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Wieliczka Salt Mine, Health Resort

wieliczka salt mine

The “Wieliczka” Salt Mine Health Resort has signed an agreement with the National Health Service, Malopolska region, for health resort ambulatory care treatment services offered to persons with upper and lower respiratory system ailments and allergies. The next visiting period begins 4th February 2013.

Ambulatory treatment usually last 18 days and includes both days and night stays in the “Wieliczka” Salt Mine Health Resort. During the stay the patient takes treatments according to the prepared program which is implemented in the comfortable and well fitted Eastern Mountain’ Stable Chamber.

The “Wieliczka” Salt Mine Health Resort is the first in Poland underground health resort in which patients can take advantage of subterraneotherapy. This is an innovative method for treating respiratory system ailments developed by Professor Mieczyslaw Skulimowski in the 1950s.

This method is based on subjecting patients to physical, chemical and biological stimuli existing only underground. The constant temperature, humidity, atmospheric pressure, the movement and ionization of the air form a unique climate which relieves symptoms of many diseases. The air is saturated with sodium chloride and free of bacteria, viruses and pollutions.

Contact: “Wieliczka” Salt Mine Health Resort
Park Kingi 1 bldg. I, 32-020 Wieliczka
Phone: +48 12 278 73 68
Fax: +48 12 288 27 73
E-mail: sanatorium@kopalnia.pl

Other salt mine blog posts

January 11, 2013 Posted by | News | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The History of Poland

January 9, 2013 Posted by | News | , | Leave a comment

Lodz – The Polish Manchester

The SunThe mayor of Lodz is considering legal action against British tabloid The Sun, after it described the central Polish city as being full of “drunks, loan sharks and pawnbrokers”.

“Today I am sending the editor-in-chief of The Sun a letter inviting him to see with his own eyes how much his subordinate was mistaken as to the actual quality of our beloved city,” Mayor Hanna Zdanowska said on Monday after the Sunday edition of the tabloid wrote an extensive article detailing what they claim is the decline of the once prosperous industrial city.

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The mayor added that she has instructed lawyers at the Town Hall to look at possibilities of taking action against the Murdoch-owned newspaper for misrepresenting the city and harming its image abroad.

She has also asked the Polish Foreign Ministry to intervene.

“Derelict buildings, boarded-up businesses, crumbling masonry – the poor and elderly getting in line to buy bread,” is the grim picture painted by the British tabloid under the headline: “The Polish city that’s moved to Britain.”

When the UK and Ireland opened their labour markets to new EU members in 2004, hundreds of thousands of Poles and other central and eastern Europeans rushed to take up the opportunity to work and live abroad.

The Sun, however, says that this migration has led to the decline of cities such as Lodz – once a centre of the textile industry in Poland and known as the “Polish Manchester”.

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As Sun journalist Graeme Culliford claims, Poland’s third largest city is now witnessing its decline and fall, backing his claims with photographs of grim and desolate cityscapes and alcoholics standing idle on street corners.

“On Piotrkowska Street, which at three miles long is one of the longest high streets in the world, the cobbled thoroughfare is empty even in the middle of the day,” the journalist writes.

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The best selling newspaper in the UK goes on to claim that the city is suffering from a wave of westbound economic migrants, allegedly “a more destructive threat” than Nazi occupation during World War II.

“Half the adult population has left the city,” one Lodz inhabitant tells the tabloid.

“They are in Scotland, London and Bournemouth, where they have a beautiful flat, a nice TV, a car — things we cannot have here,” says a Lodz-based job centre employee.

“Nine years after it joined the European Union, Poland is facing a national crisis compounded by its people’s determination to find a better life beyond its borders,” the article concludes.

‘Bias’

According to Mayor Zdanowska, however, the journalist who wrote the report “has no idea what he is writing about,” and “shows Lodz in a very biased way” as part of a long-held editorial stance against immigration to the UK.

Of the claim that employers find it hard to hire IT specialists in the city, Mayor Zdanowska pointed out at a press conference on Monday that companies such as “Hewlett-Packard and Samsung have moved from other countries, including England, to Lodz”.

The Polish Embassy in London has responded rather coolly to the article.

