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The Wrong Arm of the Law

KRAKOW TOURS – Imagine you have a little business, a kiosk at the station. You pop out for a moment to look at a new advert for the kiosk on the side of your car. You take out your phone and start framing a photo, but the car is too far away. Then, suddenly, a burly police officer appears and demands your phone from you, or he’ll arrest you.

This is exactly what happened last week in Konin. The man refused to hand over the phone, so he was thrown to the floor, held in a half-Nelson and frogmarched to the police van. There then began a process of intimidation, he was taken to the station and handed a PLN 500 fine, for obstructing the law. He refused to pay and the matter will go to court.

First up, let’s establish one thing in black and white: there is no law that says you cannot take a photo of a uniformed officer.

So, the officers were already on shaky ground. But the man, having not taken a photo of them in the first place, did use his phone to record his own arrest.

In this film one of the officers, in reply to the victim saying he had been detained without just cause, said,

“Yes? Then I’ll find something to charge you with.” The officer is clearly suggesting falsifying a charge against the man in an act of pure spite.

So, in a single incident we have wrongful arrest, physical assault, false imprisonment, intimidation, demanding money with menaces and an attempt to pervert the course of justice by trumping up charges.

With police officers like this, who needs criminals?

It’s an offer unique to Poland – you take the photos, the police will do the framing.

Graham Crawford writing for NPE

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

Naked Mickey Mouse on a Swastika!!!! WHY?

KRAKOW TOURS – A new Polish art gallery has defended its use of a poster featuring Mickey Mouse’s head grafted on to a naked female body backed by a swastika.

The poster, based on a piece by Italian artist Max Papeschi calledNazisexymous, is being used to promote an exhibition titled ‘Aborman Nudes’ due to open in Poznan in September, PAP reports.

Local councillor Norbert Napieraj said: “For Poles, the swastika symbolises the suffering and death of over six million people. The promotion of the Nazi regime through a public display of swastika in the very city centre is a disgusting and repulsive act.”

Publishers of images ruled to promote fascism in Poland can reportedly face a prison sentence of up to two years.

Mateusz Pakulski from the city’s Prosecutor’s Office said: “We will investigate whether the law has been violated in this case.”

However, gallery manager Maria Czarnecka has denied that the poster promotes Nazism, saying: “Our goal is not just to exhibit, but also to provoke, to show how modern pop culture comments on reality.”

June 25, 2010 Posted by | News | , , , , , | 1 Comment

What’s on in Krakow

KRAKOW TOURS

June 2010

Throughout June & July: The World Cup

If it’s possible that anyone has failed to notice, there is a world cup on. A great venue to view the games in Krakow is The Irish Mbassy.

26th and 27th June 2010: Malopolskie Air Show.

At the Polish Aviation Museum.

26th June 2010: Start of the 20th Jewish Culture Festival.

From its humble beginnings in 1988, the Festival of Jewish Culture has evolved into an epic event that draws performers and revellers from around the globe. Focused on the Kazimierz district, the festival sees film, music, literature and even cookery come together in an exhilerating celebration of all things Jewish. The event wraps up with a street party on Szeroka Street on Saturday July 3rd. Not to be missed.

26th June 2010: Wianki CANCELLED

11th June 2010: Krakow under Nazi occupation museum.

The much awaited and long promised opening of Oskar Schindler’s factory as a museum dedicated to the history of Poland 1939-1945 has now happened.

Open Daily.

Mon: 10.00 – 14.00 (entry is free)

Tues/Sun: 10.00 – 18.00

July 2010

3rd July 2010: Shalom on Szeroka Street

The largest Jewish stage in the world! Seven hours of non-stop Jewish music!

10th July 2010: The Beatles Day.

Competition for the best Beatles cover band.

17th July 2010: Krakow Jazz Night.

A chance to hear some jazz music in different places all over Krakow, free concert on the main square.

June 25, 2010 Posted by | Events, Krakow Travel Advice, Tour Information | , , | Leave a comment

The Polish Pope – The Musical

KRAKOW TOURS – Elvis Presley, Eva Peron, Buddy Holly have all had one. Now, so too, does Pope John Paul II: a musical dedicated to his life.

Actually entitled Non Abbiate Paura, or Don’t Be Scared, this show, like the others, is bustling with show-stopping songs, dance routines and drama. It is an attempt to cram the 84 years of his life into two hours.

The musical was written by two priests, one who wrote the script, the other who crafted the songs.

Father Joseph Spedicato is the wordsmith.

He says he took his inspiration from the teachings of the Pope and from at least six meetings with him.

