Monday, August 29, 2005

Byłem w Toruniu

The weekend in Toruń was great, it's a really nice city. It is a lot larger than I had been led to believe, and has a large amount of intact, old buildings, as well as a lot of ruins of an old castle. The castle was built by the Teutonic Knights who then ruled the city, apparently rather oppressively, as the townsfolk rebelled and destroyed the castle in the process.

As I mentioned in my previous post, Toruń has the distinction of being the only place in the entire world in which Nicholas Copernicus was born (Mikołaj Kopernik in Polish). Because of this, there is a museum dedicated to him in the building where he grew up. Not surprisingly, there is a statue of Copernicus in the main square, holding a model of the solar system. The building behind this statue is the old town hall.

Toruń has a leaning tower, like many other cities (Pisa isn't the only one - just the one with the best marketing). There is a superstition that if you stand with your back to the tower, on the correct side, and make a wish, it will come true. The small child in the pram in this photo is Julia. She is the daughter of Sylwia's cousin (for those of you who know her). The interior of the tower contains a pub (of course). I don't know if the floor has been levelled or not, so it could be a very interesting place to drink (especially after several drinks).

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Jutro jadę do Torunia

I'm going to Toruń tomorrow. Toruń looks and sounds like an interesting place, with quite a few things to see for a small town. One fairly unknown piece of Trivia about Toruń is that it is the birthplace of a guy called Mikołaj Kopernik, or in English, Nicholas Copernicus. It is also the home of a Polish gingerbread called Pierniki Torunskie, which is delicious, so I have to buy some from the source.

Monday, August 22, 2005


On Friday I went to Kraków with a large group of people from Gliwice. We arrived in Kraków at about 7pm (we changed our plans and left on Friday afternoon rather than Friday morning) and then found our accommodation. The evening involved beer, quick food, and then nightclubs, pubs, and more beer and other alcohol. It should take about 20 to 30 minutes to walk from our accommodation to the market square, but on the return trip it took us just under 2 hours. The main reason for this was that the dormitory wasn't quite where we thought it was, thus causing us to take the rather scenic route home.

After a bare minimum of sleep, we were roused out of bed at the ungodly hour of 9:30am so that we could get ready in time for the day's sightseeing. There were two options for the day, the first being a trip to the salt mine at Wieliczka, and the second being a trip to an aviation museum and then tour around Kazimierz. I really wanted to see Kazimierz (the old Jewish quarter of the city) so I went for the latter option. The aviation museum was interesting because the guide knew a lot and there were quite a few historical planes that I'd heard about but never seen "in the flesh" but after a lack of sleep, it was a tiring morning and a sleep break would have been nice.

After the tour of the aviation museum we had a short 40 minute break before the next tour (that of Kazimierz) was to begin. Ania, Ante and I took this opportunity to seek much needed caffeine in the form of coffee. The coffee was much needed and delicious, albeit somewhat expensive, and the cafe was located in the main market square (Rynek Główny) so we were able to sip coffee and look at the square.

For the tour of Kazimierz and a few other sites around the old town, we were loaded into these electric tourist cars. I normally shun such contraptions but the chance to sit down for this leg of the sightseeing was a welcome relief from the walking that morning and the previous night. After an initial problem with the speaker system supplying the audio part of the audio tour (the speaker worked intermittently at best, though changing cars fixed this problem) we embarked on an interesting tour of Kraków's old town and Jewish quarter. There is a street in Kazimierz called ul. Kupa, which translates to 'Shit St.', a name that amused me greatly. Unfortunately I missed the opportunity to obtain photographic evidence of this name, so I shall have to remember for my next trip to this beautiful city.

After this tour, we went to a late lunch at an establishment roughly half-way from the market square to the dorm. The food was good (and we were starving). Lunch was followed by an afternoon of free time, which involved another cafe for me and a few others. The IAESTE group in Kraków (the people who organised this trip) put on a party for us on Saturday night, as well an a quick play that told the story of the Kraków Dragon. The party was good, and they played (mostly) good music, so I enjoyed the evening.

