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Sunday, 7 September 2014

Krakow Has Its Own Central Park

Dearest friends,

Have you ever been to New York and passed through Central Park? Or have you at least got a sneak peak of it from the top of the Empire State Building? Well if not, let me tell you what it is: a huge mass of green, ozone friendly location where people can jump in from the city and get a breath of fresh air. Well, Krakow has its very own Central Park: Park Jordana. Located a stone throw away from the city center and right next to the Krakow Stadium it is the place to be when the weather is fine. Perfect for hanging out with friends, for picnics and even for strolling on your own ;)
Jordan Park, also known as Jordan's Garden or Park Jordana, was established in 1889 as the first public playground in Kraków, and the first of its kind in Europe. It was equipped with exercise fixtures modeled after those of similar playgrounds in the United States. The park is located in Kraków’s Błonia (municipal grasslands that had previously served as cattle pasture).
The original Jordan Park included a swimming pool, 12 playing and soccer fields, as well as numerous running and exercise tracks. Facilities were added for indoor activities in 1906, in case of bad weather. The park was also equipped with locker rooms and showers. On top of that, a free meal service was established for the children.
Jordan Park was Dr. Henryk Jordan's biggest achievement, brought to completion with the help from the director of Kraków City Parks, Bolesław Malecki.
The concept of Jordan’s Gardens became very popular throughout interwar Poland. Similar gardens were opened in Warsaw, Płock, Kalisz and Lublin. In 1928 the Society of Jordan’s Gardens was established to oversee the building of all recreational facilities in the country.
The most innovative aspect of Jordan's idea of public parks was perhaps the change in public's perception: stressing the importance of physical education and making people realize that physical exercise is equally important to intellectual development of children, while shaping their personality.
In the middle of the park was a circular labyrinth of trimmed hornbeams (bot. Carpinus betulus) with a flower bed in its center. From 1907, there were 45 busts of famous Poles displayed in the park, ordered by Jordan and made by sculptors Alfred Daun and Michal Korpal.
Yum yum tea and even yummier soup :)
On 21 June 1914 a monument of the founder Henryk Jordan, designed by Jan Szczepkowski, was unveiled in the center of the labyrinth on the park's 25th anniversary. During World War II the park was devastated but the 22 busts and the monument of Jordan were saved by F. Łuczywo. After the war the area of the park was enlarged to 21 hectares (52 acres), and the Society of Jordan’s Gardens reestablished. New playing fields and sport venues were added, including a toboggan slide, amphitheatre, and bicycle tracks. The center point of the park is a man-made pond, a place for group activities such as boat rowing and water bicycles.
As I might have mentioned before, Polish people are a proud nation. They are nationalist and patriots to the bone. To their defence, I rather believe that instead of blood in their veins history just flows wildly. Last week, we decided to go for Park Jordana. I have been there several times before and I truly loved it, but by amazing husband never was there before. He read about the park and the statues of important Polish people in it, and wanted for a while now to see it in person.
I believe it was a perfect timing, as just the day that we happened to walk through the park, they were unveiling yet another statue. The statue was that of Elżbieta Zawacka (19 March 1909 – 10 January 2009). Known also by her war-time nom de guerre Zo, was a Polish university professor, scouting instructor, SOE agent and a freedom fighter during World War II. She was also a Brigadier General of the Polish Army (the second and last woman in the history of the Polish Army to hold this rank), promoted by President Lech Kaczyński on May 3, 2006. 
The only woman among the Cichociemni, she served as a courier for the Home Army, carrying letters and other documents from Nazi-occupied Poland to the Polish government in exile and back. Her regular route ran from Warsaw through Berlin and Sweden to London. She was also responsible for organizing routes for other couriers of the Home Army.
The Statue Of The Day
It was truly a wonderful day - from the lovely weather with the sun shining and small fluffy clounds upon the sky, to the marching of the lovely and proud people in army clothes, to the neighing of the horses and their lovely trap (seing their perfect, liniar muscles), to the enchanting music almost thrice my age... and last but not least to the kick arse food :) 
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For the ones that never tried army style food, they don't know what they have been missing on! And you better get yourself some, fast! :) Never is the food better if it is done by the dozen. Even now I remember, from time to time, eating at the University cafeteria. The soup was always amazing! :) This particular one was typical army style, with a lot of potates, vegetables and hunks of meat... tell you the truth I may have burned my tongue a bit, but it was delicious! :)
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I even got a chance to pet the horses. Oh! they were so soft, I would have stayed there forever. You could see that they were very well taken care of and they were sparkling of health. I also got a chance to meet a very interesting sir (check the picture above). He told us, when he learned that I was from Romania, that once the war finished he took his horse and did a tour of Europe and he even passed Romania (from what he said, he most probably passed through Cluj Napoca). He remembers it as a fine country but it is amazing for me how nice people could be at that time... 
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He went through almost all Europe with only his faithfull stallion and he came back with stories enough to fill a book, I bet! :) It saddens me that there are so many people with such lovely stories, that eventually get lost, due to the fact that they did not have the chance to publish that... But I guess also that some memories are you own, and you would not like to share it all, or else it would not be personal anymore... I still found him very much fascinating, and I would have loved to listen more :) How about you, do you know someone with old stories? Stories from the War? Do you feel also that all these memories should be somehow shared?

Yours truly,
A LadyBug Very Much In Love With Poland's Patriotic Ways