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The Street Art of Krakow, Poland

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Nearly half a year ago I was sitting in a small but lively hostel in Krakow, Poland when I made a promise to you, my readers.  I said that I was going to give you a virtual tour of the street art of Krakow.  I had not expected it to take me so long but the minute I left Poland I was logging adventures in Madrid and beyond.  Now, as I sit on my back porch on a sweltering summer day in Michigan, I am overjoyed to revisit the snowy streets of Krakow and share them with you.

“Street Art” is a common sight in many major European cities.  So is “tagging.”  Whereas street art draws parallels with great paintings and sculptures through its creativity and execution, tagging is most often analogous to a poorly written signature.  I will be devoting this post to works of art.  “Who decides what is art and what is not?” you may be thinking.  Well, that is a good question.  The answer is, “I do.”  So enjoy the street art of Krakow, Poland…

  I do not do this.  So I bring you this…

A piece with some of the many symbols of Poland (The eagle. The cross).

Just off the expressway, near the Communist block, there were some housing projects. Many of the buildings were adorned with art like this…

…and this.

Much of the art in the streets of Krakow has a strong sociopolitical message…

This is a stencil depicting the recently deceased Polish social activist Rafal Gorski. Krakow has a highly active political scene that is reflected in the street art.

This unhappy bunny is recognized as a symbol of opposition to the police force in Krakow.

Even bunnies against police can like carrots.

Anti-fascism is alive and well in Krakow, especially among anarchist artists.

Some artists use a positive message to inspire hope for the future.

The Guilded Arches

And some things are just for fun…

A young Audrey Hepburn.

Score. 1 UP!

Stencil of “Machete” star Danny Trejo.

In the future we will all wear haz-mat suits. We will also begin carrying boom boxes again. I can hardly wait.

Another bunny. This one does not have a strong opinion about police.

I would explain the symbolism here but it is pretty obvious. I don’t want to insult your intelligence.

Massive street art project near the outer edge of town.

And finally, my favorite piece…

The bionic, rocket launching deer.

Well, these photographs were gathered over a span of three weeks in Krakow.  They reminded me that I have at least a dozen more exciting adventures to share with you from my time the royal Polish capital.  I will tell you all about them soon.  Until then…

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Hasta Luego Poland. Hola España!

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Hola amigos!  Mañaña me voy a España.  Me gusta Krakow pero es necesario dejar ahora.  Yo tengo trabajar circa de Granada.  Ok, I am just trying to practice.  I think my Spanish is a little rusty.  So let me just do this the way I know best…

Hey everybody!  Well, tomorrow I finally leave Krakow after 17 fun and snow-filled days.  I enjoyed my last blizzard in Poland yesterday and celebrated Fat Thursday with many (too many) pazckis, kebabs, salads, fries, and my good friends here at the hostel.  As with every place I go, it will be sad to say goodbye but new adventures await.

Tomorrow morning I am flying from Krakow to Madrid, Spain.  I will be spending the day in Madrid before catching a bus to Granada.  Then I will spend the morning in Granada and head for my temporary residence in nearby Orviga to work on a farming co-op for three weeks.  Of course, all of these plans are merely guidelines that I hope to follow over the next twenty four or so hours.  What will really happen is probably going to be much more interesting than this.  I most likely will not have consistent internet availability but rest assured that when I have a chance I will fill you in on what I have learned and what has happened.  Until then…

Church on Sunday

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The cold spell is breaking here in Krakow and the crowds are coming out of hibernation.  I joined them and headed for my favorite part of the city, Old Town, on this sun-kissed morning.  I wasn’t really sure what I was looking for but I figured that at the very least I could go back to Wawel Hill and see what I had missed on my other trips there.

I reached the long path that leads up the hill, which was now filled with living statues and men in archaic Polish soldier uniforms, and climbed to the top.  I headed to the Visitor’s Center to see what exhibits were open today.  I had seen them all before but I couldn’t resist going into the Royal Armory and Treasury one more time.  I strolled through rooms filled with swords, axes, shields, maces, serving platters, home altars, cannons, and many other objects made of precious metals and adorned with delicate jewels.  For more on this warehouse of wonderful wares see my post “King of the Hill.”

There was on thing on top of this historic hill that I had not really explored yet: The Wawel Cathedral.  After the Sunday mass was finished I joined about fifty other tourists at the cathedral’s main entrance.  Beside the massive door, which was not unusual as cathedrals go, was something that I had never seen.  There, hanging from chains attached to the stone arch, were enormous bones from what I later found out were prehistoric animals discovered near Wawel Hill.

