Category Archives: Poland

Poland – Part 10: Journey To Krakow, Wawel Hill, and The Dragon

June 23, 5:10AM

At 5:10AM, a huge clap of thunder woke us all with a start.  Groaning,  moaning, and uttering expletives… we tried to go back to sleep, but the thunder storm and heavy rain raged all around us.

And then, eventually, the storm moved off…finally, we could sleep…

…but before it could happen, one by one, our alarm clocks started to go off.  It was time to leave.

Grumbling, lights flicked on, and we headed to the washrooms and showers…

6:12AM

A few people reported that there was some food missing from the hostel kitchen.  Tom and Tara reported half a carton of chocolate milk had been pilfered, and half of Linn’s salami was missing.

Apparently, some of the guests thought we wouldn’t mind sharing.  Or there was a mix up.

Either way, it didn’t improve anyone’s mood.

Not long after, we packed up our stuff, got on the bus, and left Wroclaw for Krakow.

10:27AM

We had been on the bus for a few hours, and I had been trying (unsuccessfully) to take a nap.  I eventually gave up, and I joined in with a bunch of the group who were quizzing each other on Canadian provinces and U.S. states.

It turns out that I know relatively little about Canadian provinces, and next to nothing about U.S. states.  Hmph.

Eventually, we pulled over at a rest stop.  I took the opportunity to try some of the local junk food, and purchased two chocolate bars – a “Corny Big” and a “3Bit”.  They tasted better than they sound.

Tamara also took the opportunity to tell us how the rest of the trip was going to work.  She also lightly condemned the last hostel, which was clearly not to her liking.

While talking about the rest of the trip, she mentioned that she had arranged for us to visit Auschwitz for the next morning.  The group got quiet.  Tamara also said that she had left open the possibility of visiting the Wieliczka Salt Mines after Auschwitz, but that it would really depend on our mood.  We would probably be upset after Auschwitz, and would want to go home and rest.

12:30PM

We arrived at the hostel around 11:30PM, and man, what a difference!  The place was absolutely spartan, the rooms were gorgeous, the views were incredible… we were quite happy, as you can see:

Yev and Alexi, posing in the Krakow hostel!

Close

Yev and Alexi, posing in the Krakow hostel!23-Jun-2009 06:38, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 3.15, 7.1mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 156

 
Una is digging the room

Close

Una is digging the room23-Jun-2009 06:39, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 3.15, 7.1mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 100

 
Linn likes the room too!

Close

Linn likes the room too!23-Jun-2009 06:39, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 4.05, 12.0mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 181

 

Yes, it was a welcome change.  In case you’re interested, the hostel was called “Cracow Hostel Apartment“.  You can see more photos of the place if you click these words – but having been there, it’s pretty clear that these photos try to make the rooms seem bigger with lens effects.

So we had nice rooms.  But guess what?

Peter got the pent house! The lucky guy got the hostel apartment!  The room was incredible!  It was too bad we were only staying a few nights.

The hostel was particularly awesome because it was in the Market Square.  Here are a few shots of the view from the common room window:

Our view from the Krakow hostel common room window

Close

Our view from the Krakow hostel common room window23-Jun-2009 07:16, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.91, 6.2mm, 0.006 sec, ISO 64

 
Looks like rain...

Close

Looks like rain…23-Jun-2009 07:16, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.91, 6.2mm, 0.004 sec, ISO 64

 
Krakow market square - looks a lot like Wroclaw's, doesn't it?

Close

Krakow market square – looks a lot like Wroclaw's, doesn't it?23-Jun-2009 07:16, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.91, 6.2mm, 0.003 sec, ISO 64

 

Wow!  (Looks a lot like Wroclaw, doesn’t it?  That’s what I thought, too.)

If it isn’t clear from the photos, it was still drizzling out.  But that didn’t mean we weren’t starving.  After unpacking and cleaning up, we hit the pavement to try to find some lunch.

Wandering through Krakow

Close

Wandering through Krakow23-Jun-2009 07:41, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 3.27, 7.7mm, 0.01 sec, ISO 64

 

1:06PM

This was lunch:

Mmmm....I don't remember what it was, but it was tasty.

Close

Mmmm….I don't remember what it was, but it was tasty.23-Jun-2009 07:54, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.8, 5.8mm, 0.12 sec, ISO 100

 

And this was where we ate it:

This restaurant was called "Chimera", I think...

Close

This restaurant was called "Chimera", I think…23-Jun-2009 07:56, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.8, 5.8mm, 0.313 sec, ISO 100

 

The place was called ChimeraInteresting concept for a restaurant.

1:41PM

After leaving the restaurant, Tamara took us on a walking tour of the surrounding area:

Close

23-Jun-2009 08:32, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.8, 5.8mm, 0.011 sec, ISO 64

 
Exploring Krakow

Close

Exploring Krakow23-Jun-2009 08:36, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.8, 5.8mm, 0.005 sec, ISO 64

 
I think this is Krakow University

Close

I think this is Krakow University23-Jun-2009 08:38, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.81, 5.8mm, 0.012 sec, ISO 64

 

Close

23-Jun-2009 08:42, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 4.06, 12.1mm, 0.005 sec, ISO 64

 

The rain had stopped, and the air was left dripping with humidity.

We stopped by a church called Bazylika Sw Franciszka Z Asyzku XIII W.  Hm.  Maybe I wasn’t hearing right, but apparently there was some stained-glass work by Adam Mickiewicz there…

Here are some shots from the church.  Not the greatest shots I’ve ever taken, but hey – it was dark in there:

Close

23-Jun-2009 08:49, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.81, 5.8mm, 0.5 sec, ISO 250

 

Close

23-Jun-2009 08:49, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.81, 5.8mm, 0.5 sec, ISO 250

 

Close

23-Jun-2009 08:50, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.81, 5.8mm, 0.476 sec, ISO 100

 

Close

23-Jun-2009 08:51, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 3.57, 9.3mm, 0.476 sec, ISO 100

 
Shroud of Turin?  In Krakow?  Maybe it's a photocopy...

Close

Shroud of Turin? In Krakow? Maybe it's a photocopy…23-Jun-2009 08:53, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 4.16, 12.7mm, 0.5 sec, ISO 222

 

I don’t know if Mickiewicz did the stained-glass – regardless, here’s a shot of one of the pieces:

Poseidon!

