Saturday, June 17, 2017

As far back as I can remember my mum has forever wanted to visit two places; Holland (which we visited a few years back) and Poland, to visit Auschwitz. After years of saying "we should", we finally did! I've split my time into two posts, for those who may want to only see the sights of Krakow. Or those who are (also) interested in seeing Auschwitz and Birkenau.

Most of our time was spent around the Krakow Market Square. It was only a short walk from our hotel and is where we ate nearly every day/night.
My sister and I.
My mum and I.

As you can probably tell. I was fascinated with the architecture and any religious/ancient depictions I could see. Even though I wouldn't consider myself religious, I'm a little obsessed with Catholic art and sculptures. 

So as you can imagine, much to my delight. We discovered a convent literally a few buildings down from our hotel. The small grounds of the courtyard were so peaceful. My eyes were immediately drawn to the haloed and sorrowful Virgin Mary in the center of it all. 

The day we eventually got around to visiting the Wawel Royal Castle, was an extremely overcast and pretty miserable day. But on occasion, I think for such a grand Gothic creation such as this, deserves a dramatic sky as a background!

Near the Castle, you'll find The Dragon Of Wawel Hill. A bronze statue that breathes real life fire! The Dragon is a very important symbol in Polish folklore. I believe with all folklores, there are many different versions. The tale we were told, is that the Dragon caused havoc all over the city. Eating livestock, and often the occupants own lives would be at risk of being eaten by the fearsome dragon. A plan was to be made to rid the city of the creature. But it was not an easy task. Many skilled and brave knights had failed to slay the dragon. In fearing his own life, and the lives of his family. The King promised his daughter's hand in marriage to anyone who finally managed to bring down the beast. Yet still no great warriors, from far and wide could defeat it. Then one day, a poor cobbler hatched a plan. He filled a lambskin with a sulphur mixture. When once consumed, would burn the stomach of the dragon, making it extremely thirsty. The dragon being greedy, snapped up the tampered lamb. It's stomach began to ache, so it went to the find relief at the Vistula River. Even after drinking almost half of the entire river, all that was happening was the dragon's stomach was swelling. It swelled so much from so vast amounts of water, it eventually exploded! Because of the cobbler's success, he married the King's daughter as promised, and like most of these stories; "They lived happily ever after...".

An unexpected highlight of this trip was the Oskar Schindler's Enamel Factory. We decided to get a proper touristy red bus tour, as it would take us around the city and only cost us one set price for 24/48hrs. We randomly decided to get off at this stop, and even though we ended up queuing and therefore having to rush around to make it back in time for the bus. It was an extremely interesting museum. Sadly I only took minimal photos, as we were short on time. I'd highly recommend this to anyone interested in World War II history or Nazi memorabilia! 

This is the indoor market at the Market Square. Where we bought last minute souvenirs and had a look at what Polish delights there was on offer!

Before we left Scotland, I had read many times about the wonderful Flea Market in the Jewish quarter of the city. But it was such a horrid day, there was barely anyone there! We saw quite a few stalls selling Nazi memorabilia and a few low budget antique stalls. A woman who noticed me wearing a fur trimmed cardigan tried to get me to buy her fur stoles. 
But finally, I found a lovely little stall selling vintage costume jewelry. Where I managed to buy these screw back earrings for around £2/3!

Before leaving, I had also read about three vintage shops. But went we went hunting for them, we only came across one.. and what a lovely shop it was! For any vintage fans out there, I'd recommend this little gem.
Sadly for me, most of the clothes I liked were on the big side. But I did purchase these cute little leather gloves for around £12, so I still walked away very happy!

All in all it was a lovely trip. The perfect mixture of old and new.
(Apart from the anti-abortion and anti-gay protest we stumbled upon, but I'm not going into that. As it made me cry!)
If you're a fan of gothic architecture, strong cocktails, and dragons; 
I'd say Krakow is definitely for you!  

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