“[We] may address the issue with the Sun, if the information contained in the article proves inaccurate,” spokesperson for the Polish Embassy to Britain Robert Szaniawski has told the Polish Press Agency (PAP).

“It’s not particularly difficult to take photos of drunks and boarded-up retail shops in England either,” the spokesperson noted.

January 9, 2013 Posted by | Krakow Travel Advice, News | , , , | Leave a comment

Travel Advice – Money

KRAKOW TOURS – Here is  a blog aimed at answering many of the questions that travelers have prior to arriving at a holiday destination for the first time. If you have a holiday already booked, or still in the planning stage, this information should prove very useful for you.

Currency Exchange.

Currency can be exchanged at both your departure and arrival airports, but expect to pay hefty commissions and/or obtain a low exchange rate. If you feel you must get your Zloty whilst in the UK then by far the best option is to pre-order from TRAVELEX online and collect it from your departure airport.

In Krakow, currency can be exchanged at hotels, banks and anywhere that you see a sign proclaiming ‘KANTOR’, Kantors will usually provide the best exchange rates and zero commission, but shop around as there can often be as much as 10% difference in the exchange rates offered.

Consistently the best rate available in Krakow is from a Kantor called ‘Grosz’ on Slawkowska, it is only 2om from the north west corner of the main square.

TIP: Try to avoid changing money at a Kantor on sundays, only the smaller independent ones are open, and they seem to all agree to an exchange rate for the day, that is much lower than you should be able to achieve. 

AVOID: Please avoid the Kantors signed CHANGE – KANTOR these are very prominent and look very smart and official, they are usually liveried in Orange or Blue. The rate they display would be the best available if it were real, they display the SELL rate, and if you realise your mistake after handing over your money they will not refund you. Travellers arriving by train will reach 2 of these Kantors before reaching the honest ones.

8th February 2013

Best Krakow Kantor Rates

4.90zł to £1 

4.15zł to €1

Prices

Since EU ascension and becoming a favoured tourist destination, prices in Poland have been on the rise, making the country less of a bargain than it was 5 years ago. Having said that, however, prices for food, drink, cultural venues and transport still remain comparably cheap in contrast to Western Europe, and especially when compared to the Eurozone for travelers from the UK.

In Krakow, expect to pay the highest prices in, and around, the main square. Venture to some of the many side streets and you’ll often find much better value for food, drink and indeed for shopping.

Tipping.

Things have changed a lot since the bad old days when everything had to be tipped. Today it is understood that you tip because the service was good. So if you were satisfied, leave a tip. However you have to bear in mind that catering staff, restaurants, clubs, etc are paid a very minimum wage so if you think it was worth it, add 10% to the bill as a tip, and try to pay it cash to your waiter/waitress.

When paying for a taxi, round up the bill. Generally taxi drivers do not expect to be tipped, so if you do the driver will be surprised and happy, again if it was worth it tip. NO EFFORT NO TIP.

TIP: Be careful in a bar or restaurant when you hand over your cash to pay the bill. In Poland, if you say ‘thank you’ (dziękuje – ‘jen-koo-yeh’)  it can often be taken as a sign that you won’t be wanting any change back. This can prove expensive, say ‘proszę’ (prosheh) and leave the thank you until they return with your change.

Bartering.

If you intend to shop bazaars, open air markets or farms try bargaining. Accepting the first price is not a good idea there, but remember that price negotiations in Poland are far different from the bartering done in Arabic countries. With a little common sense and good humour you can still have a lot of fun and get a little knocked off the price.

Small Change.

Thinking of paying for your tram ticket with one of the 100zł notes in your pocket? Think again. Small shops, newsagents, public toilets and even the occasional fast food franchise or bar will often refuse to break a large note for you. as annoying as it is to carry coins, do carry small change for such moments.


January 5, 2013 Posted by | Krakow Travel Advice, Recommendations | , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Attack on Poland’s Black Madonna

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A 58-year-old man has been arrested after allegedly attempting to desecrate Poland’s most revered religious icon, the Black Madonna of Czestochowa.

According to police spokesperson Joanna Lazar, the man struck at about 8 am on Sunday while visiting the Jasna Gora Monastery in Czestochowa, southern Poland.

