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Wednesday, 7 July 2010

When I checked in to Poet’s Corner I was delighted to see a familiar face. Chris (from Scotland) and I were staying at the same place in Odessa a few months back. It’s a small traveller’s world sometimes.

Olomouc is full of lots of interesting things to do and see, and lots of nice places in which to eat and drink. I am going to stay here until Saturday, when I will go straight to Budapest. I think it will take about five and a half  hours by train.

The first sight that grabbed my attention in Olomouc was the baroque Column of the Holy Trinity in the Upper Square. It really is a stunning monument, the largest and most artistic plague column I have seen on the whole Central Europe trip. My photos don’t do it justice.

                 

In the same square is the Town Hall, with an astronomical clock. At noon, instead of saints and holy figures as in the clock in Prague, a group of workers and peasants revolve to a tune. The display was updated during the communist era, but the original mechanism was retained.

         

Some more pics taken around town. First St. Wenceslas Cathedral and the next door Archbishop’s Palace (now a museum), with some of the museum displays.

        

The last pic is a plaque to commemorate the time Mozart visited Olomouc in 1767 when he was eleven years old. He composed a symphony in the time he was in Olomouc and also came down with chickenpox. He was quite ill with fever, and the archbishop put him and his family up in the palace.

More pics:

    

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Monday, 5 July 2010

I am staying at Poet’s Corner hostel run by Aussies Francie and Greg. It’s one of the best places I have stayed at on the whole 6 month trip and Olomouc is very pretty, and interesting. So much so I think I will stay here longer than I had first planned (until the weekend).  It is a university town with a student population of about 20,000 out of 100,000 (the highest proportion in the country). Full report in the next day or so.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Today I caught a bus from Kraków to the town of Cieszyn (Polish) or Český Těšín (Czech). The border between Poland and the Czech Republic runs through it, along the Olza River. Before WW1, as part of Austria-Hungary, it was known by the German name of Teschen. The architects of the post-war boundaries drawn up in 1920 between the newly created countries of Poland and Czechoslovakia, with the wisdom of Solomon, decided to split the nationality of the town in two. Fortunately, nowadays the town’s residents and visitors can move freely from one side to the other with no border checks. Polish currency is used on the Polish side and Czech currency on the Czech. I walked from the bus station in Czieszyn to the railway station in Český Těšín over this rather unprepossessing bridge.

   

As near as I can tell, the next photo shows me standing with my left foot in Poland and my right foot in the Czech Republic!

I had been thinking about walking between two countries (Slovenia and Italy) at one stage, but it never happened. But now I can boast that I have!

There didn’t seem to be much else to detain me here, so I caught the train to the Czech town of Olomouc. I have previously been to the Czech Republic, but only to the capital city Prague, in the region of Bohemia, whreas Olomouc is in Moravia. By the way, I find it annoying to have to say and write “Czech Republic” all the time. The alternative “Czechia” has been suggested, even by the Czech Government, but it hasn’t caught on in English. It looks and sounds odd somehow.

See you next time in Olomouc (pronounced “ollo moats”).

Saturday, 3 July 2010

It was great to come back to Kraków, one of my favourite cities on the whole trip.

I hadn’t realised, but the 10-day 20th Kraków Jewish Cultural Festival is finishing this weekend. One of the final events was a free concert tonight in Szeroka Street in Klazimierz, near my hostel, called “Shalom on Szeroka Street”, advertised as “the Jewish Woodstock”, so I went along to check it out. The headline band was “Septeto Rodriguez Cuban-Jewish All-Stars”.  The street was packed and enthralled, listening to the wonderful musical combination of Jewish klezmer melodies and latin rhythms.

At one stage Roberto Rodriguez (drummer and band leader/composer/arranger) exhorted the audience to “Shake your … toucan!”.

At least that’s what it sounded like to me. Could have been my hearing or his Cuban accent though. Anyway, I shook mine!

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Today I went for a day trip to Westerplatte, the site of the Nazi attack on 1 September 1939 that was the first battle of WW2. I could have got there slightly more cheaply by train, but it’s not every day you get to ride on a replica Spanish galleon (and it was only about A$15 for a return trip). I spent a few hours there and caught the next Spanish galleon back (40 minute trip).

       

The sign says in Polish “No More War”.

I am catching a sleeper train tomorrow evening to revisit Krakow, as I plan to eventually wind up back in Budapest from where I fly back to Oz (on 20 July).

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

I followed the Roads to Freedom walking trail that led from a fragment of the Berlin Wall to the Monument to the Shipyard Workers.

Then I went on a day trip by train to the nearby beach resort of Sopot to get another look at the Baltic Sea (my first was in Lithuania).

At the train station was this sculpture.

It commemorates the Jewish children sent away from Gdańsk withut their parents (many to England) when the Nazi invasion seemed inevitable.

The pedestrian street leading down to the pier (the longest in Poland) and beach, with the “Crazy House”.

Tuesday, 29 June 2010