On Sunday morning, after being awoken early again, we were taken on a tour of the Wawel Castle. Wawel is smaller than a few other castles that I've seen in my travels, but it is still a very nice collection of buildings. We saw the bell tower and I touched the ringer of the biggest bell in the world with my left hand (a practise which is supposed to bring luck). The staircases leading up to and down from the bell tower were interesting and fun to walk on - they meandered through tight spaces and low ceilings as though the builders didn't have a plan and just added higher stairs as they felt appropriate, while drunk. The tour then went to the crypt under the cathedral where the bodies of most of the Polish kings lie, as well as a few other notable Poles, such as Tadeusz Kościuszko, the person after whom my current street and the largest mountain in Australia are named. Our guide then took us through several other buildings and down to the river to see the statue of the Kraków Dragon. The statue is good and every so often breathes fire, which is a nice touch.

At the conclusion of this tour our organised weekend in Kraków came to an end, so we had some free time before returning to the dorm to pack our bags and head to the train station. It was an awesome weekend, and I had heaps of fun. Kraków is a great city.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Jutro rano jadę do Krakowa i pracuję.

I'm going to Kraków for the weekend (including Friday). Last time I was in Kraków, I was only there for about half a day and missed many things, so it will be good to return with enough time to see all the things I previously missed. I will also know various myths and stories about the place that I didn't learn until a couple of days after my previous trip.

On another note, some classes have started in one of my two schools, so I am working again, although sparingly at the moment. This is good news as I get paid for working and the money helps me sustain those expensive habits I've developed like "eating" and "sleeping indoors" amoung others.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Jazz w Ruinach

I went to a free jazz concert at the Ruiny Theatre in Gliwice this evening with Asia. The first half of the concert was okay, and the second half was really good, so I'm glad I went. Free concerts are not uncommon here, which is good, and something Brisbane should learn to do. I like concerts, and I especially like free concerts.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Nature Unleashed: Fire

Tonight I went to visit friends in Gliwice and ended up watching a movie called: Nature Unleashed: Fire. I was terrible. It would come close to being the worst movie I have ever seen. At least some of the faults were bad enough to give the movie some humour value. The main characters were all injured at one stage or another, but they all seemed to have temporary injuries that allowed them to carry and/or help the most recent recipient of an injury. Apparently it's possible to walk on a broken leg after the injury is 30mins old, without falling over or even grimacing in pain. Broken arms heal well enough in less than 15mins to let you wave and smile.
I would definitely never recommend paying money to see this film.

Byliśmy w Katowicach

I went to Katowice this morning to meet up with Aggie and Simon, who stayed at Aggie's cousin's place in Bytom last night. We had a few hours, which was enough for lunch and looking around a few shops in the city area before they needed to catch the train to Kraków. We realised quite soon that there isn't really anything to see in Katowice as far as monuments or historical buildings are concerned. The city is dull and boring, which is a shame, as it's the largest city in Silesia, and the region's capital, so you'd think there should be something there.
Anyway, here's a photo of Aggie and Simon on the train, about to leave the station in Katowice, on the way to Kraków.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Agata i Szymon byli w Gliwicach dzisiaj

As the title says, Aggie and Simon were in Gliwice today. We spent the day browsing shoe shops (as shoes are usually much cheaper here than in Australia), wandering around Gliwice, drinking hot chocolates at the Wawel confectionary store, having lunch at the crepe restaurant, going to the Gliwice radio station tower, and having a coffee in a cafe called Gwarek.

Here we are in the Wawel confectionary store consuming our hot chocolates (Gorąca Czekolada). We purchased three of them, one for each of us, but Aggie found that she was unable to drink more than a smidgin of hers, so I gallantly finished it for her. They are made of molten chocolate, and very delicious. (This is also the shop where I buy my Krówki sweets.)