The rusted chains and yellowing bones gave me the impression that this would be some sort of rustic, decomposing cathedral.  That was not the case.  I entered and had almost no idea where to begin.  Every inch of this church was packed with polish and shine.  I stood just inside the door and as I looked back I could hardly believe that on the other side of the granite and gold arches that rose to the cieling there were mastadon bones hanging on rusty chains.

From the walls of the nave flew bright red and white tapestries depicting Biblical stories.  Below one of them, on the left side, was the first of many memorials in the cathedral.  This one was a cenotaph of red marble, topped with a statue of a young man with a lion sleeping at his feet.  Then I found out just how young this king was.  In 1434, at the age of ten, Wladyslaw of Varna became King of Poland.  Before his teenage years were over he had been crowned the King of Hungary as well.  At the age of nineteen Wladyslaw launched a war against the Turks.  Less than one year later he was killed in the Battle of Varna on the shores of The Black Sea.  His body was never found and all that remains of him is this memorial in The Wawel Cathedral.

In the center, though, was a memorial that dwarfed that of the boy king.  It is known as The Reliquary of Saint Stanislaus. Stanislaus was the Bishop of Krakow from 1072 until 1079.  Near the end of his time in that position he challenged the reign of King Boleslaw Smialy on the grounds that he was an unjust ruler.  Boleslaw demonstrated his idea of justice by immediately having the future saint executed.  Now, when walking into the cathedral on top of Wawel Hill the gold coffin of Saint Stanislaus, decorated with an etching of the interior of the cathedral, hovers above a raised platform protected by two angels holding a sword and scepter.  As for King Boleslaw, he was later dethroned by his own soldiers and buried in an unmarked grave.

As I approached the high altar I was impressed by its relative simplicity.  There was a small wooden podium on red carpet.  Tapestries of trees and lakes hung from above the choir.  There were two thing, however, that stood out.  On the right side of the altar was a chair.  This was no ordinary chair, though.  It was upholstered with red velvet on the seat.  The arms were carved with angel faces for the priest to rest his hands on.  The back of the chair was primarily gold sculpted into stylized floral patterns.  Similar patterns of red and green detailed the back of this throne.

To the left of the high altar was a door that led to a hall which wound around the back of the altar and then ended up on the other side of it.  This hallway was closed off by high walls and numerous chapels devoted to kings and saints.  After seeing the sarcophagus of the king who started this necropolis of Polish royalty I was confronted with the stark figure of Christ on the cross.  The statue and the pillars that enclosed it were all made of black stone.  Only the capitals atop the pillars and a halo behind the head of Christ were made of gold.  This figure of the Christ was so striking that many people have said it spoke to them.  One person in particular meant it literally, though.  Saint Jadwiga, who was the Queen of Poland in the late 14th century, often prayed at the foot of this figure of Christ.  One day she claimed that the statue began talking to her.  The statue has now become know as Saint Jadwiga’s Cross and her relics have been placed at the statues feet.

I followed the hall until I was directly behind the altar.  On the wall were two arches, each containing a group of figures made of white stone.  They each contained two men sitting on the ground looking up in terror while next two them stand two women looking up in cool complacency.  Above them are angels and below them are skulls with crossbones.  I don’t know what the story behind these two scenes is and it not even marked on the tourist guide for the cathedral.  Aesthetically, though, this was one of my favorite pieces.

I followed the hall way back to the other side of the high altar.  Near the exit I saw candles surrounding the entrance to the final chapel and a group of women crying as they looked inside.  This was the chapel devoted to Pope John Paul II, or as he was known in his native Poland, Karol Józef Wojtyła.  I stood in front of the chapel for awhile and did not see a single person pass without going into it and saying a prayer.  He is clearly everyone’s favorite Pope here in Krakow, which is not surprising considering his rise in the church despite the many obstacles he faced during the Nazi invasion of Poland.  And, of course, he was the first non-Italian Pope in almost 500 years and the only Polish Pope to date.

