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Stolen Auschwitz sign to be re-erected

KRAKOW TOURS – A Swede and two Poles have received jail sentences for their involvement in the theft of the “Arbeit Macht Frei” Auschwitz sign.

A Krakow court sentenced Swede Anders Hoegstroem to two years and eight months for instigating the theft—a term he will serve in Sweden following an earlier plea bargain.

Prosecutors stated that the motive for the theft was financial. Hoegstroem claimed that another Swede induced him to organise the raid, though Polish authorities have found no evidence to support this.

The Polish pair, identified as Marcin A. and Andrzej S., were sentenced to up to two-and-a-half years in jail for their involvement in the theft. Andrzej S. is reported to have apologised to the court for the crime. Three other Poles were jailed in March 2010 for their part in the crime.

The December 2009 theft appalled Polish public opinion and sparked a massive manhunt across Europe. The “Arbeit Macht Frei” sign was recovered after just three days, crudely sliced into three pieces.

Conservators at the Auschwitz Museum announced Wednesday that they are preparing to re-erect the original sign after months of painstaking restoration work.

Full story Krakow Post

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December 30, 2010 Posted by | News, Tour Information | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Poland’s special day.

KRAKOW TOURS – Since early morning households have been buzzing with last minute preparations for the most festive supper of the entire year – Wigilia – eaten as the first star appears in the night sky.

Today is not a national holiday, though employees will be finishing work early and rushing home to get ready for what awaits.

In the evening family and friends sit down to the Christmas Eve table. And there are certain must-dos which have to be observed during the occasion, regardless of the family’s social and financial status or any additional regional customs.

The table cloth must be impeccably white with a small bundle of hay underneath it. A separate, empty plate should be set for an unexpected guest or exhausted wanderer who may knock on our door.

The Wigilia feast consists of twelve courses, including such delicacies as pierogiuszka and barszcz (various kinds of dumplings with beetroot soup) or fried carp, just to name a few of a whole gamut of possibilities.

However, the whole supper begins with breaking the oplatek, or Christmas wafer and exchanging best wishes among the gathered. Many families still find enough musical courage to engage in singing beautiful Polish carols.

Kids too, have their joyous moments as Santa makes his stop over in Poland on Christmas Eve. To crown the daylong celebrations there is Midnight Mass, which attracts millions of faithful to churches across the country.

December 24, 2010 Posted by | Events, News | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Early start to Christmas eve in the Salt Mine.

KRAKOW TOURS – Christmas Eve celebrations have already started in the Wieliczka salt mine, near Krakow, where carols sung by the miners and their families echoed from the St. Kinga chapel, 200 meters below ground level.

The special Christmas mass began at 7 am this morning.

This underground sanctuary and its salt sculptures had been created in the 18th century.

The first midnight mass was said on Christmas Eve 1865.

The tradition had been interrupted after World War Two when the communist authorities banned the celebrations giving safety precautions as a reason and were resumed in the late 1980’s.

December 24, 2010 Posted by | Events, Krakow Travel Advice, Tour Information | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I left my heart in Kraków… (via Katwords)

Perfect, Just perfect brief description of Krakow.

Prepare yourself for intensely happy rambling. If I could serenade Kraków forever more, I would. What a place. What an amazing, glorious, beautiful, stupendous, wondrous place. Visually, it's fantastic. Beautiful old buildings, intricate iron fittings, and all dusted in snow…just perfect! Cobblestone streets, nooks, alleyways, long parks and a magnificent castle…ah. Apparently it only gets better as the seasons change. Then there's the cultur … Read More

via Katwords

December 23, 2010 Posted by | News | 1 Comment

An Englishman in Krakow……well Warsaw actually.

Here is Sting singing a couple of tracks from his Symphonicities album at Polish Radio’s 85th birthday gala on Friday 17th Dec 2010

December 20, 2010 Posted by | Events | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Poland criticises Russian ‘Smolensk Report’

Polish PM Donald Tusk has criticised an investigation by Russia into a deadly plane crash which killed the country’s president in April.

He said it was “unacceptable” and some conclusions “without foundation”.

Russia recently handed Poland a draft report of the incident after months of investigation, though it has not been made public.

Former President Lech Kaczynski and other senior officials were among 96 people killed in the crash.

The plane came down near the western Russian town of Smolensk.

‘Without foundation’

Without revealing details of the report, Mr Tusk said it did not comply fully with the Chicago Convention which regulates international air travel.

“From the Polish point of view, the draft report from the Russian side as it has been sent is without question unacceptable,” he said in televised comments to reporters in Brussels.

“This negligence and mistakes or lack of positive reaction to what Poland has been asking for, all these things allow us to say that some of the report’s conclusions are without foundation,” he added.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev visited Poland last week and reiterated a promise to cooperate over the crash investigation.