The suspect allegedly lunged forward from among a group of worshippers, throwing a pail of what is thought to be black paint over the icon.

Owing to a pane of protective glass, the icon itself survived the incident unscathed.

“The faithful are calling us with tears in their eyes, asking what has happened,” revealed Father Robert Jasiulewicz, spokesman for the Pauline monastery, in an interview with the Polish Press Agency.

“We are calming them that the painting is in one piece, and that it has not been damaged in any way,” he added.

Joanna Lazar has said that the man will probably be charged with “desecrating a religious space,” for which he could face up to two years in prison.

However, she declined to reveal any more details about the case, or the suspect himself.

The Black Madonna is understood to have been brought to Czesctochowa in 1384, but its origins are still hotly debated.

It is believed by many of the faithful that the portrait of the Mother of God was painted by St Luke the Evangelist, and was supposedly owned for a time by the Byzantine Emperor Constantine.

When the fortified monastery endured a 1655 siege by Swedish invaders, the icon became increasingly venerated across Poland.

December 11, 2012 Posted by | News | , , , , | Leave a comment

STING – Lodz, Poland

November 22, 2012 Posted by | Events, News | , , , , | 1 Comment

Poland to bid for Winter Olympics 2022

In training for 2022

Poland and Slovakia have joined forces in a bid to host the 2022 Winter Olympics.

Documentation concerning the proposals has been submitted to Poland’s Minister of Sport, Joanna Mucha.

According to the plan, the former royal capital of Krakow, southern Poland, would host the opening and closing ceremonies of the event.

Krakow would also host the majority of the events played on ice, while Zakopane, Poland’s winter capital, would handle snowboarding, cross country skiing and the biathlon.

Slovakia would organise a number of skiing events, while also hosting a portion of the ice hockey fixtures.

Meanwhile, a letter of intent has been signed by the heads of the Olympic committees of Poland and Slovakia.

According to the documentation submitted to Minister Mucha, the official candidacy declaration would be made in 2013.

Other possible candidates include St Moritz, Oslo, Barcelona, Nice and Lviv.

The host will ultimately be chosen in Kuala Lumpur in August 2015, during the 127th session of the International Olympic Committee.

Although Poland regularly organises sections of international winter sports events, it has never hosted the Winter Olympics.

November 11, 2012 Posted by | News | , , , , | 1 Comment

Antoni Dobrowolski RIP….

ImageAntoni Dobrowolski, oldest Auschwitz survivor, dies aged 108.

The oldest known survivor of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp has died aged 108 in Debno, north-west Poland, officials say.

A teacher, Antoni Dobrowolski, prisoner 38081, was imprisoned for giving secret lessons during Germany’s occupation of Poland.

Mr Dobrowolski was arrested by the Gestapo and sent to the Nazi concentration camp in 1942.

He was later transferred to the Gross Rosen and Sachsenhausen camps in Germany, before being freed in 1945.

“Auschwitz was worse than Dante’s hell,” he said in a video made when he was 103.

Education for Poles was restricted to just four years during the Nazi occupation, in an effort to suppress Polish culture.

Mr Dobrowolski was part of an underground effort to continue education for children.

October 23, 2012 Posted by | Auschwitz, News | , , , | Leave a comment

Ryszard Horowitz

Of late I only seem to have news of  the deaths of Auschwitz survivors, here’s a happier story.

The renowned photographer and Auschwitz survivor Ryszard Horowitz has received an honorary doctorate from the Fine Arts Academy in Wrocław, south-western Poland.

Ryszard

In his thank-you remarks, Horowitz, a Krakow contemporary to Roman Polanski who now lives in the US, said he could not believe he gained such a prestigious distinction considering that, as he put it, “not long ago I left communist Poland with a five-dollar banknote hidden in the heel of my shoe”.

His luggage included a folder with his drawings and paintings which were supplied by an official with the stamp reading “the articles do not have any artistic merit”.

Horowitz, who emigrated to the United States in 1959 after being born in 1939 and enduring time in concentration camps with his parents while under Nazi occupation, also told those attending the ceremony, who included President Bronislaw Komorowski, that he has not forgotten Poland and has not changed his name into Richard.

