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Memorial day at Auschwitz – Birkenau

Auschwitz & Birkenhau

Photo courtesy of Peter Harpley

January 27th is International Day of Holocaust Remembrance, established by the United Nations to coincide with the liberation in 1945 by Soviet troops of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Nazi death camp in southern (German occupied) Poland.

Over one million died in Auschwitz, mostly Jews, at the hands of the Nazis and six million perished in the Holocaust.

President Bronislaw Komorowski and German president, Christian Wulff will be taking part in ceremonies today at the most notorious of Nazi death camps.

“Former prisoners will be the most important guests at the ceremony this year, as we fear that with their death we will lose the most important of witnesses,” the Auschwitz Museum’s Pawel Sawicki told Polish Radio.

The main ceremony will take place at around 15:30 CET at the Monument to the Victims at the Auschwitz Museum, the most visited museum in Poland. Last year, close to one and a half million people visited the site from all over the world.

The museum is launching the Intervene Now campaign to raise 120 million euro for the up keeping the historical site.

“The barracks, barbed wire, the ruins of the crematoria and gas chambers are the best guardians of memory,” says Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, an advisor to PM Donald Tusk and Auschwitz survivor.

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January 27, 2011 Posted by | Events, News, Tour Information | , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

It’s Adamek vs Klitschko in Wroclaw

Krakow Tours - Boxing

Tomasz Adamek will get his, “Chance of a lifetime,” to fight reigning IBF and WBO World Heavyweight Champion Vladimir Klitschko, in September and in Poland to boot, at Wroclaw’s Euro 2012 football stadium.

Against the background of shenanigans surrounding the Ukrainian’s match with Britain’s David Haye, Adamek’s team put together a proposal and got the ink dry on the contract in double quick time, leaving Adamek to begin preparing for the chance to win a world title at a third weight division.

For now, the two fighters are saying only nice things about each other in a heavyweight love-in. “Adamek’s proposal was extraordinary. To fight in Poland, in a new, big stadium – I really liked that idea,” purred the Ukrainian champ. Meanwhile Adamek, in Przeglad Sportowy, cooed, “I have enormous respect for him, but no worries – I know what I’m fighting for.”

January 20, 2011 Posted by | Events, News, Recommendations, Sport | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Outstanding experience from 8am to 8pm!!”

This review of KRAKOW TOURS was posted on Tripadvisor recently.

“Outstanding experience from 8am to 8pm!!”

“I have been involved in the travel business worldwide for 25 years, so i feel i know a thing or two about ground handlers and local tour operators. I came across Phil Clark of krakowtours.co.uk on tripadvisor, I was most impressed by the various personalised comments and reviews of his Auschwitz and salt mines tours. My wife Alma and I were fully aware of the harrowing experience which lay ahead on our visit to Auschwitz. I was worried as we were due to visit two camps and the salt mines all in the one day, however Phil has the winning formula!!

Phils tour operation is run on a personal one to one basis. He takes six clients per day in his wonderful converted American style mini-bus, which is a pleasurable experience in itself. He also provides a lovely picnic lunch for all of his clients. Reviews on other tour operators show that accessing these sites/camps can be a drawn out and painstaking process, however with Phils operation there is no such issues, your straight in. It is a most difficult day, but i feel that Phil has got it just right. By taking in the brilliant and dramatic salt mines at the end of the afternoon, it helps dramaticaly to relieve the pain and anguish of the previous hours. It is my personal belief that everybody should visit these historical sites at some stage in there lives. I cannot recommend a better person, with a more caring and knowledgable personality than Phil Clark of krakowtours.co.uk.”

Eamon and Alma Duffy
Drogheda
Ireland

Many thanks to Eamon and Alma for this tremendous review of our tour.

View more reviews HERE on Tripadvisor, the worlds #1 travel website.

January 16, 2011 Posted by | News, Tour Information | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

New Euro 2012 blog


KRAKOW TOURS – Countdown to Euro 2012 in Poland and Ukraine.