“Writing a musical on Pope John Paul II represents the highest, most sublime honour,” he says. “He was the Pope who managed to tear down barriers, to reach out to people and who was a pilgrim of the world.”

The show voyages from the youth of the then Karol Wojtyla, under Nazi rule in Poland, to his triumphant election as Pontiff, and through his 26 years as head of the Catholic Church.

Playing him is the young actor Simone Sibillano.

He does not look like the Pope and it is not meant to be an impersonation, but Simone does feel connected to his subject.

“I am a very spiritual person,” he says. “The Pope was very special to young people like myself. The production will be received in many ways. Some will criticise, but some will applaud and all we can do is our best to capture his essence.”

Eighteen songs cover the many episodes of the Pope’s career, though controversial subjects like his views on abortion and contraception are sidestepped.

The spectacular even includes rap music and young women bounding around in gossamer-thin white costumes.

It is deeply respectful and although there are a few artistic licences taken in the name of brevity and clarity, it remains faithful to the story.

But is it just for Catholics?

“Oh no,” insists the director Gianluca Ferrato. “It is for men, women, black people, white people, for everyone. This is a universal message.”

There are many Catholics and non-Catholics who believe Pope John Paul II changed the world. Just remember the three million people who queued for up to 12 hours to pay their respects after his death in 2005. He’s already been described as the rock-star Pope, so popular was he with young people.

Since his death there have been books, films, even T-shirts. Well, now comes the musical. The ultimate accolade, perhaps, for someone who left an overwhelmingly positive legacy.

KRAKOW TOURS offers tours following in the footsteps of Pope John Paul II, from his birthplace in Wadowice through his time spent as Archbishop of Krakow and finally to his returns to Krakow as Pope. Email us for more information

Original at BBC Online

June 22, 2010 Posted by | News, Tour Information | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Poles go to the Polls

KRAKOW TOURS – Polish polling stations have opened for a snap presidential election forced by the death of conservative president Lech Kaczynski in a plane crash in April.

Among the candidates are the late president’s identical twin as well as the interim president Bronislaw Komorowski, who is ahead in the polls.

Candidate Jaroslaw Kaczynski said he wanted to run for the presidency to safeguard his brother’s legacy after he died in the plane crash in Russia which also killed 95 others including many high-ranking politicians.

But despite his association with the popular former president, reaffirmed by a visit to his tomb on their joint 61st birthday on Friday, surveys have still given his rival Komorowski a five to 18 point lead.

Kaczynski has managed to close the gap with Komorowski in recent weeks, putting both rivals way ahead of the eight other candidates, and threatening the chance of Komorowski securing the 50% majority he needs for a first round victory.

If neither candidate wins the first round vote, a run-off ballot is scheduled for July 4.

Although the election has been branded the strangest in Poland’ post-Communist history, it will define the country’s relations with Europe and Russia.

Kaczynski, a former prime minister, is a Eurosceptic who is known for being deeply conservative and nationalistic while his rival is more liberal. However, some have said that the former president’s death has cast a shadow over the election, causing candidates to tone down their rhetoric.

The late president Lech Kaczynski was expected to have bid for a second term in a race against Komorowski. Kaczynski and his wife Maria were on a presidential jet that crashed in Smolensk, western Russia, on April 10. They were en route to ceremonies marking the 70th anniversary of a Soviet WWII massacre of Polish officers in the nearby Katyn forest.

June 20, 2010 Posted by | News | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Polish Legends # 8 – The Polish White Eagle

KRAKOW TOURS – A thousand years ago, or maybe even more, there lived three brothers, Lech, Czech, and Rus. For many years they had been content in their villages, but the families grew larger and they needed more room to live.

The brothers decided to travel in different directions to search for new homes. Lech, Czech, and Rus traveled with their troops for many days. They rode their horses over mountains and rivers, through forests and wild country. There were no people to be found anywhere, not a town or tiny village. On the crest of a mountain top, they separated, each going in a different direction. Czech went to the left, Rus went to the right and Lech rode straight ahead, down the mountain and across vast plains.

One day Lech saw a spendid sight. He and his troops had come to a place where a meadow surrounded a small lake. They stopped at the edge of the meadow as a great eagle flew over their heads. It flew around in great swooping circles, then perched on its nest, high on a craggy rock. Lech stared in awe at the beautiful sight. As the eagle spread its wings and soared into the heavens again, a ray of sunshine from the red setting sun fell on the eagle’s wings, so they appeared tipped with gold, the rest of the bird was pure white.

“Here is where we will stay!” declared Lech. “Here is our new home, and we will call this place GNIEZNO … (the eagle’s nest).