Poland’s first couple – along with other leading political and military figures – were on their way to a memorial ceremony for the World War II Katyn massacre when their plane crashed in poor weather on 10 April.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin was praised for his sensitive handling of the situation in the aftermath of the crash, which killed all those on board.

KRAKOW TOURS

 

December 17, 2010 Posted by | News | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Germany to donate €60 million To Auschwitz – Birkenau

KRAKOW TOURS – The German Foreign Ministry has announced that it will donate 60 million euro to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation, the fund-raising body for the preservation of the Nazi concentration camp’s site in southern Poland.

Berlin is set to donate the money in five equal yearly payments starting in 2011, the ministry stated, Wednesday.

Following an agreement signed between the federal authorities and representatives of Germany’s federal states, the Federal Government will pay 30 million euro, with the other half directly coming from the country’s states.

“Through the donations to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation, Germany recognises its historical responsibility for the support and transfer of memory of the Holocaust to future generations,” Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle published in an official statement.

Westerwelle also wrote that Auschwitz-Birkenau is a “synonym of the crimes perpetrated by National Socialism. Today’s memorial reminds us of this crime. It is our duty to support the Foundation which secures the museum as an indispensable place of remembrance, education and learning in the future.”

The Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation was created in 2009 thanks to the initiative of Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, the PM’s plenipotentiary for international dialogue, and more pertinently perhaps, a former inmate of Auschwitz.

The Foundation’s activity is aimed at the preservation of around 155 buildings, 300 ruins and thousands of other exhibits, including documents and archive materials. According to the Foundation, around 120 million euro is needed for the upkeep of the Museum site for years to come.

December 16, 2010 Posted by | News, Tour Information | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Poland’s giant snowman

KRAKOW TOURS – It’s Frosty, super-sized.

This 31-foot behemoth – dubbed ‘Milocinek’ – is casting a long, frigid shadow over Trzebnica, Poland.

A group of ‘bored’ Poles started building him one day – and then decided they would just keep going.

Six days later, they hunted down a barrel for a hat and a traffic cone for a nose, and their work was done.

The resulting Goliath of a snowman stands on eye-level with surrounding two-storey homes, and dwarfs passing cars it is 9.5 metres (31 feet) high.

The snowman was completed Friday near the town of Trzebnica in southwestern Poland.

A Polish newspaper’s website reported Saturday that the snowman’s builders believe Milocinek is the largest snowman built in Poland since winter weather set in more than a week ago.

Other observers go further – suggesting he may well be the largest snowman in the world.

See the video

Read more: Daily Mail

December 15, 2010 Posted by | Events, News | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Beware the orange (Interchange) Kantors in Krakow

There’s been a lot written already about the ‘Interchange Kantors’ that are cropping up all over Krakow. Yesterday (14/12/2010) I decided to test them out.

I first went to the one on Florianska and asked what the ‘Buy’ rate is for GBP, they appeared very confused and asked if I wanted to buy pounds, i repeated that I wanted to know what their ‘Buy rate’ was for GBP. They asked how much I wanted to change, i replied £200, and I was then offered a rate of 4.29 zloty to the pound, I laughed and left. The ‘Buy’ rate was written on a white board behind the counter which was obviously not meant to be seen by unsuspecting tourists.

Next I went to the shop on Grodzka, pictured below, they proudly announce a rate ‘Sell’ rate of 4.76zl to the pound outside the shop, inside is a different story, again the ‘Buy’ rate is barely visible on a white board behind the counter. I asked to change £200 again and was offered a rate of 3.45 zloty to the pound, I laughed and started to leave, so they offered me 4.29 which apparently is the rate available if you want over 4000 zloty, so they were doing me a big favour!!!

The best rate I saw available in Krakow yesterday afternoon was 4.675 to the pound. Almost 10% more than the best offer from Interchange, and a massive 35% more than 1 of their offers.

The Interchange Kantors are there to RIP OFF the tourists and should be avoided at all cost.

Related Blog – Travel Advice – Money

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December 15, 2010 Posted by | Krakow Travel Advice, News, Recommendations | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rugby on Ice in Krakow

Krakow Tours – Rugby

This is the Krakow Freestyle Ice Skating Club demonstrating their rugby skills on ice.

This is a sport they are trying to develop, it’s only played as a touch game so far, but with additional funding and interest they hope to get padded up and start playing full contact.

Read more about it at The Krakow Post

December 8, 2010 Posted by | Events, Sport | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Polish local presidential candidate and the strippers.

This is Włodzimierz Tomaszewski, a recent candidate for president in Łódż, appearing in his ‘Party Political Broadcast’ extolling the virtues of Łódż as a cultural centre.

Keep this up and the British Stag Parties will be flocking there in their thousands.

KRAKOW TOURS – Stag & Hen

 

December 7, 2010 Posted by | News, Tour Information | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Krakow before the bad weather

A couple of driving videos from Poland, and this is before the snow hit us.

December 1, 2010 Posted by | News | , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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