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From Small Britain to Great Europe

March 14, 2017

I’ve just returned from a short but hugely enjoyable trip with my friend Ewa, much-travelled poet and shop-steward, to her home town of Glivice in Upper Silesia. We stayed with Ewa’s wonderful mum, Irena, who fed us so well that I think I’ve eaten enough cake to last me till about 2027. She even gave me a box of cake to take home, and sandwiches and apples for the 2-hour flight back to Bristol.

Glivice is home to the tallest wooden structure in the world, a 111-metre tall radio mast for the former radio station, scene of the “Glivice Provocation” that tricked the German nation into approving Hitler’s invasion of Poland. Part of the radio station is now a fascinating museum.

Poland honours its poets and other heroes with life-size statues in public places. In Krakow, Adam Mickiewicz stands in the Market Square  and Jan Karski sits in a small garden in Kazimierz, the Jewish district.

We spent a busy day sightseeing in Krakow. One of the first sights was mystifying. Can you guess what these are?  They look exactly like rusty old iron …

but actually they are all made of dark chocolate dusted with cocoa!

Colourful shoes and folk-musicians.

Cloth Hall Cracow

This is the splendid Cloth Hall in the Market Place. Stalls inside sell carved wooden angels and amber jewellery.

The ancient fortified hill of Wawel has been occupied since the stone age. The bronze model shows the Cathedral on the left at the back, with the Royal Palace further right, and traces of older buildings in the centre. Below the hill is a sculpture of the dragon that once lived there, according to the legend. Its habit of breathing fire every few minutes could be alarming if you were not expecting it. The Vistula River winds at the foot of the hill.

In a park nearby is a monument to Jock the faithful dog, the Greyfriars Bobby of Krakow. You can read his story and see a short film here.

Jock

We ended the day with a string quartet recital in the tiny and exquisite Romanesque church of St Wojtek. Its five pews can accommodate a congregation of 20! I found the vast ornate churches intimidating, but this one I loved.

After indulging in glasses of the local hot chocolate, unbelievably rich and smooth and so thick you have to eat it with a spoon, we took the lengthy bus journey back to Glivice.

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