Also this year I am flying to Kraków, just for two days. I want to see my friends and share a cheese fondue with them. I also intend to visit some of my favorite places.
Friday morning – 4 am – this IS early
The alarm clock wakes me up at 4am. This IS early. The taxi driver talks about the philosophy of the Dervishes and about how much he wished tolerance between religions in this world – he is from Konya. I agree with him.
Shortly after 9 am my plane lands in Kraków airport. The new airport is now in use – there is much space and all is modern. Perhaps Berlin should come and learn from the Krakówians, how to complete building an airport… An hour later I am already in the city center.
The yoghurt with nuts and honey in the Magia Coffee Bar strengthens me
The Magia is one of my favorite coffee bars in Kraków. The internet welcomes me immediately. I am hungry and order the yoghurt with nuts and honey – delicious as always. I feel better after my early flight.
The Christmas market on the Rynek
The Christmas market is busy. The Krakówians have set up a colorful Christmas tree in front of St. Mary’s cathedral.
The weather must have been very windy – some of the angels are hanging heads down.
I stroll amidst tourists. The dragon or smok of Kraków is omnipresent, in all colors. I did not know that dragons can be black and pink and even purple as well… are dragons not green “in reality”?
It is chilly and I take a Zurek (a sour rye flour soup) to warm me up.
Saying hello to some of my favorite places in Stare Miasto
I enter St. Mary’s Church for a short moment of reflection, slender through the Sukiennice (Cloth Hall from Renaissance times) and sadly look at the tower that remained from the old 14th century townhall (Ferdinand of Vienna and Habsburg, why did you destroy this town hall in 1820?). I move on to the old university of 1364 (Collegium Maius). Then I stop in the solemnity of the gothic Franciscan church and admire the gorgeous modern art window “Become” by Wyspianski.
The baroque Peter and Paul Church is being renovated. There is a youth choir festival in Kraków and young groups are singing in this church.
The romanesque Saint Andrews Church is next to St. Peter and Paul’s church.
Continuing to Kazimierz, the former Jewish quarter
Walking by the Wawel castle I enter Kazimierz, the former Jewish city. I reflect woefully what I had read in my faithful guide book, when eating my yoghurt with nuts this morning: Former Kraków was a tolerant city. Christians (from catholic and orthodox belief), Muslims and Jews lived together peacefully, and later, also protestants joined. Poland guaranteed the freedom of belief in 1573 (Source: M. Niedzielska and Jan Szurmant:”Krakau”, Michael Müller Verlag 2011). Then in 1697, a hundred years later, August the Strong from Saxony converted to catholism, when he was elected king of Poland. Today we perceive Poland as being a Roman catholic country. And here in Kazimierz I am reminded of what has happened to the Jewish community in the 1930s and 1940s. I always feel guilty for that.
Today, I discover Jewish life again: The Kupa Synagogue has been reopened, and visitors are invited. I have never been in a synagogue before and enter respectfully.
This is the view from the second floor where the women pray.
There is a photo exhibition here. I am impressd by this statement:
I wish we would find back to tolerance – as wished my taxi driver from Konya early this morning. Happily I say good-bye to this small synagogue that I hope will be another sustainable start for tolerance, not only in Poland, but also in this world. And I do hope that especially Poland might find back to its earlier roots, when people with various religions and from various countries lived together here. And when it was a center of European culture and education.
Tea in the Czajowina and a walk along the Wisla
It is chilly and I need to warm up again. I have an Assam tea in the cosy Czajowina in Józefa street. There are so many cosy coffee and tea places in Kraków and this is one of my favorite.
At four pm it is already dark. I walk down to the Wisla and follow it. The white Stanislaus church on the rock shines in the dark.
I walk around the Wawel hill to catch up with Kanonicza street. This morning I had also learnt that the last years of the golden age of Kraków happened during Renaissance and that king Sigismund I had taken his wife from the Sforza family in Milano. She hired Italian architects and consequently the Kanonicza street with its Renaissance palaces could be located in Italy, but no, we are in Kraków right now.
The history of towns is present in their architecture, and I always discover more of the history of Kraków, when I return.
With Radek, I close the day in the Sushi restaurant Zen near the Rynek. We have not seen one another for a year, there is a lot to chat. I look forward to another day in Kraków and our fondue evening.