2015 Poland

This was our first trip to Poland.  We left Toronto Friday June 4th and returned Monday June 29th.  We flew to Warsaw, where we spent the night before continuing by train to Krakow. We stayed a week in Krakow and then returned to Warsaw on the 14th.  In Warsaw we joined a team of 12 people (including ourselves) on a Habitat for Humanity Build Project. The project was a renovation assignment.  In our 8 days on the job we were able to complete 80-90% of the work.  

While in Krakow we were able to get out of the old city and visit the salt mines.  From Warsaw we were able to take a tour of the Kazimierz Dolny region.


Blog Entries:

  • Poland


    This was our first trip to Poland.  We left Toronto Friday June 4th and returned Monday June 29th.  We flew to Warsaw, where we spent the night before continuing by train to Krakow. We stayed a week in Krakow and then returned to Warsaw on the 14th.   We flew over on a new Boeing…

  • Wawel Castle and Cathedral

    Wawel Castle and Cathedral

    The south side of Krakow hosts Wawel Castle and Cathedral.  The Castle is positioned on a hill above a legendary dragon’s den facing the Wista River.   Our apartment in Krakow was located on the Main Square, which was just a 10 minute walk from the Castle.  As a result we made several visits to…

  • Main Square

    Main Square

    The asymmetrical towers of St. Mary’s Basilica distinguish this as the Main Square of Krakow. On the hour a trumpeter plays his arpeggio 4 times, once for each direction, after the bells toll.  If one looks closely the player can be seen, thus confirming it is not in fact a recorded message. While we were told the…

  • Main Square Portrayals

    Main Square Portrayals

    Early morning, before the crowds come, is a good time to see the uncluttered elements of the square; unobscured and undistracted by the hordes of people.

  • Main Square Awakes

    Main Square Awakes

    After the street cleaners finish their rounds the street vendors start to appear, people come to enjoy their morning coffee and sit for a moment before the day really starts to move.

  • Main Square Activities

    Main Square Activities

    As the morning progresses into day, more people come into the square, either to traverse it to get to their destination, to meet with someone, or as a destination. With more people come more vendors.

  • Main Square Entertainment

    Main Square Entertainment

    As the crowds amass through the day, entertainers come to juggle, dance and sing, to attract attention and some donations.  But entertainment comes in many forms and one day we were there that included a bicycle race.

  • Watching the Show

    Watching the Show

    As the day moves to evening, the crowds reach their peak with people congregating for dinner. We found a spot in a window, like a box seat in an opera house, and watched the show of people and things go by.  

  • Statues in Krakow

    Statues in Krakow

    Statues impart a feeling individually as well as when the total of all statues in a city are considered.  Individual statues may commemorate battles, generals or the soldiers.  These may convey a sense of pride, hubris, formality, in part as a result of the conversions around military monuments.  In other cases, individual statues are more works of art conveying…

  • Wieliczka and Bochnia Royal Salt Mines

    Wieliczka and Bochnia Royal Salt Mines

    Just outside Krakow are the Wieliczka and Bochnia Royal Salt Mines, a World Heritage Site.  To quote UNESCO: data-animation-override>“The deposit of rock salt in Wieliczka and Bochnia has been mined since the 13th century. This major industrial undertaking has royal status and is the oldest of its type in Europe. The site is a serial property…

  • Breakfast


    Our first breakfast in Poland was in a little café a couple of blocks from our hotel. Posted on the wall was the menu.  My first impression was of the strangely accented characters and irregular strings of consonants.  I now understood how my wife felt trying to read German street names.  My concern elevated; what do…

  • Did My Ancestors Have to Deal with Pigeons?

    Did My Ancestors Have to Deal with Pigeons?

    In Krakow, many of the window sills where lined with wire spikes.  A mechanism to prevent pigeons from landing.  It worked very well. As descendants of the Rock Dove, an attraction to tall buildings and the nooks and crannies of window wells probably reflects an inherent preference for cliffs or buildings as a surrogate.  Pigeons make…

  • Old Glass

    Old Glass

    We climbed the Tower on the grounds of Wawel Castle.  The glass in many of the tower windows, I assume, was very old and had deformed with age.  It provided an artistic view of the outside.

