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Harris Jazz Bar, Krakow – In Europe’s Top 10.

Harris

According to The Guardian

Jazz spread like wildfire in Europe in the early 1920s and Poland joined the swing explosion with enthusiasm, merging it with its own fiddle-based traditions.

But the second world war put paid to all the fun. After the war, amid Stalin’s repression, jazz came to symbolise freedom and resistance, so in many ways has a greater resonance here than in the UK, say.

Nowadays such is the audience for the genre that top US jazz acts often play several dates in the country. There is boundless local and national talent, such as pianist Paweł Kaczmarczyk, who’s appearing at the club on 6 February, who have risen to the top at clubs such as Harris and U-Muniaka in Kraków.

These are small places (both about 70 capacity) in near-1,000-year-old brick cellars with bars in adjacent rooms. Harris is on the hugely atmospheric Market Square and lays on mainstream jazz, funk and blues, good food (international mains from £3) and a boisterous vibe. On many nights it’s free of charge.

Admission €5 (€10 for name international acts), mid-week jam sessions free entry, beer from €2.50, booking advised at weekends, 28 Market Square, +12 421 57 41, harris.krakow.pl 

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February 2, 2016 Posted by | Krakow Travel Advice, News | , , , , , | Leave a comment

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June 8, 2015 Posted by | Krakow Travel Advice | , , , | Leave a comment

A Polish Wedding….. All you need to know.

KRAKOW TOURS– Polish wedding season is almost upon us. More and more foreigners are marrying Poles or getting invited to Polish friend’s weddings and there are things these people need to know. In this definitive survival guide to Polish weddings I will cover every potential pitfall, misunderstanding and health risk I’ve uncovered. Comparisons are made with British Weddings, the rest of you will have to wing it.

1. Read your invitation carefully

In Poland it is quite possible to be invited to the wedding but not the wedding party. In fact it’s more common to be invited to the ceremony than to the party.

Many Poles are still attached to the quaint notion that the union of two people in holy matrimony is a significant event that people might want to witness rather than a slightly tedious prelude to a booze up. Shocking I know, but there it is. If your invitation mentions “ślub” that’s the tedious prelude part. If it mentions “ślub” and “wesele” put on your best drinking shoes and pat yourself on the back, you’re going to a party.

2. The missing groom

In a British wedding ceremony the groom arrives at the church first and waits at the altar with his best man for the bride to be escorted down the aisle by her father or nearest equivalent. It’s a tradition that allows for all kinds of hilarious church-based shenanigans such as the groom fainting from stress or the best man passing out from alcohol poisoning. It’s also frequently used as a dramatic device in the kind of movies where brides decide not to turn up at the last minute. In Poland the bride and groom arrive at the church at the same time and walk down the aisle together, sometimes in leg irons. If you’re waiting in the church and notice the groom is missing don’t get excited, he’s coming. Expectations of a thrilling ‘jilted-at-the-altar’ scenario are unlikely to be met.

3. Polish best man – the world’s easiest job

Expectations of the best man at a Polish wedding are not high. The ability to walk in a more-or-less straight line and hold some envelopes are sufficient qualifications. Polish best men do practically nothing. He walks behind the bride and groom down the aisle along with the bridesmaid and then sits down. That’s pretty much it. Best men are often also witnesses, but not always. In a British wedding it is the responsibility of the best man to bring the ring (note, only one ring) and hand it over at the appropriate moment, another tradition that provides limitless opportunities for humor. Not so in the Polish service – the rings are already there in a holy cubby hole of some kind.

If you’re ever asked to be best man at a Polish wedding do not hesitate. No responsibilities, no speeches (more on this later), a definite invitation to the party and a guaranteed woman to go with. You can’t lose.

4. Throwing money around and sealed brown envelopes

On exiting the church the happy couple are traditionally showered with handfuls of loose change. They are then expected to pick it all up. Starting out on married life groveling around on the pavement for pennies like bums is, apparently, lucky. If you ever find yourself in this position I suggest bringing an umbrella which you can smoothly invert to catch the bulk of the incoming coinage.

Immediately following this potentially painful and humiliating indoctrination into marital finances everybody lines up to pay their respects to the couple and hand them wads of cash. Three kisses on the cheek and flowers for the bride, a handshake and an envelope full of money to the groom. I’m told the going rate is about 200 zloty. The bride hands her flowers to her bridesmaid, who needs to have forearms like tree trunks, and the groom hands the envelopes full of money to the best man, who needs to have moderately large pockets (I told you this job was easy).

