Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Ok now something more famous....Oświęcim

So with Krakow pretty, shiny, fancy and all old under our belts, we thought it would be rather apt to see something else down in the southern regions of Poland. Not having time to make a good fist of visiting the real highlands to the South of Krakow, we decided that with Simon, our Aussie/English/Sri Lankan accomplice, it was about time we put his History degree to application and we decided to visit Oświęcim. Most people know it by its German name, Auschwitz. Yes, the home of what has been considered the most evil act in recent history, of course according to some.

Arbeit macht frei - Work brings freedom (Image borrowed from Wikipedia)

Basically, I don't really think I can convey in words what you see and feel when there. It is a rather awesome feeling (not in the new usage of the word either) that encompasses you when you arrive around. Walking in through the sign mentioned above, the place looks somewhat idyllic, as there is now green grass, and in summer the trees have all their leaves. It seems almost like a retirement village, as it is well kept and all quiet. The location was originally a Polish military barracks, and hence the reason the buildings on the main Auschwitz site were more permanent than those we were to see later in the more removed part of the camp, Birkenau. Seeing rooms full of shoes, glasses, artificial legs/feet/arms and a mound of human hair. Unfortunately for reference, and my blog's sake, you can't take photos inside, even if the odd tourist was unable to obey this rule that is given in about 6 languages.

The signs that tell you not to wear your bathers around a concentration camp and to "keep silence".
Looks so idyllic with the trees, sunshine and grass.

The first sentry at the gate.
So the thing you get used to seeing here was lots of barbed wire.And more barbed wireWith guard boxes and, of course, some barbed wire.

Oh and don't forget the barbed wire, and, of course, just for good measure, it is electrified too.

The Block 19, which was not the home of the Medical testing that was applied to numerous groups, mostly twins, dwarfs and gypsies, this was in Block 10 across the path.The guard box from where role call was made, the solidier in charge of role call would call and wait for the said person to respond, if that person did not respond, they would wait until they did. Hence, when prisoners escaped, the entire camp population would remain outside. Sometimes in sub zero temperatures for up to 18 hours.The gate to the execution yard.
Time to reflect now.

With our tour, we incorporated the Auschwitz I site with a trip out to Birkenau. The Birkenau location just amazes you in its immenseness. A place which now looks something like a holiday camp you could picture in a 1950-60's family movie in some ways, while it extends as far as the eye can see with green grass and little huts or chimneys remaining. It is quite indescribable. It was to me almost flabbergasting, and when the sun shines and the grass glows a vibrant green, you remove yourself from the past somewhat. Roughly 700,000 visitors visit these sites each year. Which is nearly the total of people that died at the facility.

The train line in.
The remaining chimneys from burnt out barracks.
The main entrance to Birkenau.
A remaining barrack.
and inside...
even in a place like Birkenau you can find simple beauty. I think there is something in that......

Monday, October 26, 2009

What else is there in Krakow?

Well not having seen all that Krakow has to offer, I am sure there is a lot! We have already taken you round the town centre and through the Jewish District, and so instead, I will continue to tell you about what I do know. So off we go to Wavel. The big palace on the hill. It overlooks the town centre and also the Vistula (Wisla).
They also have a Dragon's cave as there is a folktale about a man called Szewczyk Dratewka who fed a Dragon that had been eating all of the towns virgin's, a sheepskin full of sulphur. The Dragon then drank the whole Vistula (Wisla). Which caused him to explode! You can still visit the cave where the Dragon lived. There is also a statue to the Dragon that still breaths fire.
This palace is a little sad in a few ways, as it has been pillaged because as I mentioned earlier the Krakovites don't believe in fighting. So the Swedish, the Austrians, the Germans, the Russians pretty much anyone who has passed by has taken something for themselves. So inside the Palace apartments (we took a tour) we found out that all furniture, paintings and furnishings are all "imported" from either Italy, Holland, or Germany. With the odd sample from as far afield as the UK, Spain or Portugal. However, other than this small annoyance, it has been very well restored and is really a joy to walk around. I find that on a sunny day, there is certainly a lot of time to be wasted here.
The square is nice and smoothly plastered with balstrades abound. All casting lovely shadows.
Also with some small outbreaks of vegetation giving it a warm comfortable feel.

When we were there, there was still lots to see in the square in front of the apartments. There is something for the boys mostly, as I have told or heard from many that the Polish girls are very attractive and maybe this will show something of them. For the girls, there is fashion and shoes. :) It is a popular location for wedding photos and some modelling work too. Certainly entertaining for all.
They are shooting both calendars and wedding shots here.
Some models didn't have any fans following them, so brought their own.I swear I took this one for the ladies for the bracelet and the purse.Some can just model anywhere...........They just have style, poise, and look right when modelling......
Unfortunately, some just don't get the hints and clues that others drop..... Thanks Simon.But we can always make them models for other products....
Like chocolate bars or washing powder...... any other suggestions for our budding model?

As mentioned in a previous post, Marty has certainly got me into looking more at ladies shoes, I think Europeans probably wear nicer shoes than Australians. Then again, I didn't really look, so maybe they do.....


Here is the footer! Oh dear another bad pun, one per post, I promised you that!

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Where else in Krakow?

"So apart from the Old Square where else should I investigate in Krakow?", I hear you think. Yes, I read minds too, as well as teach English. Which sometimes, to be perfectly honest, is very much aligned, identical, in the same boat, seen along similar lines, and incorporated with synonym finding.

So away from the main square, there is a beautiful old town. Unlike Warsaw, Krakow didn't decide to fight the Germans, so they kept their town centre and beautiful buildings. So rather than developing a culture of builders, as the capital has, they have grown into a more artistic city. This means that there are some really nice places to be seen, not far from the town centre. There is Wawel, literally the kings' castle, and also the name of a great chocolate from Krakow, Kazimierz, the old Jewish quarter and, of course, the Wisla (Vistula) River, flowing right past the castle.

So first we will start with Kazimierz.

The pidgeons love the world of Krakow.
Marty tried a bit of modelling in the Jewish town.
Hugs are all around in the Zapiekanki area.
Grannies were out getting tans.
People were even hanging out their clothes (not these though, they are made of wood).
This girl was a little different, she seemed a dominatrix and had a rather feminine male friend she appeared to order around with her. Either way I still like shiny things
Well this bloke almost looks Jewish, alas he likes pork, ham, bacon and golonka too much.I like my Graffiti simple, stencils are cool, as are thumbs.Now one of the greatest things in Kazimierz, is the Zapiekanki world!
Simon got into them in a big way, he is munching on a farmers', spicy sauce, sausage, chicken, chives, cheese, sweetcorn and bacon. As did the ladies......
Marty loved hers too, it was a mushrooms, cheese, chives and mayo.We also strolled past some large churches (they are all over the place in Krakow), we found a lovely shadow of a light.
Shadows were all the rage, sun is a great thing, this one is where we bought......Pierogi. We had some with Chanterelle mushrooms, Russian (potato and cheese), Spinach and feta, cabbage with mushrooms.
Also we had Duck, Lamb, Mutton, and Beef.In all, we had over 50 Pierogi between the three of us, along with two salads and it was all so good that we could almost have eaten more. The Awiw was the restaurant, and if you are ever in Krakow, I say go for the Pierogi, they are great!

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