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Obama could be in Krakow in May

US President Barack Obama may spend a few hours in the city of Kraków during his visit to Poland in late May and place flowers at the tomb of the late President Lech Kaczynski in the Wawel Cathedral.

According to the Dziennik newspaper, which quotes a Polish government official, no decision has yet been taken but this is an option under serious consideration.

President Obama will be in Poland on 27 and 28 May.

The US president was to attend Lech Kaczynski’s state funeral last April following his death in the Smolensk air disaster but the Icelandic volcanic ash cloud made travelling to Poland impossible.

Dziennik quotes an unofficial source suggesting that the idea of paying tribute to the late Polish president came from the US Embassy in Warsaw.

The first anniversary of the air crash in Smolensk, western Russia, which killed the Polish President, the First Lady and 94 other people, mostly high-ranking state and military officials is on 10 April.

March 30, 2011 Posted by | News | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Frederic Chopin Letters – Back where they belong

KRAKOW TOURS – Six letters written by Frederic Chopin, thought to be lost in 1939, have been found and donated to a Warsaw museum dedicated to the Polish composer.

The letters, written by Chopin to his parents and sisters between 1845 and 1848, were believed lost after the outbreak of World War II.

After it emerged in 2003 that they still existed in a private collection, moves were made to secure them.

Chopin was born in Poland in 1810 but spent half of his life in France.

According to museum curator Alicja Knast, the letters were last displayed in public in Poland in 1932 and were still confirmed as being in Warsaw in 1939.

It is thought the letters went missing, like many other cultural artefacts, after the Nazis invaded Poland.

The museum was assisted in their recovery by Marek Keller, a Polish art dealer now based in Mexico.

He acquired them directly from their owners, who Knast said wished to remain anonymous.

In the letters, written in Polish, Chopin describes daily life and his cello sonata in G minor, one of his few non-piano works.

The collection, which includes letters from Chopin’s pupil Jane Stirling to his sister Ludwika, will be on display at the museum until 25 April.

Some of Chopin’s letters were written in Nohant in central France, birthplace of his lover Amantine Dupin – aka writer George Sand.

Later this year Jeremy Irons and Sharon Stone will take part in a theatrical evening devoted to their romance at the Tuscan Sun Festival in Cortona, Italy.

March 25, 2011 Posted by | News | , , , , | Leave a comment

Adam Małysz – The Flying Moustache

KRAKOW TOURS – Ski-jumper extraordinaire, the diminutive and mustachioed Adam Malysz, is preparing for a farewell bonanza this weekend in Zakopane, Poland’s winter capital.

The multi-medal-winning sportsman, who is the only ski-jumper to have won the World Cup three times in a row, announced his retirement from the sport earlier this month.

Known internationally as ‘The Flying Moustache’ and ‘The Polish Batman’, the slight sportsmen combined a gentle, modest manner with ski-surfing feats that saw him snap up 4 Olympic medals and 7 from the World Championships.

As many as 40,000 fans are expected to descend on Zakopane this weekend, with the main attractions scheduled for Saturday 26th.

Special trains services are being laid on to help accommodate the numbers, and fake moustaches are being prepared for those not able to sport the real McCoy this Saturday.

‘I had been kind of planning to shave off the moustache,’ said Malysz, ‘but what with this action coming about, well, it would be stupid to do so.’

Besides a host of international stars who’ll be joining Malysz on the jumps, a number of pop and folk bands will be letting rip to entertain revellers. Groups such as Wilki, Papa D. Zakopower and Brathanki are all expected.

Likewise a special tribute song, entitled ‘We’re jumping for you’, has been rustled up, courtesy of Patrycja Markowska, Kasia Wilk, Piotr Cugowski oraz Grzegorz Skawiński.

March 24, 2011 Posted by | Sport | , , , , | Leave a comment

President Obama to visit Poland soon?

KRAKOW TOURS – US president Barack Obama is to take part in the summit of Central and East European countries to be held in Warsaw at the end of April.

The information comes from Foreign Ministry sources.

Reacting to the unofficial news, Prime Minister Donald Tusk told Polish Radio that “from our point of view the US is, and shall be, [Poland’s] most important ally.”