Close

Poseidon!23-Jun-2009 08:50, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 4.55, 16.0mm, 0.039 sec, ISO 100

 

2:07PM

We left the church, and meandered through the streets.

Close

23-Jun-2009 09:17, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 4.7, 5.8mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 64

 

Eventually, we found ourselves at an outcropping called Wawel – home of Wawel Castle, which was to be our next stop.

A castle in Krakow.  The main castle, I believe.

Close

A castle in Krakow. The main castle, I believe.23-Jun-2009 09:13, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 4.7, 5.8mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 64

 
The castle from the "front".

Close

The castle from the "front".23-Jun-2009 09:17, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 4.7, 5.8mm, 0.003 sec, ISO 64

 

Here’s a window dog we saw on our way to the castle ramp.  It breaks the narrative, but I can’t resist:

Window dog

Close

Window dog23-Jun-2009 09:15, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.8, 5.8mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 64

 

And while I’m breaking narrative, here’s Alex posing in front of a Bauhaus poster:

Close

23-Jun-2009 09:16, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.81, 5.8mm, 0.008 sec, ISO 64

 

…and eventually, we found ourselves climbing the ramp up to Wawel Castle:

Going into the castle...

Close

Going into the castle…23-Jun-2009 09:21, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 4.5, 15.5mm, 0.004 sec, ISO 64

 

Close

23-Jun-2009 09:24, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 4.7, 5.8mm, 0.003 sec, ISO 64

 

Here’s a view from one of the castle turrets:

Close

23-Jun-2009 09:24, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.8, 5.8mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 64

 

At the castle gate, we bought tickets to enter, and to see the “Dragon’s Den” underneath the castle grounds.  We were stoked.

2:45PM – Wawel Castle

High security.  Metal detectors.  Armed guards.  This place wasn’t taking any chances.  There was a very strict code of conduct in there – no sitting, no leaning on walls, keep quiet, and absolutely no pictures.  So I just took notes.

So I can’t show you what it was like inside, but I can try to describe it:

It was a museum.  Stone and hardwood floors.  Quiet like a tomb.  Marble staircases.  Wooden cabinets, uncomfortable looking wooden chairs, wooden tables…tapestries, beds.  Old paintings.

Tamara told us a story about how when the Germans invaded, relics and artifacts were smuggled out of Europe.  It turns out that some relics from Wawel Castle eventually found themselves holed up with a cloister of nuns in Canada.  Go figure.

Everything was ornate, and gold rimmed.  Even the ceilings were covered in gold.

Oh the hell with it – so I couldn’t take any photos: that doesn’t mean I can’t scrape some from off the Internet.  Here’s what I was seeing, care of this website:

There, that’s better.  I’ve always been a visual kind of guy.

Check out the ceiling on this room:

You probably can just barely see them, but those are human heads carved and painted into the ceiling.  Just staring down.  And one has his mouth gagged.  It was creepy.  Apparently, those heads were carved by Sebastian Tauerbach back in the 1500s.

3:55PM

The castle wasn’t the only thing on Wawel Hill.  Inevitably, there was a church – Wawel Cathedral.

So, interesting theatre connection with Wawel Cathedral:

There was a theatre artist who wanted to do a show in the cathedral.  His idea for the play:  that all of the tapestries and statues would come to life on the night before Easter to demonstrate the resurrection of Christ.  It was like Night at the Museum, but with 100% more Jesus.

Anyhow, that play was called Akropolis, and would eventually be staged by Jerzy Grotowski in the 1960’s. Grotowki’s spin on it was to stage it in Auschwitz instead of the Wawel Cathedral.

Anyhow, Grotowki’s Akropolis caused ripples in the theatre world, and was a shining example of the “poor theatre” that he was striving to achieve.

For the people who don’t study drama, Grotowski, Poor Theater, and Akropolis are a pretty big deal.  I’ve seen a taping of Akropolis a few times…it’s one of the few recordings of Grotowski’s work.

Anyhow, that’s the connection.  We were inside the cathedral where that whole thing began.

4:02PM

Walking through the cathedral.  Once again, I couldn’t take any photos.

Description:  high ceilings, gold, tapestries, stained glass.  Gothic architecture.  Gold alter.  Chandaliers.  Ornate, dark woodwork.  Coffins and tombs.  Sarcophagi.

There was a narrow, claustrophobic staircase that led up to the cathedral bell tower.  It was windy up there, and the bells were absolutely massive.  Huge cast-iron things.  Mother of all bells.  I couldn’t help myself – I whipped out my camera like a gunslinger, and snuck a shot:

Close

23-Jun-2009 11:21, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.81, 5.8mm, 0.313 sec, ISO 100

 

Yeah, I know – doesn’t look that impressive.  It’s due to lack of size reference points.  You’ve just got to trust me.

There were tombs in the basement.  Thick marble slabs, stone… there were some disturbingly small sarcophagi too.

The tombs got more modern the farther through we went – towards the end, we saw tombs with the occupants’ firearms strapped to the wall.

Maybe I’ve seen too many Indiana Jones movies, but I couldn’t help feeling that there were probably secret passages all over the place.

4:30PM

Finally, we got out of the catacombs into the fresh air.  We hung around outside, and waited for stragglers.  I took the opportunity to take a photo of some kids who were clearly disobeying the “don’t step on the grass” rule:

These kids were totally ignoring the "do not step on grass" rule.  They were never seen again.

Close

These kids were totally ignoring the "do not step on grass" rule. They were never seen again.23-Jun-2009 11:46, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.8, 5.8mm, 0.003 sec, ISO 64

 

Thunder rumbled in the distance.

4:50PM

Remember the Dragon’s Den?  That was our last stop on Wawel. We took a narrow, twisty flight of stairs down…down…deep…down…wayyyyy down into the cave beneath the castle.

It was…a cave.  Kinda underwhelming, but I don’t know what we were expecting.  A real dragon?

The lighting conditions weren’t ideal, so here are my crappy photos of the cave:

Exploring the cave

Close

Exploring the cave23-Jun-2009 11:55, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.8, 5.8mm, 0.5 sec, ISO 250

 

Close

23-Jun-2009 11:55, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.8, 5.8mm, 0.5 sec, ISO 250

 

Close

23-Jun-2009 11:56, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.8, 5.8mm, 0.5 sec, ISO 250

 

And here’s Tom filling up the cave with some dragon presence:

TOM IS THE DRAGON

Close

TOM IS THE DRAGON23-Jun-2009 11:56, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.8, 5.8mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 380

 

We eventually left the cave.  We took the time to sit, rest our legs, and stare up at this dragon monument that was outside the exit:

Here's the dragon outside of the cave.  It's supposed to breathe fire, but we never saw it.

