Krakow, Poland (30th of January 2006)

Monday 30th of January 2006
The departure of my flight was at 14:05 from Krakow and arrival at 15:40 at Gatwick. Teh full price of my ticket including taxes etc was 81.90 PLN. I was up around 9.00am and headed to the Milk Bar I saw in yesterday. I had soup, bread, biggas and a sprite for about 15 Z. Bargain.





Cloth Hall, Krakow, Poland

Taken on the 30th of January 2006

Standing in the middle of the square is the Cloth Hall (Sukiennice), originally built as a covered market the present building dates from the mid-16th century, with some 19th century additions (the arched galleries down either side). It’s an attractive renaissance building that looks particularly impressive when lit-up at night. The ground floor of the Cloth Hall has now returned to its original function and now houses an impressive collection of market stalls selling all kinds of high-quality tourist tat, including amber, jewellery, hand-carved wood, and various other bits of arts and crafts. The arcades now mostly hold cafes. On the first floor is a department of Krakow’s National Museum, the Gallery of 19th Century Polish Painting and Sculpture, which holds some paintings by Poland’s best-known 19th century artist (within Poland at least) Jan Matejko. The gallery is closed on Mondays.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size





Cloth Hall, Krakow, Poland

Taken on the 30th of January 2006

Standing in the middle of the square is the Cloth Hall (Sukiennice), originally built as a covered market the present building dates from the mid-16th century, with some 19th century additions (the arched galleries down either side). It’s an attractive renaissance building that looks particularly impressive when lit-up at night. The ground floor of the Cloth Hall has now returned to its original function and now houses an impressive collection of market stalls selling all kinds of high-quality tourist tat, including amber, jewellery, hand-carved wood, and various other bits of arts and crafts. The arcades now mostly hold cafes. On the first floor is a department of Krakow’s National Museum, the Gallery of 19th Century Polish Painting and Sculpture, which holds some paintings by Poland’s best-known 19th century artist (within Poland at least) Jan Matejko. The gallery is closed on Mondays.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size





St Florian’s Gate, Krakow, Poland

Taken on the 30th of January 2006

By 1500 Cracow was not only one of the richest cities in Europe but also one of the best fortified. The Old Town was ringed by a great wall, and this was punctuated by forty-seven towers and encircled by a moat. Immediately beyond this lay a further line of defense, comprising of a second wall and yet another moat. This outer wall was pierced by two barbicans, one of which, a splendid edifice, still survives. Owing to these formidable defenses, marauding armies were faced with a great dilemma. Much as they might wave the dismembered heads of those unlucky souls that had been caught beyond the city limits, more often than not they could not traverse the wall. Indeed, for a period of about two hundred years, Cracow was unbroken by foreign invasions.

In spite of its military purpose, the defensive wall was a thing of great character. This was not least because each tower differed from the next. They had their own idiosyncratic qualities – some were squat whilst others were lean and elegant. Furthermore, each tower belonged to one of the myriad guilds that had sprung up within the city. So, there was a cobblers’ tower, a saddlers’ tower, even a gunpowder makers’ tower. And responsibility for guarding the city lay not with a troop of Royal soldiers but with the merchants themselves. Each guild had its own tower and its own stretch of wall from which to keep an eye on things.

By the close of the eighteenth century several towers had collapsed whilst others were so dilapidated that trees were growing up out of their roofs. When the Austrians took over they decided to raze the complex to the ground. However, owing to the efforts of one Feliks Radwanski, a professor who was inspired by the patriotic and romantic associations of the fortifications, a campaign was launched to save them. They managed to salvage the most northerly section, which included four towers and a barbican. At the centre of this was St. Florian’s Gate, which is topped by the Furriers’ tower. This gateway is the historic entrance to the city, and the starting point of processions that hail back to ancient times. This route, which leads down Florianska street and on to Wawel, is known as the Royal Way.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size





St. Mary’s Basilica, Krakow, Poland

Taken on the 30th of January 2006

After the Tartar invasions of the 13th century left the original church occupying this site in a heap of ruins, construction began on St. Mary’s using the existing foundations. It doesn’t matter how many times you see it, the altarpiece, stained glass windows of the nave, and blue, starred ceiling of this cathedral will take your breath away. The magnificent altarpiece was for 12 painstaking years the principal work of the 15th century German artist Veit Stoss (aka Wit Stwosz), and depicts the Virgin Mary’s Quietus among the apostles. Surrounding the altar are polychrome paintings by Matejko, Mehoffer and Wyspia?ski. Several local legends are attached to St. Mary’s. The twin towers were allegedly the work of two brothers.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size





