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Thursday 14th July Krakow to Gora Swietej Anny

Another night of electrical storms, but it was still hot. However today we managed to get a cooler day temperature. I am currently studying the Crusades at University which includes references to pilgrims going on pilgrimages, so today we went on a pilgrimage. Apparently, for centuries, thousands of people every year have gone on a pilgrimage to Czestochowa to see Jasna Gora, the Black Madonna.

We went there, got hungry and stopped at the only place that had an English word, asked for the “kebab” and they had no idea what we wanted (which is a bit like asking for a "filet of fish" in McD's, France). After pointing to the sign she repeated the work kebab, he managed to ask us how many in sign language with English numbers and then she wanted to know if we wanted it in “rolled bread”. J9 and the popeWe watched him make them with plenty of salad and sauces; it was only on consumption that I was beginning to wonder what the meat was. It had little bits of pork and a whole lot of hard but chewy animal hide, a bit like dog chewing treats. Anyway, revitalised, coat looking shiny and nose wet, we went into the Basilica and Our Lady’s Chapel just in time for the “unveiling of the Miraculous Image of the Blessed Mother” that is the Black Madonna. They cover the image of the Black Madonna up once a day and have a Mass about lunch time to unveil her. Catholics from all around the area and the tourists flock to see this event; most can’t see for the pillars and tourists and some can’t see because they are knelt on the floor in prayer with their eyes shut.

While others went off to get their souvenirs of the Black Madonna holding the black baby Jesus, we powered on up the bell tower, into Pope (Now Saint) John Paul II’s dedication room and around the outside of the Monastery to see all the cross statues while being very careful not to walk into or interrupt the Catholics dropping to their knees every time they saw their Lord Jesus Christ and a cross.

After more eating, we went to the supermarket for stocks, no hints this time on the meats, so I had to ask the shop assistant. She had no English, nor did her mate and after my animal impressions of a cow and a pig, a local came to our rescue and even then the shop staff still had trouble trying to decide what the meat was. Apparently you only get pork or turkey and my impersonation of a cow wasn’t helping.

Camp tonight is miles from anywhere but cheap and pleasant in a small town, up a hill from the motorway, in somebody’s backyard and includes power and bathroom facilities. He also has no English, but does sign language and zlotys do say it all. Apart from the howling wind, we are looking to get a good night’s sleep because the temperature has finally dropped.



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Belltower at Jasna GoraClimbing the 4-tier bell tower
Prater park ferris wheelOne of 16 similar statues
Nasch Markt producePope's-eye-view, Jasna Gora
oBreakfast in ViennaStatue of Pope, Jasna Gora