Its hard to believe that just last week I was eating dumplings in cold and rainy Poland. It was quite a shock to the system after the Middle East and Greece, my first reminder of the general climate of Northern Europe that I was raised in. The sun surprisingly has decided to show itself again in the UK where I am now. It comes across as a pretty prosperous and livable city and I enjoyed spending some quality time with my parents there.
Krakow is one of only a handful of cities in Europe lucky enough to emerge from the war, architecturaly (if not emotionaly) unscathed and has an extremely well preserved medieval old town as well as an impressive hilltop castle - the 'Wawel', seat of the Polish kings and site of thier coronations and burials. We did also manage to get out of the town and visited Czestochowa monastary, home to the much 'Black Madonna', so much revered in Poland that it was officialy crowned Queen and Protector of the Polish Nation and is believed to be responsible for several miracles. Despite the years of Communist rule, Poland came across as fervently and devoutly Catholic, no doubt partly due to Pope John Paul II being from here - something they are clearly very proud of. I had a momentary panic while taking my turn to file past the icon when everyone in front of me decided to get down on their knees and proceed to work their way round the chapel like that. I wasnt quite ready to join them. On the way back from Czestochowa we stopped off at Pieskowa Skala Castle which has a section of the Wawel museum based there and an interesting collection of historical furnature (doesnt sound that gripping I hear you cry! - I really am quite a nerd at heart.)
Heres the pics..