Summer Solstice in Krakow

Krakow Travel Blog

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Plan from Berlin to Krakow
So after finishing a long week of meetings in Stuttgart I turned in early on Friday night to be ready for our flight to Krakow Saturday morning.  4 of us booked the same route on Air Berlin to Krakow via Berlin.  For international flights, the weight requirements are fairly generous but the domestic flight (Stuttgart-Berlin) had some tight restrictions, and being a budget airline they dont charge you for baggage in the ticket but based on your bag weight.  I was fine and didnt have to pay any fees but a couple of the students had to shuffle things around, put on 2 shirts and a jacket, and then we told him to carry on his beer steins since those weighed about 5 pounds each at least.
The Cloth Market in ancient times, now a market with vendor stalls on the inside.
  Its a policy that makes sense though as far as the weight restrictions - there should be a minimum fee included in tickets for baggage and after that it should be based on weight.  Tim who is a pilot, said he would be surprised if in the next 10 years they start selling airline tickets priced by passenger weight as well.  Tim was being a real jokester on the plane.  We were in a turbo prop (Dasch 8 - 300 Dad) into Krakow.  As we boarded Tim was saying that the plane would really vibrate once the engines started and I said yea, I am used to it, I have flown with my dad.  So the engines turn on and my seat is shaking but I just shrug it off and continue reading (Pride and Prejudice).  After about 2 minutes Tim, who is seated directly behind me, says "Wow, this plane is really shaking!"  I looked around again and then realized that nothing else was shaking, just my seat.
Me, in the rain, in front of the clock tower in the main square.
  He has been shaking my chair for like 2 or 3 minutes.  Noah who was across from us was just laughing silently until tears started rolling down his cheeks and thats when Tim finally brought my attention to it.  So we had a good laugh and we settled in.  During the flight we hit a little turbulence and I turned my air vent up to keep me from getting motion sickness.  I thought I had turned it back down after it ended but as I was reading my book I was getting really cold.  After a few minutes I look around and realize the air is on me full blast even though my valves were closed.  I turn around and Tim had his on full blast and was using a magzine to funnel all the air right on me!  Noah and Rachel tipped me off to it because they couldnt laugh silently anymore.
Market stall in the square selling bronze statues
  They said I had been reading like that for about 5 minutes and my book had been blowing opne and closed and I hadnt even noticed!  I guessed I was too into the book to notice haha.  It was nice to have just the 4 of us and a really lighthearted, stress free journey!  They are some of my favorite people on the trip.

Flight was slightly delayed due to traffic in stuttgart and berlin but we made the connections with no problem.  The forecast for Krakow was cold and rainy the entire time we would be here so I wore my warmest clothes and I was glad I did!  The temp has been between 45 and 60 degrees with a chilly, damp mist varying to downpour for the past 3 days.  It put a damper on our sightseeing abilities, and no one wanted to be out in the rain and then get sick.
Because of the summer solstice they were giving out crowns of flowers in the square.
  I stuck to the main town square, cloth market areas but others ventured out to the castle and even day trips to Auschwitz concentration camp.  After checking in about 4 pm we met in the lobby and the 4 of us went to the town square which is one of the largest in Europe.  Today it is filled with people, restaurants, bars, clubs, open air markets, and street performers, but up until 1989 this place was deserted for the previous 50 years.  Under the communist government gathering in large groups was highly discouraged, and going out to socialize and have fun was also discouraged.  The thought was that one should go home after work because a well rested worker was a hard worker.
Inside of the cloth market, numbered vendor stalls line the walls
  It is hard to believe the transformation this city and country have undergone in the past 20 years.

Saturday was the summer solstice which is celebrated all over Europe.  We saw alot of coverage about Stonehenge on the news, and I have been in Paris during the celebrations in 2005 where they held concerts all over the city and ran the metro all night- all of it free of charge.  Here in Krakow they had a HUGE concert with many bands including Lenny Kravitz.  We wandered over to the concert park after dinner and at 9 pm it was already packed with more people streaming in.  The had the band set up on a stage on the other side of a lake, next to the castle with giant screens projecting everything around the park.  The concert goers were on the other side of the lake.
Rachel and I singing at the concert
  Between the rain, the umbrellas, and the crowds I couldnt see very much and wasnt able to get good pictures but I have 2 videos posted on here - one of some polish high school kids singing along to one of the songs and the other is Rachel and Noah singing along to Twist and Shout!  It was the only song in english they played while we were there and no one in Poland knew the words so it was pretty funny to watch.  Based on how into the music the crowd was we expected a Ferris Bueller parade-like scene but since no one knew the words it wasnt LOL.

After the concert Rachel and I came back to change in warmer clothes and met up with some of the others to go out to bars and a dance club. All fo the students in the class are about 35-45 years old except for Rachel who is 26.
kids in Krakow singing and dancing on the wall at the concert
  They prefered the bar scene of chilling and drinking a beer but I was able to talk them into a club where they could sit and listen to music and get up to dance now and then.  We stayed out until about 4 am and as we walked out of the club the sun was just starting to come out so we celebrated the solstice in appropraite fashion I think.