Close

Here's the dragon outside of the cave. It's supposed to breathe fire, but we never saw it.23-Jun-2009 12:01, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 4.38, 14.3mm, 0.026 sec, ISO 64

 

The Dragon

Now, I don’t know how the rumour got started, but apparently, every hour, that dragon was supposed to breathe fire.  So the bunch of us stuck around for about 15 minutes, waiting for the fireball.

Evidently, the group of us make enough of a crowd to cause other people to wonder what’s going on, because more people from off the street started joining our group, staring up at the dragon, waiting.

And then the hour came…and went…and nothing happened.

Jiv went to talk to a local street vendor.  It went something like this:

Jiv:  Isn’t this thing supposed to breathe fire every hour?

Vendor:  [Look of confusion]

Jiv:  [Mimes breathing fire, and points at dragon]

Vendor:  [Shakes head vigorously]

Disappointed, the crowd dispersed.

Close

23-Jun-2009 12:32, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.82, 5.9mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 64

 

5:35PM

Tamara had led us into the Jewish Quarter of Krakow.

Alex Rubin:  A Jew in the Jewish Quarter.

Close

Alex Rubin: A Jew in the Jewish Quarter.23-Jun-2009 12:37, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 3.0, 6.5mm, 0.008 sec, ISO 64

 

The storm was really threatening now – dark clouds, and rumbling that was closer than before.

Trouble brewing

Close

Trouble brewing23-Jun-2009 12:39, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 3.46, 8.8mm, 0.012 sec, ISO 64

 

Rain started to fall.  It was time to get indoors.  As a torrent of rain started to come down, we found a restaurant, and took shelter.

And then it started to hail for a bit.  Strange.

6:52PM

The restaurant we had chosen was pretty fancy.  I ordered what eventually turned out to be chicken shish kabab.  For the price…not that great.  But whatever, we were inside and dry.  And I was full.

The group was pretty tired at this point.  The lack of sleep from the night before, and the long tour of the day had worn us out.  After we had finished eating, Tamara told us that we had the rest of the day to ourselves.

A pack of us left the restaurant to explore the Jewish Quarter.  Eventually, we found ourselves back in the Market Square, where I promptly ordered myself a lemon sorbet.  I missed the ice cream from Wroclaw, but the lemon sorbet was amazing.  Sonia took the opportunity to buy some zapiekanka.

Have I told you about zapiekanka?  I don’t think I have.  Polish equivalent to a hot dog.  Long half of a baguette, topped with melted cheese and mushrooms, and a long strip of ketchup.  I liked ’em.

Some of us went back to the hostel.  I hung around the Market Square for a little bit and snapped a few photos:

Poland is under construction everywhere.  There are cranes all over the place.

Close

Poland is under construction everywhere. There are cranes all over the place.23-Jun-2009 14:55, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 3.0, 6.5mm, 0.014 sec, ISO 64

 

Here’s Adam Mickiewicz again!  What a guy!

Adam Mickiewicz!

Close

Adam Mickiewicz!23-Jun-2009 14:55, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 4.7, 17.4mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 98

 

And a giant head:

Massive head.

Close

Massive head.23-Jun-2009 15:10, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 3.62, 9.6mm, 0.073 sec, ISO 100

 

The very center of the Market Square was a…market.  Lots of little booths selling trinkets.  Religious figurines…amber… a high number of chess boards, which I found strange.

The market in the center of the market square.  It was like a flea market.

Close

The market in the center of the market square. It was like a flea market.23-Jun-2009 15:21, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.81, 5.8mm, 0.213 sec, ISO 100

 

And wouldn’t you know it, I also found some miniature copies of those creepy head sculptures that I’d seen in Wawel Castle!

Close

23-Jun-2009 15:43, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 4.7, 17.4mm, 0.175 sec, ISO 100

 

At this point, I was pretty tuckered out.  I walked back to the hostel, and eventually went to sleep.

We would be getting up early the next day to go to Auschwitz.

Click here to go to Part 11:  Journey into Auschwitz, and Adventuring Alone in Krakow

Click here to go back to Part 9:  The Halfway Point

Poland – Part 9: The Halfway Point

June 22, Morning

During breakfast, I found out that it was another free day – once more, Wroclaw was our playground to romp around in independently, followed by another version of Hamlet (HAMLET. SILENCE FROM THE BODY by Roberto Bacci) that night.  It was also our last night in Wroclaw – we were going to leave for Krakow early the next morning.

The deal was even sweeter when Tamara handed us a 250z cash-infusion.

So what did I do?  Did I hit the town, and eat at restaurants?  Did I go sightseeing?  Did I go shopping?

Actually, I did laundry.  Yep, I had accumulated quite a collection of dirty laundry at this point, so I stayed back at the hostel, and slammed some dirty clothes into the washing machine.  While waiting for my clothes to get washed, I hung out in the hostel kitchen with Chantelle.

While talking with Chantelle, I learned that a few of the ladies in our group had noticed that men in Poland were a lot more obvious when “checking out” the women around them.  Chantelle told me that a few of them had even felt uncomfortable at times, and that it was almost as if some men wanted them to notice.  I told her that I wondered if it was just a European thing, and she said that she didn’t know.

I also took a time out to play with the Hostel Dog:

Hostel puppy!

Close

Hostel puppy!22-Jun-2009 12:18, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.81, 5.8mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 100

 

Close

22-Jun-2009 12:18, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.81, 5.8mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 100

 

2:15PM

With my laundry air-drying on a clothing rack in the hostel, I eventually left to go exploring on my own.

Close

22-Jun-2009 09:30, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.8, 5.8mm, 0.003 sec, ISO 64

 

It was chilly, rainy and grey out.  I also wasn’t sure where everybody was – we seemed to be all scattered about.

I eventually bought some postcards and a calling card – I was going to call Em later on that day.

2:55PM

I ran into Tara, Tom, Alex (or was it Alexi? My writing is a bit sloppy), Sonia, Ryan and Jiv at the milk bar we had originally seen during our tour of Wroclaw.  I had something to eat, and then we all left together.

