Sunday, July 8, 2012

July 5, 2012 Lviv to Krakow

July 5, 2012               Lviv to Krakow

Today is basically a transit day from Lviv, Ukraine to Krakow, Poland.  It is also the beginning of what will be a week off from genealogy travel so that we can take in the annual Jewish culture festival in Krakow. 

When we planned the trip, we were guided by three events: EuroCup soccer, the Krakow Jewish Culture Festival, and the Gribens B’not Mitzvah.  Don’t arrive in Warsaw until the day after the semi final game; get to Krakow for the final days of the festival, be in St. Petersburg Russia for the B’not Mitzvah.  So the trip has been a week-long genealogy loop from Warsaw, stopping here in Krakow for the Festival.  On Monday, we head back up to Warsaw to begin our second genealogy drive.

This morning, we loaded up the van and Jakub spent most of the day driving us.  The border went rather smoothly.  We made a stop on the Polish side to view an important synagogue that survived the war in Lancut.

It was a small shul tended by another very committed and enthusiastic man.  He showed us various artifacts, pieces of Jewish text he’d retrieved what the synagogue’s genizah (the place where text that contain the name of God are placed for burial), as well as a collection of cemetery head stones that he had brought together to protect and to store.

I was ready to leave when he pointed to a double wooden door.

He opened the door to reveal that the two rooms we toured were not the synagogue at all…

This place was fantastic.  It was huge, adorned with art, a beautiful bimah…

Underneath the bimah was a trap door.

Rumors say that a tunnel system was built under the synagogue.  The curator is bringing in experts with the equipment to tell if there are indeed tunnels under the synagogue.

We haven't paid much attention to the culinary part of the experience so here's our lunch between the synagogue and Krakow.

Looked like a truck stop but turns out its fancy and they use it for weddings..

The kids chicken fingers...with alphabet french fries.. (OK, Marci ordered it).

Pierogies so good we ate half before we could snap a picture..

We continued on to Krakow, said goodbye to Jakub who will continue with the van to Warsaw (where we will meet again in 4 days to begin the next phase of the genealogy tour).

We checked into the Radisson hotel and didn’t know what to do with ourselves….four nights in the same place…   What else could we do…we actually unpacked.

Not so funny side note:  after we checked in, the concierge wanted to let us know that she was available to help.  Say the following really quickly, as she did: Salt Mine tour, restaurants, shows, Auschwitz, taxis.  Kind of made me think of that old Sesame Street song: "One of these words is not like the other...One of these words just doesn't belong...."

We met up with the Weiss’ and headed to Kazimierz, the Jewish section of Krakow for a 10 pm concert, our first event in the week-long Jewish Cultural Festival, in one of Krakow’s 7 synagogues.  (It's actually called the Tempel Synagogue).

Shayna, Rebecca, and Noah Weiss

An American Jewish blues klezmer big band group called Paul Shapiro's Ribs and Brisket Revue performed (yes, eclectic!).  They were fantastic…though the heat made the venue into a sauna.  We sat nearly behind the stage…but the sounds were the same!  At 11 pm, we grabbed some pizza..

By midnight, we were tired…and hot…and retreated back to the hotel for sleep.

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