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.
Spring flowers and spring activities.
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.
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.
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.
WE took the less direct route in order to pass through the city of Dresden, much knocked about during WWII but now extensively rebuilt.
Much gold is apparent on roofs and statues.
All paid for no doubt by the Ministry of Finance on the other side of the River Elbe who live in this palace.
An architect, smiling in the spring sunshine.
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.
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.)
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.
Stopped in the woods near the German / Polish border where this “quaint” cottage stood by the lakeside.
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.
Just behind our campsite was bizarrely enough a monument to Elvis. Must have been a star in Lesser Poland at one time.
We took a few day trips out from the city including the most harrowing journey through the Auschwitz and Birkenau memorial museum.
Not an easy place to visit and the weather reflected our mood.
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.
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!
An old man selling matches on the street.
Another one of those horse drawn Uber taxis.
Perched high above the Father Bernatek bridge spanning the River Vistula are nine acrobats
and adorning the railings are about a million padlocks.
Very popular with photographers they were too.
Krakow has a beautiful botanical garden with some impressive trees and of course some squirrels to take advantage of them.
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.
and a chandelier made of salt
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.
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.
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?
This statue above the city centre is to commemorate the fact that the very first “Selfie” was taken here in Krakow.
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.)
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.