5. The salt and the bread

Off to the party, which might be in a wedding hall, a restaurant, or somebody’s back garden. On arrival everybody gets a drink and the bride and groom get salt and bread. Again, if you ever find yourself in this situation, don’t panic – it’s just symbolic, it doesn’t mean you’re only getting salt and bread for the rest of the evening. One or other of the parents who’s job it is to provide the bread and salt may make a short speech and start blubbing at this point.

6. Songs, songs, songs

Immediately following the salt and the bread business all Poles in the vicinity will break into song. The song is known as “Sto lat” (”100 years”) and is the same song you will hear sung at birthday parties, presidential inaugurations and, in extreme cases, the opening of a tin of sardines. Here are the words — you’re going to hear them a lot in the next few hours:

Sto lat, sto lat,
Niech żyje/żyją, żyje/żyją nam.
Sto lat, sto lat,
Niech żyje/żyją, żyje/żyją nam,
Jeszcze raz, jeszcze raz, niech żyje/żyją, żyje/żyją nam,
Niech żyje/żyją nam!

which translates roughly into English as:

A hundred years, a hundred years,
We want him/her/them to live.
A hundred years, a hundred years,
We want him/her/them to live,
Once again, once again, we want him/her/them to live,
We want him/her/them to live.

7. First dinner, first dance

Once the singing has died down everybody sits down to the first meal. Note my use of the word ‘first’ here. There may be additional singing in the form of traditional demands for the bride and groom to kiss like alien face-huggers, but there’s nothing important going on there that you need to worry about. Immediately following the first meal the newlyweds are invited to embarrass themselves horribly by performing the first dance.

8. A lot more dinners

I often advise people going to Polish weddings to beware of the amount of food they will be required to consume. “There will be a lot of food” I say “I mean, really a lot.” “Oh good” they say. I shake my head and hold my tongue. A few days later I see them again and they say “Why didn’t you tell us there would be so much!” “I did!” I say “I tried to warn you.” “My god” they say with the horror of recollection in their eyes “I didn’t know there was that much food…”

This is how it works. Immediately after the first toast you will sit down to an excellent meal of something roasted, with vegetables and potatoes and a side salad preceded by soup. You will eat this and then help yourself to the various cakes, cold meats, breads etc. scattered liberally about the table. At this point you will be completely stuffed and saying to yourself “Hey, that guy was right, there really was a lot of food, but I could handle it.” You will probably be quite satisfied with yourself and think me a moaning minnie with the food handling capacity of a small rodent. About an hour later the waiters will be bearing down on you with exactly the same thing all over again. An hour after that they will be back again. By now you’ll be feeling the fear. Fortunately there are only three or four more courses to go, each one the size of a hearty Sunday dinner. And then cake.

Do not attempt to eat everything served to you. You will die. You have to regard the food as symbolic. It’s a symbol of wealth and plenty, an overwhelming feast for the happy event, it’s not an actual meal.


9. The vodka situation

Vodka is a big deal at Polish weddings. Talk of who is going to buy the vodka and where they are going to get it begins at least six months before people start considering less significant details such as wedding dresses or who to marry. Presumably there was a time when vodka was in short supply or had to be manufactured in the woods because, as far as I can see, the entire problem can me solved in a ten minute trip to the local supermarket. However, I digress.

Assuming the vodka is there and, to be honest, the wedding would have been canceled if it wasn’t there are a few things you should know. Vodka is only drunk collectively. Glasses are filled, somebody proposes a toast, vodka is drunk, and glasses are refilled in readiness for the next toast. There’s no casual solitary sipping. It’s all or nothing every time. Sometimes it will be a special wedding vodka prepared according to a traditional recipe known only to 84-year-old uncle Bogdan. These are often sweet and pleasant tasting but can still kill an elephant at 20 paces. Do not be tempted to fill in the time between toasts with a beer or a glass of wine, that way lies very messy but dimly recalled madness.

10. Throwing bouquets and ties

The throwing of the bouquet will be familiar to British readers and it has the same function at a Polish wedding, except that it takes place at the party and not outside the church. The difference at a Polish wedding is that it is taken much more seriously. In the half an hour before the tossing of the bouquet is due you’ll notice a gradual but complete evacuation of the building by all unmarried females over the age of about 24. To be 25 or older and still in that circle around the bride is a powerful shame.

Unlike men at British weddings Polish men also get the chance to make utter fools of themselves scrambling after discarded clothing. The groom’s tie is the sought after item in this case. By this time of the night any male who is still able to stand, regardless of age, is considered a good catch.