“It was thanks to very hard work and a little of bit of talent that I managed to achieve something,” he said.

Ryszard Horowitz was four months old when he and his family were ransported to Nazi German concentration camps, including Auschwitz. He was one of the youngest survivors of Auschwitz when it was liberated in January 1945.

As a student at the Fine Arts Academy in Kraków, he developed an interest in photography, which he continued in the United States. He studied at the Pratt Institute in New York City. Upon graduation, he worked for several film and design companies, before opening his own photography studio in 1967. He has earned a reputation as a pioneer of special effects photography prior to digital technology, and has updated his techniques as technologies have changed.

October 9, 2012 Posted by | Auschwitz, News | , , , , | Leave a comment

Shlomo Venezia, who survived being an Auschwitz Sonderkommando, dies

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Shlomo Venezia, a Holocaust survivor who wrote about his experiences in an Auschwitz Sonderkommando unit and spent years bearing personal testimony to the Shoah, has died.

Venezia, who was born in Salonika (Thessaloniki), Greece, died Sept. 30 in Rome at the age of 88.

Deported to Auschwitz in 1944, he was one of the few survivors of the notorious Sonderkommando units – teams of prisoners forced to move and cremate the bodies of those killed in the gas chambers. His mother and two sisters were killed in Auschwitz. He wrote about his experiences in a memoir, “Sonderkommando Auschwitz,” published in 2007.

Venezia was very active speaking about the Holocaust at schools, public events and in the media, and he accompanied Italian student groups on study trips to Auschwitz.

His death “leaves a vacuum and great pain,” said Rome Mayor Gianni Alemanno.

Nicola Zingaretti, the president of Rome province, said: “It is difficult today, and it has always been difficult, to find the words to thank Shlomo for all that he has given us and all that he has taught us, and it is difficult, maybe impossible, to comprehend the depth of his suffering, his courage and his generosity.”

The Director General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, or UNESCO, Irina Bokova, also paid tribute. “Shlomo Venezia was an exceptional and tireless witness of this dark period of history,” she said in a statement. “He dedicated many years of his life telling his story in Italy and throughout Europe to serve as a warning for the future. He influenced a whole generation of young people, teachers and historians, thanks to his deep loyalty to the memory of the deceased. All those who knew him were struck by his modesty and his strength of character,” she said. “His death is a call to intensify efforts for educating and transmitting the history of the Holocaust around the world.”

October 3, 2012 Posted by | News | , , , , | Leave a comment

A Polish Girl’s journey

When Soviet troops marched into Poland on 17 September 1939, it was the beginning of an extraordinary journey for schoolgirl Danuta Maczka.

For Poland, it was the start of a war that would leave millions dead and many more scattered across the world as refugees.

Danuta Maczka, now in her 80s, lived through this time. Her life traces a remarkable odyssey from her farmhouse in Poland, to a labour camp in Siberia, to Iran, Palestine and Egypt – and then her new home in London.

Danuta was born a country girl in Rovne, eastern Poland (now Rivne, Ukraine). She lived with her parents, brother Stefan and sister Zosia in a whitewashed farmhouse surrounded by cherry trees. In September 1939, Danuta was looking forward to starting grammar school – her father had already bought the blazer.

Danuta and her family
Danuta (bottom right) with family

Then life turned upside down. German troops blasted into Western Poland – and Soviet troops arrived in the East. By winter, Soviet NKVD agents were rounding up the Polish army officers who would later be murdered in secret at the forest of Katyn. Ordinary families like Danuta’s hoped they’d be left alone.

The knock came at 06:00 on the dark, snowy morning of 10 February 1940. Danuta remembers the voices at the door as the Russian soldiers ordered her parents out. They took what they could carry – food, warm clothes and blankets and bundled on to a sledge. “I looked back,” Danuta says “and there was my little dog, running and running after us, until he couldn’t run any more.”

Hundreds of Polish families were crowded around Lubomyrka railway station. Some already understood that they were being deported to labour camps in Siberia and Kazakhstan, as civilians potentially hostile to the Soviet Union. No-one knows how many Poles were deported in those weeks, but most estimates reckon about one million.