I would have like to share a few photos with you but photography is not allowed in Wawel Cathedral.  I guess you will just have to come see it for yourself when you visit Poland.  It has been quite a great day full of adventure.  If I have time later I will tell you all about the rest of my day but for now I think the story ends here.  Until our next adventure…

I Think I’m Krakowing Up

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I have been in Krakow, Poland for about a week and a half.  I have spent a good deal of that time wandering the city streets and noticing the things that make this city what it is.  So here, in no particular order, is a bullet list of some things I like or have noticed about Krakow.

– Driving on the sidewalk.  At first, I did not like this because as cars came barreling down on me I was quite sure this is how it was going to end for Action Jack.  It turns out that due to how few parking lots there are in Krakow most parking is done on the sidewalks.  So, of course, it necessary for some amount of driving to be done on the sidewalk while securing a spot.

– Big hats.  How can you not be happy when you are walking down the street and everybody is wearing a big, furry hat with ear flaps?

– Pierogies.  In Krakow I can get more pierogies than I can eat (12-15) for the equivalent of about $3 U.S.  Of course, if you get the ones that are made at the deli and cook them yourself you can get even more.  Be careful, though, because if you try to microwave them they might turn out like my dinner last night…

Sad supper is sad

– Royal walks.  There are a number of “routes” here in Krakow that were designed while this was the royal capitol of Poland.  These paths are the width of streets but were created so that the king could walk like… well, like royalty.  But today even us peasants get to enjoy the regal parks and paths.

– Seriously strapped police.  I don’t really know that I like this but I could not help but notice it.  Many of the “policje” in Poland are armed with assault rifles.  I suppose that as long as they are fair and honest cops there is no harm in this practice.  I have heard a few stories that have me wondering whether this should make me more or less comfortable.

– Police peel outs.  While we are on the subject of the Polish patrol I have to mention a pretty common occurrence I have noticed here in Krakow.  It appears that part of their job is somewhat similar to a Hollywood stunt driver.  Especially in the main market square on snowy days, they practice their stunt driving by peeling out around corners, and even once doing a full doughnut as onlookers were simultaneously entertained and terrified.

– Totally rockin’.  Ok, so I don’t know that all of Krakow likes to rock but I had an experience on Tuesday night that must be mentioned.  I was watching a movie in the common room at my hostel when I got invited to a party.  The party was at the home of a girl who works at the hostel.  They called a cab and we headed over to the party.  I met a few really great people who were happy to show off their English (and their American friend) by acting as sort of personal translator for me at the party.  Then I found a way to speak a more universal language.  I admired the electric bass guitar of one of the occupants and then they invited me to play for them.  I started out with the most bass-heavy song I know, Green Day’s “Longview,” and proceeded by singing and playing about a dozen songs I had never played on a bass guitar.  They must have thought it was alright, though, because the next morning, as they picked themselves up off the floor where they passed out the night before, I played another full set of songs for an appreciative audience while we sipped on our cups of tea.  And now, every time I see the girl at the front desk she talks about that night and asks me to sing a song for her.  It has become kind of an inside joke and has made me feel really at home in a faraway place.

– Nestle Lions.  These are pretty much the kings of the candy bar jungle.  They incorporate all the best parts of Kit Kats, Milky Ways, and Nestle Crunch bars.

– Snow capped everything.  I imagine that the sites in Krakow look quite beautiful on a seventy degree day in the glimmering summer sunlight.  But if it’s going to be cold, you might as well have snow, right?  Well, I got snow.  So now when I see statues here they look like this…

Well, I am sure I will continue to add to this list so keep a look out.  I have a couple adventures left before I leave Krakow next week.  Until then…

A Video Tour Through Krakow’s Market Square

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I was walking through the main square in Krakow, Poland’s Old Town when I realized that pictures just didn’t give a feel of what it was like to be here.  So I made a little video as I walked around the square and through the market.  The video starts in front of the Adam Mickiewicz Monument.  From there you get a look at the Saint Mary’s Basilica.  Then we take a quick tour through the Sukkienice, or Cloth Hall.  On the other side of the hall we see the Old Town Tower and, finally, we end at the “Eros Bendato,” or “Sideways Head.”  Here is the link to the video:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kN0I-ka_pnI&feature=youtu.be

I hope you enjoy it and I am working on a little “Best Of” piece for later this evening.

A Day For the Dogs

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This afternoon I went for a walk in the communist part of Krakow.  Let me not drag this out.  Here is what the communist part of town looks like:

Now imagine this for miles and miles.  Ok, that was my adventure in communist Krakow.  The history is infinitely more interesting than the architecture but I have another story I want to tell today (or maybe two stories).