11. Proper dancing

Dancing is also a big deal a Polish weddings. It’s the women’s vodka. The first time I went to a Polish wedding my girlfriend said “You know there will be dancing, don’t you?” “Well yes” I said “that’s normal.” I had in mind the vague individual flailing around that every self-respecting Brit regards as dancing. Not so. Proper dancing is expected. In pairs, with feet and everything. Dancing schools make a killing in Poland.

12. Midnight cake

The cake is cut and distributed to the groaning overstuffed guests at midnight. Or at some other random time. Then they wheel in an entire roasted cow just in case anybody is feeling peckish. Knocking off time will probably be sometime around 3 or 4 in the morning.

13. The two-day wedding

It is true that Polish weddings sometimes go on for two days. The second day is known as “poprawiny” and you’re most likely to come across it at a traditional village affair. At first the idea of a party that goes on for two days sounds quite appealing to the average Brit. By the fifth course of the first night the idea becomes less attractive. The first time I went to a two-day wedding I imagined a Bacchanalian blow-out that would literally go on for 48 hours. In fact the truth is less terrifying. On the first night everybody goes home in the early hours of the morning, sleeps for 10 hours, then comes back and does the whole thing all over again minus the tedious mucking about in church.

The second night is traditionally much more relaxed than the first. It’s a no-holds-barred party to celebrate the fact that the previous night’s party went well, or to rectify the fact if it didn’t. Boys are sorted from men.

Enjoy!

For a fantastic wedding photographer in Southern Poland have a look at Lukasz Lisiecki’s website.

March 11, 2015 Posted by | Events, Krakow Travel Advice, Recommendations, Tour Information | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

Giant Stig statue in Poland for BBC promo

Good citizens of Poland, run for the hills: Big Stig is coming!

Top Gear The Stig Krakow

He’s nine metres tall, made of fibreglass and, according to the instruction manual, should only be hand-washed in warm soapy water. We don’t know where he came from, or what his mission upon this mortal coil may be. Frankly we’re worried to ask.

All we know is that he is Big Stig, and that he today departed the hallowed Top Gear test track on the back on a flatbed, bound for the Polish capital Warsaw, via Amsterdam, Berlin and Poznan. If you’re anywhere near those cities over the next few days, keep an eye out. You’re unlikely to miss him.

What’s all this in aid of, you ask? A fair question. It’s all about a new global channel called BBC Brit, which launches in Poland on February 1 and will be the new home of Top Gear in many countries around the world.

More, we hope, shall become clear in the coming days. For now, fair burghers of northern Europe, we ask you not to panic. Big Stig means no harm. If you spot him, simply stay calm, avoid eye contact, back quietly away and, whatever you do, don’t feed him any Wotsits. We don’t need another electrical substation trashed…

UPDATE, 27 January: After departing the UK on Sunday, we have word Big Stig has reached Germany, via the Dutch capital Amsterdam. And, having escaped the throngs of cameraphone-wielding spotters at Kent’s glamorous Clackett Lane service station, it seems Big Stig’s journey across mainland Europe hasn’t been exactly plain sailing.

“We had a brief stand-off with a tram in the narrow streets of Amsterdam,” reports Simon ‘Premium’ Bond, TG’s man on the ground. “And the journey through Germany to Berlin was fairly biblical in terms of weather. Good thing Big Stig’s waterproof…”

Last we heard, Big Stig’s rig was loose on the derestricted autobahn, clocking a fearsome v-max of 56.2mph en route to Poznan, Poland. Let us know if you spot the big lad…

January 28, 2015 Posted by | Events, News | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

David Cameron visits Auschwitz / Birkenau

David Cameron at Birkenau

David Cameron visiting Auschwitz and Birkenau today 10th December 2014

December 10, 2014 Posted by | News | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bradley Wiggins wins time trial at Tour of Poland

Bradley Wiggins wins time trial at Tour of Poland

Sir Bradley Wiggins signalled a return to form with a hugely impressive win in the 37km time trial at the Tour of Poland.

The Brit, who won the Tour de France and Olympic time trial in 2012, recorded a time of 46 minutes and 36 seconds.

He smashed his nearest rival Fabian Cancellara, a four-time world time trial champion, by 56 seconds.

It was the final stage of the week-long race.

The Tour of Poland, now in its 70th year, had been the Team Sky rider’s first competitive action since he withdrew part way through the Giro d’Italia in May.

He was unable to defend his Tour de France title, won by Team Sky’s Chris Froome, because of a knee injury but his performance in his specialist discipline showed he was back to his best on an undulating course as he recorded his first win of the 2013 season.

“It was a fantastic performance,” said Team Sky sports director Dan Hunt. “It was a real lesson in how to time trial. We went out this morning and researched the course and it was obvious that it suited Brad.

