Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Greetings from Krakow, Poland and visiting the Schindler Museum and more pics!!

Hello friends (Powitanie ),
Everything is so close in Europe!  I had the opportunity to go to Poland with Jule from Germany.  We looked at flights but it was 222 Euros ($319.47) so we decided to take an overnight bus to Krakow Poland for ($90.55).  It was a 15 hour bus ride but it was a third of the cost and they had wi-fi!  Jule got a 10% discount because she is still under 26 years old.  So for all of you looking to travel and are still under 26, you can get a lot discounts just for being young in Europe!ów
Krakow is the second largest and the oldest city in Poland.  When the Nazis invaded Poland in WWII, Krakow became the capital for the German Government.  The Jewish population of the city was then moved into a walled zone called the Krakow Ghetto!  From there, they were eventually sent to concentration camps like Auschwitz or Plaszow!

We were able to stay with another couchsurfer who hosted us.  His name is Stefan.  He let us stay in his house.  He did not have much time with us because he was so busy with work.  He used to be an editor for a big wall street company but now he has his own wine business, distributing to restaurants all over Poland and Europe.  After speaking with him, I was fascinated with his life.  He is Polish, Sri-Lanken and a mix of other things.  He lived in Germany for most of his life but moved to Krakow and fell in love with the city and culture.  He has been here for 7 years now.   He is fluent in 4 different languages: English, German, Polish and Russian.

Our awesome host, Stefan!  

Although he was very busy working, he gave us a spare key to come in and out and he was centrally located to everything in Krakow.  Thanks so much Stefan for being such a gracious host.
Stefan's dog, Tequila

Stefan's apartment

traditional pan fried pierogies

Jule and I went to see the famous Schindler factory which is now a historical museum.
Oskar Schindler was a German industrialist who was a hero among many jews.  He was known to save over 1,200 jews from Holocaust by employing them in his ammunition and enamelware factories.  Steven Spielberg created a compelling movie, Schindler's List about his life and how he used his many connections and Nazi influence to save his jewish employees.  After witnessing a raid in 1943 of many of his workers who were taken to the concentration camps and murdered, Schindler used all of his powerful connections and persuasive charm to prevent any more of his workers from going into the camps when they were called.  

Translaation:  Jews are forbidden to ride the train! 

potato pancakes

Krakow, Poland

Long Day!!  Zzzzzzz!

Main Market Square

Main Market Square

marketplace in Krakow

Jule and I were walking around Plac Nowy and we stumbled upon this area that was full of bars, pubs and restaurants.  There was this brick house that looked like an old bus or rail station that was packed with people in line ordering food.  They were walking around with what looked like a long baguette with stuff melted on top!  Everyone was walking around with it and eating it and it was making me hungry!  We had to stop and get one.  We found out this was a very common fast food that is famous in Krakow.
It is called Zapiekanka.
It is a baguette that is cut in half which is usually covered with mushrooms and melted cheese but you can add additional toppings like corn, salami, ketchup, spinach or other delicious add ons!
There were several shops selling this but we stood in line with the most people.  It must be good.  It ended up being delicious!  Yummy!  

Jule and I split a spinach, garlic sauce, cheese and mushroom  zapiekanki!  Yummy!  

After our snack, we went to a bar that played salsa, bachata and a new form of dance that we had never heard or seen before.  It is called Kizomba!
I was very curious to find out what kind of dance was this.  It looked like a modern, argentinian milonga but I was wrong.  Kizomba is a very popular genre of music and dance from Angola.  It is derived from Zouk music but usually sung in the portuguese language.  It is a very sexy and sensual dance like bachata or tango but it is danced to an african rhythm.  Kizomba was developed in the late 80"s and early 90's but I have never seen this dance.  The influence of Kizomba is strong in most Portuguese-speaking african countries.  

Pub Stajnia in Plac Nowy was excellent for salsa and bachata for a Tuesday night.  The people danced only in their groups but once they saw we could dance, they started to ask us out to the floor.  I danced with a Hungarian and a polish guy who were intermediate to advanced levels of salsa and bachata.  

Okocim is a popular polish beer in Krakow

There is a large amount of salsa dancers in Krakow.  Jule and I were quite impressed by the level of skill they had at bachata and cuban style salsa!  

Jule is dancing bachata here. 

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