After leaving the communist side of town I went down to the Vistula River and descended the stairs leading to the path that runs alongside it.  As I walked I thought about what it might be like when I get to Spain.  I thought about how lucky I was to get invited to stay in Sweden after I leave Spain.  I guess I was just thinking about how good life is sometimes.  I thought about how happy I am that I will never have to look back and wonder what might have been if I had taken some risks.  I am taking them.  In that spirit I decided to take one more.  I threw a few rocks on the iced river.  I kicked it and jabbed it with some sticks. I chipped away a few inches of ice and was satisfied that it would hold me.  So I took one hesitant step off the shore.  Then another.  I stood three inches from the riverbank for a few seconds.  Sure, it was silly.  Maybe even dumb.  In reality it wasn’t really any more of a risk than I’ve taken every time I’ve gone ice fishing.  But it felt good.  It felt risky.  I thought, “I am probably the only person in Poland standing on the Vistula River right now.”  My unadventurous walk through the communist part of town somehow felt redeemed with these few steps.

I returned to the river walk and my previous thoughts.  Then, I climbed the stairs and as I entered the streets of Krakow I saw a statue.  It was a dog.  Being the dog lover that I am it drew me in.  There was a plaque underneath the statue and I hoped there would be something in English on it.  There was.  It was a moving story about a man and his dog, told in three sentences.  This memorial statue was built to honor a dog named Dzok.  His owner had died at the roundabout near this spot in early 1990.  Dzok waited at the roundabout for his owner to return for a full year.  One could argue that this dog was being silly.  Maybe even dumb.  But to Dzok it felt right.  All I could think was, “Good dog, Dzok.  Good dog.  You only get one life and you should spend it doing whatever you want to do the most.”  I pet his cold metal paw and continued my walk, though with an entirely different set of thoughts than I had at the start.

I wandered around Krakow for another hour gathering photos for an upcoming post on Krakow graffiti artists then headed back to the hostel.  I went to the common area and made a snack and talked with one of the guys who is staying here.  We started talking music and before long he told me he was a percussionist.  I was like, “me too.”  I later found out that he was a percussionist and I was a drummer from a rock band, though he was kind enough not point this out.  He told me about the instrument he is currently studying, the cajon.  It is a wooden box that you sit on and play with your hands.  I have seen them all over Europe and as he went up to his room to get his I was pretty excited that I was going to have a chance to finally play one.

He walked into the room with a cajon in one hand and a didgeridoo in the other.  This just got all kinds of awesome.  He showed me the basics of the cajon and told me to go ahead.  I beat the box, which mimics a bass drum, a snare, or bongos, depending on where and how you hit it.  I started getting comfortable and found a nice groove.  He picked up the didgeridoo and started wailing away on it.  We jammed for a while and he showed me how to play some basic flamenco beats on the cajon.  Then he really blew me away.  He propped up the didgeridoo and sat on the cajon.  “No way this is going to happen,” I thought.  But it did.  His face turned red as he blew into the aboriginal instrument and accompanied himself with the flamenco rhythm box.  After he stopped he told me that he would be sitting in with a couple friends tomorrow night at a music club and I ought to come by.  He even told me I could sit in if I’d like.  I’m not sure I am of the same caliber as this trio of percussionists that will be performing but I am pretty sure I will at least go to cheer them on.  If you want to hear him here is a link to a Youtube video of him playing the cajon with a guitarist in Krakow’s main public square.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OOLxxTjQBjg&feature=related

Well, once again the adventure happened not where I looked for it, but where it found me.  I always just seem to be in the right  place at the right time.  Who would have thought the right place would have been at a little hostel on the south side of Krakow, Poland?  Well, until our next adventure…

And here a few pics from the day’s travels:

  The Most Kotlarski, a 127 million dollar bridge built in 2001.

 

 A controversial statue memorializing the 144 World War One soldiers of the Polish Legion.  The sculptures creator, Czeslaw Dzwigaj, has been accused of copying a statue that is displayed in Kielce, Poland, which was created by a man who served in the Legion.

 The Stanislaw Science and Technology Academy.  They specialize in mining and metallurgy.

