Underground and Schindler.

The wet cobbles indicated it had rained in the night but the sun was shining when I looked through the window at the early morning commuters below, hurrying  along with collars turned up and hat and gloves in evidence. Still cold out there then. We had another half hour in bed before venturing down for breakfast.

For the first time during our morning repast one of the other guests spoke to us. He had arrived last night and wanted to know where we had been and how we had arranged it.  With information imparted we returned to our room and packed for our journey home later that night.

With the job done, we set off on a full circumnavigation of the narrow forest park surrounding the Old Town. It took us around an hour or so, with frequent stops to read information boards and stare at the surrounding  medieval architecture.

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Returning to the Market Square we found the ticket office to the Rynek Underground Museum and purchased two senior citizens tickets. The whole area of the Market Square was dug up to a great depth in 2005 to uncover the historical layers below. They got down to the 11th and 12th centuries, with some evidence of earlier times. The museum has been created very sympathetically using the latest media technology to explain the history revealed to you. You step into the past along glass floored corridors, entering chambers full of exhibits and artefacts. Wonderfully done and all the more amazing because of the thousands of tourists going about their business a few metres above and oblivious to what is below. This is well worth a visit.

We checked out of the hotel at noon, leaving our cases at reception to be picked up later.

Our destination for the afternoon was Schindler’s factory and the Jewish Quarter (Kazimierz). Though there are many buggies and coaches hawking the streets, keen to take tourists to such a destination, we chose to walk it on a beautiful sunny afternoon. It took us around 40 minutes, crossing the River Wista. Trip Advisor has mixed reviews of the Museum housed in the factory, but if you wish to learn about how the Jews were treated during the occupation of Krakow then this is the place to visit. You discover how Schindler managed to  save 1200 souls from the Nazis through evidence given by the factory workers of the day. You don’t learn much about the man himself and only a brief summary is given of him in the very last room. A sombre museum, it doesn’t have the same gut wrenching impact of the Museum of War Remnants in Ho Chi Minh City, though it does bring out the inhumanity the citizens of the ghetto faced and the callous way they were disposed of.

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Moving back across the river we found the Old Synagogue. We opted not to purchase a ticket to enter as we were preceded by a large school party and we preferred not to battle for positions at exhibits or shuffle behind a crocodile of students. We satisfied ourselves by meandering through the cobbled streets, disappointed that we didn’t come across any clearly recognisable Jewry.

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It was getting dark (and cold) as we returned to the Cloth Market where Sue bought herself a new spectacle case for her reading glasses. We found a restaurant just off the square and spent a couple of hours having our last Polish meal of this short break. Four days of Polish fayre is enough, you can have too much of gherkins, cabbage (in all its disguises) and large hunks of greasy meat.

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We returned to our hotel with an hour to go before pick-up, but as soon as we sat down to wait, our taxi arrived. The new Krakow airport was pretty straightforward to navigate but their security was fierce and like all airports that we have passed through, they don’t see the need to provide chairs so you can replace all those items you had to take off!!!

The flight left on time and was full. I sat next to a British concert pianist who was returning from an engagement in Krakow. We chatted for a while.

Very annoyingly a section of the A14 was shut and this meant a lengthy detour which added half an hour to the journey. It was 3am before we collapsed into bed.

This morning Sue went on a U3A walk (mad!), I was going to have a quiet day, but guilt forced me to sweep two bins of fallen leaves and take my bike to be repaired (the bottom bracket has broken). In the early hours of tomorrow I travel to Heathrow to pick-up the Rothwells from KL.

 

 

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