Poland Day Seven- Friday April 14: Krakow To Czestochowa. A Very Emotional Visit to the Black Madonna, Queen Of Poland.

Poland Day Seven- Friday April 14: Krakow To Czestochowa. A Very Emotional Visit to the Black Madonna, Queen Of Poland.

Poland Day Seven walk to castle -36
Previous Post
Next Post

I finally had  some time to post some thoughts and photographs from my trip here in  Poland. I can’t believe it is almost a week now. A week of pure joy and wonder , visiting the homeland of my paternal grandparents.   And it was a  very special day for me today , some of which I will share with you. Poland Day Seven walk to castle -1

It began in Krakow, the Golden City,  this morning , whose cobblestone streets I have already come to know and love. It was cold again, 41 degrees, with a light rain when I began my early walk. I walked the mostly empty streets to the magnificent town square, one of the largest in medieval Europe. It is dominated by the towering steeples of St Mary’s which have already became so familiar to me. There will be more on it’s history in a later post. Poland Day Seven walk to castle -3

The  streets were now deserted  and the shops closed, but this place bustles with life throughout the day and evening. Music,  talking in many languages and laughing add to the hospitable atmosphere of the square and city. Poland Day Seven walk to castle -6

I walked down Grodzka, the main street of the old town that leads to the impressive Wawel Castle. Poland Day Seven walk to castle -21

This  street also was quiet at this early hour, but it is lined with restaurants, business and small shops selling all sorts of merchandise including many Polish arts and crafts, and is very busy throughout the day.  Poland Day Seven walk to castle -11

Also located on it’s old cobblestone streets are  two of the cities two hundred  beautiful and historic churches,  St Peter and Paul , and pictured here ,  St Andrew’s one of the oldest churches in the city. These  very walls protected many of the inhabitants of the city from a Tatar  invasion almost a thousand years ago. Poland Day Seven walk to castle -19

Grodzka runs  right into the  protective walls of Wawel Castle, which sits atop the city and over the scenic Vistula River. I have visited this castle a number of times and there will be more pictures and posts about it’s history. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike to the castle this morning. https://keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Seven-Krakow-morning-walk-to-Wawel-Castle-Friday-April-14-2017-Poland Day Seven walk to castle -28

After resting, and reflecting, atop the high walls of the castle I decided to walk back along the planty, the grassy park that was built over the old moat that surrounded Krakow in the middle ages. Poland Day Seven walk planty -10

It is a beautiful  ribbon  of green separating Poland Day Seven walk planty -19modern Krakow from the cobblestone streets of the old town. Poland Day Seven walk planty -13

It transverses many old builds, churches and universities. Poland Day Seven walk planty -22

I followed it up to the remains of the cities old fortifications the Barbican and Florian Gate. These massive walls once surrounded the entire city, now the ‘Old town” where I  stayed during my visit. There will be more thoughts  and photographs about this area  it’s amazing history in some later blogs post. Poland Day Seven walk planty -25

I could have walked for hours, but my bus to Czestochowa,  the next stop on my adventure in Poland, left at 10:10 a.m so I had to head to the hotel for breakfast and to finish packing. Here is a link to some more photographs  from my walk along the planty https://keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Seven-Krakow-planty-walk-April-14-2017-Poland Day Seven walk planty -9

I arrived at the bus station, and knowing the routine from my trip to Zakopane, was concerned when there was no bus at G6. Unfortunately English is not a second language in Poland and few people outside of the tourists areas speak English. It was only after a considerable effort, and, thankfully a young woman who knew some English, that I discovered I was in the right place but the that bus was delayed. Poland Day Seven bus -3

I enjoy riding the public buses in Poland, They are clean and  usually punctual.   I learned my bus was coming from Zakopane and maybe more snow may have caused the short delay. We were off at 10:14 and soon made our way out of busy Krakow into the beautiful Polish countryside. Poland Day Seven bus -10

My eyes were fixed to the passing landscapes, taking in all of the towns, farms, and businesses and this cemetery, strewn with flowers for the Easter season.  I love driving through a foreign country.Poland Day Seven bus -29

We made a short stop in the large industrial town of Katowice, thankfully, since,  one disadvantage of the buses in Poland, is the lack of bathroom facilities. Poland Day Seven bus -20

We now rode north and trough more rural parts of Poland, the rolling hills and farms reminding me so much of my home in Northeastern Pennsylvania. So many birch and aspen trees grew on the hills, I knew that there had to me many wild mushrooms growing in the fall. As some of you many know from following my social media posts, I love wild mushrooms and have had eaten many a mushroom dish while here in Poland. Poland Day Seven bus -34

