If you have been to Poland before you may have been struck by strange site of ladies drinking beer from a straw. The straw isn’t actually there to be drunk from but rather is used to stir the raspberry or ginger syrup at the bottom of the pint glass. People who don’t like the bitter taste of beer can order syrup in it to sweeten the flavor. This weekend in Krakow you won’t have to that as you can find beer infused with these sweet fruity flavors.
This weekend the Cracovia stadium becomes a beer-lovers paradise, as the third annual beer week begins.
When I arrived in Poland 11 years ago there were only 4 large breweries; Zywiec, Okocim, Tyskie, and to a lesser degree Perla and they all tasted pretty much the same. Today there are hundreds of breweries to chose from! You can find anything from dark coffee porters to earl gray lagers. And this Saturday we will have a futbol stadium full of beer. Movies will be shown, beer will be drunk, and conversations will be had all weekend. And some point you will find the Cruising Krakow team sitting at table 23.
Tomorrow is the last day of Krakow’s Film festival. And as always it failed to disappoint. One of my favorite festivals of the year. A chance to watch great films with grand musical scores alongside a full symphony orchestra that plays alongside the film. Before Krakow had the Tauron arena and the ICE conference centers the symphony took place in Krakow’s historic communist steel mill plant in Nowa Huta. As of 2014 Krakow regularly hosts big sporting and musical events at the Tauron arena, but we lost the opportunity to witness these cultural events in the unique landscape of the steel mill plant. This, as well as the Sacrum Profanum festival, were one of the few opportunities for those of us not employed by the mill to enter it.
This year’s festival headliner was Abel Korzeniowski’ a polish composer whose worked with Tom Ford on ‘A Single Man,’ Madonna on W.E.; for both soundtracks, he received a golden globe nomination for best soundtrack. Not only was Abel the guest of honor at the screenings but also led workshops on the subject of composeing. This year I managed to catch a Star Wars compilation as well as ‘A Neverending Story’. The former was a composition of several Star Wars films edited in the worst possible way. It was as if a 9-year-old boy edited the scenes together with an iPhone app. A treat were the actors dressed in star wars character outfits re-enacting some scenes in the aisles. Overall a satisfactory evening but the 20 piece choir did not match that of the original 90 strong.
‘The Neverending Story’ a film from my youth’s generation, was packed with children. Children films are normally dubbed in Poland but this being from the 80s was not; nonetheless, the theater was packed with parents and their children; which resulted in the adults translating for their kids during the movie. Annoying for those of us that just want to watch the film. The movie and especially the music were outstanding. The 81 year old composer, Klaus Doldinger was in attendance and at the end blessed us with his presence on stage and played his saxophone to the closing credits.
Tonight you can an attend an outdoor screening of Top Gun next to the Vistula river, with its soundtrack composer Giorgio Moroder in the audience.
May; the last month before exams is the last bout of freedom for the students in Krakow. Juvenalia is a holiday for students and takes place every year for a week in May. Across the city, on all five campuses, you can hear music from concerts, and smell the odor of hamburgers on the grill.
The festival culminates with the symbolic passing of the key to the city by the mayor to the students of Krakow. This, in turn, gives the students the freedom to break the law by means of drinking in public places. And helps them raise their voices in song as they chant their alma matters hymns in the main square. Be careful when going into the square today as you can be accosted by young adults dressed in various costumes, intoxicated since the sun rose, screaming slogans in a language you may not know.
June 17th -20th Cruising Krakow will be organizing its first multi-day bike tour. A true gem when it comes to biking southern Poland. This part of Poland was under the sea in the Mesozoic epoch today we are blessed with gorgeous rock formations that create beautiful valleys which make for a glorious bike trail. Besides the natural beauty created by these valleys, we will also be riding past the ‘Eagles’ Nests;’ which are a string of castles and fortresses built to guard the medieval trading route. Our destination is Czestochowa, home to the Pauline monastery and of the Black Madonna, Poland’s holiest shrine. Along the way, we will be stopping at these castles and staying at 3-star hotels. On day 2 our hotel will have a spa to rejuvenate those tired muscles.
This tour is for the average cyclist who would like to cover 50-70Km daily at a moderate rate. This tour is about exploring Poland’s rich past on a bike and discovering its unique natural beauty and NOT necessarily the ‘Tour de Pologne’. If all goes well we hope to offer this tour once a month in the summer. Come join us on an adventure you won’t forget.
You can find all the booking details on the link below
May 3rd, 1791 is the date of the 2nd oldest constitution in the world after the United States and the first modern constitution in Europe. As a result, May 3rd is a holiday in today’s Polish Republic. On this day the entire country flies the red and white colors of the Polish flag. To the point where May 2nd has become known as flag day. Poland is the only country I know of that constructs its buildings with the foresight of May 3rd. As most buildings have a flag pole installed on them. Even Krakow’s 15,328 seated Tauron arena will be covered in red and white LED bulbs. On this day we remember Polish soldiers that fell for the country. In Krakow, after holding a mass at the Wawel cathedral a military parade walks through the old town to the tomb of the unknown soldier on Plac Matejki, one of the first stops on our city bike tour. It is there that high-ranking government and military officials speak to the people about the importance of this day in Polish history. At 5:00 PM in the main square songs of a patriotic nature will be sang and taught. Alongside all these events a patriotic tram will be decorated in Poland’s colors and rolling around the city full of singers of more patriotic songs. Even if you’re not polish you will find the energy in the country will be a little elevated on this day, as we are proud to be Polish.
