Study Trips Review

This year the participants of the Visegrad Summer School were offered the opportunity to explore the Małopolska and Krakow region by partaking in study trips organised by the school. A large number of participants availed of this wonderful chance to sample the local traditions within the region and therefore two days of enjoyment and fun were had by all. On Saturday the participants headed on a trip around the Małopolska region taking in numerous sites along the way. The trip afforded the participants the opportunity to take in sites that would normally not be on offer from tourist guides today. An aim of the Villa was to provide the participants with an authentic look at the region and not focus primarily on themain tourist destinations to avoid the so-called “AUSCHWITZWIELICZKA” effect, that people come to the region only to visit two ‘attractions’ and nothing else. Both places are very important and worth visiting and participants can and will decide to visit these on their own during their stay in Krakow.
Beginning their tour at the historic Church of Saint Bishop Marcin in Gromnik, the participant proceeded to observe a range of beautiful sites that formed part of an engaging and fascinating experience. Once the participants had viewed the church and spoke with the local priest who provided them with a thorough insight into the history of the church they departed for the stone city of Ciężkowice. This part of the trip proved particularly memorable and each participant was enthralled by the shapes and sizes of the rocks. Utilising their cameras to great effect the participants managed to take a deluge of photos of the various shaped rocks and were extremely satisfied by their work! Spending over an hour exploring the unique surroundings of Ciężkowice, each participant relished the opportunity to investigate the history of the area and many interacted with locals to enhance their experience of the area. Once this part of the trip had concluded, lunch was served in a traditional Polish restaurant, before the tour ventured on to Bobowa. Here the participants were treated to an unrestricted exploration of a historic synagogue whereby the local town’s people explained the history of the synagogue and the importance it still carries for the town today. Judging by the expressions on the faces of the participants all were universally satisfied by this experience and all certainly fondly remembered the generosity provided by the local population. The final destination on the study trip was the historical setting of Nowy Sącz. Here the participants were treated to a guided tour of historical churches and town houses by local guides, who once again left no question unanswered and kept the participants engaged in the tour throughout.  Allowing the participants to fully explore the area, the guides succeeded in providing each participant with an experience that they will be certain to remember fondly for a long period of time.
Sunday saw the participants explore the wonders of Krakow with the help of two exceptional tour guides Alicja Natkaniec and Ania Szwajgier. Beginning by exploring the magnificence of the old town both guides gave a memorable account of the complex history of Krakow. Allowing the participants to engage fully in all aspects of the tour, both guides offered them the opportunity to share their thoughts on any aspect of the tour and this evoked some memorable observations and viewpoints. Once the tour of the old town had concluded, the participants were treated to a brief look into the educational side of Krakow. This part of the tour saw many students become particularly fascinated at the rich educational traditions of Krakow and the guides were able to address all questions raised on this topic. Moving on from here the tour went to the magnificent Wawel Hill where all participants were treated to an experience celebrating the rich heritage and traditions of Krakow. Providing a fascinating insight into the history of Wawel, both guides highlighted the key moments in its history and room for debate from the participants into the complex history of Wawel. Once the tour of Wawel had concluded the participants were treated to lunch at Café Foyer before exploring the Jewish district Kazimierz.
This part of the tour highlighted the historical importance of the Jewish community within Krakow. A historical overview was provided by both guides into the rich and fascinating history of the Jewish community and how they coped during WWII. Giving the participants an informative tour around a Jewish cemetery, it was explained that the Jewish community in Krakow are still buried here today. Once again both guides managed to explain the complexities of the area in a manner that allowed the participants to fully comprehend the rich heritage of the district. Concluding the tour by thanking all in attendance, both guides had successfully managed to stage a tour that certainly reinforced the beauty of Krakow to all participants of this year’s VSS.