From last post up to to Krakow

Note- I have been writing as often as possible on Sammy’s computer and after everal days am able to post them all…. I hope you enjoy

More observations

Honey, thank you so much, the trip is great and your Granddaughter is a jewel, one who is not  totally enamored with morning, but has other attributes, far more valuable.

I just noticed the underline, but am not going to mess with it,

We were leaving the Krakow station when a joyvial drunk stepped up as we were about to check the hostel desk and started a speal in English on his home, close clean and cheap, the same price as dorms.  It was/is  and other than hies onstant patter, most satisfactory.  We met his long suffering wife, a fine woman who has tolerated him for 35 years.  We accepted the room, had tea and tolerated his continuing monologue

After too many tales of past guests and a few more vodkas for him and TMI we went for a walk.  The city is beautiful and more enjoyable without his too long and garbled commentary.    We found a lovely plaza, a beautiful fountain and a good meal……no cooking privileges.  Also checked ….unsuccessfully for wi fi, checked a recommended hostel and decided to stay put.

The city is ancient, untouched by war, with a wartime industry, we will investigate today More of my black humor with apologies.  But TED had the audacity to be proud that Hitler spared Krakow and claimed it as a future home for the 3rd riche????  This is a man who spent 6 years as a Totonto cab driver.  His only mention of Auswitch?? Was an offer to be our guide………REFUSED

I think I left Berlin’s description a bit short.  It was as  I remembered, impressive with its historic untouched buildings, it statuary, lovely Zoological and other parks, It’s excellent  transportation system and a bustling populace with a working/middle class and a continuing building boom.  The city is refurbishing its monuments, has built the most functional  train terminals, but not as clean as I remember and has a million clean and new cars following strict traffic signals…..Sammy and I caught a citizens ire by ignoring the pedestrial lights.

We walked this old man’s legs off as Sammy took pictures, including her requested visit to check point charley.  It has been fixed up with a special place to view the wall and a public museum under construction.  Sam bypassed the one we saw as too commercial.

We walked areas that were as white bread as Walnut Creek, saw worker apartments, and showrooms for Mercedes an Lamborginis plus a street of designer stores which all signaled a growing economy, at least for some.  Sort of USA redux with sleeping bums and some tenaments.  But in all it was a booming capital

This is a working class neighborhood with antiquated….1800s buildings, but  it mostly clean and cared for condition,  The after effects of it’s communist occupation are still prevalent, but it is busy and relatively clean, and a lot of police.  The walled city is as expected, clean and bustling, we are a ten minute walk from museums, cathedrals and three synagogs, what were they in the 30s and 40s????

Our trip out was as expected with german tracts in perfect condition and the trainat high speed, when we hit Poland there were miles of comparable tract and many miles of slow and bumpy.  The slower allowed a better look at the terrain which was a lot like lower Michigan.  Some hills, a lot of Saginaw type flats and also both evergreen and hardwood forests, Much agriculture and rust bucket towns and cities.   Nothing as clean and neat as Norway, even the stucco buldings had a gray effect with minimal color.  The fields were a mix of fallow and small/large with some evidence of  some chemical assistance but no irrigation or drainage but also some rotation.  Not many truck crops and nary a flower.

Evidence about the cities showed some of the squatter poverty, but also the garden plots for city dwellers complete with tiny houses, trees and gardens,  There seemed to be a great deal of dilapidated housing and some abandoned. Stucko on cinder block was in sight everywhere.  The coal electric system and train loads of cinders suggested good and historical use of the waste from coal/electricity.  The forests were clear cut and uniform but mostly cut in under the 8 inch growth.  The short use of chemicals in the fields allowed plenty of unwanted weed growth and the loss of $$$ suggests fewer corporate farms, but free enterprise will change that.  There were some smaller subsistence farms with other huge fields, but always evidence of older farming practices.  Michigan/Ohio farm colleges could make a difference……..go blue



Sammy has a soft spot, drunks.

Our hosts are a couple, she has adopted.  I think they are victims of the retirement scam used by Enron and the company that scammed Carl out of retirement.  When the Russians left Poland the employees like Ted, the host, were scammed.  He was a supervisor and like many, his retirement left with the Russians.  So we stay another night, the hosts got morning$$$$$$$ for shopping and we leave tomorrow.

