Thursday, April 29, 2010

Could I really miss winter?

Missing winter time?? How is that possible? Well, lets take a moment to assess. Do I miss the cold weather, aka wearing six layers of pants and shirts topped off with a heavy coat? No. Do I miss the snow and ice covered side walks? Of course not. Do I miss falling on my butt because of said sidewalks? My butt says NO! Do I miss how the constant darkness consumed all my energy and soul? Hell no.
So what could I possibly miss about Krakow during the winter time? Easy. The lack of tourists. The winter was harsh, both physically and mentally. But during that time, it was the real city. The streets were not packed with people awing and ooing at everything, (not that I blame them, the city is beautiful.) Those who wandered around lived, worked, or studied here. Of course there were the occasional tourists, but nothing like now. Today the city square is full of people from everywhere, with their fanny packs and cameras. And, it is not that I mind tourists, technically. I think seeing the world and traveling in general is an important part of life, but it is that I am now grouped into the "tourist crowd." My Polish is no where near perfect, so yes, I mostly speak English. However, I know Krakow. I understand the culture, the city, the life. I know where there are great cafes. I know the restaurants that are worth going to and those that are not. I know the history. I have the tune of the Bugler in St. Mary's Church memorized.
I just miss seeing the city how it is majority of the year. The empty streets. Only hearing Polish spoken. I miss having the sense that "this is the real Krakow." So, yea, in some weird way, I miss the winter time.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Do Lublina!

This weekend my friend Caroline and I traveled to Lublin and Kazimierz Dolny. Our weekend consisted of warm, beautiful weather, and great people. Lublin is a small city, but should not be underestimated. The old town is small, with intricate cobblestone alleys that make for great walks. The main attraction is the castle, which holds true historical value. What I found most interesting was the use of the castle as a prison, especially during WWII.
Of course, when going to Lublin one should tour Majdanek Concentration Camp. It was a moving experience. The history of the Holocaust never ceases to amaze me. Located just outside the city, there is a museum and other exhibitions dedicated to the history of the camp. While I was there, it was quite desolate. The eeriness was emphasized by the lack of other tourists, intensifying the overall experience.
Our Sunday was spent in Kazimierz Dolny, a small town located about an hour away from Lublin. Its quite popular in the summer time for families to vacation. Romanian gypsy women wander around the small square, claiming they can predict your future and con you into giving them money, or just steal it somehow. I was not impressed. Their predictions and observations were quite obvious. "Oh.. I can see travel in your future." Yea no kidding, I'm a tourist.

I apologize for the lack of recent posts, however, I have plans for future posts. I will also being traveling to other Polish cities and towns within the next month. Hey, I guess the gypsy was right!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

On a lighter note...

I realize the past two entries were not of the happy kind, due to the recent tragedy in Poland. However, I hope this article below brings some spirit back to my blog posts.

Watch out for those Poles, for they can be crafty. :-)


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A Week of National Mourning

The recent events hit Poland's heart hard with the loss of many prominent figures resulting in a week of national mourning. Flags, pictures and candles cover the ground in front of the Katyń memorial in Krakow, located right in front of my language school. All over Poland, memorials both big and small are on display.
Today, there was a procession through the city ending with a ceremony at the memorial. Taking a break from our speaking midterm exam, my fellow classmates and professors watched from the window as those who were lost were honored, as well as commemorating the historical event of Katyń. A true tragedy within a tragedy. The crowd was filled with hundreds of people young and old. Below are pictures from today.

Interesting Articles:

Saturday, April 10, 2010

President Lech Kaczynski

Polish President Lech Kaczynski, his wife, and other top Polish officials, died in a plane crash yesterday morning in Russia, near Smolensk. Kaczynski was on his way to Russia to commemorate the Katyn Massacre of World War II.

Memorials are set up all over Poland, flags flew at half mast, as the country mourns for its loss. Please keep Poland, and all those affected by this tragedy in your prayers.


Friday, April 9, 2010


Happy Easter! Through numerous entries I've emphasized how Catholic Poland is, therefore it is no surprise Easter is a big holiday as well. Most of Poland's traditions are similar to those in the states. For example, Poles paint easter eggs and have Easter baskets (not sure if the Easter bunny plays the same part.) Lamb is also a main course mean for Easter. Just like at Christmas, Krakow has an Easter market selling colorful eggs, baskets, flowers and other festive goodies.

However, warning to all those who may be in Poland on Easter Monday, for you may fall victim to Śmigus Dyngus or Lany Poniedziałek or Wet Monday! Traditionally, young men would splash young women with buckets of water! The more drenched a woman got
the more likely she would get married within the year. The following Tuesday, however, women sought revenge and splashed men. It is also believed to represent the Baptism of Poland in 966 AD when Poland converted to Christianity. However, over the years this tradition has changed, and now, no matter your gender, you run the risk of getting splashed with water. Unfortunately,
Easter Monday in Kraków this year was rainy.

My Easter break, as well my 23rd Birthday was spent in Frankfurt, Germany visiting a family friend. I had a wonderful time. It was nice to get away and see a familiar face. I love Poland, but that break was exactly what I needed. Frankfurt is a pretty spectacular city. Its the only city in Germany that has a real skyline, with a few high rises. It was a pretty chilly weekend, but I made the most of my time and had a wonderful host/tour guide.

I hope your Easter celebrations were wonderful!