Chopin and the Dragon’s Den

It has been rainy in Krakow. This makes it good for catching up on computer stuff.

Last night I went to see a Chopin concert at the 17th Century Antique House. It was a lovely (and intimate – 40 people) concert. Something in the piano squeaked, and that was a little distracting. I think they might invest in a new piano (or maybe some WD-40).

This morning I got up early to go to Wawel Castle (above). I started on the “State Room Tour” which is self-guided, but somehow I ended up on an english-speaking tour of the Royal Apartments. The tour is always better with an English guide, but I couldn’t figure out how you got on one of those at the ticket booth. But all’s well that ends well, and fate intervened and put me into the tour I wanted. I loved this rain spout shaped like the head of a dragon.

My trip to the castle ended with the “Dragon’s Den”. Theoretically, there was originally a dragon in Krakow, and there’s some story that goes with the dragon, but I didn’t quite catch that.

This is the “dragon’s den.”

One of the churches on the walk to Wawel castle.

I have been having photo management issues for the last two days. The extra 1 GB card that I brought with me turned out to be full of photos from our trip to Turkey, and I am still not sure whether those are actually downloaded at home. I have just burned 712 pictures to a DVD and have very bravely deleted those from the first 1 GB card. Now I have to worry about losing the DVD. Perhaps I will mail it home next time I see a DHL or FedEx office.

We are now heading for the Tatras mountains, and then Brataslava (capital of Slovakia). While in the mountains, we will be with no internet access, so I’ll get back to you in a day or two.

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Bach Organ Pieces on Accordian

These pictures are from Kracow, Poland. This is St. Mary’s Cathedral in the main square. I want you to appreciate how many pictures (without a flash) one has to take to get one that is not blurry (and I am taking them with a 4-inch tripod balanced sideways on some kind of wooden structure. I deleted about 5 pictures that were blurry for every one good one. Of course, I can’t tell whether they are blurry or not until I get to an internet cafe and have a bigger screen to view them on. In the meantime, the blurry images just clutter up my camera.

The stained glass was amazing, the photos of the main part of the cathedral really don’t do it justice.

An accordian group doing an amazing rendition of Bach organ pieces (I bought a CD as it was really the most amazing musical talent I’ve seen). Their fingers were flying over the keys.

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The city of music…

Vienna is definitely a city full of music. From street musicians, the names of streets, the statues, and the concerts, music is everywhere (even the Lippizaner stallions morning exercises were set to the music of famous classica composers from Vienna).

Here I a with one a statue of Mozart (and Jan, from my Intrepid group). I loved the treble cleff done in flowers – Joel, can we do that in weeds in our backyard?

Also, I stopped at the Mozart House museum yesterday (an apartment in Vienna where Mozart lived for 2 years, his most productive composing time).

In the evening, my concert-going kharma seemed to balance out, as I chose to attend the Salonorchestra concert (and 5 of my group members tagged along), and even though we bought the cheapest seats, we were seated in the 3rd row. The concert included many pieces from Vienna composers, the chamber orchestra was excellent and played without the aide of a conductor. There were opera pieces, waltzes (complete with dancers) and… I did get to hear Eine Kleine Nachtmusik performed in Vienna (which was the only one I can play myself).

We all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and I would highly recommend this performance to anyone else visiting Vienna. Some of the concerts that were being advertised looked pretty hokey. I am glad this concert turned out well, as everyone else was going based on my choice (I being the only one who played a classical instrument). We could see the expressions on the singer’s faces and see the lead violinist conduct the group with head and bow movements.

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