I went down for breakfast and chatted with my Public Relations Manager Eunice for a few minutes as I started to eat just as she was finishing up. I told her how much I appreciated her loyalty but warned her that as my Public Relations Manager she had to remember two important things going forward:
a) I wouldn’t be able to pay her anything
b) There wouldn’t be any real work to do
Thankfully, Eunice agreed to the conditions before we went our separate ways. I ate my breakfast (that looked remarkably similar to my breakfasts from the previous two days) and then ran upstairs to shower and prepare for our day.
We started off our tour of the city by visiting the Kazimierz district of Krakow. We learned about the history of the Jewish people in the city, and we saw a few places where the movie Schindler’s List was filmed.
After leaving the Kazimierz district, we took a short ride to the Krakow Ghetto that was established in 1941. The Germans concentrated between 15,000 and 20,000 Jews from Krakow and surrounding towns in the ghetto, which was enclosed by barbed-wire fences and a stone wall.
The memorial to the Jews of the Jewish ghetto in Krakow was inaugurated in December 2005. It includes 33 steel and cast iron chairs (1.4 m high) in the square and 37 smaller chairs (1.2 m high) standing on the edge of the square and at tram stops. The memorial’s chairs intrude to bus and tram stops and are used by locals awaiting transportation, suggesting that anyone can be a victim.
Just two days removed from visiting Auschwitz, both Kazimierz and the ghetto were yet more reminders of this sad time in our world’s history.
We then continued our tour by visiting the Wawel Castle. The Wawel Royal Castle and the Wawel Hill is considered the most historically and culturally important site in Poland as for centuries it served as the residence of the kings of Poland and the symbol of Polish statehood.
Not only was it great to visit such a historic landmark, I got some much-needed exercise in walking up and down the hill. This Polish food ain’t that light!
After lunch (see that awesome segue?), we made our way to the main market square and visited St. Mary’s Basilica (the same church we went to on Sunday night for Mass).
Except this time, it was light outside, so I was able to get a nicer picture of the church’s exterior.
I was also able to get a nice picture of the church’s interior as well, in particular of the Viet Stoss Altar. It is the largest altar of its kind in Europe, ranging 11 metres wide and 13 metres tall! The artwork depicts many scenes including St. Mary’s Falling Asleep, the Annunciation, the Birth of Jesus, the Resurrection, and Jesus’ Ascension among others.
We then went to the World Youth Day 2016 Office to meet with Andrzej – an employee from their Communications Department.
I felt bad for Andrzej as we all eagerly sat down in front of him: did he have any idea what he was about to get into? Has he ever experienced the wrath of 20 parish and diocesan youth and young adult ministry leaders?
I’m sure he wasn’t thrilled when he saw all of us taking out long lists of questions…whether on our phones and tablets or on good old-fashioned paper.
After some quick introductions and opening remarks, Andrzej opened the floor to questions. It was likely the most intense hour he’s experienced in a while.
“How long is the walk to Campus Misericordiae (the Field of Mercy)?”
“Will buses be allowed into the city?”
“Where will the English catechesis sites be located?”
“When will we find out where our simple accommodation is going to be?”
“What’s in the pilgrim packs?”
“How is the food going to work this year?”
And so on, and so on, and so on.
To his credit, Andrzej was very good. He was forthcoming, honest, patient, and genuine. When he didn’t have an answer for us, he was truthful about it. And admittedly, this was the case for many of our questions.
It had a very similar feel to a press conference you might see at a big sporting or political event. Except with less flash photography and more manners.
Throughout the meeting, Alan “Laying Down the” Law of Tour Design asked good questions and understood the answers. I felt very confident observing him; I know we’re in good hands.
We ended our meeting with Andrzej by committing to pray for him and his team and they enter into what will be an unbelievably busy 5 months.
I ended my day with a bit of shopping, a bit of eating, a bit of work, and a bit of blogging.
I took some good notes at the World Youth Day meeting – in my best possible printing (haha) – and will put together a report for my return to Vancouver later this week.
After all, inquiring minds will want to know!