As it’s now only 17 months until the start of Euro 2012 KRAKOW TOURS have added a new Blog, to keep the estimated 1 million fans visiting Poland and Ukraine up to date with news, stories and information about the Euro 2012 championships.

For all you need to know about Euro 2012 have a look here.

January 12, 2011 Posted by | Events, Krakow Travel Advice, News, Recommendations, Sport, Tour Information | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Auschwitz visitors, almost 1.4 million in 2010.

KRAKOW TOURS – As many as 1.38 million visited the site of the German Nazi death camp at Auschwitz in 2010, the museum has announced.

The record high attendance in the 60-year history of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and State Museum in Oświęcim, southern Poland, topped the previous year’s attendance of 1.3 million.

The numbers soared despite the air traffic freeze following the volcano eruption in Iceland and the May floods in the southern and central parts of the country.

“The former death camp is the most frequented memorial site in the world,” said museum spokesperson Bartosz Bartyzel.

Apart from 530,000 Poles visiting, the largest group coming to Auschwitz last year were British, accounting for 84,000 people, followed by Italians, numbering 74,000 and 63,000 French nationals.

Up to 850,000 visitors were students.

The museum’s staff member Andrzej Kacorzyk has pointed to the increasing number of foreigners from European countries and the Far East: “Last year the Memorial Site was visited by more inhabitants of South Korea than the US citizens,” he said.

There is also a growing interest in the museum’s multilingual guided tours and educational programmes

The Auschwitz Nazi death camp complex, established in 1940, claimed the lives of over 1.1 million people.

Auschwitz Trips with Krakow Tours.

January 12, 2011 Posted by | Krakow Travel Advice, Tour Information | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Russia Blames Polish Pilot Error For Smolensk Crash.

Russia has blamed the Smolensk air crash which killed the Polish president and nearly 100 other people in April on Polish pilot error.

The Polish crew failed to heed bad weather warnings because they were afraid of displeasing President Lech Kaczynski, Russian investigators said.

The presence of Poland’s air force commander in the cockpit drove them to take “unjustified risk”, they said.

Poland’s prime minister has cut short a holiday in response to the report.

A government spokesman said Donald Tusk was returning to Poland for talks with Poland’s lead crash investigator, Jerzy Miller.

Last month, Mr Tusk sharply criticised a draft version of the Russian report.

Russia’s handling of the disaster had previously been widely commended.

President Lech Kaczynski and 95 others, spanning the country’s military and political elite, were killed when their airliner came down in heavy fog near the western Russian city of Smolensk. There were no survivors.

They had been on their way to a memorial ceremony for Poles massacred by Stalin’s secret police at Katyn during World War II.

Tatyana Anodina, head of the Inter-state Aviation Committee (Mak) in Moscow, told reporters that the final report had been handed to Polish colleagues.

The Soviet-made Tu-154 plane, she said, had been in good condition when it took off from Warsaw en route to Smolensk’s Severny airport, and it suffered no engine or flight system failures.

The jet was piloted by Captain Arkadiusz Protasiuk (left) and Major Robert Grzywna

Before impact, there was no fire, explosion or other damage in the air, she continued.

The disaster resulted directly, she said, from the crew’s failure to heed weather warnings and land at a different airport.

“During the flight, the crew were repeatedly informed of inadequate weather conditions at the destination airport,” she said.

“Despite this, the crew of the Tu-154 did not take a decision to switch to a back-up airfield. This may be considered as the start of the extreme situation aboard the plane.”

The Russian investigation found “substantial deficiencies” in the training given to Captain Arkadiusz Protasiuk and his co-pilot, Major Robert Grzywna, Ms Anodina said.

The two men had feared a “negative reaction” from President Kaczynski if they switched to the other airfield, according to the Russian investigator.

“The main passenger’s expected negative reaction… placed psychological pressure on crew members and influenced the decision to continue the landing,” she said.

The jet’s flight recorder caught one of the crew saying “He’ll get mad”, in an apparent reference to the Polish president’s determination not to alter his schedule.

Poland’s air force commander, Gen Andrzej Blasik, added to the pressure by entering the flight deck, Ms Anodina noted.

