It's Saturday morning and I am at a Medieval Carnival/Saturday Market in the shadow of the Wawel Royal Castle on the banks of the Wisla River in Krakow Poland. In the central green the warriors engage in battle then when they have had enough the bagpipers and drummers take the field and do a little dance as they play. The merchants encircle the field and sell medieval clothing, weapons, meats, wines along with huge, beautiful loaves of bread. I'm watching all the action from the food tent as I try to consume a grilled kielbasa large enough to feed a family of four, along with a large crusty roll. The Piwo (beer) that the server recommended for this meal was a Polish made India Pale Ale. Life is good.
I have found Krakow to be a very enjoyable, affordable and relaxing city. It has a lively town square where you can comfortably sit and nurse a coffee or beer for hours while the moon rises, the church bells chime, the bugler announces the top of the hour and the accordions play on and on. It's a city that's easy to get around on foot and if you get tired and want to duck out of the hot sun their will always be a Catholic Church near by. A heat wave hit this week and I've used that tactic a few times. I even sat through part of a Catholic Mass. It's been a few decades since I've done that.
While in Krakow I celebrated my wedding anniversary or celebrated as much as you can without your spouse being their. I spent the day at the Auschwitz Concentration/Death Camp. (No, it's not a joke.) We are all familiar with the atrocities that occurred there, more then a million men, woman and children killed by every method imaginable. Seeing the piles of eye glasses, shoes and hair made it more real than any lecture or video ever could. But staring into the eyes of one prisoner after another and then reading their arrival and death date I found even more disturbing. My bad days are so trivial compared to the last weeks, days or hours in the lives of the victims of Auschwitz.
You are allowed to take photographs throughout most of the camp but I became less and less interested in taking photos as the tour progressed. As I scanned the grounds and the faces of the visitors I thought to myself, “It's good that all these people, from so many different countries are visiting but the people that really need to be here are our world leaders and politicians. I don't know if it would change their narcissistic behavior but they are the ones that need to see how intoxicating and misdirected power can become.”
Well my time in Krakow is coming to an end and in a few hours I'll board the night train for Budapest Hungary. That leaves me just enough time to stroll around the square once more taking in the sites and sounds and to have one last coffee. Thanks for listening.