Katerina had advised us that breakfast would be more like brunch, and she was right. The array of food was even bigger than the one we enjoyed in Prague, with many hors d’oeuvres, veggies and pastries in addition to all types breakfast foods. It was fun having breakfast with different members of our group each day.
After breakfast, we met our local guide, Monika, who told us about her city as we walked through it. Krakow remains beautiful and authentic because it was not bombed during WW II. We passed the Black Madonna of Czestochowa, a very important religious symbol for Polish Catholics. The town square is filled with stalls offering Polish food, drinks, and goods for sale. In the center of the square is Cloth Hall, where cloth sellers began selling their goods in the Middle Ages. We passed a statue of Tadeusz Kosciuszko, who joined the American Revolution and for whom a bridge is named in Brooklyn. We found out how to pronounce his ha name, too. The letter “s”sounds like “sh,” so it’s Kosh-tsyu-shko.
Before we left home, we were advised by the Rick Steves company to try to get reservations for Schindler’s Factory Museum, because we would not be going there as a group. If you have seen the movie Schindler’s List, you will recall that Oskar
Schindler was a German businessman who owned a factory in Krakow that produced enamelware. His employees were about 1,000 Jewish inmates from a nearby concentration camp, and he became their supporter and protector. He moved the factory to what is now the Czech Republic, and presented the Nazis with a list of 1,200 Jews whom he insisted were necessary for his business to produce not only cookware, but also weapons for the Nazi soldiers. Later it was discovered that the weapons were “mysteriously” defective.
We were fortunate, because many of our travel mates were not able to get reservations. Also, we were lucky to get a guide. Her perspectives and her ability to answer our questions brought depth to our visit.
The museum has replicas of everyday buildings from pre-WW II Krakow, including a photographer’s shop, a tram car, and a hairdresser’s salon. In 1939 it took the Nazis two weeks to overrun the country. Then we see SS soldiers marching through the town square. Next, the shops were owned by Germans and sold German propaganda items. Troops moved the city’s Jews into a ghetto. We see a huge map of Europe, in which the cities are renamed in German. Facing the map is a collection of 1,200 enamel pot and pans, one for each of the Jewish lives Schindler saved.
The Jews were eventually moved from the ghetto to a concentration camp. I was touched by a replica of a room in which locals hid Jews. It had no windows, no sunlight, and was basically a wooden bunk bed in an area the size of a closet. We were deeply touched by this, and by the entire museum.
Back at the town square, we shared a kielbasa that was absolutely delicious. After that, we were refreshed by a quick nap. When we awoke, we went in search of dinner. Trip Advisor told us that we were exactly at the spot in which a restaurant was located, but it was not to be seen. I said, “If Trip Advisor is right, we’re standing on top of the restaurant.” Then we followed someone down a flight of stairs, and we were right, we had been on top of the restaurant! Called “Grandma’s”, it was filled with locals enjoying local food. We had homemade stuffed cabbage and a yummy filled donut. We haven’t eaten donuts in many years, but when in Rome, or in this case, when in Krakow… After our dinner, we walked back to the town square. I love running into others from our tour group, and we met several. We enjoyed a leisurely strolll back to our hotel.