Eventually, Ryan, Jiv, Alex (Alexi?) and I split off and walked through some of the small artisan shops.  We talked with a shopkeep, who told us about a major flood in Wroclaw that had happened about a decade before.  Apparently, flooding in the area was quite common.

We thanked the shopkeep, and left.

4:15PM

Somehow or another, I had gotten back to the hostel, and started writing postcards.  I also took the opportunity to call my girlfriend Em, and tell her how I was doing.

After the phone call, I felt a little Wroclaw-ed out, and felt I needed some downtime to recouperate.  I went into the common room and watched some BBC News.

Finally, I got up, and went out again for something to eat with Tom, Tara, Ryan, Alex, Una, and Linn.

6:33PM

If it hasn’t become clear already, the bunch of us became expert restaurant-hoppers.  Choosing restaurants, however, could be a bit of a chore.  Often, there were times where we’d travel the entire square several times before deciding on something we could all agree upon.

And for that night, the restaurant was a Greek place called “Ready’s”.  This is what my guidebook says about that restaurant:

Paper napkins and plenty of plasticky bits and bobs greet you in what rates as a very poor man’s Sphinx.  Eating is just a means to an end here, with plates of kebab meat, fries and chicken being the core dishes.  You may enjoy Ready’s, but only after a dozen beers.

Maybe it’s my attraction to no-frills stuff, but I enjoyed this place.  I’d eat there again.

In fact, we were enjoying our meal so much that we lost track of time!  We paid our bill, rushed out, and tried to figure out how to get to the theatre to see Bacci’s HAMLET.

7:45PM

After a failed attempt at walking to the theatre, we decided as a group to try to take a cab.  Eventually, we were able to hail one down, but only four of us were able to take it.  After a quick discussion, Ryan, Alex, Una and Linn hopped in, and the rest of us tried to hail another cab.  Tom, Tara and I were doubtful that we’d make it.

8:00PM

Luckily, we were able to hail a cab.  After flailing some arms, and gesturing wildly at our maps, we were able to communicate to the driver where exactly we wanted to go.  I think he knew we were in a hurry, because he floored it.

He pulled up right to the theatre entrance.  We paid, hopped out, and rushed into the theatre.

HAMLET. SILENCE FROM THE BODY Directed by Roberto Bacci

When we got inside the theatre, the show was just about to begin.  There was no seating left, so I sat in the aisle.

The lights came down, and the show started.

This version of Hamlet was spoken in rapid-fire Italian.  There were English and Polish subtitles projected on a surface above the stage.  Half-way through the production though, the English subtitles stopped.  They just stopped coming.

I think this was a good thing though, since it allowed me to focus on what I was seeing and hearing on stage, as opposed to flicking my eyes up to the screen every few seconds to get my place in the story.

So what did I see?  This version of Hamlet had the cast (with the exception of Hamlet himself) dressed in fencing armor – masks and all.  I thought the masks helped them pull off some nice sleight of hand, since it allowed them to “dissappear” characters into the anonymous chorus, and have them re-emerge elsewhere.  Actual fencing was performed on stage as well, which was exciting to see.

The stage was panelled in wood, giving it a very red, and earthy tone.  The major set piece was what appeared to be a large, rusty frame or scaffolding, somewhat like a jungle-gym.  This apparatus was climbed upon, walked through, and even had “drawbridge” doors on either side of it.  It was a neat contraption, though I was worried for the actors safety when they were climbing it at some points, since it seemed to have a very high centre of gravity.  I also wish they had used it more – it seemed to have a lot of potential.

The acting was decent.  I had a conversation with Tom about the show afterwards, and we seemed to agree that this was a pretty “meat and potatoes” Hamlet.  It did the job of telling the story, and it told it pretty well, but nothing blew our socks off.  Tom said that Bacci’s Hamlet was “like a Soul Pepper production, if they had hired a kind-of experimental director.  Pretty strong, but nothing special.”

We talked about Hamlet for a bit, and then walked back to the Hostel.  I hung around in the common area for a bit, and then I went to sleep early – we had to wake up around 5:30AM to get ready for our bus trip to Krakow the next day.

Click here to go to Part 10:  Journey to Krakow, Wawel Hill, and The Dragon

Click here to go back to Part 8:  A Boat Ride, Eating, Videos, AJAX, and More Eating

Poland – Part 8: A Boat Ride, Eating, Videos, AJAX, and More Eating

June 21, 10:00AM (Father’s Day)

After I woke up, had breakfast, and cleaned up, Tamara offered us the opportunity to go on a boat ride down the section of the Odra River that runs through Wroclaw.  I was interested in going, so I watched some European music videos while I waited for the others to get set.

It was going to be Yev, Jiv, Chantelle, Ryan, Tamara, Peter, Alexi, Sonia, Una, and myself on that boat.

A few minutes later,  and we were underway.

11:30AM

It was an absolutely gorgeous day – sunny, warm, and beautiful.  Perfect for boating around Wroclaw.

On the tour boat in Wroclaw

Close

On the tour boat in Wroclaw21-Jun-2009 06:21, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.81, 5.8mm, 0.005 sec, ISO 64

 

Close

21-Jun-2009 06:21, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 4.7, 5.8mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 64

 

Close

21-Jun-2009 06:23, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 4.03, 11.9mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 64

 

Close

21-Jun-2009 06:25, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 6.36, 11.0mm, 0.004 sec, ISO 64

 
It was dark and dreary, and then all of a sudden, the sun came out!

Close

It was dark and dreary, and then all of a sudden, the sun came out!21-Jun-2009 06:32, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 3.9, 11.1mm, 0.003 sec, ISO 64

 
Yev!

Close

Yev!21-Jun-2009 06:36, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.81, 5.8mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 64

 

We chugged down the Odra, and then turned around.  It was very pleasant.

We also took the opportunity to ask Tamara about the racial/cultural tension that we thought we had picked up on the night before.  She told us that she thought it had much to do with the racial monolithicism of Poland.  Not sure if I mentioned this before, but Peter Brook said that the Polish audience was the most racially monolithic crowd he’d ever seen.

The boat trip finished.  We docked, and the group conversation eventually sizzled out until it was just Tamara and I talking, as we all walked down the streets of Wroclaw.  I mentioned how I have never really had the business-end of racism in my face before, and have never had the experience of being the “other”.  Tamara responded by telling me that I was very lucky to have grown up in Canada.  I agreed with her.