Radiostacja Gliwice, the Radio station museum in Gliwice. This is the site where WWII basically started. Some Nazis pretending to be Poles "took over" the station and broadcast a message saying that the station was now in Polish hands, using the same microphone that Aggie is speaking into. Hitler used this as an excuse to invade Poland on the grounds that it was in defense. The tower is also the tallest wooden structure in the world. Well, the tallest man-made wooden structure. There are some taller trees. The tower itself has the peculiar ability to appear as though it is leaning, depending on how you look at it. The two photos below are taken from the same side of the tower to demonstrate this phenomenon.

The cafe called 'Gwarek' is in the main town square (Rynek), and is inside perspex domes, so that it looks like a fishbowl in summer, and from what I've been told, like an igloo in winter (you can see the shape of the structure from the photo). The coffee was good, I had a cappucino with whipped cream on top, but I think it's a bit on the expensive side. It seems to be the sort of place that one goes to for the main purpose of being seen by others. The chairs were comfortable though, which was a bonus.

Unfortunately the weather wasn't wonderful, as it was drizzling all day and cold, but we still had fun.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

I'm Dumbledore??

You scored as Albus Dumbledore. Strong and powerful you admirably defend your world and your charges against those who would seek to harm them. However sometimes you can fail to do what you must because you care too much to cause suffering.

Your Harry Potter Alter Ego Is...?
created with

Dali w Katowicach

The Silesian Museum in Katowice (Muzeum Śląskie w Katowicach) is currently showing a Dali exhibition. I'm surprised because people had led me to believe that nothing interesting came to Katowice, when I mentioned that I'd been to a Magritte exhibition in Vienna. The entry fee for the Dali exhibit is 10zł, which isn't terribly cheap by Polish standards, but it's not too bad. (For those in or from Australia, 10 złotych is about AUD$4.)

I think I have to go to this exhibition, and on a day other than Monday (as with many museums in Europe, the Silesian Museum is closed on Mondays).

Wednesday, August 03, 2005


This lovely piece of architecture is called the 'Spodek'. It's the sport hall/entertainment centre in Katowice. It reminds me of a UFO from 70s science fiction. It is close to the Disco Sphinx, which also looks like it comes from the 70s. Actually, a lot of Katowice looks like it's still in the 70s, right down to the porn star moustaches that most of the men between about 35 and 55 seem to think are still fashionable. This is the sort of city that an invading army would leave intact purely out of spite.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Disco Sphinx!

Egypt has a Sphinx dating back quite a few years. Katowice has a Sphinx dating back to the 70s. I first noticed this lovely work of art a few weeks ago from the window of my tram as I travelled to and from my Monday class in Katowice, and yesterday I remembered to take my camera with me so that I could capture its beauty. I'm not sure why the body is coated in small mirrors, nor do I know why the head isn't. Or, for that matter, why the head posses a nose, as the Eqyptian version lots its nose many years ago. Anyway, enjoy the Disco Sphinx.

Monday, August 01, 2005

ING Bank Śląski

Finally, after opening the account a little over three months ago, I have my bank card. Obviously the numbers are smudged for privacy reasons - they are in fact quite legible on the actual card. It's a nice card, and about bloody time that I received it. I think I went in 4 or 5 times to ask why it hadn't arrived over the course of the last 3 months. Now I can access my money through bankomats (ATMs).


This is a postcard. It arrived in my letterbox almost 2 weeks ago. It comes courtesy of Aggie, who found it while in England, and felt that it was definitely ugly enough to warrant sending. I agree. She has since informed me that a similar postcard of Queen Lizzie was another option. The photo is a screen capture from my webcam, but if the resolution is too low for you to appreciate the beauty of the card, let me know and I'll take a high-res pic with my digicam and send it to you. Admittedly, it's not a naked-man-arse, but if you want, you can picture Charles naked. :-) I bet that put a bad image in your head. Have a nice day :-)