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New Website, New Blog, but the Old Blog Archive remains: September 28, 2023

After many years of wanting a real website, this month I finally have a website designed by the very knowledgeable Rey Rey Rodriguez ( TheMindOfReyRey ). My old blog,  Vacation-Travel-Adventure  continues with the same address but it is located in the "Archives" tab on my new website . The new blog which is a continuation but with much better resolution for 4K screens, it is now at .

Krakow, Poland: June 26-July 1, 2013

Rynek Glowny on a partly sunny day

Strangely, it is less expensive and easier to fly to Poland than it is to fly anywhere in Ukraine so, we went to Krakow to celebrate our anniversary (24th) and my birthday (59th).  We found that it wasn't as easy to get into Poland as we expected.  We were two Americans among a plane load of Ukrainians and a handful of EU passports.  We paid extra for the extra-long legroom seats which put us in the middle of the plane.  When the doors opened we were trapped in our seats by the aisle-seat guy who wasn't in a hurry to deplane as he had an EU passport.  Once the Ukrainian passport holders exited the front and rear doors of the plane, they sprinted to the Polish immigration windows.  We were the last passengers off, and therefore, the last people in line behind all the Ukrainian passports.  There was one window dedicated to EU passports and 4 for "all passports."  We watched the EU passport window close after passing the few EU passport holders through.  Then, we saw him open to clear a new plane of passengers with EU passports.  Then, he closed again.  It took us an hour to get to the immigration window because Polish immigration scrutinized every Ukrainian passport holder.  As we viewed the scene, Polish Immigration Agents were rather passive-aggressive toward the Ukrainians.

We visited Krakow during a cool spell.  The calendar said summer, but the temperatures felt like early winter.  Fortunately, we were prepared and brought our entire winter wardrobe: rain jackets and sweaters (1 each)--it wasn't quite enough.  We still explored.  The architecture of the old city is splendid.

From 1964 to 1978, Archbishop Karol Wojtyła who later became Pope John Paul II, lived on this street in the yellow building on the left visible in the above photo. 

Rain or shine, day or night horse carriages line up along one side of Rynek Glowny (Market Square).  The horses are beautiful, healthy, and lovely to watch.

One evening, we chose an elegant, understated carriage with a matched team for a ride around the old city.  It is a peaceful way to move through the city streets with the hypnotic klippity-klop of hooves on cobblestone.  The two horses are brothers, 11 and 9 years old.  In addition to the driver, there is a driver's assistant whose job it is to catch the horse shit before it hits the road.  The most import tool of this trade is a long-handled scoop.  The scoop part of the tool is a wire loop fitted with a heavy-duty garbage bag.   Our driver's assistant was very skilled, and whenever he sensed the slight raise of a tail, he quickly positioned the long-handled scoop under the appropriate orifice.  Once the horse finished, the driver's assistant pulled the scoop back to the carriage to remove the now hot, smelly bag and ready the tool for the next elimination.  There were four such episodes on our 45-minute ride and while the assistant never missed, carriage passengers do sit downwind.

What happens if the assistant isn't a skilled scooper?  We were witnesses to the results of just such an ill-positioned scoop.  The carriage stopped, and the assistant, dustpan and short broom in hand,  squatted down and swept the street clean.

Me, still 58, with my Prince Charming

After a couple of days, the sun began to show itself and the energy of the city changed.  The end of school came with the end of June bringing more families to the square.

 View of the Wawel Castle and the Wisla River

Inside the Wawel Castle, we visited some of the State Rooms, the Treasury, and viewed the "Woman with an Ermine" by Leonardo DaVinci.

 The 15th-century Altar in St. Mary's Basilica (Mariacki Church)

In our Krakow wanderings, we visited churches, synagogues, the Wieliczka Salt Mine (very hokey), and museums. Krakow is a great city for walking, eating, and people watching.

On June 29, we visited Auschwitz-Birkenau.