It was about a  very pleasant 2 1/2 hour drive to Czestochowa and I was surprised of the size of the city, and the extent of the industry as we approached it’s outskirts,  More on that in a later post, but I made it to the station where I found a kindly old taxi driver to drive me to the Mercure Hotel. He spoke no English but I gathered he spoke German and was proud of it. He kept repeating some German phrases hoping I would know what he was saying. Although we didn’t share a language, we still communicated as much as we needed. It was one of so many such wonderful exchanges of basic human goodness. Here is a link to some more photographs from my bus ride to Czestochowa. https://keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Seven-Krakow-to-Czestochowa-bus-trip-Friday-April-14-2017-Poland Day Seven bus -45

Having arrived at my hotel, I soon learned there was no laundry service, which I so badly needed, and there was no money exchange, because of the Holy days., It was Good Friday and Poland is still a very devout Nation. Poland Day Seven bus -47

My hotel was right across the street from the impressive Paulite Monastery of Jasna Gora, It is famous to  Polish of the Catholic faith  all over the world for it’s Chapel of Our Lady, the home of the revered Black Madonna. So much history  about this portrait, and how many believe Her protection saved Poland on many occasions over the one thousand  years since She arrived here.  Legend has it the portrait was painted in the home of the Holy family  by St Luke. Poland Day Seven Czestochowa afternoon hike -2

I do know this, my dad was one of those devout Polish people. So were as were his parents who  immigrated to the United States early last century bringing their deep faith with  them.   My father,   was especially devoted to Our Lady Of Czestochowa, having told me and my siblings  She saved his life during World War II and that none of us would be here without her Protection. Her image has been one of my earliest memories. I just learned recently from my mother, that my dad  took her, on one of their first dates, to the Shrine devoted to Her in Doylestown  Pennsylvania when it was still housed in an old barn. I remember so fondly the visits our family would make to that  Shrine. My dad always wanted to come to Poland. He never had the opportunity. We lost him three years ago, He was my best friend and the most loving man I knew.Poland Day Seven Czestochowa afternoon hike -3

I made my way up to the massive monastery on the hill, and finding the chapel, I can only say it was one of the most moving experiences I had during my journey on this Earth. The Chapel itself is so awe inspiring  as  the walls are  decorated with crutches, rosaries and other objects left behind by devoted visitors over the centuries. And when I saw the image of the portrait of the Black Madonna, so much a part of my dad’s and his families life, what a special  moment to me. I spent some time reflecting on his life and my life in Her presence.  My dad was with me. I know that.  No more need be said of this very emotional experience.Poland Day Seven Czestochowa afternoon hike -5

I left the monastery and it’s beautiful grounds and decided to explore a bit of the town of Czestochowa. As I said, it was much larger than the little farm town I expected.  I made my way down the large newly build avenue that begins across from  the Monastery.Poland Day Seven Czestochowa afternoon hike -44

It is lined with many shops and restaurants., most  closed in  honor of Good Friday. Of course not an American chain, KFC was open and thankfully so, as I needed a bathroom visit.Poland Day Seven Czestochowa afternoon hike -10

I stopped in this beautiful  church on the square and spent some time listening to a Good Friday service in the beautiful Polish language, recalling a few words from when I first heard them in the Polish language services I attended as a young child.Poland Day Seven Czestochowa afternoon hike -13

I came to the town square where I veered from the main avenue and into the surrounding residential neighborhoods.Poland Day Seven Czestochowa afternoon hike -19

As in much of Poland that i have seen there are parks and churches everywhere. Poland Day Seven Czestochowa afternoon hike -27 

I roamed the streets of this town and found them to be clean, peaceful and quite beautiful.Poland Day Seven Czestochowa afternoon hike -30

My tour book states , that,  other than the monastery, there is little else to see or do  in this town. I found them to be so wrong and look forward to exploring it’s many wonderful streets and parks these next three days, and I hope to share my thoughts and photographs with all of you. Here is a link to some more photographs from my walk through the streets of Czestochowa.   https://keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Seven-Czestochowa-afternoon-hike-Friday-April-14-2017-Poland Day Seven Czestochowa afternoon hike -31

“Sacred places are not empty vessels and people coming to them continue to build on what’s already present and layered in the landscape, culture or activities of the place.”
~Adrian J. Ivakhiv