St. Mary’s Basilica, Krakow, Poland

Taken on the 30th of January 2006

After the Tartar invasions of the 13th century left the original church occupying this site in a heap of ruins, construction began on St. Mary’s using the existing foundations. It doesn’t matter how many times you see it, the altarpiece, stained glass windows of the nave, and blue, starred ceiling of this cathedral will take your breath away. The magnificent altarpiece was for 12 painstaking years the principal work of the 15th century German artist Veit Stoss (aka Wit Stwosz), and depicts the Virgin Mary’s Quietus among the apostles. Surrounding the altar are polychrome paintings by Matejko, Mehoffer and Wyspia?ski. Several local legends are attached to St. Mary’s. The twin towers were allegedly the work of two brothers.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size





St. Mary’s Basilica, Krakow, Poland

Taken on the 30th of January 2006

After the Tartar invasions of the 13th century left the original church occupying this site in a heap of ruins, construction began on St. Mary’s using the existing foundations. It doesn’t matter how many times you see it, the altarpiece, stained glass windows of the nave, and blue, starred ceiling of this cathedral will take your breath away. The magnificent altarpiece was for 12 painstaking years the principal work of the 15th century German artist Veit Stoss (aka Wit Stwosz), and depicts the Virgin Mary’s Quietus among the apostles. Surrounding the altar are polychrome paintings by Matejko, Mehoffer and Wyspia?ski. Several local legends are attached to St. Mary’s. The twin towers were allegedly the work of two brothers.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

I walked to the street where the girl at the hostel said the 192 passes. I was waiting for about 10 minutes and there was no seat to be had. A 2.70 Z ticket should do (purchased at most kioks and validated on the bus) but I purchased a 3,10 Z (billet Godzinny) just in case they pointed to my bag as an extra passenger and fine me. It happens alot in Prague, Slovakia and othr places. A big backpack means you should get an extra ticket. It took about 25 minutes to get there so I was there for noon for a 2.05pm flight. Dead early. It was very, very busy for such a small airport. All budget airlines.

I had to wait an hour to get checked in. Usually (even Ryanair) allows 10-12kg on ahnd luggage. While my bag was small enough, Central Wings only allows 4 kg as hand luggage. Jesus, a box of tissues would weigh that. I did not want to argue and had to check in my bag. I had purchased a bottle of water with my last bit of change so I just hung around until the flight. it was delayed 30 minutes which was a bummer. There is nothing to do at the airport. The duty free is as big as a toilet. No disstractions here. I waited around until it was time to head back. Alot of Polish people leaving to work in the UK. A lot of tears at the airport.

On a postscript/postnote (after my tirades against stray dogs in Romania) Brigitte Bardot slams Romania for dog cull (February 4, 07:15 PM)

BUCHAREST (Reuters) – Former French film star turned animal rights activist Brigitte Bardot slammed Romania on Saturday for culling stray dogs after a Japanese man was bitten to death in Bucharest.

The capital’s mayor Adriean Videanu announced immediately after the incident last Sunday that the time stray dogs could be kept in shelters before being put down would be shortened. The 68-year-old Japanese businessman bled to death in central Bucharest after a stray dog bit him in the leg, severing a vital artery.

Foreign tourists often cite the packs of dogs roaming freely on the streets of Bucharest among the reasons they shy away from the capital of Romania, which plans to join the European Union as early as in 2007.

Dozens of people are bitten daily. Bucharest residents are split, some advocating culling and others feeding the stray dogs on the streets and building makeshift shelters for them. The 100,000 stray dogs in the capital are considered a legacy of former communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu’s decision to demolish many houses in the 1980s. Dogs were abandoned by people rehoused in small flats.

Overll, I really enjoyed my few weeks in Budapest, Romania and especially the Ukraine. I had done little planning before ahnd and I was pleasantly surprised by the beautiful old Saxon fortified towns. Sibiu was my favourite spot, such a lively buzz around town.. certaintly a city looking ahead and forward looking. I can see why it will be joint European Capital of Culture in 2007. Cant fault the cheap costs as well. The Ukraine was also excellent, and I will make it abck there as soon as possible before their governement changes their minds about VISA Rules. If a pro-Russian governemtn gets abck in at the end of March, I can see the rules changing. No, overall, well worth it except for dowdy Budapest which is a summer destination.

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