“We were put on a cargo train,” recalls Danuta. “It was full – 72 people in each wagon. There was a hole in the floor for the toilet, and a little stove.” The Poles sang hymns and songs as they crossed the border out of Poland.

A box of photos stored away in Danuta’s house.
For a long time, Danuta could not bear to look at her wartime photos and journal

“There were planks to sleep on, like shelves. I climbed up to the top plank and lay looking out through a grating. I saw Russia going by – just empty spaces and snow.” All the way, Danuta recorded what she saw in her diary.

As the journey wore on, babies fell quiet and died. “The guard would come and throw the dead babies out of the window into the snow. When an adult died, they’d put the body on a platform by the engine. When the train slowed, they’d put them off. But the children they just threw away.”

The Poles eventually arrived at the Siberian logging camp where they would work. It was part of the old Gulag prison camp system – a complex of timber huts deep in the forest. There was no perimeter wire as there was nowhere to run to.

The forest was eerily still.

“There were no birds singing in the forest. No animals, no wolves or bears. There were not even mice. Nothing. There was nothing there. Perhaps the prisoners had eaten the birds, I don’t know. But I never heard a sound.”

Danuta’s job was to strip bark from birch logs and feed them into a saw mill. She and her younger sister Zosia walked along the railway tracks to find tiny forest settlements. There they could trade their possessions for food.

Front cover of autograph book
Danuta kept an autograph book in which she recorded the events of her early life – from her schooldays in Poland, to the labour camp in Siberia and in the Polish army. She and her friends drew sketches and wrote poems in it as keepsakes.

Danuta’s wristwatch went first. “The people there had never seen a shop. They had never seen something like my nightdress – our things were marvels to them. So we had a little food and some seed potatoes.”

Danuta’s mother grew enough to keep the family fed. “A lot of families died. There was a family nearby, seven children and the parents, and all of them died except one daughter. The mother had no milk to feed the little ones. There was no cow for milk. So they just died.”

As the winter of 1940 drew in, Zosia fell ill with pneumonia. There was a hospital, with beds but no medicines. On Christmas Eve, Danuta and her father went to visit her.

“We went to her bed. We saw that she was dead. So my father had to carry her home. On Christmas Day he made the coffin and a little sledge to carry it. On Boxing Day we went to bury her. My father pulled the sledge and my mother and I walked behind, crying and praying. And we put her in the grave.”

In June 1941, Hitler invaded the Soviet Union. The captive Poles were now Soviet allies. They were given the choice of joining the Red Army or forming their own Polish army in exile, which was to muster in Uzbekistan, in the far south of the USSR.

Women lined up with their trucks
Men were amazed to see women driving three-tonne Dodge trucks

Tens of thousands of Poles went south. Some boarded cargo trains once again, cramming into filthy wagons for days. Many thousands died of typhus inside – Uzbek villagers recall opening the train doors and bodies falling out like sticks.

Other Poles hitched rides on carts, or lashed-up rafts, keeping alive by eating raw potatoes in the fields.

The Poles marshalled at Guzar in Uzbekistan, under Gen Wladislaw Anders.

Danuta added two years to her age to make 18, and joined up. She embroidered a white Polish eagle on her uniform herself, and stuffed her huge boots with straw so they would stay on.

The Anders army was like no other in modern times. Not only was it formed in exile, but it travelled with all its dependents – husbands, wives and thousands of children, many of them orphaned.

Anders led this huge, diverse population of Poles through Central Asia to the Caspian Sea, where they boarded oil barges and sailed to Iran. British allied forces met them on the beach at the port of Pahlavi.

A painting depicting Danuta and her husband
Danuta Maczka met husband Jerzy Gradosielski while in service under Gen Anders

“It was just luck,” says Danuta. “The British made us all walk through disinfection spray – and while we were in there, they burnt all our things. Like my school blazer. What was really lucky was that I took my diary and my drawing book into the disinfection tent – so they came out with me.”

The Polish orphans stayed in children’s homes in Iran, but the military moved on to North Africa.

Still only a teenager, Danuta became one of 800 Polish women and girls to work not as army nurses or secretaries but as military truck drivers delivering ammunition, petrol and food all over Palestine to Polish and British forces.

