Monday, 26 October 2009
Krakow - The City of Inspiration
The Chess Game - Children of all ages spend a wet Saturday afternoon playing chess in a large shopping mall. Now that was inspiring.
Somehow I can't see that being replicated in Glasgow's Silverburn Centre!
At the risk of being thrown off Blogger by the cliche police I have to report I was stuck in a rut. After a burst of enthusiasm in September, my novel has moved from trundle mode to stutter. I needed a holiday to find some sparks and Krakow in autumn hit the spot.
It was sunny when we arrived but that didn't last long. The clean and adequate Hotel Kazimierz had made the prudent decision that it wasn't cold enough for heating - the room was a little chilly. That first night, as Colin and I sipped our duty free G&Ts, we planned our week. We scanned the many tourist tours on offer and decided they were not for us. The two things I wanted to do was to travel down to the border town of Zakopane and also visit Auschwitz.
Apart from the straight forward journey from Airport to town, I found the train system in Krakow incomprehensible, but the buses had easy to understand and frequent timetables and cheap fares. Because of this we bused it to both our desired destinations.
A direct flight from Edinburgh to Krakow, followed by a two hour bus journey to Zakopane means the town has the potential for a cheap skiing holiday. Unfortunately the day we were there the Tatra mountains hide behind the thick veil of rain, but the town was neat and seemed to have good facilities for walkers and skiers.
The next day we braved the cold sleet to make our way to Auschwitz, which was appropriate weather for such a trip. I have never experienced such a huge sense of bewilderment. As I stood, cold and hungry, on those famous tracks and listened to the Polish guide explain that it was here the new arrivals were split, some to the camp, most to the gas chamber, I swore I would never complain again. Words fail me still.
When I got back to the hotel I went straight into bed to warm myself up, or maybe it was to make myself feel better.
A visit to Auschwitz should be compulsory for everyone in the world. What happened there should never be allowed to happen again.
The weather didn't improve but at least the Hotel put the heating on.
The people of Poland seem to have forgotten how to smile but I liked them for that, when I did get a smile I knew it was genuine.
And the inspiration appeared while I was there. Two poems and one short story tumbled out of nowhere and when I came home my characters were waiting for me with a few surprises.