“The climbs suited him, the descents suited him and then it was a flying, rolling run-in into Krakow. He absolutely smashed it.”

Wiggins is next due to compete in the Eneco Tour in Holland, from 12-18 August. He will then race in the Tour of Britain (15-22 September) with his main focus being the individual time trial at the Road World Championships on 25 September, which are being held in Florence in Italy.

In Poland he was performing mainly domestique duties for Team Sky team-mate Sergio Henao, who was third last year, but finished fifth after the seven stages this time around.

The Netherlands’ Pieter Weening, of Orica Greenedge, was the overall winner after a superb time trial. He was 27 seconds behind leader Christophe Riblon before the start of the final stage but overhauled that deficit to win by 13 seconds.

Results of stage seven from Wieliczka to Krakow, 37 km

1. Bradley Wiggins (Britain / Team Sky) 46:36″

2. Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland / RadioShack) +56″

3. Taylor Phinney (U.S. / BMC Racing) +1:14″

via BBC Sport – Bradley Wiggins wins time trial at Tour of Poland.

August 4, 2013 Posted by | Events, Sport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Bradley Wiggins to race Tour of Poland

Sir Bradley Wiggins will make his comeback in the saddle in this months Tour De Pologne.

Krakow Tours  - Bradley Wiggins

Wiggins has endured a frustrating 2013 which has left question marks over whether he will race in the Tour De France again.

He targeted the Giro d’Italia only to withdraw early in the race suffering from a chest infection, and a subsequent knee injury then hampered his recovery and ended his hopes of being ready for the Tour.

Wiggins will return to action in the Tour of Poland later this month with one eye on the world championship time trial in Florence in September.

“He’s very, very motivated and in great shape now, going into Poland, and then on to the individual time trial at the worlds.”

The tour will be in Krakow on 30th July, and then to Katowice on the 31st, and finally Wieliczka to Krakow on 3rd of August.

 

All the details available HERE

July 23, 2013 Posted by | Events, Sport | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Prince Philip in Polish research student gaffe

KRAKOW TOURS: Prince Philip is reported to have asked a highly qualified Polish research student in Cambridge if he had originally come to the UK “to pick raspberries”

Prince Philip

The 92 year-old prince, husband to Queen Elizabeth II, made the remark when visiting the prestigious Medical Research Council’s Laboratory of Molecular Biology, where the structure of DNA was first discovered, Cambridge News reports.

Prince Philip may have become confused when meeting the Polish research student after hundreds of thousands of Poles migrated to the UK after joining the EU in 2004 – with many taking up temporary work such as fruit picking.

The gaffe-prone prince has developed a talent of putting his foot firmly in his mouth over the years, especially when making small talk with ethic minorities or on Royal trips abroad to exotic destinations.

“If you stay here much longer, you will go home with slitty eyes,” the prince said to 21-year-old British student Simon Kerby during a visit to China in 1986.

In 1995, when confronted by a Scottish driving instructor, Prince Philip, also known as the Duke of Edinburgh enquired: “How do you keep the natives off the booze long enough to pass the test?”

In 1967, when asked if he would like to visit the then Soviet Union, the prince said: “I would like to go to Russia very much – although the bastards murdered half my family.”

“And what exotic part of the world do you come from?” Prince Philip asked Conservative Party politician Lord Taylor of Warwick, whose parents are Jamaican, who replied: “I’m from Birmingham.”

And in 2000, the prince pontificated on the British class system: “People think there’s a rigid class system here, but dukes have even been known to marry chorus girls. Some have even married Americans,” he said.

May 24, 2013 Posted by | News | , , , | Leave a comment

Irish Mbassy – St Patrick’s Weekend

Bringing Ireland to Krakow.

March 12, 2013 Posted by | Events, News, Sport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Krakow Ghetto opened 72 years ago this week

IN SCHINDLERS STEPS – This day in history – 1941 – The beginning of the Jewish ghetto in Krakow

One of the five main ghettos created by Nazi Germany during their occupation of Poland in WWII. Before the war, the city was an influential cultural centre for the 60,000 – 80,000 Jews that resided there.

February 26, 2013 Posted by | This Day In History, Tour Information | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Valentine’s Day in Poland

Valentine’s Day is being celebrated in Poland, with pastry chefs across the country rustling up suitably romantic confections.

Valentines Day PolandAs with Halloween,Valentine’s Day passed virtually unnoticed in Poland until the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989.

However, in the last ten years in particular, the celebrations have become increasingly popular, especially with young Poles.

The picturesque medieval town of Chelmno, northern Poland, has thrown itself into the Valentine’s Day spirit with particular gusto.

