From Warsaw to Krakow

Trip Start Jan 01, 2014
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Trip End Dec 31, 2014


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Where I stayed
Park Inn
What I did
The Black Madonna

Flag of Poland  , Southern Poland,
Thursday, November 3, 2011

Dec 4: NOTE: I want to post more pictures of Jewish Town, because I think they have relevance to this blog.  

 On our way to Krakow
 
 

  

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NOV 3, Thursday: Today was our transfer day from Warsaw to Krakow with a stop at Czestochowa to tour the 14th century Jasna Gora Monastery to see the Black Madonna shrine. The Black Madonna has been associated with Poland for the past 600 years, and legends trace the icon's origins to the house of the Holy Family's table top. 
 
 

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We arrived in Krakow in the early evening. On my visit to Poland 17-years earlier, I also visited
Czestochowa and Krakow. Unlike Warsaw, Krakow has not changed; the ambiance has not changed for me. No new developments or tall buildings have been built that I observed, except for the Japanese Museum that I visited on November 5th, when most in our group took the optional tour to the Wieliczka Salt Mines.


Map of Krakow: 
 
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Our Hotel
 
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KRAKOW: NOV 4. Today's tour included a bus tour to Kazimierz Jewish Town that was established by King Jan 1 Olbracht in 1495. Stara Boznica, or Old Synagogue, is Krakow's oldest and grandest. Built in the 16th century, it was destroyed by fire in 1557. The Nazis turned it into a warehouse, and executed 30 Polish hostages in 1943. It was restored in 1955-1957, and now serves as a museum of Jewish history, culture, and tradition. We spent about a 45-minutes to an hour in the square while the local guide provided our group with its history. There
are shops, restaurants, and residences surrounding the square, including the Remuh Synagogue built in 1558, the smallest and busiest of the Kazimierz synagogues for orthodox Jews. The synagogue boasts the original Aron-Hakodesh, a Renaissance stone cabinet for the
Torah. The adjacent cemetery and synagogue were destroyed under Nazi rule, and have been restored during the years 1958-1968 and 1956-1960 respectively. 


 
  
 

 
 
 
  
 
 

 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  
 
 
 
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Legend of St Mary's Church in Old Town: During the invasion by Mongols in 1241, a guard on the tallest tower at St Mary's Church sounded the alarm by playing the Heynal (a trumpet signal) on his bugle.  The bugler was shot in the throat and did not complete the tune.   That is the reason why it now ends abruptly when it is repeated three times daily.   


We passed by Oscar Schindler's factory on our way to Wawel Castle located on a hill by the river. Some visited the factory on the following day, but I didn't have any interest in looking at old factory photographs after visiting Auschwitz-Birkenau.



A brief on Wawel Castle: The Royal Castle took many centuries to erect, and was the center of political power at the end of the 1st AD. It became a fortified castrum of the Vistulans in the 9th century, and its first ruler was Mieszko (965-992AD) of the Piast dynasty.    During 1025-1034, Wawel became Poland's main center of Christianity, and the stone cathedral was built in the year 1000.    Wawel became the leading political and administrative center for the Polish State during the reign of Casimir the Restorer.


I had plenty of free time to explore on my own, so I took advantage of it by walking from our hotel to the main market square several times to explore, eat, and drink.   Market square was built in the 13 century, the largest medieval town square in Europe.   The Hard Rock Cafe next to the church ruins the ambiance.   


Krakow's seven centuries of architecture that includes the buildings on Royal Castle Hill, the
main market square (some new restaurants and bars), our bus tour to Kazimierz, and all those buildings on Swietej Gertrudy and neighboring streets where I walked are shops, bars, and restaurants of varying architectural design. I drank and ate at several of them, and one of the memorable meals was with a couple from New York when we had dinner at Pod Wawelem. I had the bbq'd spare ribs with beer. Another meal of note was on our last evening in Krakow when I wondered on my own towards market square to look for a nice restaurant. I peeked in a couple of them, but it just didn't feel right, until I looked into the third one. A young lady was sitting in the front waiting area seated on a sofa, and I asked the attendant if I could view their menu. To my great surprise, the staff at the restaurant spoke English, and the young lady asked if I was from the states. I said, yes; I was from California. She said she attended UC, Berkeley, and studied Health Administration, and now lives in Krakow. I asked if she would like to join me for dinner, but she was waiting to attend a friend's birthday party. I ordered the rack
of lamb and a glass of red wine which was a good choice. As I was walking back to the hotel, I stopped at a supermarket and bought a bottle of vodka to drink while on the cruise on the Elbe River. While returning to the hotel and crossing the bridge, a fireworks started a few blocks
from the bridge, so I stood there completely enthralled by the sparkling light show.

 

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