King of the Hill

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When I hit the sidewalk this morning I noticed something was different.  It wasn’t the cold.  That was still here.  It wasn’t the icy sidewalks.  They didn’t go anywhere while I slept.  It was the hundreds of people gathered across the street from my hostel.  Apparently on Sundays there is a massive open air market in the Kazimierz District.  There were fur coats, sweaters, coffees, and sweets filling the usually empty square that I see when I look out my window at night.  I took a quick peek but today I had a goal.  I was going to the Royal Wawel Castle on Wawel Hill.  Wawel Hill became the home of Polish royalty in the 11th century but there is evidence that people have existed there since the Paleolithic Age (around 50,000 years ago).  Today I would join the ranks of those who at one time or another looked out over the city of Krakow from atop this mound of limestone.  Unfortunately, I found out last night that the Crown Treasury and Armory was not open on Sunday, which is “everybody gets in free day.”  This building within the walled fortress of Wawel Hill holds one of the largest stockpiles of weapons in the world and, among other national treasures, the Sczcerbiec Sword.  I have plenty of time left here, though, and if I want to see it bad enough I will come back.

I stepped foot on the path that ran around the high stone and brick walls of the castle just as the church bells struck 11 o’clock.  As I rounded the first corner I looked out and saw the Vistula River as it flows towards the north side of Krakow.

I hadn’t even entered the Hill proper and already I was impressed.  The disappointment I felt about the Polish Crown Treasury and Armory would not be open today faded and I circled the walls until I found the Visitor Information Office.  Even if I couldn’t see the Szczerbiec Sword, whose legend had held Poland together during its many periods of fragmentation, I knew I was going to see something today.

Even though Sundays were free I needed a ticket to get into any of the buildings.  I went to the ticket office and got in line for my ticket to see the State Rooms and the archaeological site that has been converted into a museum, known as The Lost Wawel.  I browsed the pamphlets I had picked up as I waited and the Treasury and Armory was mentioned on every page.  “I have to come back,” I thought.  If for no other reason than The Sczcerbiec Sword, I had to come back.  The legend says that Boleslaus the Brave chipped this sword on the Golden Gate of Kiev when he captured the city in 1018.  This chip gave the sword its name, which translates as “The Notched Sword.”  The legend is most likely false but this sword was used at the coronation of Polish kings for hundreds of years, until 1764.  It was used by the kings of Poland to symbolize a single continuous dynasty (The Piast line) that began with Boleslaus.  Even after the sword had stopped being used to induct new kings it stood as a symbol of Polish pride and heritage.  It is all that remains of the Polish Crown Jewels, most of which were melted down by various conquerors of the fragmented Poland.  It is so important that two days after the outbreak of World War Two it was shipped, along with other priceless artifacts, from Wawel Castle to be guarded.  It traveled to Romania and then France.  While it was being shipped from France to England the ship that was carrying The Sczcerbiec Sword came under attack from Hitler’s Luftwaffe.  The men guarding the sword removed it from its case and packed it between two wooden planks so that even if the ship sank the sword might survive.  It eventually made its way to the Polish Embassy in Canada and was returned to Wawel Castle in 1959.

So, anyway, I got to the front of the line and asked the woman at the counter if she spoke English.  “A little bit,” she said.  So I asked for a ticket.  She told me that there were only two Exhibitions open today and then pointed to the sign.  No State Rooms, I guess.  Oh, but instead they went ahead and opened up the CROWN TREASURY AND ARMORY!  I was going to see everything I wanted after all (and as it turns out a whole lot more).  I got my tickets and had to run.  The tickets only gave you admission during certain times.

I got to the Lost Wawel exhibit in the Rotunda of the Blessed Virgin Mary after a little accidental detour.  As I descended into the caverns of the Rotunda everything grew quiet and dark.  I followed the path that hovered above the ruins of the basement.  The crumbled arches stood above fallen walls.  I bumped the rail and the thud echoed like a gunshot.  I imagined what these rooms looked like when they were built in the 10th century.  I bet they were filled with drapery and decoration befitting the royalty who frequented them.  I daydreamed about being the King of Poland and coming into one of these rooms to sign some great document that would be equal in magnitude to the United States Constitution or the Magna Carta.  I would have used a quill pen and my Polish would be perfect.  Instead, I was scribbling notes on an index card and still trying to figure out how to say “I’m sorry” in this very foreign language.  To bury my dreams even deeper, I then found out that these rooms were actually used as stables and kitchens.  I briefly daydreamed about cleaning up animal crap and cooking a bunch of people food.  Then I remembered that I have spent most of my life doing these things so I could probably just visit another part of the architectural reserve.

