or the information that you posted with it. How interesting!

    It is nice in the cities in Poland that so many people speak English. My husband speaks Polish (he knows a lot, but out in the country the dialects are very different and it can be more of a challenge) and so does his family- so that has been a big help when we travel. I even listened to Polish audio lessons to learn some Polish (because all of his relatives don't speak English). I only know about 100 words and phrases- but it's a start. :)

    Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Stephanie,
      We tend to walk a lot on holiday, which is how we found the pig, although it was the building that caught our attention.

      Well done on learning so many Polish words and phrases. I do feel rather ashamed for not even trying and must try to learn at least a little before we go back. I was surprised to read your husband’s family doesn’t speak English. I came away with the impression that almost everyone did. But thinking about it, we were speaking mostly to shopkeepers and holiday guides, etc., so my impression would be a little distorted.

      Delete
  18. Sorry if this comment is a repeat. Krakow looks SO beautiful and is definitely on my bucket list. Thanks for sharing your gorgeous (and funny) pictures and for the book recommendations, too!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Marcia, the comment only arrived once so it was good you tried again, thank you.

      You will love Krakow. It is so interesting and really beautiful. Terry and I hope to visit again before too long, but next time we want to go for longer and see some other parts of the country.

      Delete
  19. Dear Barbara, what lovely pictures. Thank you for sharing those beautiful pictures. Kraków looks so lovely. You perked my appetite to visit this place. Who knows one day I will. The pig in the middle of the river brought a smile to my lips.😀

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Shashi, Krakow is my new favourite city. It is just full of colour and history, and the people are lovely. We were made to feel both welcome and safe, which is a good way to feel these days.xx

      Delete
  20. Thank you Barbara for sharing these incredible photos and stories!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My pleasure Diane, thanks for taking a look.

      Delete
  21. That bugle-call must be music to the ears.
    I always admired those street musicians. They are really talented.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The street musicians were all brilliant, but my favourite was Jacek Wolny. He has several videos on You Tube if you are interested. Thanks for calling in, Barbara

      Delete
  22. What a wonderful place to visit. It looks so colourful! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was amazing Nikki, we would love to go back one day.

      Delete
  23. I completely missed this post! What gorgeous photographs ♥
    You both appear to have had a brilliant time, but I have to wonder at that upside down pig. What the...!?

    I hope you've had a brilliant week, lovely Barbara xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Yvonne, that is exactly what I thought when I spotted the poor piggy!
      The week is going well, thank you, hope it is for you.

      Delete
  24. Oh Barbara, the pictures are beautiful (and I have admit I laughed for quite a while at the upside down pig for I thought it was the artist's way of protesting against horrid monuments. Then I read it was a boar on sacrifice). The part about the bugle calls ending abruptly was very interesting. It's admirable how they've chosen to commemorate the trumpeter who died in the line of duty.

    What an amazing trip. Poland is beautiful!

    (And dear Barbara, I noticed the increase in your font size. Bravo and well done!)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Claudine, thank you for noticing the font size, I’ve made a few subtle changes thanks to your encouragement.
      I feel sorry for the poor pig. It wouldn’t be so bad if he was the right way up, but the blood must be rushing to his head in that position, not to mention the matter of a few sticks ready to light. It's quite gruesome when you think about it.
      It is very moving to sit in the square and listen to the bugle call. We had no idea where it was coming from the first time we heard it. It was only when we noticed people looking up at the tower that we located the source of the music.

      Delete

I really appreciate your comment. Thank you!
Barbara xx

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...