Deciding that we were all hungry, the group split off into smaller groups to find something to eat.  The group I was in eventually settled down at a very nice crepe place.  I got a crepe with chicken, cheese, spinach and corn.  Totally hit the spot!

1:43PM

After eating, we had the rest of the afternoon to do whatever we pleased.  As had become custom, we spent our time hopping from restaurant to restaurant, sampling this and that, and watching the locals.  Una, Sonia, Chantelle, and I eventually found ourselves at “Pomazanka”, which our guidebook promised would provide the “widest selection on ice cream, cakes and pastries on the Rynek.”

Sonia had apple cake.  Chantelle had chocolate cake.  Una had marzipan cake. I went for strawberry gelato, and we all decided that our choices were very good.

Polish desserts...mmm...chocolate cake, and apple cake!

Close

Polish desserts…mmm…chocolate cake, and apple cake!21-Jun-2009 08:52, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.8, 5.8mm, 0.009 sec, ISO 64

 
Una is pleased!

Close

Una is pleased!21-Jun-2009 08:52, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.8, 5.8mm, 0.006 sec, ISO 64

 
Chantelle is digging her chocolate cake.

Close

Chantelle is digging her chocolate cake.21-Jun-2009 08:52, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.8, 5.8mm, 0.008 sec, ISO 64

 
Sonia loves the apple cake!

Close

Sonia loves the apple cake!21-Jun-2009 08:52, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.8, 5.8mm, 0.015 sec, ISO 64

 

1:51PM

Had an interesting conversation with Sonia about the gay culture in Poland.  When asked for her impressions, she told me that from what she saw, since Poland is highly religious, it stands to reason that the gay culture is probably carefully hidden from plain sight.  I told her that I agreed with her – at least for Wroclaw.  Warsaw seemed a bit more relaxed.

There’s a lapse in my journaling for a few hours here…from memory, I know I eventually went back to the hostel and phoned my Dad to wish him a happy Father’s Day.

My journal picks up again here:

4:20PM

At this point, I was in the middle of watching one of the optional films for that day – MADAME DE SADE directed by KRZYSZTOF WARLIKOWSKI (yep – the same fellow who directed CLEANSED).  Yikes.  Granted – this was a videotape of a theatre piece, so it was weakened right off the bat.  Anyhow, the camera was too far away, so the audience never got to see the actor’s faces, and the sound was just awful. If theatre is a medium for communication, this video fell way short.  I fell asleep.  Instantly forgotten.

5:26PM

It was a double feature for videos that day – the next video was a version of MEDEA by ANATOLIJ WASILJEW.  It was a one-woman piece…the video was from a presentation that looked like it happened in an art museum.

How to describe this piece?

Two words:  Enraged, and Naked.  Props to the woman for the effort and the work she was putting in.  She was clearly committed, and working hard.  However, watching a naked woman yell at me from a chair for an hour is not how I like to spend my time.  I just wanted it to stop.  If it wasn’t so loud, I’m sure I would have fallen asleep there too.

Video recordings of theatre pieces always fall flat for me – even if they’ve been edited well, and recorded with video in mind.  There really are some things that only live theatre can do.

Why didn’t I leave?  True – there was nothing keeping me in the theatre.  However, I hate leaving bad shows halfway through – I always have this little bit of hope that maybe they’ll save themselves towards the end.  Still, I’m usually let down.

Anyhow, we shook off the two videos, and walked back to the hostel to pick up our tickets for that nights live show:  AJAX, THE MADNESS by THEODOROS TERZOPOULOS.

AJAX, THE MADESS by THEODOROS TERZOPOULOS

Here are some dark and blurry photos of the whole gang getting ready to see AJAX:

Getting ready to see AJAX!

Close

Getting ready to see AJAX!21-Jun-2009 14:08, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.8, 5.8mm, 0.37 sec, ISO 100

 

Close

21-Jun-2009 14:09, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.8, 5.8mm, 0.5 sec, ISO 109

 
Me, getting ready to see AJAX.

Close

Me, getting ready to see AJAX.21-Jun-2009 14:09, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.8, 5.8mm, 0.213 sec, ISO 100

 

AJAX was a heavily ritualized Greek performance/meditation on the Ajax myth.  The show promised murder, guilt, madness, and war satire.

Like I said: heavily ritualized performance/meditation.  It was like a 20 minute mantra that was repeated 3 times.  There were 3 actors, each taking turns leading the mantra, and each putting their own spin on it.

The first guy was my favourite.  Total commitment the entire way.  The mantra involved lots of repeated physical actions, and this guy put his whole body into it.  I knew he was working hard.  How did I know?  Because he was sweating buckets.  And he never swallowed – saliva just gushed out of his mouth for his entire 20 minutes.  The man must have lost 2 litres of body fluid over the course of the show.  It was unbelievable.  I was blown away by the energy and commitment of that guy.

It went downhill for me from there.  The second guy had this highly reflective knife that he kept shining into the audience, and it was really annoying.  By the time the third guy went up, I think I had the mantra under my belt.  It was nice to see the little differences that each iteration had on the last, but it didn’t really grab me.

And the war satire was kind of weak – at least for me.  It almost seemed tagged on, like an afterthought – jetfighter fly-over soundcues, and this image of a processional of coffins.  I think I heard a Roger Waters tune tucked in there too.

Anyhow, it was OK.  Not great, not terrible.  It was awkward for the curtain call though.  The audience gave the cast some real good applause, and they were bowing, and that was fine.  But then they wouldn’t leave.  And because they wouldn’t leave the stage, the audience felt compelled to clap more.  So they stayed.  And then the director came out, and we clapped for him too.  And I could feel the applause dying down, but then they’d come up to centre stage and bow again, and people would keep clapping in an attempt to avoid awkwardness.  It was almost like they were drawing applause out of us, as opposed to letting us give it to them.

Somehow, the vicious cycle eventually ended.  We left.

Saw some interesting sculptures on the street on the way out:

These guys are taking a shortcut across the street:  they're going under it.

Close

These guys are taking a shortcut across the street: they're going under it.21-Jun-2009 15:28, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.8, 5.8mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 112

 

Close

21-Jun-2009 15:29, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.8, 5.8mm, 0.049 sec, ISO 100

 
I like these statues a lot.

