Corpus Christi

Today, 60 days after Easter, we celebrate the transubstantiation of the body and blood of Christ.  This tradition dates back to Orvieto in Rome in the XIII century, where during mass the priest knocked the Eucharist chalice over and the few drops of wine that spilled turned into blood.  Christians believe that this is proof that the Ostia and wine taken during communion are, in fact, the body and blood of Christ.  In Krakow after mass, a procession will be held through Grodzka street to the main square where  4 stops will be made under temporary altars symbolizing the four evangelists.  Those that take part in the procession ofter are dressed in folk dress and attire.

An interesting place to witness these events is the Corpus Christi church in Kazimierz.  Legend has it, the name comes from the story of two thieves that broke into All Saints Church, which no longer stands today, and stole the monstration thinking it was of gold.  After realizing it was only gold plated they threw it into the bogged area of Kazimierz.  years later blue beams of light emerged from the mud in Kazimierz.  The bishop was called over to see the miracle and he ordered the area to be excavated after which the stolen monstration was found.  And so a church of an unusual name was built in that very spot.

The Great Dragon Parade

In the VI century Krak, the founder of Krakow poisoned the dragon that once lived at the foot of the Wawel castle, with a sheep stuffed with sulfur.  All this weekend Dragons will once again infest the streets of Krakow.   The puppet theater Groteska hosts the 17th annual dragon parade.  This year’s theme will me influenced by Mediterranean history and culture. During the day you can see Dragon floats along the river and at night a fireworks and laser light spectacle on the riverside by the Wawel Castle.  Then on sunday, you can catch giant dragon shaped balloons floating above the main market square at noon.  This time rather than terrorizing the people the dragons will be a source of delight and fun.

Beerweek Festival

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.

 

Krakow Film Music Festival

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.

Juvenelia: student fest

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.

Eagles’ Nest Bike Tour

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

http://bookings.cruisingkrakow.com/en/activity/96037/eagles-nests-bike-tour

Easter market

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.