A relic of St Valentine that was donated to the Church of St. Mary in 1630 – but largely forgotten until 2002 – has inspired an annual extravaganza on 14 February.

The municipal authorities have even gone so far as to re-brand Chelmno as “the town of the enamoured” in its official slogan.

Elsewhere in the country, flower-sellers, chocolatiers, restaurateurs and hoteliers are all doing a roaring trade.

February 14, 2013 Posted by | Events, This Day In History | , , | Leave a comment

Fat Thursday

KRAKOW TOURS – Thursday 7th Feb –  Fat Thursday.

Opens the last week of carnival revelries before the 46 day Lent, Poles unite to prove how much they cherish their tradition, standing patiently in long queues to buy the Polish doughnut called “paczek”. Gorging on the deep-fried sweet dough cakes is a must and a temptation, to which even the most determined weight-watchers tend to succumb.

Bakeries are ready to please, turning out mind-boggling amounts of the spongy, round doughnuts with different fillings and toppings. According to statistics, around 100 million doughnuts are sold on Fat Thursday. The average Pole eats two and a half such cakes, consuming a total of 500-700 calories.

It is a big set back for those dieting after Christmas consumption excesses. But then, eating a “paczek” on Fat Thursday is supposed to bring good luck.

February 7, 2013 Posted by | Events, This Day In History | , , , , | Leave a comment

BBC Travel – Kazimierz: New life in Krakow’s Jewish quarter

Wander through Kazimierz, better known as the Jewish quarter of Krakow, Poland’s second largest city, and signs of the area’s cultural heritage are everywhere.

Szeroka - Kazimierz   www.krakowtours.co.uk

The Old Synagogue dominates Ulica Szeroka (Wide Street), where wooden tables from traditional Jewish restaurants spill out onto the pavement In the evenings while the sound of traditional Jewish klezmer music emanates from the bars and cafes of the surrounding alleys.

via BBC – Travel – New life in Krakow’s Jewish quarter : Cultural Activities, Poland.

February 7, 2013 Posted by | Krakow Travel Advice, Recommendations, Tour Information | , , , | Leave a comment

Skiing and snowboarding in Poland

The mountainous landscape of Poland is ideal for skiers and snowboarders. In the south of our country there are several dozen resorts, some with a long tradition, some newly opened.

The better known ski slopes are in Zakopane, of course. The longest one in the Tatry leads from the mountain revered by Polish skiers – Kasprowy Peak, to the Gąsienicowa Meadow – and is over 7 km long.

The routes from Nosal and Gubalowka are also very popular, with the Szymoszkowa Clearing the favourite place for the snowboarders. Snowboarders have not been forgotten in Witow and Bialka Tatrzanska near Zakopane, where special slopes for hurdling and tricks have been prepared.

In Sudety the piste near Karpacz and Szklarska Poreba are the most crowded. The most famous Polish cross-country skiing piste is in Jakuszyce, where the biggest winter international event takes place – the Piast Race.

The Beskidy Mountains resorts have modern facilities and are competition for the foreign resorts – the equipment of the skiing resorts in Jaworzyna Krynicka or in Wierchomla matches any on the best European slopes. The Jaworzyna Mountains have modern gondolas and the longest lit route, 2,5 km. Wisła, Szczyrk and Korbielow also have their faithful fans.

In the past few years, due to the increasing popularity of winter sports new piste have been created in Mazury, Podlasie and Kaszuby regions, as well as the artificial slopes which have been created in the Szczesliwice park in Warsaw and the Malta park in Poznan.

The route in Polanczyk, by the Solinski Bay, on the Sosna clearing by the shore of the Czorsztynskie Lake and the Lysa Mountain in Sopot are worth recommending to those who like to ski in surroundings with beautiful views. Perhaps the slope in Sopot is not very impressive from the point of view of altitude but it does give a rather unique experience, a view of the Baltic Sea whilst you ski!

 

January 28, 2013 Posted by | Krakow Travel Advice, Recommendations, Sport | , , , | Leave a comment

68th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz

27th January 2013 marked 68 years since the liberation of the Nazi German concentration and extermination camp of Auschwitz. The President of the Republic of Poland, Bronisław Komorowski, assumed honorary patronage over the anniversary ceremony.

The event was attended by the former prisoners and liberators of Auschwitz, representatives of the governments and parliaments of Poland and Russia, ambassadors and diplomats from over 20 countries, representatives of the clergy, regional authorities, local governments, institutions and civil society organisations, as well as all those who wished to honour the memory of the victims of Nazi Germany.

via Auschwitz-Birkenau – 68th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.

January 27, 2013 Posted by | Auschwitz | , , , | Leave a comment

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