Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy Fourth of July!

So, although it's not a holiday here in Poland, we cannot just let the day pass without giving due diligence to the event that allowed us the many freedoms we enjoy back home.  Therefore, today I journeyed up to the Kościuszko Mound and museum.  (Side note: I really saw the value in having the Polish public transportation app, Jakdojade, today.  It found me the bus route that literally took me right to the monument's front door.)

Our run in Błonia park this morning revealed that the American flag was indeed flying alongside the Polish flag at the top of the mound, so I was anticipating seeing them up close.  (Błonia provides a good view of the mound in the distance)  It felt like conquering the mound as I wound my way up the spiraling ramps to the very top.

The view was pretty good!

(Additional side note/rant: One of Andy's coworkers found an online news story covering some festivities that happened at the Mound in honor of American Independence Day.  They happened ON TUESDAY!!  Why did we not know about this???  They had fireworks and everything, and we missed it!  I was quite ticked off.  How do we find out about these things if they're not on the regular Kraków festival sites???)

I also went to the museum, where the copy of the Declaration of Independence is displayed and saw the exhibit recreating a meeting of Tadeusz Kościuszko, George Washington, and another feisty Polish general who helped the American revolutionaries.  Look closely at the photo; I spy something...that flies..and swims...

Also part of the mound exhibitions is a wax figure museum of famous Poles, and an extensive exhibit of the Kraków fortress system, built by the occupying Austrians in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.  This part of the museum was a little too detailed for me, but the gist of it was that there were, and still are, pieces of barracks and fortifications all over Kraków, and the  Kościuszko Mound was one of them.

To round out my day of homage to Tadeusz Kościuszko, I visited his grave in Wawel Cathedral.  (Remember Wawel?  That big castle-thing at the very southern tip of the Old Town?)  No photos were allowed in the catacombs, but to give you an idea of how much Kościuszko means to the Polish people, his graveside companions include the kings and queens of Poland dating back to at least the 1500s.

My ticket included entrance to the the bell tower, as well--where I was allowed to take photos--and I got to see "Dwoń Zygmunt," or King Zygmunt's bell, which, well, let's just say is a pretty big bell.

My final quick stop was the Cathedral Museum, which housed artifacts and vestments of past kings and bishops, and--you guessed it: an entire room full of stuff of John Paul II's.

What a day!  I pretty well wore myself out, but not before we joined John Young for some American-like hamburgers for dinner and ice cream for dessert!  There appears to be a very yummy ethnic food festival happening in the market squares for this weekend...more to come on that as we partake tomorrow.


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