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Tatra Beer is big problem for the Slovakians – sorry I mean Bear

KRAKOW TOURS – A large bear is rampaging on the Polish-Slovakian border, in the Tatra National Park (TPN), and has already attacked some horses and two lumberjacks, one on either side of the border.

The Slovakians have apparently issued orders to shoot the animal if found on their side of the mountains, but the Poles have a more humane approach to the problem. Workers from the TPN have prepared a special cage which they hope to lure the aggressive mammal into.

“If he goes into the cage, we’ll put him to sleep for a while, carry out some genetic testing, establish its sex, age and weight, attach a collar and then wake him up and let him go. Then we’ll know from an online signal where the bear is to an accuracy of 5m,” park director Pawel Skawinski told reporters.

This will enable TPN workers to manage the animal and enable them to warn tourists and mountain walkers away from areas where the bear is active. In extreme circumstances, park officers are ready to use plastic bullets against the marauding beast. “He won’t be killed by us,” Skawinski guaranteed.

The park director has three hypotheses as to why the animal is behaving so aggressively: either the bear is injured, or it has been fed by people and no longer fears them, or – an extremely rare occurrence – the bear is a natural born killer.

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April 30, 2010 Posted by | Krakow Travel Advice, News | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Auschwitz thieves NO SHOW for prison sentence.

KRAKOW TOURS – The three men jailed for stealing the Auschwitz sign are missing after being let out of jail on compassionate leave.

Two of the men, brothers Lukasz and Rodoslaw M., had been entrusted with weekend passes in order to visit their ill mother. The third man, Pawel S., had also been allowed out, to organise wedding plans with his fiancée. But police have confirmed that all three have failed to return to the jail in Wroclaw and arrest warrants have now been issued by Krakow’s District Court.

The men had been sentenced for their roles in the theft of the famous ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’ sign that sits above the entrance gate to the Nazi death camp in December last year.

Police are now worried that their no show could affect the outcome of the case against Anders Hogstrom, the man who is believed to have plotted and staged the entire theft. Hogstrom, who founded Sweden’s anti-immigrant National Socialist Front in 1994, was extradited to Poland this month to face trial – with most of the evidence based on statements from the men who are now missing.

The former neo-Nazi leader has pleaded innocent, stating that he was merely asked to collect the sign from the Polish gang in order to pass it onto a buyer. If convicted of the crime, he faces up to 10 years in prison.

April 27, 2010 Posted by | News | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Krakow Funeral – A Race Against Time

KRAKOW TOURS – Frantic preparations are ongoing in Krakow, where the funeral ceremony is to be held on Sunday for the late president Lech Kaczynski, and his wife Maria.

Details have been released about the funeral ceremony for Maria and Lech Kaczynski, who both tragically died along with 94 other people in last Saturday’s plane crash in Smolensk, reports Polish Radio correspondent John Beauchamp in Krakow.

After the mourning ceremony in Warsaw on Saturday, the coffins carrying the presidential couple will be flown to Krakow, where they will lie in state in St. Mary’s Basilica on Krakow’s Main Market Square at 10am. Around 1000 people are expected to be allowed to enter the church: however, the funeral procession, which will lead down from the Basilica to the Wawel Cathedral, will be a closed, private affair.

Details of the tomb have also been released: it is to be made out of alabaster, and will be placed in the vestibule of the crypt of one of Poland’s national heroes, Marshall Józef Piłsudski, but not next to Piłsudski himself.

The resting place is to measure 250 by 170 cm, and will be installed on a granite plinth.

Speaking to TVN24 news channel earlier on Thursday, Cardinal Dziwisz, the Archbishop of Krakow, said that the crypt will also house a plaque with all the names of the people who died in the Smolensk plane crash. It is being speculated that in the future a plaque commemorating all the murdered at Katyn in 1940 will also be housed in the crypt under Wawel Cathedral.

Painting grass green

Krakow is preparing itself for a total lockdown, Sunday, as VIPs from around the world are expected to visit the city for this sombre occasion. Most of the Old Town is to be closed, streets cleaned and emptied of stalls and rubbish. Last-minute renovation works are also taking place with workers even painting the grass around Wawel a brighter colour of green.

Thousands of special agents are supposedly already in Krakow, with a US Secret Service plane landing at Krakow’s Balice airport yesterday. On Sunday the heart of Krakow will be cut off from the world as mobile phone networks will be switched off, and in the skies a NATO AWACS radar plane as well as fighter jets will be patrolling airspace around the city.

As the number of visitors is expected reach over 500,000, large screens will be spread throughout the city relaying the ceremony on the Market Square and Wawel Hill. One of these is to be placed on the Błonie meadow, a place usually connected with Papal masses and large outdoor gatherings.

courtesy Polskie Radio

April 16, 2010 Posted by | Events, Krakow Travel Advice, News, Recommendations, Tour Information | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Polish President Lech Kaczynski dies in plane crash

President Lech Kaczynski and scores of other senior Polish figures have been killed in a plane crash in Russia.

