Friday, December 15, 2006

Wham! Pow! Krakow!

Dzien dobry from Krakow (the cultural capital of Poland... probably the cultural capital as it was one of the few Polish cities not levelled by the Nazis and the Soviets in WW2). Ah Poland... the Parking Lot for german and russian tanks for most of last century... and before that is was used as a major highway and landgrab opportunity for every empire in the area..Prussia, Russia, Austria... even Sweden!

We jet back into Europe and the need to start wearing our fleeces is great as we enter 'official cold' time. Cold and windy.. a fantastic combination. The locals agree it is cold..ish.. but (and you have to thank global warming for this ;) ) they point out at this time of year it should be -15C not +5C! They are scratching their heads and waiting for winter to actually start. Our first day in the Main Square was enlivened with a re-enactment of the anti-communist government riots 25 years ago. Chanting protestors face off the army and it all seemed very real. We were reassured this was all for show by our local walking tour guide... and the reality was further tarnished later on when one of the protestors was broken away from the pack by 4 greenclad army guys who proceeded to beat the protestor with what looked like 14 inch long neon pink rubber dildoes. In the blink of the eye the performance had gone from being GI Joe to Julian Clary... and that amused me no end!

Krakow (and Poland) is steeped in history.. most of it bloody and most of the blood Polish. Being at the crossoroads of Europe they pretty much have had the tar kicked out of them since day dot. For a while they, linked with the then massive state of Lithuania, formed one of the biggest empires in Europe (Everyone gets their time in the sun in Europe history.. everything old is new again and everyone small will one day grow huge and start looking for those that pushed them around and have a 'chat'). Don't get my wrong, i do not believe that the Polish were innocent lambs who hurt nothing and no-one throughout history and I am sure they gave as good as they got... up to a point... and that point was 1795 when the entire country was devided up neatly into three easily digestible lumps and devoured by Austria, Prussia and Russia. They stopped existing as Poland completely until 1918! Holy Crap!

But then it was all smooth sailing until the present day, right? ... right?... um no.. not quite. Uncle Adolph came swanning over the hill and turned Poland into a lovely staging ground against the soviets a(who quickly grabbed as much as they could as well) and Poland stopped existing again. They were forced to be communists after that and have only recently been able to choose something different. You can imagine why they were rather distrustful of joining the E.U originally. But joined they have and I think the future will be brighter for poor battered Poland.

Today Girlclumsy and I went to Auschwitz - Birkenau, the largest and most infamous extermination camp in the world. Just outside of Krakow (nice of the nazis to not put something that nasty on their own soil) this place, i am sure, is synonymous with 'evil' in your mind and i am also sure you have seen the pictures. Piles of emaciated corpses, gas-chambers, execution walls, warehouses of dead people's possesions etc. I don't really want to go into too much detail about the day but the place was exactly as bad as you think it was... maybe worse. To be in a chamber where hundreds of thousands met a terrible chemical end was shocking. The clinical efficieny of the slaughter was terrifying and the number of people killed (1.1 million, 97% of them Jews who walked from off a train directly into a gas chamber) in this place is mind numbing. Visit this place...

For the rest of our time in Krakow we want to visit the world famous 'Wieliczka Salt Mine' and i have heard there are some really impressive pagan burial mounds somewhere nearby. Also there is 'Nowa Huta' (literally 'New Steel Mill'). This is a soviet style steel mill built for propanganda and not economic reasons. Brave sons and daughters of the state toiling for the state and being rewarded handsomely blah blah blah... the usual nonsense governments spout. Actually it is not just a mill but an entire satellite city built to house the workers etc.. and it sounds like something GC and I need to poke around.

The Moroccon and Spanish photos have been added to the many many online travel photos at .

Buboe Watch - The chance of buboes is small across The Wah this week. The already existing High Pressure Left Jaw Buboe front is diminishing and we expect the entire system to vanish by the weekend.

Last bit of news... It seems our little blogs have been noticed by people living in Fez! They left a comment on both our blogs and were very impressed with Girlclumsy's blog about the hammam. Have a look at 'View From Fez' and see our waxing international star!


Anonymous said...

No doubt a mediocre generalisation, but *war is hell*. You'd think enough images of war orphans.... sticks with eyes.... would cut through the soul. But the only clue ever grasped is that war makes for good economics. No surprise then that Johnny has put aside some more play money. :-/ . . . . Diminishing buboe excellent! (Only care when it counts ;) ) Ta's for the link to photos. It adds substance to the already grand tales. And because am too lazy to comment from GC's blog...understand full well the determination to be photographed on Bochenska Street. We need links which shore our personal histories. Hope you guys keep well. Cheers. ana x

Anonymous said...

with an army armed with "14 inch long neon pink rubber dildoes" its baffling to understand how poland hasnt managed to quite make it to world-force level isnt it?!?!

oh how different world history could have been but for timing - can u imagine hundreds of thousands of german and russian soldiers crossing the border nearly 70 years ago, only to be confronted by 2 million pols waiving large obtrusive sex toys, shouting "we're gonna f**k you all!" - whilst it might have made herman goering's eyes light up, it would have damn sure suprised the rest of the invading militaries i can tell ya!!

who knows what would have happened if the early stages of the defence effort could have been financed by ann summers...

all jokes asside, i think its commendable the arsenal of the polish armed forces is battery powered, and i'm sure the british government gave serious consideration to following suit (although i believe in the interests of hygiene, we're sticking with the £25bn program of nuclear weapon re-development -its much safer i'm sure...)