“I drove a three-tonne Dodge. I was very small so I folded a blanket and sat on it so I could see over the wheel. The men were amazed to see us girls driving the lorries.”

Danuta heard her first English words from the British Tommies. “They called me ‘Baby’! I didn’t know what they meant. I learnt ‘Baby’, ‘corned beef’ – words like that.”

Danuta in her house in Epping Forest
Danuta Maczka today, in her London home

Many of the Jewish Poles decided to stay on in Palestine. Others, like Danuta, moved with the war to Italy in 1943, supporting Polish troops at the battle of Monte Casino. It was in Italy that Danuta met the young Polish officer whom she was to marry, and it was here the war ended for her.

Danuta and thousands of other Poles were de-mobbed finally in Britain, where she was reunited with her brother Stefan and her parents. Some did return to their old homes in Poland. But Eastern Poland was now Soviet Ukraine, and they found themselves on trains to Siberia once again. Very few survived this second deportation.

Gen Anders lived in London for the rest of his life. Danuta had six children and settled near Epping Forest. Her house in east London is crammed with plants on every windowsill, her garden overhung with cherry trees.

They remind her, she says, of the farmhouse in Rovne she left 70 years ago.

September 18, 2012 Posted by | News | , , | Leave a comment

73rd Anniversary of Soviet Invasion

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At dawn, 17 September 1939, the Soviet Union invaded Poland after a secret agreement with the German Third Reich.

Initially, the Soviet Union sent in 450,000 soldiers, though by the end of end of September this figure had risen to one and a half million.

Poland was then caught between German Nazi forces advancing from the west and Stalin’s forces from the east.

On 28 September, Germany and the Soviet Union drew up boundaries under the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact signed a month before, which agreed spheres of influence within Poland, effectively snuffing out the independence the country won in 1918.

Following the Soviet invasion, around 15,000 Polish officers were deported to camps in Kozelsk, Ostashkov and Starobelsk.

Under Stalin’s decree of March 1940 the officers were executed by the NKVD security forces, and their bodies were buried in mass graves in Katyn, Kharkov and Mednoye.

Mass deportations followed to Siberia, which included, according to various estimates, from 550,000 to nearly one and a half million Poles.

September 17, 2012 Posted by | News | , , , , | Leave a comment

Historical Museums of Krakow

November 29, 2011 Posted by | Krakow Travel Advice, News, Tour Information | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Poland to donate €10,000,000 to Auschwitz perpetual fund.

The Polish government is to contribute 10 million euros for the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation which is to oversee the conservation and maintenance work at the site of the former Nazi German concentration camp in southern Poland.

A draft bill which is to approve the donation has had its first reading in the parliamentary commission for culture and the media. Its chairwoman, Iwona Śledzińska-Katarasińska, said that preserving Auschwitz, a site of unique importance, is of utmost siginificance not only for Poland and Europe, but also for the whole world.

Chairman of the Auschwitz Foundation, former Auschwitz prisoner Władysław Bartoszewski, called on deputies to support the draft irrespective of party differences. ‘Such a non-partisan gesture would be appreciated by both the Germans and Jews, showing that all the parties in Poland, from the right to the left, share the view that the site of the former camp should be preserved as a testimony for the whole mankind’, he said.

The Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation, which was established in January 2009, hopes to create a Perpetuity Fund of 120 million euros by 2015 to ensure the consolidation, restoration and long-term maintenance of the camp site.

Several countries have already pledged to contribute 85 million euros, the most sizeable contribution (60 million euros) having been offered by Germany. The United States, Austria, Great Britain and Israel have also contributed to the fund.

The site of the Auschwitz camp extends over an area of almost 200 hectares and comprises 155 buildings, most which are badly in need of repair. The conservation projects are also to cover the camp’s archives, documents and objects in the museum collection. Over 1.1 million people, mostly Jews, perished at Auschwitz.

July 30, 2011 Posted by | Auschwitz | , , , , , | 1 Comment

KRAKOW TOURS: 1000th guests – 18th June 2011

Krakow Tours 1000

June 19, 2011 Posted by | Events, News, Tour Information | , , , , , | Leave a comment

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