Saturday, November 24, 2007

Thanksgiving at the Wawel

Laurel, James and Claire on the walkway up to the Wawel Castle

We were fortunate to have family visiting us during Thanksgiving week. John’s niece, Laurel, who lives in London was here for the week along with her husband James and their darling daughter, Claire. (They even let us watch her for a day when they visited Auschwitz and we had great fun!) On Thanksgiving Day we toured the Wawel (VAH-vel), Krakow’s castle and a symbol of Polish royalty and independence. A castle has stood on this hill at the southern end of Krakow since the beginning of recorded history. Krakow was the capital city of Poland until 1596, but even after the government moved to Warsaw it was in the Wawel Cathedral that kings were crowned and buried. We had walked the Wawel Hill grounds during nicer weather, but had been saving the tour of the castle state rooms and cathedral. It turned out to be a perfect Thanksgiving Day activity with our visitors.

The interior of the castle with its leather-tooled walls and huge 16th century tapestries was amazing. Sorry I can’t show you any pictures, since cameras weren’t allowed. (Once again, we were able to walk right in when normally advance reservations are needed since the number of people going through at any one time is limited.)

The Wawel grounds in nicer weather.

The cathedral on Wawel hill started as a simple Romanesque church in the 12th century and successive rulers surrounded it with some 20 chapels, many with their own domes and architectural style. The result is a mixture of Gothic, Romanesque, Baroque, Renaissance and Neoclassical, evident both from the outside and when touring the chapel interior.
Some of the spires and domes of the Wawel Cathedral.

We finished off our Thanksgiving Day with a fish dinner at a nice restaurant close to Laurel and James’ hotel. (Our apartment doesn't have an oven, so I wasn't about to attempt cooking a Thanksgiving dinner at "home." The sports bar at the Sheraton hotel was serving what they billed as a Thanksgiving menu all week, but it we decided not to attempt the trip down there.) We have much to be thankful for and it was especially nice to have family here to share the day. It certainly made us a little less homesick than we might otherwise have been. (And having a year off will make cooking that big Thanksgiving dinner next year even more fun!)

Claire was a real treat! She was so good, even though she wasn't feeling well much of the time (she wasn't even afraid of that man with the grey beard)!

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