Polish and Russian officials said no-one survived after the plane apparently hit trees as it approached Smolensk airport in thick fog.

Poland’s army chief, central bank governor, MPs and leading historians were among more than 80 passengers.

Prime Minister Donald Tusk said the crash was the most tragic event of the country’s post-World War II history.

The Polish delegation was flying in from Warsaw to mark the 70th anniversary of the Katyn massacre of thousands of Poles by Soviet forces during WWII.

The BBC’s Adam Easton, in Warsaw, says the crash is a catastrophe for the Polish people.

He says Prime Minister Tusk was reportedly in tears when he was told.

After an emergency meeting of ministers, Mr Tusk, who runs the day-to-day business of government, said a week of national mourning had been declared with two minutes of silence on Sunday at midday.

He said he would travel immediately to the site of the crash, in Smolensk. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir said he would go to Smolensk on Saturday as well, Russian news agencies reported.

Mr Tusk added: “The Polish state must function and will function”.

A government spokesman said that according to the constitution there would be an early presidential election, and the speaker of the lower house of parliament, Bronislaw Komorowski, would be acting president.

In Warsaw, people have been gathering outside the presidential palace to lay flowers and light candles.

“I’m all broken up… it cannot be expressed in words,” Ewa Robaczewska told Reuters news agency.

Pilot error?

The Russian emergencies ministry told Itar-Tass news agency the plane crashed at 1056 Moscow time (0656 GMT).

Smolensk regional governor Sergei Antufiev told Russian TV that no-one had survived.

“As it was preparing for landing, the Polish president’s aircraft did not make it to the landing strip,” he said.

“According to preliminary reports, it got caught up in the tops of trees, fell to the ground and broke up into pieces. There are no survivors in that crash.”

Polish Foreign Ministry spokesman Piotr Paszkowski said it could be assumed with “great certainty” that no-one had survived.

“We still cannot fully understand the scope of this tragedy and what it means for us in the future. Nothing like this has ever happened in Poland,” Mr Paszkowski said.

Polish TV worker Slawomir Wisniewski said he had seen the crash from his hotel near the airport.

“I saw through the fog, the aeroplane flying very low with the left wing pointing to the ground,” he said.

“I heard something being broken and then that thudding sound. Two flashes of fire next to each other.”

It is unclear how many people were on board. Polish officials said the delegation was 88-strong, while local officials said 96 people had been killed.

Russian investigators had earlier said there were 132 people on the plane.

Russian media carried claims that the plane’s crew were at fault for the crash.

“Flight controllers at Severnyy aerodrome suggested that the plane be forwarded to Minsk but as far as we know the crew took an independent decision to land the plane in Smolensk,” Smolensk regional government spokesman Andrei Yevseyenkov told Russian TV.

Mr Putin said the bodies of those killed in the crash would be taken to Moscow for identification, Russian media said.

Controversial figure

The president was flying in a Tupolev 154, a Soviet-designed plane that was more than 20 years old.

Our correspondent says there had been calls for Polish leaders to upgrade their planes.

Mr Kaczynski himself had suffered scares while using the plane in late 2008, when problems with the aircraft’s steering mechanism delayed his departure from Mongolia. It was then caught up in turbulence flying to Seoul.

“Any flight brings with it a certain risk, but a very serious risk attaches to the responsibilities of a president, because it is necessary to fly constantly,” he was quoted as saying at the time.

But the head of Russia’s Aviakor aviation maintenance company told Russian TV the plane was airworthy, after his plant fully overhauled it in December.

As well as the president and his wife, Maria, a number of senior officials were on the passenger list.

They included the army chief of staff Gen Franciszek Gagor, central bank governor Slawomir Skrzypek and deputy Foreign Minister Andrzej Kremer.

World leaders including Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, US President Barack Obama, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown offered their condolences to Poland.

Mr Kaczynski, who had fewer powers than the prime minister but had a significant say in foreign policy, was a controversial figure in Polish politics.

He had advocated a right-wing Catholic agenda, opposed rapid free-market reforms and favoured retaining social welfare programmes.

Courtesy of BBC

April 10, 2010 Posted by | News | , , | Leave a comment

Winter Bites Back

KRAKOW TOURS – While the rest of Poland is enjoying the onset of spring, Zakopane was plunged back into winter this Monday evening as heavy snow fell, bringing down power lines and leaving thousands without power. By Tuesday morning 10cm of snow lay on the streets of Zakopane, taking locals and tourists by surprise.

The tourists in particular were pleased by the unexpected turn of events and lost no time at all in strapping on their skis.

“Wonderful powder, there’s nothing like skiing on fresh powder snow,” commented one happy skier.

Those heading into the mountains though are being warned to take extra care and a level three avalanche warning is in place. Due to the typical spring weather conditions, warm in the day leading to a slight thaw, then refreezing at night, the danger of avalanches is particularly high. Inexperienced walkers should stay away and those who do take therisk need to ensure they are equipped with crampons, avalanche detectors, probes, shovels and the like.

April 9, 2010 Posted by | Krakow Travel Advice, News, Tour Information | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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