Wednesday, July 16, 2008

When you look at the pictures of Auschwitz, keep in mind that these are only a portion of what people found after the Nazi's destroyed almost everything that could link them to these crimes. Meanwhile, here is an attempt at explaining what these pictures represent and a little history lesson.

Okay, to start off you have picture of the hostel; where I stayed. Most importantly is the view from the front entrance. What you see here is the largest market area of any city in Europe. It is called the Main Market and was planned in 1257 and measures 200x200 square meters. The building you see is that food storage warehouses and indoor market places.

The old town is surrounded by a greenbelt consisting of paths, a bike path, and is entirely shaded by big old trees. Remember this city was never bombed, so all of this is original. When you get off the train station, it is only a 5-10 minute walk to "old town."

Before I get to that though-- I must mention the shopping center. As it is attached to the train station, I stopped by. Actually there are two within waking distance of old town, both similar but this one is AMAZING. I have never been to a shopping center nicer and with better shopping then this!!! I think it might even be a Simon property- because the logo's are similar if not the same. Imagine the best of American, German etc companies and store. It was fab!

Anyway, the first thing after the green belt you see are roads made up of stones. The first building you see is the Barbican (1498). This is the largest and best preserved building of its kind in all of Europe. It used to be surrounded by a moat!

Meanwhile, About 50 feet from that is the old city entrance- which has the old city walls attached. The archway is really cool- however directly upon entering the old city is nothing else but a McDonald's. I managed NOT to get that in the picture!! If you turn right after coming through the gate, you see the original wall. It is now where the best artists of the city put their work- and it's for sale. What is also interesting is that there is a chapel built into the wall. reme,ber, of course that Poland is something like 99% Catholic. It used to also be Jewish of course, but.... The country is very homogeneous. It is apparent that most Poles are blonde....

Anyway, if you remember there was a delay in getting these pictures posted because I forgot the cord in Lodz? Anyway, I walked FOREVER to the Galarie (which is a mall) looking for a Saturn store (which is like Bestbuy) and never found it--despite the fact I had been toldby people that it was there. My feet hurt, I was pissed, and then I found out that it was at the Galarie--but the OTHER one (the one connected to the train station-which, since I had taken a cab upon arrival, had not seen).

Anyway, I decided to rent a bike. Much better! I got around faster and my feet did not hurt! However, the bikes in Krakow suck! They are like 1940 bikes. Regardless, it was much better than walking. Because I was on a bike, you have many more pictures than you would have- because I got to more places in one day! I made it to the Wavel, which is at the very bottom of Old town, looking over the river. By comparison, the Barbican is at the top of old town. The Wavel was the residence of Polish Kings. It only lost that title, because Krakow lost the title of Capitol City to Warsaw somewhere in the early 1600's.

I did not go inside any Wavel rooms. They only allow 10 tickets per alloted tour time, and there were sold out at 3pm. It's also expensive, because tickets are sold separately for state rooms, the church, the private rooms etc...

I did want to point out one other thing before retiring for the time being.....Look at the picture I took of the view from the Wavel....notice the mound? Now look, I zoomed in so you could see it better....This is called the Kosciuszko Mound ("Mound" from here on out). In 1820 people planted a tree on this mound and placed earth in the shape of a spiral. This is the symbolic burial place of Thadeus Kosciuszko, a Polish freedom figher (and American national hero according to people here???) .

Ok, my fingers hurt from typing. More later.


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