After taking a second round through the Rotunda I checked my clock and saw that I only had ten minutes to get to the Treasury building.  I hightailed it out of there and scrambled across the Hill to the home of Sczcerbiec.  I pulled open the huge wooden door with both hands and gave my ticket to the greeter.  I went through the metal detector and entered the first room on the main floor.  Now, I am not a huge “weapons guy” but this was awesome.  All along the walls of this room were dozens of two-handed swords, ornamented hunting javelins, and battle axes with spears at the end of them.  They were from all over Europe and decorated with floral patterns, human figures, stylized letters, and variant coats of arms.

I went into the second room and this stuff was clearly of an even higher quality.  Behind the glass were long, thin cavalry swords, curved sabres, gold and silver daggers, shields, and helmets.  I was becoming at least a medium sized “weapons guy” as I stood there.  The next room had Bohemian pistols from the 16th century, wooden crossbows with mother-of-pearl inlay, rifles with a muzzle like bell bottom jeans, hunting swords with built in pistols, and a rifle that was longer than I am tall.  If I was a huge “weapons guy” this would be my huge weapon of choice.  After seeing the lances and the scale armor with gold emblems on every scale I headed for the basement.

I hit the musty cellar and was taunted by the battle drums that screamed “touch me” but had a sign that said “don’t touch me.”  The rest of the room was filled with battle axes, tiny portable cannons, pitchforks, and a menacing piece of weaponry.  It was a steel pole that had a foot long chain at the end of it.  Attached to that foot long chain was slender block of wood with a dozen steel spikes protruding in every direction.  I would have rather been slashed with the battle axe than face this contraption.

After visiting the rest of the basement I went for the top floor.   Hadn’t seen The Sword yet so I knew it was up here somewhere.  In the main room at the top of the Treasury is some serious booty.  Maybe the Crown Jewels of Poland did not survive but they certainly had a few jewels that did.  There were gold clocks with emeralds and Conk shells transformed into silver bedazzled chalices.  They had ivory steins with gold trim and home altars of gold, silver, ivory, emeralds, and rubies.

Then I entered a room with only four pieces and its own guard.  At eye level in the center there was a case with a sword.  I knew that had to be it but I didn’t want to look.  Not yet, anyway.  I took a few minutes looking at recent coronation swords and ceremonial shoes.  Then I took a breath and went for the case.  I saw the notch just above the hilt and I knew that was it.  That was The Sczcerbiec Sword.  Above the notch was the Polish eagle.  The hilt and cross guard were made of intertwined gold and silver.  The black niello engravings were so intricate I could not imagine how they all fit on the tiny handle, which made it obvious that this sword was not a fighting sword.  There were saints, cows, lambs, birds, leaves, vines, and letters carved into this ceremonial sword.  I looked closely at the blade and could see the tiny imperfections that came from overcleaning in preparation for a coronation.  I would go from one side to the other, comparing them in hopes that I might discover which was superior.  I probably spent a little too much time with my nose to the glass because eventually a second security guard came in and I felt that it was probably time for me to leave.

So I walked out of the Polish Crown Treasury and Armory feeling like I was one bad dude.  In fact, here is a picture of me strutting out of the courtyard and into the streets of Krakow.

As I strutted down the street I saw an old man playing an accordion.  I thought about how much my fingers hurt after taking off my gloves just to snap a couple pictures so I went over and watched him play for a while.  Then I left him a few zloty and felt very grateful that I was able to have the incredible experience I had today.  Now, I am sitting in a room that looks like a children’s daycare facility and looking out my window into the once-again empty square across the street.  It was a day for adventure and if you actually read all this I hope you shared in my excitement.  Well, until our next adventure…

P.S.  Here are a few pics I snapped from/around Wawel Hill.

The only water coming up from the Vistula.  Time for a Sunday bath for these feathery fellas (and ladies).

In the background is The Wawel Cathedral.  In its basement is where Pope John Paul II gave his first sermon.  What a rock star!  Starts in the underground.  A few people like his stuff.  Gets famous.  Changes his name.  Has millions of fans around the world.

I stuck my hand out of the fortress window and this is what I got.  Mostly, I’m glad I didn’t drop my camera.

This is Wawel Hill from the north.

The American Consulate in Krakow.  I only included this because I did not spend fifteen minutes getting cussed out by the Policja for nothing.  Also, don’t take pictures of the American Consulate.  It is illegal.

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