Through Holland and Germany to Poland

DSC_3564

For the first time we took the ferry from Harwich to Hooke in Holland.  It wasn’t much more expensive than the usual Dover – Calais job but it did take about 4 times as long to cross.  Not that that mattered much as we are never in much of a hurry and it did place us in a good starting point for our journey across the continent. DSC_3556

Spring flowers and spring activities.

DSC_3573DSC_3583

The route took us through the city of Gottingen with its famous goose girl statue that was supposed to bring good luck to the university students who kissed it.

DSC_3603

This weekend though, a cycle race for all was in progress. The centre of town was cordoned off to accommodate the competitors who seemed to be from all age groups but terribly enthusiastic.

DSC_3657

The quiet around the car park where we spent a couple of nights allowed me to get close enough to this fieldfare keen on feeding its chicks with juicy worms.

DSC_3661

WE took the less direct route in order to pass through the city of Dresden, much knocked about during WWII but now extensively rebuilt.

DSC_3664

Much gold is apparent on roofs and statues.

DSC_3701

DSC_3671

All paid for no doubt by the Ministry of Finance on the other side of the River Elbe who live in this palace.

DSC_3667


An architect, smiling in the spring sunshine.

DSC_3665

Every Dresdener should keep an eye on these M.H.C.s as they get extremely slippery in the wet.  Sheila sustained a nasty fall in the rainy streets of Dresden when she stepped on a metal grating.

DSC_3695

The golden horseman.  A depiction of Augustus II (the strong) covered in gold.    Augustus II was of course better known in the 1600s as a fox tosser.  (Google it – go on google “Fox Tossing”  a real eye opener.) 

DSC_3700

I always believed that there was some sort of code associated with the number of legs the horse had on the ground in an equestrian statue.  Something like the above (2 back legs down)  = died in battle.  3 legs: died in service, 4 legs: died in retirement.  But!!! it is an urban myth.  How disappointing.


DSC_3705

Stopped in the woods near the German / Polish border where this “quaint” cottage stood by the lakeside.

DSC_3709

Then in to Krakow to meet Wendy and Chris.  They must be very unlucky as the weather was cold and wet throughout their visit.  However, we didn’t mind as we had the use of the Uber Taxi in the background.  Behind the taxi is the famous Cloth Hall now enclosing a market selling expensive bits of amber and smelly sheepskin rugs.

DSC_3744

Just behind our campsite was bizarrely enough a monument to Elvis.  Must have been a star in Lesser Poland at one time.

DSC_3763

We took a few day trips out from the city including the most harrowing journey through the Auschwitz and Birkenau memorial museum. 

DSC_3764DSC_3769DSC_3795DSC_3807

Not an easy place to visit and the weather reflected our mood.

DSC_3871

Deep beneath the city’s fortress;  Wawel Castle, lies a dungeon formerly inhabited by the dragon “Smok” according to legend.  The dungeon is still there and can be crawled through by the brave but sadly, the dragon is no more.

DSC_3876

Outside, though on the riverbank is a modern representation of Smok who breathes real fire every few minutes in order to scare the schoolchildren gathered around him.  Smok is Polish for “dragon”.  It is a little known fact that Tolkien visited Krakow prior to writing about “Smaug” in The Hobbit!

DSC_3884

An old man selling matches on the street.

DSC_3886

Another one of those horse drawn Uber taxis.

DSC_3933

Perched high above the Father Bernatek bridge spanning the River Vistula are nine acrobats

DSC_3940

and adorning the railings are about a million padlocks.

DSC_3941

Very popular with photographers they were too.

DSC_3951

Krakow has a beautiful botanical garden with some impressive trees and of course some squirrels to take advantage of them.

DSC_3988

We had a very amusing guide on our trip to the salt mines of Wieliczka who explained that everything was made out of ….well you guessed it…salt.  he was right in most cases.  Here is King Kazimierz made from salt.

DSC_4006

and a chandelier made of salt

DSC_4011

but to me the most impressive bit was the wood.  It must have taken an entire forest and a half to prop up the spaces within the mine.

DSC_4021

One of the spaces was being readied for a wedding for four hundred guests by the look of it.  “Pass the salt will you dear”.

Incidentally there has been a constant stream of visitors to the salt mines for hundreds of years.  Popes, American presidents, musicians, authors and scientists and now a constant stream of busloaded tourists converge on the mines every day.

DSC_4044

Back in to the open air and above Krakow city there are loads of statues.  Well wouldn’t you look as happy if a great big eagle just sat on your head?

DSC_4052

This statue above the city centre is to commemorate the fact that the very first “Selfie” was taken here in Krakow.

DSC_4056

Leaving on a another one of the Uber taxis.  (Actually we couldn’t afford one of these clippetyclop taxis but the Uber to or from our camp site was under three quid and there in under five minutes.)

DSC_4111

With a quick look to see that we hadn’t left anything behind, it was goodbye to Wendy and Chris and off to the Czech Republic and another sort of mine; a coal mine.

DSC_4134