Some of my fondest memories as a child are feeding the pigeons on the main square in Krakow. I always felt well amidst the charm of this city, even during those many years of Communism, when my young mind struggled to make sense of all the disparities. Each trip to visit my family in Sanok included a stop at this city, the place of my mom’s Alma Mater. On my last visit to Poland I returned, though now I do my best to avoid the pigeons. I still love to wander the winding streets and visit my old haunts. Or simply sit at one of the many terraced cafes and watch the world go by.
This former capital of Poland was miraculously saved during World War II, and here now lies much of Poland’s rich historical, cultural and intellectual splendor. As is evident around every corner.
I caroused the thriving, creatively inspired and very much bohemian neighborhood of Kazimierz, which remains one of the most culturally significant Jewish areas in the world.
Hidden courtyards off the main square were explored, revealing charming bed and breakfasts, this one run by a family friend, aptly named Antique Apartments. (My next home away from home!)
I took a long walk across a newly built pedestrian bridge, decorated with love locks just like in Paris!
As much of the world as I have seen, and have yet to see, I will always welcome a return to this vista.
During my recent trip to Sanok, the town where my mother grew up and where I spent many childhood summers, we took a trip to one of the largest open air museums. Skansen museum, established in 1958, recreates 19th and early 20th century life in this region of Poland. You begin to understand the simplicity and often the hardship of life so many years ago. Along with our tour guide, and my mom who herself studied ethnography, we explored this long forgotten world.
The tour begins with a replica of a Galician town square from the second half of the 19th century.
A historic tailor shop and pharmacy…
Even a horologist, with quite a sense of humor.
Each section features an ethnic group who lived in the region prior to the post-WWII resettlements.
As I walked in and around these dwellings, I imagined the lives that once inhabited them.
Amidst the homes and churches we discovered elaborately sculpted bee urns.
There too was an exhibition of long lost Jewish treasures, some of the few that remain.
Within the stillness of Skansen, I better understood the history of this part of the world.