Thursday, September 16, 2010

Tyniec Abbey, Canine Fancy Dress Show & A Moment In History

Sunday began with a bit too early - for my liking - start in order to get to Tyniec, a wonderful Benedictine Abbey, which holds a dramatic place in nearly 1000 years of Polish history. Nine centuries ago Benedictines arrived at this place. On the rock by the Vistula River, 12-13 km off the city centre, they built a monastery - abbacy, which emerges from the trees and reflects in the river. Monks had lived there continuously for almost all of that time and it had a special place in Polish people’s hearts in the sense that it had long been in the forefront of the numerous times Poland has been invaded by its neighbours over the centuries. We were expecting quite a scene of Gregorian monks singing amongst a traditional Catholic Sunday Service.

Due to my inability to rouse myself to a deadline in the morning we had to get a taxi to the Abbey which cost an unexpected 100zl, nearly 20 pounds. The church itself was spectacular with a beautiful black and gold pulpit in the shape of a ships prow. I have to be honest and admit I expected the Monks singing to be more prominent however it was still interesting to see the service despite not being Catholic ( or Polish) myself. After the service had finished we bought a few bottles of mead made by the monks and headed back to Krakow via public transport this time. The slowly growing numbers of people at the bus stop gave me confidence that the once an hour bus would indeed turn up and it did.

Whilst doing her research for ‘The Schedule’ Agnes had stumbled upon something that was so bizarre and fantastic that we just had to investigate; The Daschund Parade on the Rynek, back in Central Krakow. Once a year the local folk of Krakow and beyond, dress up their furry friends in all kinds of imaginative fancy dress and parade on the square competing for a prize. This year the parade had a theme, the 600th anniversary of The Battle Of Grunwald. This was a significant battle in Polish history, and one of the biggest in medieval Europe, when the Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth secured a famous victory over the Teutonic Knights.
I suspect though, that the enjoyment was purely the taking part as I watched the proud owners carrying and sometimes walking their pets through the square. Have to say not all of the dogs looked overjoyed though! Some of the costumes made by the owners were quite incredible, I saw a Spanish Matador costume, Bavarian Lederhosen with a perfect hat made from loft insulation, a milkmaid outfit, a Knight complete with sword, Scottish Tartan, A kings regal robes amongst others. The atmosphere on the square was very jovial and the owners were very happy to pose for pictures with their dogs.

We had identified our favourite coffee shop on the Rynek, Tribeca Coffee, and we decamped there to take the weight off our feet and took - as always - white mocha chocolate. It was a lovely place only the heating was sometimes too high. A few times during the day Agnes had mentioned that something special was happening on the Main Square, the Rynek, at 3 pm but she wouldn’t say what. So with the time approaching, she hurried me to a spot on the other side of Cloth Hall, in front of Mariacki Church where a large crowd had already gathered. Agnes finally unraveled the mystery and explained that a large group photo of the people of Krakow was being taken by a photographer high up on the tower of the Church in front of us. This photo, together with other items typical for the year 2010 was then to be placed in a time capsule, on top of Cloth Hall. Our chance to be in a moment of history! We stood there, waving on cue, happy to be part of something quite unique.

All that was left of the day was some enjoyable browsing through Cloth Hall and in complete contrast, a walk through the sparkling new indoor shopping centre adjacent to the main train station, Galeria Krakowska where I bought some lovely flavored coffee. It was a lovely day, full of surprises, we both were settling into Krakow life quite easily.

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