I’ve got a lot of guilt about the cost involved in doing Run the World so, when the chance came to book flights and two nights in Krakow for £100, I felt duty bound to grab it. It felt less like a good idea at 4 a.m. on Monday morning as I stumbled out the door in the pitch black for the drive to Southend airport…but at least the roads were empty. And, overall, it was a smooth journey to Krakow culminating in a train ride from the airport to the centre of Krakow during which I tried to recall my (limited) Polish history.
As is common knowledge, Hitler’s Germany invaded Poland on 1st September 1939 – which led to France and Great Britain declaring war on Germany. Less talked about (here in the UK at least), is the Soviet Union’s invasion of Poland on 17th September 1939 which resulted in Poland being formally divided between its two invaders under the terms of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact.
Oddly / wisely, this didn’t lead to anyone declaring war on the Soviet Union until 1941, when Germany launched Operation Barbarossa and overran the whole of Poland on its way to invading the Soviet Union. Only for the Red Army to push them back through Poland in 1944.
In short, Poland got hammered from both sides. The whole of the centre of Warsaw was, for example, destroyed (and since meticulously recreated.) Krakow also suffered greatly during WWII with the Germans sending many of its Jewish residents to concentration / extermination camps and the Red Army conducting mass rape on its return.
However, its beautiful old town escaped almost unscathed. And that’s where I did my run. Starting by the Parc Krakowski, I ran to the old town, turned south and run round the western side of the old town down to the river Wisla, round the Wawel Royal Castle and back up the eastern side of the old town. I then cut in and explored a number of the side streets, ran round the 10 acre town square twice and finished up back at Krakowski.
A beautiful run though physically tougher than I’d have liked. Partly because I’d imploded after the Berlin week-end and hadn’t done any physical activity for two weeks. And partly because I’d already walked about 20km that day getting to my hostel and trying to find out how to get to Slovakia (more in the next blog.)
And for anyone thinking about visiting Krakow – go! It’s both lovely and lively with 300 bars, clubs and restaurants in the old town alone. (All of which are packed on a Monday night if my trip was anything to go by.)
Date : 7th Oct 2013
Time : 54’05”
Distance covered to date : 40km.