Sunday I slept in until about 1 pm then met Rachel for lunch and shopping.  One of the biggest products in Poland is amber.  They have every kind of jewelery imaginable in the cloth market stalls so I perused for about 2 hours and then went back and purchased my favorites.  I got a very pretty amber pendant with a sillouette carved into it and a few souvenirs for others.  I also got my pin from Poland.
Rachel and Noah singing along to Twist and Shout
  I was hoping to find one with a dragon since legends about dragons in Poland are huge but I had to settle for one with a picture of the castle in Krakow.

After a late afternoon nap Rachel and I met again to go to dinner.  We asked the front desk where we could go for the best perogi in town, and after a short debate between the concierge and front desk about who had the best, we were directed to Wesele Restaurant off of the main square. It is a charming restaurant with friendly staff and cute decor.  We were shown upstairs where we had the place to ourselves and a seat next to the window overlooking the square.  We decided to split a platter of assorted perogi to get a good sample.  Perogi are pototo dumpling/ravioli filled with various meats, vegestables, and cheese.
Rachel and I at dinner at Wesele.
  I really liked the ones with meat, onions and mushrooms but did not care for the ones with saurkraut and cottage cheese.  They were very filling and eventually we gave up on trying to eat them all and instead started cutting them in half to identify which types they were and trying to at least taste one of each.  Although they were good, I liked some of the other Polish dishes we had previously better - kielbasa, roasted duck with blackberry sauce and potatoes, and mushroom soup.  Our waiter was college age and spoke excellent english so we asked where he learned and he said he has been studying it for 10 years but he is also a big fan of cartoons - Bugs Bunny is his favorite.  Its good to know we have a good ambassador in Warner Bros... :)

After dinner I hurried back to call home at 9 pm europe/ 3 pm atlanta time.
Krakow at night
  I wished my Dad a happy fathers day and after a bit of technical difficulty we were able to get the webcam setup on there end so we could all see each other and have a nice chat.  It was really good to be able to talk to my parents about everything and finalize the plans for mom to meet me in Paris.

Monday we woke up very early to catch an 8:30 train to Rzeszow (pronounced jesh-ofv) where we were scheduled to meet with a UTC owned company that has transformed itself from a government run MIG factory to machining parts for Pratt and Whitney engines.  The story of their leadership during this transformation was remarkable and inspiring and gave alot of insight into the hard working mentality of the Polish.  They are working hard to build up the aviation industry in this section of Poland nicknamed Aviation Valley.  They took us to a wonderful restaurant for lunch where we had a buffet with lots of local dishes.  Unfortunately I dont have the names of any of them but the mushroom soup was loved by all, I really enjoyed the fish appetizer with a chutney on it and the roasted pork with white green beans wrapped in bacon.  Tomatoes and strawberries are in season here so they are served at every meal.

We didnt get back to our hotel until about 9 pm on Monday and I had a headache for the previous 4 hours (we were on the local train coming back so it stopped every 5 minutes and was very crowded).  I skipped dinner and went straight to sleep so I was able to get about 10 hours of rest last night which was much needed and got a great start to the rest of the week.

Today we meet in the hotel all day and then go to the airport for our flight to Paris via Frankfurt.  We get in late tonight but get to sleep in a little in the morning to compensate.

Overall I really like Krakow and will have to schedule a time to return when I can give it proper tourist attention.  The people are really warm and friendly - much more than in Amsterdam and Stuttgart.

Finally - an update on Tom in Singapore-
So they were supposed to return from Hong Kong and then be escorted to a quarantine facility owned by the government but they ended up being held at the airport for 13 plus hours waiting for the govt to get everything organized etc.  Finally Tom called the US embassy who got things moving within an hour.  they were allowed to pick up their things at the university and then taken to a government resort.  Tom is staying in a chalet with 4 bedrooms so he has 3 of his classmates as companions.  I havent been able to talk with him yet but we have emailed a few times.  They have arranged for the classes to be held online and the students attend remotely with their laptops.  I believe they are going to be held until thursday and then assuming no one else is sick they will be able to return to the university and then they fly to Beijing this weekend to start a 5 week residence there.  Again please keep them in your thoughts and prayers.

thanks for reading this uber long entry.  I wish I had more time to do shorter, more frequent updates but we havent had alot of classroom time since last Wed and that is the only time I can get anything done.

Paris we will have alot of classroom time so I should get another update in on Wed or thurs.

love and a hug to all

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Plan from Berlin to Krakow
Plan from Berlin to Krakow
The Cloth Market in ancient times,…
The Cloth Market in ancient times…
Me, in the rain, in front of the c…
Me, in the rain, in front of the …
Market stall in the square selling…
Market stall in the square sellin…
Because of the summer solstice the…
Because of the summer solstice th…
Inside of the cloth market, number…
Inside of the cloth market, numbe…
Rachel and I singing at the concert
Rachel and I singing at the concert
kids in Krakow singing and dancin…
Rachel and Noah singing along to …
Rachel and I at dinner at Wesele.
Rachel and I at dinner at Wesele.
Krakow at night
Krakow at night
photo by: EmyG