On April 28th Krakow will be holding the 10th annual Independent film festival ‘Off-Camera’
Guests of this year’s festival will include Barlomiej Tope, Katarzyna Herman, Arkadiusz Jakubika, Marta Minorowicz, Nevio Marasovic, Pawel Jadczak, Anette Hickinbotham, and Krzysztof Terej.
Four categories will be present at this years festival.
‘Till Death Do Us Apart’ will cover films that return to romance. Melodramas with a new face that will be sure to plunge tears into your eyes. So we shall see.
‘The Future Starts Now’ will look into what will be.
‘The Strong Sex’ for those interested in the roles of woman in modern society.
‘People are Fiction’ will focus on the human condition. A fresh look at humanity and its relation with the unnatural.
This year children are also invited as there will be regular day time screenings of family movies.
Seminars and QA sessions will also be taking place daily with the films actors, producers, and directors. Some of the stars you can be sure to see are Maciej Musial, Marta Nieradkiewicz, Jacek Braciak, Venessa Alexander, Eryk Kulm, Malgorzata Kozuchowska, Urszula Grabowska, Bartlomiej Topa, Veronica Rosati and others. Movie central will be holding its regular location on Plac Szczepanski, just around the corner from our office. There guests can meet face to face with internet stars. On the plac you will also be able to enter the Netia tent where this year’s film stars will tell us some of the secrets in filming such movies as the Magic of Y, and innovations in tourism, and how to tell a story useing travel footage. (Lovelajft, Tastytrip, the World by Bus)
On May 5th Netia Off Camera will honor one of the most famous Polish directors in the history of cinema who recently passed away; Andrzej Wajda. In his memory we will be screening a polish literary masterpiece directed by Mr. Wajda himself; Pan Tadeusz.
This year the festival will be supported musically by its sister project Off Stage. During the 7 nights of the festival there will be 7 nights of concerts of independent music.
10 films will compete for best drama and the 300000PLN prize given by the Kulczyk Foundation. The winner of this prize will also receive the main award of 100 000 000 USD. All will be known of the 6th of May. The jury will consist of Victoria Thomas, who worked alongside Quentin Tarantino as his casting director, Joanna Johnston; British costume designer who is known for her work with Robert Zemecki and Steven Speilberg, and last but not least Walter Fasano, editor and director. The honor of lead juror will be held by Agnieszka Holland.
The completion for best actor in a drama will be led by 7 actresses and 7 actors that will be fighting for the 10000PLN prize funded by Albert Riele and Gino Rossi.
This year’s inauguration screening will be Emir Kursturica’s ‘On the Milky Road.’
Cinephiles get ready!
For more info check out http://www.offcamera.pl/en/
Our pick of the festival
As every year in the main market square of Krakow the Easter market leaves its mark. The stalls sell all sorts of wood and ceramic handcrafts and decorations tied in with the Easter tradition.
The Sunday before Easter is known as Palm Sunday and marks the beginning of our Easter market which too is decorated with giant palm beams. you will also see Krakovians carrying dried flowers and branches on their way to Sunday mass 2-3 meters tall.
The following Friday is Good Friday. In remembrance of Jesus being crucified; it marks the end of the forty day lent which culminates with the fourteen stations of the cross.
Saturday morning begins with the preparation of Easter baskets filled with Easter goods: eggs, sausages, horse radish and other breakfast goodies. According to legend Mari Magdalen purchased eggs for the apostles on the way to Jesus’ crucifixion. After the resurrection of Christ those eggs turned red. That is why to this day we paint our eggs. These baskets are carried to the local church in order to be blessed before consumption.
Monday is ‘szmingus dingus.’ On this day we have a giant water fight. Traditionally this was as a sign of renewal for spring. As the years went on it became common for girls to spray water on the boys they were interested in. The blony meadows in Krakow has become the site of a major water balloon fight to this day.
Tuesday after Easter in Krakow is ‘Sleeve day.’ The name comes from the legend that the people of Krakow were so grateful to their king Krak that they build a mound of dirt in his honor. The dirt used to create this hill was carried by the people of Krakow in their sleeves. Today this day is celebrated with a fair not on the Krak mound but next to it near the XI century church of Saint Benedict which opens its doors on this day once a year. This tradition came about from the Austrian occupation of Krakow when a fortress surrounded the mound and the celebration was forbidden to take place there.
As every year this is a magic time to be in Krakow to enjoy all the many fairs taking place.
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