Close

I like these statues a lot.21-Jun-2009 15:31, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.8, 5.8mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 90

 

Not sure what time it was, but from the photos, it looked like it was starting to get dark out.

On our way home, some of us decided to get some midnight snacks at the grocery store.  I got some orange juice (a respectable kind, with an expiry date that I felt good about), and some waffle cracker things.  Our shopping finished, we walked back to the hotel to eat what we bought.

While eating, we watched David After the Dentist:

and some more Dave’s Farm.

Then, because we weren’t tired yet, we went to Wizard Hat for an hour or so, and then went back to the grocery store for more midnight snacks.  I got orange filling Jaffa Cakes, and shared them with Sonia.

Finally, we went back to the hostel for the last time that night.  We chatted for a while in the common room, and then I had a shower and went to bed.

Click here to go to Part 9:  The Halfway Point

Click here to go back to Part 7:  An Official Tour of Wroclaw

Poland – Part 7: An Official Tour of Wroclaw

June 20th – 10:45AM

After waking, cleaning up, and eating breakfast, the whole bunch of us left the hostel to meet a guide for a tour of Wroclaw that Tamara had arranged for us.  As usual, our feet guided us to the market square, and that’s where we met Ella, our tour guide.

One of the first interesting things Ella taught us about Wroclaw was about the market square.  Apparently, a lot of the “ancient” looking buildings around us were actually only a few decades old.  They’d been designed and constructed to look old from the outside and to fit in with the historical look, but the insides were supposedly super-modern.  Part of me found that fascinating, another part was a little disappointed.  Tricked by architecture.

Ever heard of Max Berg?  I hadn’t.  Max Berg was a German architect who was appointed as the senior building official for Wroclaw in 1909.  According to Ella, Berg got caught up in Post WWI “skyscraper fever”, and wanted to  modernize the market square of Wroclaw with epic skyscrapers like the ones in New York.

Anyhow, it didn’t go over very well.  He got one up, and I saw it, and it just didn’t work.  The building itself was alright, but it just didn’t fit in with the surroundings.  This is probably why the buildings around it have been constructed to fit into that ancient style – anything else just looks ridiculous.

Oh, and some irony – the address for that New York style skyscraper?  #9/11.  Go figure.

Here’s a a link to an article about Max Berg, and his attempt at modernizing Wroclaw, if you’re interested.

Close

20-Jun-2009 06:33, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.81, 5.8mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 64

 

See this monument?  I’ve been trying to find out more about it.  According to what I heard from Ella (which was kind of garbled, since I was hanging out at the back of the group at this point), the monument marks a horrific event that happened sometime in the 17th Century.  Apparently, an influential Italian priest told the residents of Wroclaw to put to the fire all of their earthly possessions.  So, they built a big fire, and started tossing things in.  And then things got out of control, and 41 Jews were apparently burned there as well.

You’d think I could find some information about this monument somewhere on the Web, but no luck so far.  The closest I could get was St. John Capistrano, who may have been the alleged priest – though Capistrano lived during the 1400s, which doesn’t fit in at all with the 17th Century time frame.  Anyhow, if anyone has some information on this monument, I’d be glad to hear it.

Moving on, we started walking towards the Old Town Hall of Wroclaw.  Nearby were some discolored stones on the road which marked a square:

On our tour - found out that this black square was where the "crazies" cage was.

Close

On our tour – found out that this black square was where the "crazies" cage was.20-Jun-2009 06:39, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.8, 5.8mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 64

 

According to Ella, that square marked where the “mad house cage” was originally located.  People who didn’t behave according to the social standards of the time (drunkards, trouble-makers during mass, women who wore trousers, etc) were put into that cage for the whole market square to see.  Yeesh.

Then we walked into the Old Town Hall.  It has been converted into a type of museum, with roped off areas, info placards, etc.  According to my journal, the insides smelled “like a fishing tackle box”.  Here are a few shots from the inside:

Inside the old town hall

Close

Inside the old town hall20-Jun-2009 06:41, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.8, 5.8mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 386

 
Some important Wroclaw person in the town hall

Close

Some important Wroclaw person in the town hall20-Jun-2009 06:42, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.81, 5.8mm, 0.5 sec, ISO 129

 

Close

20-Jun-2009 06:44, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.8, 5.8mm, 0.244 sec, ISO 100

 

Yev remarked that this next room was creepy because this is where people were sentenced to be hanged:

Close

20-Jun-2009 06:47, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.8, 5.8mm, 0.294 sec, ISO 100

 

We walked back outside.

The Old Town Hall is more or less in the centre of the market square.  Attached to it is a restaurant.  According to Ella, this restaurant is currently the oldest restaurant in Europe! Wow!  And guess what – this was the restaurant we ate at while discussing CLEANSED the other night.  And we had no idea that it was so ancient.  Go figure.

Apparently, this is the oldest restaurant in Europe.

Close

Apparently, this is the oldest restaurant in Europe.20-Jun-2009 06:51, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.8, 5.8mm, 0.004 sec, ISO 64

 

We also saw the “flogging pole” outside of the Old Town Hall.  As you can guess, petty criminals used to be roped to this thing, and flogged for the public to see.

This is the flogging post outside the town hall.  Petty thieves were tied to it, and beaten - hence the little guy on top.

Close

This is the flogging post outside the town hall. Petty thieves were tied to it, and beaten – hence the little guy on top.20-Jun-2009 06:54, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 7.97, 17.2mm, 0.004 sec, ISO 64

 

After seeing this, we started to leave the market square.  We stopped at a little booth and had some barbequed goat cheese (salty and smoky…not bad).  We also saw another gnome – this one atop a giant finger:

Another gnome.

Close

Another gnome.20-Jun-2009 07:01, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 4.7, 17.4mm, 0.004 sec, ISO 64

 

12:05PM

Ella led us towards a tram stop, where we were soon picked up.  It was a really old looking tram – unpadded wooden seats, a wooden floor, and a guy who went up and down the aisles collecting our 3z tickets.