  • Soviet Architecture in Relief

    Soviet Architecture in Relief

    Warsaw is another European city devastated–turned to rubble–during the second war. With a pre-war population of 1.5 million; 30,000 remained at the end.   Images for Warsaw 1945 offers some sense.   The old city was rebuilt remarkably well.  Other parts were replaced with an architecture reflecting the message and concepts of the conquering heroes; the Soviets. Honest…

  • Soviet Architecture in Buildings

    Soviet Architecture in Buildings

    The Palace of Culture and Science in Warsaw was conceived as a “gift from the Soviet people to the Polish nation”, and was completed in 1955.  Architecturally, it is a mix of Stalinist architecture, also known as Socialist Classicism, and Polish historicism inspired by American art deco skyscrapers. While it did remind me of some of…

  • Soviet Architecture in Statues

    Soviet Architecture in Statues

    The statues outside the Palace of Culture and Science, like the reliefs posted earlier, reflect a form of Socialist Realism intended to covey the communist values of the proletariat.  Against the backdrop of the Palace, a sense of control was pretty intense.  

  • Polish Architecture in Buildings

    Polish Architecture in Buildings

    In contrast to the Soviet architecture, Polish Architecture offers more colour and a softer more comforting feel; it includes a context or environment for its buildings.

  • Polish Architecture in Statues

    Polish Architecture in Statues

    In contrast to the Soviet Statues and Reliefs are the Polish editions. To say one is more artistic, enjoyable, etc. is to make assumptions about personal preference and taste.  They are clearly different in tone and message, yet they are the same in that each carries a message; whether it is one you agree with or…

  • A Contrast of Civilizations

    In asking the question What is Civilisation, Matthew Collings says (to paraphrase): “it’s what we do to elevate ourselves from the animal; it is the mind reining in the animal in us and drawing out the humanity. It is us living in built environments with objects that show us this higher realm of aspiration or yearning…

  • Birds on the Wista

    Birds on the Wista

    During a day trip to Kazimierz Dolny, just east of Warsaw, we took a boat tour along the Wista River.  The Wista is the same river that flows through Krakow, and then Warsaw north to the Baltic Sea at Gdansk. The boat was quite full. Many people were throwing bread to the birds, which resulted in…

  • Warsaw – Old Town

    Warsaw – Old Town

    Considering the state of ruin after the Second War, the current state of the Old Town is quite remarkable.  It looks untouched. It’s a busy place with lots of activity and restaurants.   Warsaw Old Town Pigeons, formerly Knights Warsaw Old Town Warsaw Old Town Warsaw Old Town Warsaw Old Town

  • Red Boots

    Red Boots

    With Sigismund’s Column in the background, a woman in traditional dress is accompanied by a fellow with and accordion.

  • Frédéric Chopin

    Frédéric Chopin

    Landing in Warsaw at Frédéric Chopin International Airport should provide a clue to the level of reverence the Poles have for this man.  Just outside of Warsaw in Żelazowa Wola his birthplace is celebrated.  Warsaw hosts a museum in his name.  Each Sunday in the park there is a piano recital. All of these we…

  • Polish Countryside

    Polish Countryside

    The day following our arrival in Warsaw, we travelled by train to Krakow.  The images streaming by the train window changed from city to village to farm and then back. A train offers a different, more open and sometimes more intimate perspective of the landscape.  By automobile, the route is often shrouded by trees, buildings…

  • Honour Guard

    Honour Guard

    In Warsaw, under the statue of Józef Poniatowski, stand an honour guard.  A pair of military personnel, they stand on guard for about an hour and then are replaced with another pair usually from a different service of the military.  While they stand guard possible hundreds of tourists walk by, stop, and take a picture.…

  • Stairway


    I have included other posts from Wilanowie Palace, in Warsaw (Polish Architecture in Statues, and Polish Architecture in Buildings) but this shot is from inside the Palace.