" I implore you, my child; observe heaven and earth, consider all that is in them, and acknowledge that God made them out of nothing (ex nihilo), and that mankind comes into being in the same way..." 2 Maccabees 7:28

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

2 of 4

Today I'm in Krakow. It is a beautiful city- full of things to do. I really don't know what to take pictures of, as I don't really enjoy looking at pictures of other peoples vacation spots. I grudgingly take a picture of Wawel castle solely because I feel I have to, but I take 3 of some chubby little baby trying to feed the pigeons. I think I was kind of creeping her parents out.

At Wawel castle, which is also the cathedral where JP II lived while he was bishop of Krakow, there is a spot that is supposed to be one of the seven "chakra" spots in the world. So there are these hippie types who stand in this particularily "charged" corner of the courtyard and there are smudges on the wall where pepole try to hug it ( I hope that's what they're trying to do). I did get a picture of a goofy guy standing funny. I wonder if these people know that this area was once Nazi headquarters in Poland? Wouldn't that have a damaging effect on the chakra? Apparently not.

Today, instead of taking the "pope train" to the JP II sites I pulled a yuppie maeuver and just got a cab driver to take me to them (the train schedule was too kooky and I would be stuck in each place for too long). I fell for the oldest trick in the book, though; the old "oh, I said I'd take you there but you have to pay again if you want me to take you back..." Sheesh. I would have called him some choice words in Polish if I knew any, but it is so much more dramatic to speak words in righteous indignation than it is to rifle through a dictionary and end up settling for the one Polish word "sneak" only to find out later that it really has the connotation of "to smuggle". Oh, well. Better travellers than me have fallen for that trick, so at least I'm in good company. I settled for slamming his cab door. He didn't seem to pick up on my anger as he offered to drive me to Czestochowa the next day. Funny thing- I hear that there was a time when all the Polish old ladies had their hair dyed the same magenta color because it was the only dye available in the stores. It was either go magenta, or go gray. I saw a bunch of old women at a bus stop all with magenta hair- I guess some really grew to like it.

Here in Krakow I am staying in a hostel. It really is pretty nice for the price (about $15 a night). Krakow also has the reputation of being something of a party town though and most of my fellow residents stay up until the wee hours drinking and then don't arise until 10 am. The problem with hanging out with serious drinkers when one is not a serious drinker is that the same point where the non- drinker starts to think that these people are beginning to act ridiculous is the same point when the drinkers start thinking that things are REALLY getting fun. Luckily this works out okay for me, as I am first to get to bed and first in the shower in the morning. Since the bathrooms are co -ed, this really is a necessity rather than a luxury. They probably all think I'm an aspiring nun or something. The rooms are co- ed as well, but as there are not many people in the hostel right now, I have my own room . I hope I don't get a snorer.

Speaking of snorers... dad, how much is the PLN worth compared to the US dollar? I keep getting different answers.

Today I went out to Wadowice and saw the popes chldhood home which has now turned into a museum. I saw, among, other things, a pair of his socks, a can of wax that he used on his skis, and those brown plastic overlays you clip on to the front of your regular glasses to make them sunglasses. There were other things, like his report cards and various vestments, but those were the things I found most amusing.

Okay, Steve, so maybe Polish food isn't exactly good when you compare it to, say, Italian food, but when you compare it to itself it is not bad. Meaning that the odds are any given dish is slightly more likely to be good than bad, therefore Polish food is good.

It is raining outside very hard (the first since I've been here) so it is a nice break from the heat. I am in an internet cafe- don't worry about the KGB reading my e-mails, Jim. I figure I'm not telling them anything they didn't already know anyway.

Trisha, you would like it here in Krakow- lots of cheap clothing stores. Fortunately I have NO room in my backpack for acquiring anything new. Besides, shopping by yourself is boring. Maybe next year...

I also went today to the Shrine of Divine Mercy and the sanctuary of Kalwaria Zebredosca (or something like that) which is a whole village designed to be a miniature Holy Land. In the 1600's the owner realized that his land looked a lot like Jerusalem and set about making the transformation. Now it is. of course, a shrine for pilgrims and was the pope's favorite childhood shrine. Of course, everything out here was the pope's favorite something or other. It sells better that way. IN fact, when I leave here I am going to find a bakery that sells this cream cake said to be his favorite boyhood dessert.

God bless you all,


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