On one of the Wroclaw trams

Close

On one of the Wroclaw trams20-Jun-2009 07:20, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.81, 5.8mm, 0.008 sec, ISO 64

 

I was lucky – landed one of the few seats!  So did Tara, who sat next to me.  Here she is, after telling me that the parents in front of us should be slaughtered for the haircuts they gave their children:

Tara thinks that the people in front of us gave their children terrible haircuts

Close

Tara thinks that the people in front of us gave their children terrible haircuts20-Jun-2009 07:20, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.8, 5.8mm, 0.032 sec, ISO 64

 

So, riding the tram, we exited the downtown core of Wroclaw.

Close

20-Jun-2009 07:21, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 4.71, 5.8mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 64

 

I think I’ve remarked about this several times already (if not on this blog, then to others in person), but Poland is interesting because parts of it look like they’re centuries old;  ancient, majestic architecture that just screams history.

And parts of Poland look just like Hamiltion:

Polish graffiti

Close

Polish graffiti20-Jun-2009 07:40, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.81, 5.8mm, 0.007 sec, ISO 64

 

Our tram eventually led us to the Centenary Hall.

Getting out of the tour tram

Close

Getting out of the tour tram20-Jun-2009 07:44, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.8, 5.8mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 64

 

Centenary Hall serves the same function as the Air Canada Center in Toronto – it hosts sporting events, talks (like from the Dalai Lama), or anything that involves large numbers of people.

Apparently, this building, also designed by Max Berg, got the same welcome that the new ROM got when it was completed in Toronto.  The public absolutely hated it, calling it ugly.  Despite that judgement, here’s a beautiful shot of the Centenary Hall:

Before you go ga-ga over my camera technique, I didn't take this shot.  I found it through Google Image Search,  and I can't find a photo credit.

Close

Before you go ga-ga over my camera technique, I didn't take this shot. I found it through Google Image Search, and I can't find a photo credit.

 

We couldn’t actually go inside the Hall, so the visit was really just an opportunity to see the grounds.  Here are a few shots of what we saw:

Close

20-Jun-2009 07:56, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 4.71, 5.8mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 64

 

Close

20-Jun-2009 08:07, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 4.7, 5.8mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 64

 

From what I remember, these fountains were shooting up into the air in various patterns.

Close

20-Jun-2009 07:57, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 4.7, 5.8mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 64

 

As we left the grounds, I could hear Wagner’s Flight of the Valkyries start to play in the distance.  Perhaps we had just left before some kind of water show.  We’d never know.

We boarded the tram again, and started heading back down town.

During the ride back, I talked to Linn about web development (she’s a fellow web architect) and also established “Mike’s Nose-picking While Driving Law”, which states:

The likelihood of seeing a solo driver pick his or her nose while idling at an intersection increases with every second of observation.

We also spotted a woman walking a galloping wiener dog, but I couldn’t get my camera out fast enough to capture the moment.

Eventually, Ella led us back to the Wroclaw University that we had briefly visited a few days before.  A few of our group decided to take a break from the tour, but a couple of us decided to walk around the University to see the sights.

First of all, the University of Wroclaw sports some pretty impressive alumni:

Close

20-Jun-2009 08:38, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.81, 5.8mm, 0.5 sec, ISO 124

 

Close

20-Jun-2009 08:38, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.81, 5.8mm, 0.385 sec, ISO 100

 
Back at the Wroclaw University.  Photos of some really important scientists.

Close

Back at the Wroclaw University. Photos of some really important scientists.20-Jun-2009 08:38, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.81, 5.8mm, 0.208 sec, ISO 100

 

Traveling upstairs required a ticket (I think they were only 6z though).  The first thing we saw when we went up the stairs was the University of Wroclaw’s equivalent to UofT’s Convocation Hall.  It was quite a bit smaller, but what it lacked in size, in more than made up for in ornate-ness:

Close

20-Jun-2009 08:43, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 4.51, 15.6mm, 0.455 sec, ISO 100

 

Close

20-Jun-2009 08:43, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.8, 5.8mm, 0.167 sec, ISO 100

 

Close

20-Jun-2009 08:44, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 4.34, 13.9mm, 0.5 sec, ISO 250

 

According to Ella, this room was designed with a “counter-reformation” attitude in mind by some Jesuits.  So, instead of being reserved, they went all out with gold and sculpture.  Nice.

1:55PM

We continued up the stairs to see more exhibits:

Touring Wroclaw University

Close

Touring Wroclaw University20-Jun-2009 08:58, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.81, 5.8mm, 0.035 sec, ISO 100

 

We saw the 17th Meridian, marked out along the floor as it passed through the University:

Close

20-Jun-2009 08:59, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.8, 5.8mm, 0.083 sec, ISO 100

 

We also saw this sign:

Close

20-Jun-2009 09:02, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 3.88, 11.0mm, 0.02 sec, ISO 64

 

According to Ella, the sign said that the University of Wroclaw houses an extensive set of climate data, going back about 300 years.  If any Polish readers out there want to send me an actual translation, I’ll gladly post it.

(Updated:  May 15th, 2010)

Piotr Waszkielewicz from Wrocław wrote in with the following translation:

“At this place
behind northern windows
of astronomical observatory
in February 1791
has been started systematic
AIR TEMPERATURE MEASURMENT

Collected data makes
one of the longest
climatological series in Europe
and is a precious informacion source
for climate change research

Thanks Piotr!

Continuing up the stairs eventually led us onto the roof.  Once again, a spectacular view from the rooftop of a tower in Wroclaw.  This one had statues on each of its corners – with each one representing a particular discipline:

Law:

Law

Close

Law20-Jun-2009 09:03, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 7.37, 14.7mm, 0.003 sec, ISO 64

 

Theology:

Theology

Close

Theology20-Jun-2009 09:03, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 7.37, 14.7mm, 0.003 sec, ISO 64

 

Medicine:

Medicine

Close

Medicine20-Jun-2009 09:03, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 8.0, 17.4mm, 0.003 sec, ISO 64

 

Mathematics:

Mathematics

Close

Mathematics20-Jun-2009 09:03, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 8.0, 17.4mm, 0.004 sec, ISO 64

 

I could only take photos of their backs though, since they were facing outwards towards the city.

After breathing in the fresh air, we went back down and met up with the rest of our group.  We finished the tour by going to a “milk bar”, which is basically a no-frills cafeteria that serves standard meat & potatoes meals.  I instantly fell in love with it.  I had a plate of pierogies, and some mineral water, and topped it off with some amazing Wroclaw ice cream.

