Thursday, January 24, 2013

And just a bit more from Krakow....

I could swear that was the sun up there......Oh my, it was!
You've read about the group trip to Auschwitz, and hopefully you have made your way through Courtney's account of her experience there.  Suffice to say, if yesterday was difficult, today was the complete opposite.  Although tired, everyone rose to head out on a walking tour of this city at 9:00 a.m.   Three of the "greatest guides ever" (student words, not mine) turned the sorrows of yesterday into the joys of a most wonderful city with incredibly warm people and beautiful things to see. 

Couldn't resist.  But didn't go in.
Perhaps the best part of the day came at about 1:00 when we saw the sun.  THE SUN.  There it was, breaking through the clouds and giving hope to all of us below.  It was as if everyone got a boost of vitamin D - life was back - the chocolate had been found - word flew through the town square that the best hot chocolate in the world was to be had "right there" and it seems as if most everyone managed to get some.  Indeed, our day was full.  Fun, and full.

Edge of main square of Krakow
St. Mary Basilica
I'm sharing some photos of the magnificent St. Mary's Basilica that stands in the main square.  Built in the 13th century, it is what they call the "perfect example of Gothic architecture in Poland."  The alter is the largest of its kind in Europe and was created in the years 1477-1489 and carved from oak and linden wood.  The ceiling of the Basilica is stunning.  Ah gee, the whole place is overwhelming.  By the way, this was not Pope John Paul's church, although he served Mass here often.  His church was the Cathedral which is in the castle complex.   As Krakow was the Pope's hometown, however, there are many references to him throughout the city.

Ceiling at Basilica
Main altar at Basilica
Crucifix above St. Mary's

In concert at St. Catherine's

Rehearsal time at St. Catherine's
Tonight we have returned from a formal concert at St. Katazyna Church (St. Catherine's) here in Krakow.   It is perhaps the most oft-used church for concerts and even on a splendidly cold night, we had a nice crowd of locals who came to listen to a choir from South Dakota.  (It still amazes me that anyone comes, really.....I mean, who has heard of Augustana and/or South Dakota in a place like Krakow, Poland?  :-)   "Jack," the organist is a dear man who welcomed us warmly - and even turned on the overhead heat lamps.  "They will not warm the building, but they may warm your face" he said.  Well, not so much.  Maybe a bit, but a least it was not as cold as our first church in Prague....remember, the "fire breathing choir?"  None of that tonight.   This church was also built in the 13th century, and while not far from the main square of Krakow, it was, in its day, standing in a whole different town. 

We have an early to be on the bus at 7 to make our concert at Brno.  It will be interesting to see if we can get everyone on board on time.....we've been pretty easy on the morning hours this entire trip!

Tomorrow - a report from Vienna!

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