“We understand this is not always reciprocal, bearing in mind the force it represents. However, this would testify to the gravity of Polish-US relations. Let’s not look for different contexts. This is good news and I hope it will materialise,” PM Tusk added.

The information was first revealed by the Gazeta Wyborcza newspaper on its website, while Polish Radio received confirmation from the Foreign Ministry in Warsaw.

March 19, 2011 Posted by | News | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Poland smoking ban – A big success

Research done in Krakow, Poland’s cafe capital, claims that the recently introduced smoking ban in Poland has been judged a success for the public‘s health.

New laws on smoking in public places were introduced in November 2010. Besides an outright ban on puffing at the workplace, bars and restaurants were forced to eliminate smoking totally on premises, unless an entirely partitioned room was introduced, with the additional air-conditioning.

The MANKO student association questioned both 400 employees of Krakow venues, as well as over a thousand members of the public.

According to the analysis, 73.9 percent of employees supported the ban, whilst 48.3 percent have perceived an improvement in their health.

Similarly, the group claims that 68 percent of smoking customers support the new measures, likewise 84 percent of non-smokers.

Research also throws light on the question of whether businesses have suffered as a result of the ban.

The group claims that the frequency of people visiting cafes and restaurants has increased since the changes.

Magdalena Petryniuk, a coordinator of the campaign Lokal Bez Papierosa (Venue without Cigarettes), which is affiliated to MANKO, said at a press conference that all bodes well.

‘We hope that in the long-term this will bring an improvement to people’s health. Similar research conducted in the United States proves that the number of heart attacks has fallen by 30 percent. We hope that the same will follow in our country,” she said.

Dave Mc Ginley, Manager of The Irish Mbassy in Krakow comments,

‘Customers and staff both seem in favour of the smoke free atmosphere in the bar, so it’s got to be a good thing’.

March 4, 2011 Posted by | News | , , , , | Leave a comment

Krakow’s ghetto opened 70 years ago today.

Seventy years ago today, the occupying Nazi German regime opened a ghetto in Krakow for Poles of Jewish descent. It was one of the five largest such ghettos in the so-called General-Government region of the Third Reich.

By 3 March 1941, over 36,000 Cracovian Jews had already been forcibly resettled outside the city. Now a second wave was enacted, enclosing the remaining Jews in a walled section of the city’s Podgorze district, south of the River Vistula.

By October 1941, the Ghetto housed about 16,000 people. They were enclosed in an area that prior to the war had accommodated 4,000. Apartments typically housed four families together.

Evacuations of the ghetto to forced labour camps began in May 1942, as recorded in the memoir of Catholic pharmacy owner Tadeusz Pankiewicz, who was later decorated by the State of Israel.

Another prominent figure who aided the Jewish community was Oskar Schindler, who famously used the free labour of Jews at his enamel factory, a short walk from the ghetto. He succeeded in saving the lives of over 1,000 Cracovian Jews.

65,000 Jews from the city and its environs perished during the war. Approximately ten percent of the pre-1939 population survived. Amongst those who escaped the ghetto was the young Roman Polanski, who went on to become one of Poland’s most renowned film directors.

In the summer os 2010, the city of Krakow opened a major museum chronicling the occupation in the former Schindler Factory. A march of remembrance also takes place every year, marking the bloody liquidation of the ghetto in March 1943.

March 3, 2011 Posted by | Events, Tour Information | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Good news for Polish tourist industry.

The number of tourists travelling to Poland is expected to rise by six percent in 2011, leaping from 12.4 million to 13.2 million visitors, according to the UN’s World Tourism Organisation.

Although companies specialising in the Middle East have suffered huge losses this year as a result of the political turmoil, according to the WTO, Poland’s prospects echo a global upturn for the sector.

The Central Statistical Office (GUS) published figures yesterday showing that an equivalent of five billion USD flowed into Poland last year from foreign tourism.

As many as 1.1 million Germans stayed in Polish hotels and hostels during 2010.

The number of Germans was three times greater than that of the British, who came second in the rankings.

In tandem with these trends, Poland will be spending 30 million euro on a campaign to tie in with the International Tourist Fair in Berlin (ITB), the most significant global fixture of its kind.

March 1, 2011 Posted by | Krakow Travel Advice, News, Tour Information | , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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