We did the salt mine.  A tour of a mine operative until 1998 and started in 12th century.  It is a state operation and a big tourest income…..together with the silent industry of the Nazis……NEVER AGAIN…….EXCEPT FOR DARFOR, NIGERIA AND A FEW OTHERS

We visit that industry today

On the visit down I was reminded of Hamtramick and my last visit.  The city was the Rust Bucket center of the USA as it was devastated by the demise of USA auto.  As we passed thru many cities the ravages of the rust bucket and socialist economy became blatently evident.  Deteriorated factories, stations is disrepair and tracks that slowed us to a crawl.  There were bright spots, however, as we also saw large productive agriculture and a booming lumber industry, neat garden plots, busy retail areas and often oodles of car traffic.  It seemed like the country was fighting back, and then came untouched and beautiful Krakow.

This old city where we live is a picture of old Europe with the bustle of a clean and proporus city, buildings 2/3/4 centuries old and interspersed with a few renovated apartments that look a bit out of place, although there was effort to keep the old walled city historically correct.  The place seems like one big park together with well kept buildings loaded with statuary, new windows and well maintained exteriors.  If this home is an example, however, some of these antique exteriors house similar antique apartments, similar to Harrington’s  OTHER AMERICA.  And that still exists.

Where Berlin fountains were loaded with trash, these are places of beauty, pleasure and  havens of fun for little kids.  Mother and dads watch as kids have a ball.  We listen and watch the joy over good food at good prices.  Food out is at about the same level as home, with a range from the ever present MickyDs to the Manitou and beyond.

Sam is in the sack, so keep suffering thru the blog and blabbering

Back to the salt mine

The tour was my usual night mare as the young, competent leader, spoke to the three in front of her and the 40 of the rest of us heard a jumble of words.  Everynow and then I got a century right so I then was able to put time and technology together with the depts. Of the mine usually available on the wall,  The girl was a hell of a lot better than my hearing and deserved and received the attention of many of my 40 associates.  Sammy got a hoard of pictures as we deended and saw tons…littlerally….of statutes of salt ranging from the pope to feudal images of

Villages, horses, workers, jeweled ballrooms, elves and panaramas of mine operations.  The extraction of marble was a side industry and it was evident that the states attention to  history was included at every level.  When the product was extracted, art and history  were added.  The translucence of the salt and marble was in evidence everywhere as well placed lighting helped us see the veins of salt and marble,

It was hand and back tecnique until about 1850 when manpower was replaced.  There were amazing examples of a labyrinth of pullees and ropes thru out.  Water and then distillation was replaced with crushing as the emence nature of the mine became evident.  Hand star drill alla South America together with slab removal thru water logged  wedges were the norm, back labor was the tool of need.  Wages were adequate, I did not inquire about the contribution of the Auswitch industry.

The introductionof dynamite was also in the 19t century to be later followed by hydrolics but the markings on the walls constantly gave a chilling reminder of the sweat  that  went into the entire operation.

The timbered walls and overhead of the tunnels were evtremely well designed identifying attention to safety.  I did not and should have inquired about the math of injuries and deaths.Curt, remember the well kept records of 5 million and no retirement as no one survived the mines after 55.  Neither did I get age and longivity data.

The size of the tunnels, use of horses, cart tracks and just the enormity of the place seems to give evidence of technology far superior to the Perue  mnes.  There the 17 levels had no stairs, wood supported tunnel, or technology, onle backs and muscles, from 11 year olds up until they joined the ranks of the 5 mill

The timber work and the fitting of the verticle and horizontal logs was fine work.  In fact there was one large statuary exhibit devoted to the carpenters.

Use of water was also evident as there were huge pools where the salinity prevented death by drowning, except in one instance where a group got caught in a no way out tunnel .  I should probably work on survival data, given the technology of the rest of the mine, its history and the state’s involvement.  At any rate the town has not only survived but thrived, it has withstood two wars to end all wars and iis still untouched.  Also it currently has a wall of history around the old town, excellent, streets, thruways, mass transit and all whistle clean and busy.  We have seen name stores, well dressed and busy people, a lot of fine cars and few with age or bumps, well preserved buildings a terminal similar to Norway and all in all a beautiful place to be


The visit is delayed, but Sammy just got up to help me, plus it took five stops and an hour and a half to find meat for  tonight’s pasta.  Sammy decided we would stay another day  and I have the sauce prepared after the search, two stores for garlic, a stand for veggies and four failed stores plus six directions including two travel agencies and a grocery  for a meat store, found three blocks from the apartment.

