You won’t often find me in galleries and museums. It’s not that I don’t enjoy them or find them interesting, but I always want to be outside exploring rather than inside looking at a painting or sculpture.
This morning I decided to go to the Museum of the Second World War. It had a lot of great things written about it and I had a lot of time to just spend in the city so it seemed like a great option.
First off, it was built only a couple years ago and I loved the layout and design. I rented an audio guide, wanting to just have my ears plugged and be able to wander at will, and I’m not sure it was the best way to go. Not surprisingly, it was a lot to take in. The narration was not dramatic but the images and the reality were overwhelming. I had to take a break after room 5. I thought it a good time to come and start recording some of my thoughts.
My parents were born in 1944 and I often think about my grandparents and what it would have been like not only to live during that time of such uncertainty but also to have young children. What kind of future could they possibly have when there was such devastation and destruction all around? I think of the strength and resilience of the men and women of that time. They must have still held on to hope and faith- I find that moving and admirable. What stories and experiences they lived and survived!
The picture of a scene in winter in Leningrad was created by pages from a calendar. It lasted almost 900 days (871 to be exact)
There are tons of videos from and about the war on display but also current ones of personal recounts. There were so many stories of parents and family members going missing, without a word, and their loved ones only just finding out their fate in 1990.
For 10 years after the war had ended, there were still unspeakable crimes being committed against people suspected of collaborating with the Germans and favouring the fascist.
At the end of the exhibition, there was a short film about how though WWII ended, for Poland it wasn’t really over until 1989 when the Iron Curtain fell and a freer Poland finally emerged. But the tour ends, discussing some of the conflicts of the 21st century and asking the question- Could the Second World War really have taught us nothing?Am I ever glad I came to the museum when I did. I followed advice to be here first thing. I got in as soon as it opened. When I finished 3 hours later, the line up was outstanding!
Lunch at a local Polish kebab joint (surprisingly delicious, with lots of cabbage!) and then I headed to the Uphagen house to see what a house on the high street would have looked like inside, back in the day. It was a bit disappointing to be honest as the entire second floor was dedicated to local jewellers and designers and looked more like a store than anything.I wandered around to kill some time, and caved and bought an amber ring. I was hesitant and unsure if I’d buy one this time as I bought two when I was in Prague (remember the Murray mint, Paula?) and I never wear either of them.I forgot to mention that the St Dominic’s festival is on right now. It’s held every year in Gdańsk.
From the Explore Gdansk website:
From St. Dominic’s Fair in Gdansk is one of the biggest commercial open-air events in Europe. It was established in 1260 by Pope Alexander IV, and since then has been annually organized in the streets of Gdansk – with the short period of a break during and after the Second World War.
There were booths with vendors and people everywhere. I am guessing this is why the Old Town has been so packed and busy all day every day.
Anyway, as I wandered and window shopped, I happened upon a ring I actually really liked and can see myself wearing, so I forked out the cash and splurged.
Had a good chat with the front desk clerk at the hostel as he had tons of questions about Canada. I am always happy to share information and my love for my country and I happily invite everyone to come visit.
It’s been a funny couple days weather-wise with little pop up storms where the rain will come pelting down for two minutes, sending everyone scattering and poor shop keepers scrambling to bring all their wares inside. Then the sun will shine. Or it’ll be blazing hot and sunny but suddenly you’ll feel the rain drops.
On our way to Krakow this evening, our plane was struck by lightning. I was not sure what the chances are of that happening, but I was trying to see it as lucky! Only problem was we immediately changed course (or shortened our course) and were on our way to Warsaw. I’ve already been to Warsaw so this was not super exciting news to me. When anyone asked, the steward just kept apologizing and saying safety was first priority which is why we needed to land and get checked out. I think the hub for LOT airlines is Warsaw. Fingers crossed for an extra empty plane kicking around that we can transfer into and get back on our way to Krakow. I have plans!
The second we landed and the “seatbelt” sign went off, people were up and things got loud. I am not sure what the excitement was as if didn’t look like as we were going anywhere any time soon.
Eventually they took us off the plane and I followed the crowd. This was a time when not speaking the language put me at a real disadvantage. I had no clue what was happening and the angry people who spoke Polish were too loud to be heard over so my questions went unanswered. Finally I heard the words bus and McDonald’s and using my wonderful seductive reasoning skills, I figured we were supposed to gather our luggage and meet there.
A taxi driver approached me and asked if I needed a ride. I flippantly commented only if he were heading to Krakow. That attached him to my side, talking to me about how he could give me a receipt and I could bill LOT and if they wouldn’t pay then I could sue. I haven’t had a lot of experience with problems with flights but I definitely know not to hope to charge an airline and get compensation.
He finally left me but then two other taxi drivers gathered a small crowd from our flight and were trying to convince them of the same plan. They would take the money that it would cost to hire the coach buses and drive us in vans to Krakow. They were talking to the right people because voices were rising and people were getting more agitated.
In the crowd of unhappy souls, I found two women, perhaps a mother and daughter. I think their names are Yola and Anya. They were from the US but spoke Polish and very kindly translated everything for me and updated me on what was going on. I asked if I could latch on to them and they were nice enough to let me. I tried to keep my distance a bit, not wanting to be a pain, already feeling better with some understanding of what was happening.
We were boarded on a bus (it’s amazing how panic causes people to forget all courtesy and manners), given sandwiches and bottles of water and left to sweat. Seriously. We were on the bus over an hour before they turned it on and started the air.
They took attendance which was funny to watch. As a teacher, I was so tempted to take charge as I watched the very mild-mannered, soft-spoken young guy trying to get people to listen while he searched for names on the really long list of tiny printed names.
I think the thing I find most frustrating about situations like this is lack of communication. It wasn’t the airline’s fault we were struck by lightning. It wasn’t anyone’s fault. That part doesn’t upset me. I also agree with safety first. I am glad they landed us and made us get off the plane if things stopped working (I think it took out a light or something). But making us sit, with no information and no update for an hour and a half… it’s no surprise people were getting upset. It was 25 degrees outside and there was no air circulating. Regular updates- that’s really all it would have taken to diffuse some of the upset. Not all, and not the unreasonable people just looking for a fight, but the rational ones like me who would be appeased. 🙂
We had two small children on our bus who played, loudly and often shrieking with laughter, the ENTIRE 4 hours. Some people were not impressed. It made me think of all the positive things that came out of this lightning strike:
1. We didn’t crash and no one was hurt.
2. I got to take a bus in Poland- haven’t done that before.
3. We had two children who were happy and playing the entire bus ride. I can only imagine what it would have been like if they’d been unhappy and crying.
4. I had an empty seat beside me- I had a chatty Frenchman beside me on the plane.
5. I met Yola and Anya- my translating queens!
6. I actually had something to blog about that might be a little interesting other than what I ate that day (a sandwich and a bottle of water- didn’t take pics. Sorry!)If all went well and according to plan, (though I’m not sure whose plan), we should have been in Krakow around midnight. It was a good thing I was used to not getting a lot of sleep as I would just be able to go to sleep whenever I finally arrived and get up at a normal time and start the day. It would be just like any other day of my travels. Only this time, there was a little more adventure than normal!