Sunday, September 2, 2012

Of Hounds and Mounds

Today was cloudy, but much less rainy.  In the morning, I went to a parade of Dachsunds.  The dogs were paraded from the Barbican to the main square, and about 60% of them were dressed in various small costumes.  It was part of a larger event hosted by a local radio station, and there was even a small marching band there.

The event was much larger than I had expected, with the pre-parade crowd taking up much of the space between the Barbican and St. Florian's gate.  People outnumbered dogs by about 10:1, by my estimate.  Two news stations were there with cameras and reporters holding funny-looking microphones.  It was much easier to get pictures before the event than after it, as the dogs are short and people are tall, so taking pictures during the parade is difficult.  Here are some shots I got at the event, plus a video of the first part of the parade.  The band is playing Pink Panther, by the way.

There were other festivities and contests in the main square following the parade, but since they were all in Polish they didn't interest me much.

I then proceeded towards Kościuszko mound.  This may take some explaining.

First of all, let's talk language.  I recognize that there is a Kosciuszko county back in Indiana, which we say "kosk-ee-OS-ko".  However, Polish doesn't quite work like that.  Here, it's "kosh-CHEEOO-shko".  I recognize the difference, must like the difference in Notre Dame between France and Indiana.  However, since I'm in Poland, I have to watch the pronunciation.  (Bonus pronunciation lesson: the seat of Kosciuszko county is Warsaw.  Polish pronunciation of Warsaw?  "var-SHA-va"  They also spell it differently, with an "a" on the end most of the time.)  I may bring the native pronunciation back to Indiana to mess with a certain friend of mine working in that county, though.

Now, what's this about a mound?  Kraków has some ancient mounds, sort of like the ones in the US.  They decided to build another one to honor Kościuszko, who is a national hero here.  He was also a general in the American war of independence, as you'll see evidence of later.  Kościuszko is not actually buried here; he's in Wawel cathedral.  However, this is a giant monument to him.  I've also heard that on July 4, the US consulate flies an American flag and Polish flag together on the top of the mound.  Sadly, I wasn't actually aware of this on July 4, or I would have looked for it.

The mound is a bit of a walk from the old town - roughly 2 miles.  You kind of need to know where you're going.  I started out along a busy road, although there were sidewalks, and eventually turned on to a much more residential street.  The steady stream of people coming in both directions told me that I was probably headed in the right direction.  Eventually I reached the foot of the mound, climbed it, and acquired the following photos.  Please forgive the haziness; as previously mentioned, it's a cloudy day.

They also had some small museum exhibits which were included with the price of admission.  I found the following to be particularly nice:

That's a picture of the US Declaration of Independence, in English.  I'm sure it's a copy, but it's nice to see it.  The wood thing is a fragment of the USS Constitution.  Having been on board the USS Constitution in Boston Harbor before, I thought it was a fitting thing to take a picture of her here.  The plaque on it is in English as well, so I'm guessing it was put on there in the US.

That guy in the middle of the three figures?  That's George Washington.  A little different than we make him look, huh?

After climbing down the mound and going through the museums, I decided to head back.  This is where things took a turn for the adventurous.  I knew from Google Maps that there were actually two ways to get to the mound; one was with larger roads that seemed easier but longer, and the other was with smaller roads that had more turns.  I decided to try to find the second one, figuring that it's easier to find my way home than to find my way to somewhere I've never been before.

I only have a vague idea of where I went from here.  It was a paved path for foot traffic, and there were plenty of people on it.  Some were dressed for exercise, but most were dressed with normal clothes, even dress clothes.  I figured that surely this must be a short walk to some main road.  Not exactly.  After about 20-30 minutes of walking, I asked some young-looking (and therefore English-speaking) bicyclists where on earth we were.  They responded in broken English that we were in Wolski forest, and directed me to the nearest main road and bus stop.

I faithfully followed their instructions and found the bus stop, which was serviced by exactly one line.  Looking at the bus route, I saw that it went to Cracovia's stadium in Błonia, which I know where is.  My fortunes further improved when the bus arrived about 1 minute after I arrived at the stop.  From there it was a 1 mile mile walk home or so. Having now returned to the wonderful world of internet, I can see that I wasn't actually that far away from where I thought I was; I just had no idea of it at the time.  The bus was the ideal solution home.

Final thought which I forgot to mention: on the way to the mound, I encountered this vehicle, which made me start laughing while getting out my camera.


Laurel Blough said...

Yay, you had adventures! I'm glad your way back home was blessed.

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