Hello again! First of all, I am very sorry to have disappeared there for a while. Although I had nothing much to report in terms of adventures, I was still very busy with work and classes. I guess this internship thing really is preparing me for adult life… Things at the Little Museum continue to go smoothly. Last week we installed a new exhibit about the Battle of Clontarf, which was pretty exciting. As the name suggests, it was a battle that occurred in 1014 between the Irish High King of Munster Brian Boru and the Viking King of Leinster Mael Mordha (is it just me or does it sound like I’m talking about Game of Thrones?). The vikings had been in Ireland for a few centuries at this point but Brian managed to drive them out. Hurray! Because it’s the millennial anniversary of the battle, the Little Museum wanted to have something special, so they chose to feature the work of Fergal McCarthy. Fergal basically made a giant comic strip about the battle that hangs on the walls of the room. It sounds a little weird, but I promise the end result was very cool. I got to help him install the exhibit last Thursday and I really enjoyed it. It’s not every day you get to pick an artist’s brain about his work, and Fergal was kind enough to answer all of my questions.
Now, the real news that I have to report is that I went to Poland this weekend! It was very exciting. I went with my friend Izzi and another girl from my program who is also named Katie. We visited Krakow, which was a very beautiful place. We were only there for Saturday and part of Sunday, but we made the most of it; Krakow may be a small city (less than 1 million) but it sure had a lot to see and do. First of all, our hostel was located in the Old Town district, which is the area of Krakow that was contained within the medieval defensive walls. We spent lots of time looking around this area, just because it was so interesting! Part of this included The Market, which is the largest medieval square in Europe. It hosts a large array of shops and booths that sell everything from fried cheese to amber necklaces to lace table cloths. Needless to say, we spent quite a bit of time there. There is also an underground museum beneath the square that has artifacts excavated from the square that date back nearly 800 years ago. You could also see the medieval streets that had been buried over time, so I got to walk on stones that someone carved and placed centuries before I was even born. Whenever I get to do things like that it makes me meditative. I find few things more awe inspiring than thinking about how many people have come and gone in the world. So many lives, all of them incredibly important and meaningful to those that experienced them- it puts your own concerns in perspective. (Also, buried streets seems to be a thing in most old European cities, which I find a little confusing. How do you manage to bury streets? Don’t you need them for walking? I don’t know why this confuses me but it does.)
What else did I do in Poland? Well, mostly we walked and took in the sights. Izzi’s mother is from a town near Krakow so she knows the city well and knew which places to show Katie and myself. I especially enjoyed exploring Kazimierz, the Jewish district of the city. It was very pretty and lots of interesting things to look at. We also saw Wawel Castle, which is hands-down the nicest castle I’ve seen on my tour of Europe so far. I think it’s very cool we got to properly explore Krakow, because you learn a great deal just by looking and listening in a place. After living in Dublin and going to other major cities for three months, Krakow felt strangely empty. You’ll notice in my pictures that there just wasn’t a lot of people out and about while we were there. Also, not knowing a language when you visit a new place is a vastly different experience. In some ways I feel like I didn’t get to know Poland as well because I completely relied on Izzi to explain to me what was going on, who was saying what, and what every single sign we encountered read. I imagine if I had been on my own, or traveling with a group that didn’t speak any Polish it might have been different. I would have been forced to interact more with the locals, which I think is always beneficial when you venture out of your personal boundaries of known and familiar territory. It was cool because we managed to be in Poland just in time for Palm Sunday, which is a very important time for this area of the world. I got to see some traditional celebrations, including a figure dressed as Jesus going from square to square while groups of old men and women sang sad songs in Polish. Unfortunately Izzi didn’t know much about what was going on and so couldn’t answer most of my questions (again, should have been asking people around me) but it was still very interesting to see.
Lastly, we ate. I actually was not a huge fan of Polish food; it has elements of German and Russian cooking so some things were familiar but others were not. Everything involved either meat or potatoes or both, and most included butter or lard. I did enjoy perogies though, which are Polish potato dumplings that are stuffed with all kinds of yummy things. Also delicious was fried cheese with cranberry sauce. I was also pleasantly surprised to find that Polish smoked meats are a lot like Texas BBQ, so I felt right at home walking through the open air food market. However, everything was very heavy and after two days of eating this sort of thing I was ready for salad, especially after I experienced the delicacy of solidified bacon grease spread over bread.
So without further ado, here are a few pictures from Poland:
Around and about the Market:
If you think these are made of wood you would be wrong; its a Polish cheese that’s been carved into Easter Lambs!
Super pretty park that runs along the medieval walls of the city.
Also, from here on out my pictures are going to be smaller.. I’ve been having major technical issues with uploading these photos for whatever reason.
And finally… Palm Sunday celebrations and Polish Jesus
It’s hard to believe, but I’ll be home in ten days! In between me and the flight back is one final, three days of work, a trip to Belgium, and one major paper. Wish me luck!