My summer started in the middle of June. Or only my holiday started, the weather didn’t seem to agree. There were only some single warm days between periods when the big turbulence targeted us its northern side with cold winds. So the nature has been about two weeks behind its normal schedule what comes to growing and blooming.
The first holiday day happened to be one of the rare ones.
The weather was still o.k. in Helsinki when we headed for Krakow. There the temperature was about 12 centigrade and hard wind from North felt so familiar again. We had something to wear for both cold and warm weather with us so our big suitcase was quite full.
We spent our first day at the Krakow old town. Krakow has been a former capitol of Polish reign and it showed in many old houses and especially the huge Wawel Castle. The town is still partly under the construction and not as refined as for instance Prague.
At the main market square of Krakow
In the streets of Krakow old town
At the yard of the Wawel Castle
A view to the river Wislawa from the Wawel Castle
Krakow has always been the center of Polish religion life and it’s full of churches and cathedrals – many of them from the middle age. Some are said to be built to reconcile the sins of the king and it seems the sins used to be enormous...
One of the numerous cathedrals
On the second day we made a trip to Tatra mountains in the South West part of the country. The population there uses a dialect resembling Slovak language and I very much doubt they were asked to join Polish nation in the middle of the 18th century when they were integrated to Poland both nationally and to the Catholic Church instead of their own religious tradition.
In Tatra region we could see villages with old houses totally built on beech logs. Our guide had an idea to visit some places there but the problem was it was a time for Sunday mass so no one was there to open the doors. The only place we could visit was the local museum where an old lady told us stories from old days.
The walls of the houses are very clean because the lady of the house must wash them every spring. You can also hire the cleaning woman to skip that hard work...
The Tatran women seemed to wear sort of semi folk costumes with a long skirt made of a special kind of flower patterned fabrics.
We went to the top of the high hill to see the wonderful valley of the Zakopane city. Because of the thick fog we saw nothing. Well, we saw it after entering it in a tramway down the hillside – still without any views. Zakopane is rather a small town but being a center of the Polish winter sports it’s full of hotels and tourists.
A view to the the Zakopane valley from the hill.... use your imagination!
A view from Zakopane to the hill we just visited
In Zakopane we had our lunch and we wanted to have some rural food. And rural it was, a huge amount in very cheap price!
On the third day the heat wave entered us in Krakow so we could use our summer dresses at last. We spent our time visiting the places with Jewish history. The old part of Krakow called Kazimiera was once an important place for Polish Jews. Actually it was a mixture of Catholic and Jewish town and the ghetto was even further from the Krakow old town. There we visited a synagogue and had a Jewish lunch.
A Jewish lunch at Kazimiera market square
An inside view of a synagogue in Kazimiera
The Jewish cemetery. The stones are from the relatives who have visited the tomb.
We also visited the ghetto and the Occupation museum founded at the Schindler mills – the actual place for the Spielberg film List of Schindler. The ghetto was totally wiped away and rebuilt so there was nothing to see in that respect.
A fragment of the wall, the only reminiscence of the ghetto
The Jewish population was almost totally destroyed and nowadays there aren’t many living in Kazimiera. While there were many Poles who tried to rescue the Jews the Polish people seems to have difficulties in recognizing the fact that many participated to the holocaust and many were anti-Jew even after the war.
On the sunny bank of Wislawa
On our fourth day we left the sunny and warm Krakow to enter Helsinki which was rather chilly again. The same evening we had an appointment with our friends Jula and Martina from Nurnberg Germany. We had a dinner in a nice restaurant Kappeli in the heart of Helsinki discussing about trans policy situations in Finland and Germany among others.
With Jula at Kappeli
Last year we skipped the cold Finnish Midsummer when we traveled to Pärnu Estonia. This time the trick didn’t work: Our Midsummer in Viljandi in Southern Estonia was as cold as it was in Finland. Viljandi is the fourth biggest town in Estonia but while there is only three bigger cities it is populated only with 20 000 people. As a typical Estonian town it has a ruined medieval fortress and old town with wooden houses.
A scene in Viljandi
The fortress ruins of Viljandi
In Finland we have our Midummer bonfires called “Juhannuskokko”. The Estonian parallel to it is “Jaanituli”, meaning about the same. The smell of Jaanituli is different from Juhannuskokko because the differencies between wood material: Juhannuskokko consists mostly of conifer like spruce and pine and Jaanituli contains mostly leave trees like elm and beech. Last Midsummer we saw and smelt Jaanitulis only from far away. This time we visited the official Midsummer festive of Viljandi with rather big Jaanituli.
At the Jaanituli in Viljandi
As the summer is so late we really saw roses called “Midsummer roses”. Normally they are blooming at the time of Midsummer in Central Finland.
Though the weather was rather chilly it was not particularly rainy. For that reason we had a good conditions to make an excursion to Viljandi Soomaa (marsh area) national park. It has many kinds of environments, from thick forest and open marsh to fresh meadows. We chose the latter and enjoyed a nice walk in the beautiful semi cultural landscape.
The Soomaa landscape
While we had a lot of time during our way back home we also stayed for a while in Tallin.
At the market square in the old town of Tallin.
I also took part of the belly dance summer course of my leader Marinka. This time we had a Finnish music to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the independent Finland. It's based on Finnish folk tune with rap elements. The story is about the boy who is a little bit wild. "Lempo" is a name for a Finnish spirit who is also wild and sort of erotic. There's a funny coincidence in the words: A common Finnish folk song refrain "Jalajalla jalajala jalla vei" resembles the Arabian saying "Yalla yalla" (Let's go !) :)
Photo by Marinka Nyqvist
The performance took place in the street near the dance studio between our journeys. The weather was cold again and it has been raining. Luckily the sun started shining just when we started the video shooting. Our bodies had produced heat enough to resist coldness of the Northern wind. The loud speaker used in video shooting was so little we couldn't here all the silent places of the music. You may see the result here.
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