We will get underway shortly for either Auswitch or  photo shoots and here they are numerous.  In the main square there is a community concert set up and a host of temporary shops like an art fair.  Most are tourest and trinket stops, but some have fair cracft articles, but the purchases just add weight and not



After a depressing Auswich trip, all hell broke loose at the drunk’s house, buy now all is well

An experience worse than Dachow for me, the enormity of numbers, the vivid photos and descriptions  plus the actual being their was overpowering.  115, mill Jews exterminated Plus thousands of others.  Being in the area of death was depressing as was the knowledge of our destination, but when I entered the actual barracks knowing the progression to ultimate death,  the result was too much.  The gate, work will make you free, to the final ovens and creamatory was a journey that drew tears, shame, and a reinforcement of my atheism that I felt throughout my body….and NEVER AGAIN… became an illusion.  We still have not learned as we allow, and even assist in genocide.  The we is USA as we turn our backs on Africa, belatedly intervened in Bosnia and then sit back while sunnies and shites massacre each other.

Yes it was a bad trip

From the entry movie showing the Eastern Army’s liberation to the closing the gate as two of the last to leave, it was a bad trip

The Poles have done an excellent job of preservation of the atrocity with well placed and explicit information both as guides for the experience and  explanations of the painful displays.  These were in Polish, Yiddish and English.  The explanations, however, were all but absent in barrack #27 which is a Jewish memorial museum.  There the walls of photos and artifacts had no/few descriptions and none were needed.  A dirge and a Cantors voice was a more than adequate atmosphere of remembrance.  Especially vivid was a steel sculpture depicting a furnace with souls rising out of the furnace into a light…truly a heart/soul/brain and physical experience, NEVER AGAIN. It should be a mandatory experience for all people,

The entire museum was dark with all black walls, DC”S  Holocaust museum revisited in one overpowering moment.  The grave stone at the  steps of #27 was piled with remembrance stones, mine too.

When one does a bit of math and finds that 115 mill were exterminated and the 56,000 survivers were forced marched to their “freedom” in January it gives a skewed image of war and victory.  Military/combat decisions take precidence over humanity…NO WAR

Sammy and I walked to the station and got a train that was a Tunnerville trolley, a 2 hour ride back and half that out. We walked in the apartment at damn near 11 and were expected at 9 and started to heat up the meal I had prepared before we left….Then all hell broke loose.

The wife came out drunk and screaming that we owed 400 more Zs, which was not correct, before leaving I had made a special bank trip, paid the bill, got groceries, prepared the meal and on departure we were treated like family. Nancy’s constant reminder that we were in a foreign country kicked in.  With a drunken couple screaming Polish and Ted’s English, plus his stupid and ineffectual macho, I responded with 400Zs and said we were leaving NOW!!!!!

We did

The last train in our book was missed, but Nancy’s Cook schedule reminder got us, unfortunately, back to the train station to find, at midnight, the only way out toward Prague was a 3 AM with a 9AM change.  Thanks to Sammy’s navigation we got to a Hostel, crashed and here we are at 930 and Sammy has another 30 minutes in the sack,  We will leave our gear here, 5 blocks to the station and meet there for our Prague departure.  I am on the way to the Jewish ex ghetto, now a fashionable area and then to the cemetery and Schindler’s factory  while Sammy also does the city for photo shoots.  She got plenty at Auschwitz and also at a timed fountain where children were getting wet, and a few adults too.  Unfortunately her prime contest winning shot is of me sleeping on a trin with my fly open.  Thank you Winston, “ a dead bird does not leave the nest”

One thought on “From last post up to to Krakow”

  1. I want to hear more about the accommodations in Krakow when you guys return. It sounds like you both had an interesting time, to say the least. Please be careful when accepting accommodations in foreign places. I think hostels will be the best bet from now on. At lease you know what you are getting into, even though you may have a drunk to bunk with once in a while. Enjoy Prague! It is one of my favorite European cities and tons of fun. Skype soon and often! We love you…

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