“The presence of the Polish air force commander on the flight deck up to the aircraft’s impact with the ground put psychological pressure on the crew captain to decide on continuing descent in a situation of unjustified risk, dominated by the goal of making a landing at any cost,” she said.

According to pathology tests, alcohol was found in the blood of Gen Blasik in a concentration of 0.6 grams per litre – just above the drink-driving limit for most EU states.

Investigators found that a top Polish foreign ministry official, Mariusz Kazana, had also entered the flight deck at one point.

At the news conference in Moscow, they played back the flight recorder tape of the pilots’ final minutes, including conversations with Russian air traffic controllers.

Just before the recording ends, an automatic recorded message in English from the plane’s Terrain Awareness and Warning System can be heard exhorting the crew to “pull up, pull up”.

In December, Mr Tusk described a draft of the Russian report as “unacceptable”, saying some of its conclusions were unfounded.

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

“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.

On Wednesday, Mak official Alexei Morozov said his investigation had amended its report with regard to technical criticisms made by Polish investigators.

But other amendments suggested by the Poles relating to responsibility for the crash were not included in the report as they were non-technical, Mr Morozov said.

These amendments would, he added, be contained in an appendix to the report.

Lech Kaczynski’s twin brother, former Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski, recently said he doubted that the body entombed in a Polish cathedral last year was that of his brother.

“When I saw the body that was brought back in a coffin to Poland, that person did not look like my brother,” he told reporters last month.

BBC Full Report

January 12, 2011 Posted by | News | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Pope John Paul II, very nearly a saint.

KRAKOW TOURS – According to an Italian daily newspaper, the beatification ceremony of John Paul II – an important step towards sainthood, could be held at the Vatican as early as April this year.

Il Giornale reports that a committee of doctors and theologians have recognised a miracle by John Paul II – one of the conditions of beatification – and the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints will take a final vote in the beatification process this month.

The Italian newspaper writes that just before the end of last year, the committee of doctors at the Vatican ruled that the cure of French nun Marie Simon-Pierre of advanced Parkinson’s disease was inexplicable other than from intervention of the Polish Pope.

“All I can tell you is that I was sick and now I am cured. It is for the church to say and to recognise whether it is a miracle,” the 46 year-old nun told a press conference back in 2007.

“I am cured. It is the work of God, through the intercession of Pope John Paul II,” she said, cliaming her symptoms cleared after praying to JP II.

A committee of cardinals and bishops have now received all the documentation connected with the case and will meet in mid-January to assess them. If positively assessed then they will be sent to Benedict XVI.

Beatification could then take place on 2 April 2011, the sixth anniversary of the death of Pope John Paul II.

The ceremony could be held in October, however, on the 33rd anniversary of the election of Karol Wojtyla as pontiff.

 

January 4, 2011 Posted by | News | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

1 Millionth visitor to Wieliczka salt mine

KRAKOW TOURS – The number of visitors to the historic salt mine in Wieliczka near Kraków has topped the one million mark.

On the penultimate day of 2010,  Ms Urszula Szczęsnowicz, who came to the site with her family from Mława, north of Warsaw, was greeted as the one millionth visitor by the Director of the Salt Mine Kajetan d’Obyr.

She was given a red-carpet treatment, taken on a special tour of the place, presented with gifts and asked to put her signature in the Visitors Book, alongside such celebrities as Fryderyk Chopin, Duke  Edward Windsor and the King of the Belgians Albert II.

2010 saw a three percent increase in the number of visitors to Wieliczka. Foreigners account for 52 percent of visitors. The British top the list (56.900), followed by Germans (39.300), Italians (36. 500), French (32.500) and Koreans (31. 600).

The Wieliczka Salt Mine was founded in the middle of the 13th century. It features a 3.5-km touring route for visitors that includes historic statues and mythical figures. There are also a large chapel, an underground lake, as well as a private rehabilitation and wellness complex.

In 1978 the Wieliczka Mine was included in the original UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.

January 1, 2011 Posted by | News, Tour Information | , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

   

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