Hidden Finds In Krakow

Often the best things are the ones you are least expecting. On my second day in Krakow it was absolutely bucketing down with rain which put a halt to my plans. As I was running back from St Mary’s Church to my hostel I took cover under a little alcove. There were a lot of people gathered here and I quickly learnt why – from here you could see the side of a stage with folklore dancing. I had stumbled upon the ‘International Children and Youth Folk Festival.” I watched from my restricted view for quite a while and later that afternoon when there was a break in the weather I went back, perched myself on a stool and watched some more children and youth in gorgeous beaded costumes sing and twirl around. I love folklore. I’ve said for many years I want to learn Eastern European folklore dancing so if anyone knows any good classes in Melbourne, let me know!!!

That same afternoon when the weather Gods kindly decided to let this break in the weather last, I walked down to Wawel Castle. As I was trying to find the entrance, I heard more folk music and could smell bread and ale and wood and fire. Medieval sounds and smells. Sure enough I’d found a Medieval Festival. Could my day get any better? (Answer is yes, it could have STOPPED RAINING for longer and the SUN COULD HAVE SHONE because it’s meant to be summer for crying out loud!) There were little stalls made out of straw with freshly baked bread and bows and arrows and a little ale house. In the middle there were some ladies (in costume of course) teaching medieval dance. Happy days.

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Dear Renaissance and Medieval History

Dear Renaissance and Medieval History,

This is a good-bye of sorts. I’m not totally cutting you out of my life, but I am in a formal sense, or at least for now.

Two weeks ago I handed in my final essay to complete you. Today I got my overall mark for the unit. And now, I never need to write an assessed piece about you ever again (unless I do honours or masters or a phd as it has been suggested I do – but that won’t be for at least a year. You still have time to convince me…)

You have been a steady in my life for the past 5 years and it’s been fun having you by my side. But it’s not your consistency I need to thank you for. It’s the desire to travel you sparked in me. After sitting through you in year 12, looking constantly at frescos and churches and piazzas and civic buildings and statues, I knew I had to meet you in person. This long distance relationship wasn’t working anymore.

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Cosimo de Medici – You are a babe

You had introduced me to a big wide world and when I got out of my little, sheltered shell into it, it was like the fog had been lifted from my eyes and out of my mind. Things were clearer. Life had purpose: See Explore Learn. Travelling made me happy. And as you were the one who inspired me to travel, I guess you saved me.

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Dancing on top of a tower in Lucca

You created some hilarious moments and inspired:

– My friend and I (ok … me and my reluctant friend) to dress up in medieval cloaks to explore Hampton Court Palace.

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– Us to ride cheeky lion statues in Venice (one day in class we were analysing a Venetian fresco that had the lion of St Mark hiding in the corner. My friend exclaimed in jest “Look at the cheeky lion!” to which my Renaissance teacher stared her down with a look that could kill and firmly reprimanded her “The Lion of St Mark is NOT cheeky.” It was – it let us ride it).

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Cheeky lion!!

– Us to change Lady Gaga songs to be about the Renaissance – Poker Face: ‘can’t beat my, can’t beat my, no you can’t beat my patronage’ and Alejandro: ‘the Pazzi slayed, the Pazzi slayed Giuliano.’

– Me to cover myself in a red blanket to chant the Divine Comedy to my housemates and deep gossip sessions about how when you really look at it, the whole Divine Comedy is really about Dante’s daddy issues and Beatrice aka Bici aka ‘the town bike’ (as bici is short for bicicletta in Italian) being a huge tease.

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Dinner conversations gossiping about Dante

You gave me the opportunity to live and study in Prato/Florence for a semester. Although it was suggested instead of being about Renaissance and Medieval History it was more a major in food and wine, a minor in Roman Arches and a sequence in Dante. You introduced me to an academic mentor who was very influential to me, allowed me to have an academic affair (we would have long lunches discussing Italian literature and humanism), connected me with someone who changed my life for better and for worse and an amazing, fantastic, awesome group of friends who I met in Italy and am going to Greece, Spain and Morocco with next year!!

You changed how I travel – you made me go beyond Italy and to places such as Bulgaria, Hungary and Turkey. Sometimes hearing your voice telling me to pay attention because the Byzantium mosaics in Turkey are super important to the Venetians is annoying but I still hold you dear. You make me pay attention to the culture and language and architecture and people more astutely.

So although our formal and professional relationship may be over for now, this isn’t goodbye. I’ll see you in books and movies but most importantly I will see you when I travel.

Take care,

S.

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