He and his people built many houses and it became the center of his territory. They called themselves Polonians, which means “People of the Field”. They made a banner with a white eagle on a red field and flew it over the town of Gniezno, which became the first historical capital of Poland.

And, now you know how Poland began . . .

June 15, 2010 Posted by | Krakow Travel Advice, Tour Information | , , | Leave a comment

Auschwitz / Birkenau, photo blog

KRAKOW TOURS – UK photographer, Peter Harpley, joined Krakow Tours last week on trips to Wieliczka Salt Mines, Liban Quarry, Schindlers Factory, Podgorze (The Krakow Ghetto) and Auschwitz Birkenau.

The photographic results of the trips were certainly some of the best I’ve seen from Auschwitz and Birkenau.

I’d like to thank Peter for his permission to display some of his work here.

And here’s one of mine………

June 13, 2010 Posted by | Tour Information | , , , | 1 Comment

Polish Legends # 7 – The Pigeons of Krakow (Ver 2)

KRAKOW TOURS – At various points in the medieval ages, Krakow was under siege, and the defenders were slowly losing their hopes – not to mention supplies.

On one ocassion they were so desperate that they started to eat the Krakow pigeons. The Krakow authorities opposed this, thinking the pigeons could be useful in other ways – like bringing small quantities of grains or other foods to the city. After a few more days, one of the Krakow defenders decided to try and sneak through the enemy lines to find out if help is on the way. He took a few pigeons with him to contact the city. After some time, one of his pigeons landed on the roof of one of the houses. It was quickly captured, and on his leg the defenders found a note that infused their hearts with hope: “Relief will come in six days, hold on”.

The Krakow defenders prepared to attack on the sixth day, to help their rescuers crush the opponent by catching them in crossfire. On the evening of the fifth day, nobody even noticed that another pigeon landed on the tower of one of the Krakow churches… At dawn on the sixth day, the Krakow knights attacked with double confidence in their force, expecting the rescuers to come any minute.

The sieging army was so surprised that it gave hardly any resistance, and fled, leaving behind almost all of their camp. Krakow knights were beaming with happiness, and only in the evening someone caught the pigeon that flew in the day before. A note tied to his leg said: “Flooding river. Crossing impossible. Rescue won’t come. Give the city up”.

June 13, 2010 Posted by | Krakow Travel Advice, Tour Information | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Krakow (via beansandtoast)

I am back from a very cold, very wet, but very fun four days in Krakow. I'd been checking the weather forecast a couple of weeks before we left, and the five little "heavy rain" symbols in a row every day didn't look promising. At least the forecast was accurate though – it rained constantly, apart from a couple of half hour breaks, the whole time we were there. The weeks of rain have taken their toll on Krakow, and other parts of eastern Europe … Read More

via beansandtoast

June 11, 2010 Posted by | News | Leave a comment

Being Jewish in the Krakow Jewish District (via The Adventures of D)

Being Jewish in the Krakow Jewish District On my second full day in Krakow, I decided to do my walkabout. I knew there were places I wanted to go — mostly the locations on the map marked with a Jewish star, also known as the Jewish District. I know Poland is seeped with a terrible history as it relates to Jews (and many other religions, cultures, etc.), and it makes my heart heavy to think that such a beautiful place has such sad stories behind it. The Jewish District is one of those pla … Read More

via The Adventures of D

June 11, 2010 Posted by | News | Leave a comment

Castle of the week Ogrodzieniec Castle Poland (via Heraldic Times Blog)

Castle of the week Ogrodzieniec Castle Poland Ogrodzieniec Castle stands proudly among limestone crags at the highest point of the Krakow Upland at an elevation of 500 Meters. The Castle itself lies 2 km East of the town of Ogrodzieniec, a small town in the province of Silesia in southern Poland. The castle lies on what is known as “The Trail of the Eagles’ Nests” Szlak Orlich Gniazd in polish, named after a chain of 25 medieval castles which are perched high on tall rocks between Czestochow … Read More

via Heraldic Times Blog

June 11, 2010 Posted by | News | 3 Comments

Poland & UK, as close as family.

KRAKOW TOURSUK foreign secretary William Hague said that relations between Poland and Britain were sometimes as close as family, after a meeting with his Polish counterpart in Warsaw last night.

Sikorski and Hague met for discussions on the situation in Iran, Afghanistan and the Middle East as well as issues related to the EU’s foreign policy and energy security.

Radoslaw Sikorski and William Hague praised the decision of the UN Security Council to impose sanctions on Iran in protest against Tehran’s nuclear ambitions – comprising of penalties which will hugely affect the banking sector in that country.

