Thursday, July 10, 2014

Last Few Days in Krakow

As you read this, I will have already spent one night in Warsaw, but here I am reflecting over my time in Krakow. Again, I have had a sleeping pill...and I have to be awake at 5AM tomorrow morning, making this especially difficult. We have been so busy with everything that I think my bones might even hurt. At any rate, I did want to write some more about my experiences.
On Sunday, I took the morning to rest and then joined the group in the afternoon (lupus is fun like that sometimes). When I joined the group, I met them at the Oskar Schindler Factory, where scenes from the film were shot and where the Jews were actually working. It was very close to the old Krakow Ghetto, although the museum itself didn't reflect much of the Schindler narrative. It was obvious they were looking to capitalize on the film, however, as the cafe contained an original script in a glass case and scenes from the film all around it. Where else can you look at Liam Neeson and Sir Ben Kingsley really acting while you enjoy a Diet Coke or a piece of fresh fruit? In general, the museum focused more on the narrative of the Jews of Krakow, which is fine, but I feel like that might have disappointed patrons expecting to see more about the real Schindler.
Schindler Factory Museum

Property looted from Jews

More looted property

Desk in the Schindler portion

Names of some of those saved by Schindler

Some puppet show?

Script and clap board from the film
The next day, we heard some lectures at Jagiellonian University before heading over to the Old Jewish Quarter, Kazimierz. Kazimierz, now a hip place to see and be seen, is also where you can get a taste of the old Jewish culture that has been lost. Or at least, fake attempts at Jewish culture by restauranteurs profiting off of naive tourists. Maybe that is a bit unfair, as my first experience with Kazimierz in Hamsa Cafe was excellent. The food was Israeli and all around delicious.
The second place we went to was one that offered "traditional Ashkenazi flare," in that no Ashkenazi Jew has really every heard of most of what was on offer. They gave me charoset with no matzah (and listed it as a dessert). When I ordered latkes, they gave me some weird latke/kugel. When we questioned it, they told us latkes and kugel are the same. 
Not your grandma's latkes
The house itself used to a Rabbi's house before the Holocaust. Apparently parts of Schindler's List was filmed there, but I had a lot of trouble figuring out which part. The interior was decorated like your Ashkenazi grandmother threw up.

Despite our very rude waiter, the charoset wasn't actually all that bad. 
During my time in Kazimierz, I also explored the Orthodox Synagogue, which is both very tiny and currently undergoing restoration:
Old Synagogue under restoration


Old Jewish Cemetery
We then went to a really cool little cafe (there seems to be tons of nostalgia for the pre-WWI/interwar years as Krakow is absolutely loaded with these old-fashioned looking cafes and restaurants) where we heard a member of the Righteous Among the Nations (those who saved Jews during WWII) give her testimony.


Old Soviet Propaganda

Soviet Propaganda
After that, a bunch of us ate cheap pierogis (the whole meal was about $5/£3 each). Last time I visited Poland, I professed to hate them and never try them again, although I was sold on my blackcurrant and raspberry ones. YUM. I also tried blueberry and cottage cheese and peach, all of which I want to try again!
Blackcurrant and raspberry pierogis

Everyone's pierogis. Pierogi party!
And the most important picture that I found on the side of a random wall:
Til next time! xx

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  1. Looks like you're having a great time, I want to go there so badly, i'm really interested in this history :) x

    Cup of Loveliness

    1. Thanks Danielle! Yes, it is really, really interesting. You'll be getting tons of posts in the next month about this, so I'm really glad you're interested. :)

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