Today Aleks' uncle took us to the carnival that is held once a year the day after Easter, also called Easter Monday. Easter Monday is a day of rest and all the stores in town are closed today. From there he took us to Kopiec Kosciuszki, a fort and church with a huge 100ft mound that is the tallest point in Krakow. Here you can see the entire city from every angle. The elevation is so high it takes your breath away. We were probably 7000ft above sea level once you drove to the top and then walked the rest of the way up. It was very beautiful. Supposedly, a King is supposed to be burried somewhere in the mound, although there has never been any evidence.
From there we went to a catholic monk santuary that is deep in a forrest in the countyside of Krakow. Women are only permitted there 13 days out of the year, so we got lucky enough to step inside. In order to get to the monk's cathedrial you had to drive up a steep mountain and walk through the forrest which is about 2 miles long. Once we arrived we found an entry way with paitings that had been untouched for hundreds and hundreds of years. We saw a few monks walking around in brown cloth robes and they had long hair and long beards. Their cathedral which was also in the grounds was constructed of 5 feet tall white stone bricks and had solid gold life-size statues.
Once we finished up our first half of sightseeing for the day we headed back to Aleks' aunt and uncle's house for lunch. Our meal consisted of fried pork, sour cream cucumber salad, and freshly boiled grape juice. Then we made it to Rynek, which is Krakow's city center and ascended a 300 ft tower which was part of the former Krakow town hall and is its final remnence. The tower's stair case was extremely tight and you litereally had to either extend your leg all the way up above your chest to get to the next, or you had to hang on tight to the chains in the wall to prevent sudden death from slipping on a 3 inch step and falling all the way back down. If you were going up the stairs, no one could come down and vice versa.
Afterwards, we decided to explore the city center and we saw many food venders cooking fresh meats, vegetables, and breads. Many item venders sold jewelry, and things I'd never seen before. For example, we saw a teddy bear that had been made by weeving dried green grass together. There were also venders inside of the Cloth Hall, which is Krakow's oldest market dating back at least 800 years, but many of them were still closed for Easter.
What was really fun was feeding the friendly pigeons of city center. Apparently these pigeons have been here for a millenium because people have always fed them. You can purchase birdfeed for about 10 american cents. Kneel down, sprinkle a little feed on the ground and they will come to you. Put some in your hand and they will fly and land on your hand or arm and eat out of your hand or your cup if you have enough feed. If someone makes a sudden move the whole swarm of birds will fly a few feet away and land again, but when 300 birds all do it at once, its quite amazing to see. Aleks' and I both managed to have birds land on us and eat out of our hands. Though America thinks pigeons are dirty and unhealthy to be around, we both managed to make it just fine and we both bonded with another one of God's wonderful creations. For those who don't like pigeons, it's something you would have to get used to, as they are everywhere!
Finally we went to the Vestula River and visited a few more gothic cathedrals, one of which Aleks' was baptised in when she was a little girl. We also so where she used to live, which has changed much from what it once was. After that we came home and retired for the night.