“Poland and Great Britain have been allies for years. Recently this alliance was strengthened due to the presence of a large Polish community in Great Britain,” Sikorski said after the meeting last night. “I would like to give thanks for the positive attitude towards Poles in Great Britain, though I hope they will in time come back to Poland, speaking fluent English but working in their home country.”

Foreign secretary Hague also underlined the importance of the presence of the Polish community, who flocked there in their hundreds of thousands after Poland joined the EU in 2004.

“Those who work [in the UK] were, and are, always welcome. It is their presence which has enhanced the good, often family-like relations between our two countries,” he said.

William Hague also expressed solidarity with Poland in connection with the Smolensk plane crash and the floods.

The visit to Warsaw was part of a European tour by the new foreign secretary, which has taken in Paris, Rome and Berlin. His first trip abroad, however, was to Washington directly after forming the Lib-Con coalition in the UK in May – reflecting the foreign policy priorities of the new government in Downing Street.

TheNews

Krakow Tours

June 11, 2010 Posted by | News | , , | 1 Comment

Polish Legends # 6 – The Pigeons of Krakow (Ver 1)

KRAKOW TOURS – When it comes to Polish cities, Krakow certainly has the highest pigeon-per-square-foot rate.

The Krakow pigeons – mostly residing on the Main Square – have become one of the city’s symbols, and many-a-legend has been told about their impact on Krakow’s history.

It seems, though, that it’s only the Krakow tourists who are so fond of the pigeons, and many inhabitants seem to feel that they do more harm than good. Apart from the obvious threat they might pose to the landing and starting airplanes of the Krakow Airport, the pigeons are also a threat to the city’s landmarks, especially when it comes to aesthetics.

Anyway, tradition is tradition, and hardly anyone can imagine Krakow without its pigeons.

Back in the medieval ages, Poland was divided into several regions of relative autonomy – this period of “Regional Disintegration” lasted between the 12th and 14th centuries, and the lack of a strong central authority weakened the Polish lands. No wonder then, that Henry IV, a Polish prince residing in Krakow, decided to try and become the king of all of the Polish lands. As it usually happens in legends, Henry contacted a witch, who told the Krakow prince that to achieve his goal, he should go alone to Rome and present the pope with a large quantity of gold. She offered him assistance – she turned the prince’s knights into pigeons, and they quickly flew all the way up to theSt Mary’s Church’s tower, and started to rip out small parts of the stone and bricks, that fell on the ground turned into gold. Having collected enough, Henry left Krakow, leaving his knights-pigeons behind to keep the city safe. However, the Krakow prince never got to Rome – he spent all of his gold on girls, food and drink, got lost along the way, and never even returned to Krakow. Poland wasn’t re-united until Wladyslaw Lokietek was crowned Polish king in theWawel Cathedral in 1320, and Henry’s knights are still waiting for their king on the Main Square.

June 11, 2010 Posted by | Krakow Travel Advice, Recommendations, Tour Information | , , , , | Leave a comment

Polish Legends # 5 – Krakow’s Lajkonik

KRAKOW TOURS – In 1287 a detachment of Tatars approached the walls of Krakow.

Before the planned assault they hid behind some bushes to get some sleep, as you would do. Unluckily for them they were spotted by some sturdy Wisla raftsmen who grabbed their oars, got stuck in and thereby ruined the Tatar plans to conquer the Polish Capital.

After that the raftsmen rode into the center of Krakow in Tatar uniforms to tell the people about their daring escapades – that’s the legend anyway.

Nowadays, Krakow’s iconic Lajkonik character celebrates the city’s deliverance by marching with band and sergeant from the Sisters of Norbertanki’s Monastery Courtyard to the Main Square, hitting passers by on the arm, just to bring them luck.

And today’s the day, Lajkonic parade starts at 12.00

June 10, 2010 Posted by | Events, Tour Information | , , , , | 1 Comment

Schindler’s List (via A Reasoner’s Miscellany)

Good review of Schindler’s List.

Schindler’s factory opens as a museum of Poland during the war on Friday 11th June 2010.

I’ll post a review of the museum as soon as I can.

Schindler's List Rating: 10/10 This is truly a great movie. It tells the story of a German businessman named Oskar Schindler, who during World War Two uses Polish Jews to work at his factories to become super wealthy. After a massacre of Jews at the Kraków Ghetto, however, Schindler eventually sees the horror of the Nazi anti-Jew laws and behaviors, and he changes his mission from making money to saving as many Jews as possible. As the Jews are ordered to Auschwi … Read More

via A Reasoner's Miscellany

June 9, 2010 Posted by | News | 1 Comment

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