Once we were done eating, Tamara told us that we were free to explore the city until the shows that night.  We split up into several groups.  I chose to travel with Sonia and Ryan.

We walked back through the market square, and paused to see a busker send some massive bubbles into the sky:

Massive bubble from a busker!

Close

Massive bubble from a busker!20-Jun-2009 10:19, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 4.28, 13.4mm, 0.003 sec, ISO 64

 
Pop!

Close

Pop!20-Jun-2009 10:19, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 4.28, 13.4mm, 0.003 sec, ISO 64

 

Close

20-Jun-2009 10:19, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 4.28, 13.4mm, 0.004 sec, ISO 64

 

Eventually, the three of us wandered over to St. Elizabeth’s Church.  A wedding was going on inside, and we didn’t want to intrude, but we did find an entrance way to get up to the top of the tower.

Close

20-Jun-2009 11:14, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 4.71, 5.8mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 64

 

A 5z ticket later, we started our climb.

And what a climb.  Something like 300 steps in a dark, spiraling, claustrophobic space.  It didn’t help that there were people coming down as we were going up.  There was barely enough room for one person to go up, let alone two passing one another.

Close

20-Jun-2009 11:09, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.81, 5.8mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 129

 

With aching thighs, we managed to reach the top.  And again, what a sight…here are some of the photos I took up there:

Another tall tower.  I think this one is the tallest.

Close

Another tall tower. I think this one is the tallest.20-Jun-2009 10:55, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 4.7, 5.8mm, 0.003 sec, ISO 64

 

Close

20-Jun-2009 10:55, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 4.7, 5.8mm, 0.004 sec, ISO 64

 

Close

20-Jun-2009 11:07, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 4.7, 5.8mm, 0.003 sec, ISO 64

 

Close

20-Jun-2009 10:56, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 4.7, 5.8mm, 0.003 sec, ISO 64

 

Close

20-Jun-2009 10:56, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 4.7, 5.8mm, 0.005 sec, ISO 64

 

Close

20-Jun-2009 10:56, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 4.7, 5.8mm, 0.004 sec, ISO 64

 

Remember those statues at the University?  Here they are, seen from the church tower:

Close

20-Jun-2009 10:57, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 4.7, 17.4mm, 0.003 sec, ISO 64

 
Remember those statues I took photos of?  Here they are from another tower...

Close

Remember those statues I took photos of? Here they are from another tower…20-Jun-2009 10:57, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 4.7, 17.4mm, 0.003 sec, ISO 64

 

Here’s what it must look like during a fall from the church tower:

Close

20-Jun-2009 10:58, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 4.7, 17.4mm, 0.009 sec, ISO 64

 

And remember the Witches Bridge from this blog post?  Here it is from the outside:

The Witch's Bridge

Close

The Witch's Bridge20-Jun-2009 10:58, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 4.7, 17.4mm, 0.003 sec, ISO 64

 

And to top it off, a few photos of me up there:

Close

20-Jun-2009 11:01, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 4.71, 5.8mm, 0.003 sec, ISO 64

 
Is my money belt that obvious?  I'm such a tourist.

Close

Is my money belt that obvious? I'm such a tourist.20-Jun-2009 11:03, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 4.71, 5.8mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 64

 

The walk down the steps was better on our legs, but they were still wobbly once we reached bottom.  We stopped at a restaurant, got something to drink, and then headed back to the hostel.

We hung around the hostel for a bit.  Ryan introduced me to a YouTube phenomenon called David’s Farm. Basically, it’s this guy named David, who does some pretty crazy stuff up at his farm.

Crazy stuff like this:

Want to see a really bad idea?  Fast-forward to about 2:52 into this video.  Yikes.

Anyhow, it was almost time to see that evening’s shows.  That evening was different, because we had some choice in what we were seeing – there were several different “streams” that we got to choose from.  Most of us saw the same stream (as most of the other streams had been sold out), which had us seeing two shows that night.

The first show I saw was called MARLENE DIETRICH. ABOUT BROKEN NAILS, starring Anna Skubik.  It turned out to be a one-woman puppet show, and I absolutely fell in love with it. Skubik had beautiful puppetry technique, and I totally bought that there were two characters on stage.  It was playful.  I really enjoyed it.  It made me happy.

The second show was called SMYCZ.  How do I descibe that show?  It was, to me, variations on a theme, where the theme was “leash” (which is “smycz” in Polish).  It was absolutely mesmerizing.  Total rollercoaster.  The performer, Bartosz Porcyzk, was absolutely incredible – I’d never seen anything like him.  Everything he did absolutely held my full attention, even though I didn’t understand a word, and had to read the subtitles (which didn’t help when he’d go off script and improvise).  He could sing, he could dance, his acting was phenomenal.  His movement was flawless.  His voice, suberp.  The music behind the show was incredible.  The show completely won me over, and most of the rest of us too.  I’d definitely see the show again if I could.

Besides the show website, the best I can do to convey what we saw is show you this “trailer” that I found.  It’s just some of the songs with some still photos, but it’s better than nothing:

Here are a few shot of us after having our minds blown by SMYCZ:

Close

20-Jun-2009 18:58, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.88, 6.1mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 400

 

Close

20-Jun-2009 18:58, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.88, 6.1mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 343

 

Close

20-Jun-2009 18:58, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.88, 6.1mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 164

 

Nothing revs up drama kids like seeing an amazing show.

After the show, a few of us went to Wizard Hat to talk about it.  When we got there though, we ended up spending our time talking about how our presence (as loud, North American drama students) was being perceived in Wroclaw.   Ryan (I think?) noticed that another table had been staring at us, and that one guy looked like he wanted to punch all of us.  That table eventually left.  Maybe we were being too loud and obnoxious.  Poland has certainly been smacked around a lot – maybe they don’t look kindly upon loud North Americans coming in and being obnoxious?

Then we got into a big discussion about European and North American stereotypes.

Jiv said that his darker skin colour had drawn a lot of looks his way.  Tara said something similar.  I said I hadn’t noticed anything for me, and Jiv said that it’s probably because I’m “ethnically ambiguous”, which helps me blend in.  Nice.

I was getting tired.  After an incredibly satisfying day, I left Wizard Hat, walked back to the hostel, and fell asleep.

Click here to go to Part 8:  A Boat Ride, Eating, Videos, AJAX, and More Eating

Click here to go back to Part 6:  A Taste of Total Freedom