Our day in Krakow began with a tour of the Jewish Quarter to see the sites from the film Schindler’s list. Unfortunately it was cloudy and raining, although the rain cleared up as the day went on. In Eastern Europe the weather hasn’t been as hot as the west, and in most places it’s rained for at least an hour. I’m not sure if it’s because we’re further east, or if the weather for Europe has been less summer-like the last few days…
Anyway, the rain eased during the tour which was good, because walking in the rain isn’t much fun! A local guide took us past some sites used in the filming of Schindler’s list, and also filled us in on some of the history. The Jewish Quarter was allocated to only Jewish people to keep the separate from the main town.
We visited a synagogue where we had to wear a yarmulke (small Jewish head covering). We visited a graveyard, where the guide explained that when visiting a loved one’s grave Jewish people place a stone on the grave. The reason for this is that they consider it wrong to leave a living gift (such as flowers) for the deceased, and that when travelling in the desert the deceased had to be burried with stones otherwise the sand would blow away, uncovering the grave (so placing a stone now keeps with ancient traditions). The guide explained how there aren’t many Jewish graveyards left in Krakow, because they were destroyed by the Nazis. Gravestones were broken into smaller pieces which were used to make roads and stone fences (there was a stone fence made of gravestone pieces around this particular cemetry). The idea was that it reduced their self-esteem, weakening the people.
It was very interesting learning about the happenings of that time, but at the same time very sad. There were a number of places that we had seen in the film, and it was good to see them in real life and picture the movie scene we had watched the day before. The tour finished at Schindler’s factory which is still there, although was being renovated/modernised while we were there.
We stopped at the old town square halfway through and bought a Zapiekanki for lunch.
They’re a bit like a pizza, but on a long bread-like base (they were freshly made, and very delicious!)
After the tour we headed back to the town square and checked out the market stalls and the Basilica of the Virgin Mary, with a coffee and cake thrown in between. A wander down a few back streets was nice as well, giving us the chance to see the city from ‘behind the scenes’. There were some amazing things in the market stalls, particularly wooden trinkets (including a three player chess set! Not entirely sure how that would work…)
A traditional Polish dinner (cabbage stew), then the bus back to the hotel. Aaron, a fellow Aussie traveller, bought a guitar in Krakow so when we got back to the Hotel we all sat around chatting and singing songs – a relaxing way to end the day!