Krakow Day 2

There is a delightful old town walk that I did, so far my Apple fitness app calculates 15 km walking a day on average this past week, so guilt ridden as I am by nature, I feel justified in consuming a daily Ice-cream AND a large Polish sausage. The Polish sausage comes with the lot, mustard, bread and makes a Bunnings offering, positively miserly.

I hasten to explain that these two seemingly mutually exclusive taste sensations, are not partaken in parallel but rather sequentially, some days it’s ice cream first then sausage and on their days it’s the reverse. After much deliberation, I trend to favour something hot in my mouth first then follow with something cold.

The walk is well set out and each point of interest fully explained in perfect English. There is indeed so much to see, the main tours touted by all the numerous tour offices appears to be in this order

• Tour of Auschwitz Concentration Camp

• The Salt Mines

• Schindler’s Factory ( thanks to Spielberg)

• Day trip to Zakopane.

• The Old Jewish Quarter

Then there are of course the various organised tours of the Old town which one can do by one self or if one has the urge

• A horse and Surry – even with a fringe

• Small golf buggy type contraptions

• Bicycle

• Segway – although thankfully not too many of these were obvious, as far as I am concerned they are dangerous and a lazy option.

Whilst the Wawel Castle and Cathedral sitting atop a hill ( as ALL European Palaces and castles are invariably situated) was fascinating to explore from the outside and to meander through the gardens and square, I elected to forgo the cost of a ticket to visit the Royal Private apartments, armoury and exhibits of their priceless treasures. I was quite frankly rather ‘over’ looking in awe at the royal bedroom and bed, even with a seniors reduction in price. Instead I chose to visit the oldest university in Poland – the Jagiellonian University founded in 1364. At its inception there were three faculties: philosophy, medicine and law. The oldest building still standing is the Collegium Maius. The inevitable regular fires over the centuries and of course additions have changed it somewhat but the tour that I took visited several of the original rooms: The library, The common room and the “Aula” – sort of like a Great Hall of our modern university, where special university events are held and the seats occupied by members of the University Senate.

The singular claim to fame of this university was that Copernicus enrolled there as a lad of about 18 from 1491-1495 , which if my poetic memory is correct is during the time that “ Columbus sailed the ocean blue…”. There was a bequest of a certain Professor leaving 3 unique astronomical instruments, used by Copernicus, including a celestial globe, an astrolabe and a torquetum- what ever that may be? Any gifted science teachers who can enlighten me?

After that I took a taxi to the Polish Aviation Museum, the subject of the previous blog

This picture is part of the original medieval wall around the old down of Krakow:

Several photos of the huge town square (the largest in Europe it is boasted) at dusk

this long beautiful building sits in the middle of the square and is called the Cloth Market – now it sells trinkets, cheap jewellery – what would be described euphemistically as “bric-a-brac”

Now to the Jagiellonian University Museum in the Collegium Maius

The Library:

The Dinning Room:

The large Porcelain cylinder in the top left corneris a heater. The overall feel was a little similar to the dining room and refectories at University and the various colleges – such as St Paul’s , which I attended. It is of interest that two former Australian Prime Ministers attended St Paul’s : Gough Whitlam and William (Billy) McMahon. I grew up and followed Whitlam at least in the political sense although some may say I followed Billy McMahon in another sense, and I do not refer to my large adolescent ears. It was said he had the appearance of a Volkswagen with both doors open.

The university senate meeting room:

Several of the original scientific instruments used by Copernicus

The quadrangle and cloisters:

One can picture Copernicus wandering around this very square and at night gazing up at the stars. In his day the academic staff and professors lived an almost monastic life each having a basic room which opened up to the cloisters. It’s a shame that we have abandoned some of these customs in the 21st century really.