I went to Kielce at the weekend, taking the Polski bus down and the (Polski) train back. The disadvantage of Polski bus is that it's a bit cramped for long-legged fellows like me but the advantages are that it is generally cheaper than the train and, this time at any rate, the bus stop was right outside a McDonalds. Lunch!
The main purpose of going to Kielce was to watch Carmen being performed at the outdoor amphitheatre. I enjoyed the show but wish I had remembered to reacquaint myself with the synopsis. Listening to arias being sung in another language when you have no idea what is being sung about is only slightly more exciting than watching paint dry. But the music was good and the orchestra were sitting in front of the stage rather than in the pit where they are normally to be found in more modern theatres. I've only just discovered that one of the meanings of the word 'orchestra' is actually the semicircular space in front of an ancient Greek theatre stage where the chorus danced and sang.
That was Saturday evening taken care of. On Sunday, after breakfast, I set off with no particular focus other than to perhaps visit the Bishop's Palace. On my way to nowhere in particular I was accosted by a beggar. My standard response to these people is to say, in English, something along the lines of "why do you always pick on me". Sometimes, when I say this, they move away and look for another sucker. It didn't work on this occasion as he replied in English to say he was homeless and would like some money towards a meal. I capitulated and gave him a little money. He explained that he was homeless because he had been in hospital for 6 months and had lost his job. He rolled up his trouser legs and showed me his legs and they were certainly in a state. If only mendicants and the like could wear a badge or something to show the difference between the genuine needy and those doing it for a job.
Shortly after this encounter, and a bit further down the road, or, in this case, up the hill, I found myself outside the old Kielce prison. It advertised itself as some kind of museum and, for 5 PLN (approx £1), I was allowed in. The theme of the exhibition was repression and incarceration but it was presented in a very high-tech interactive way and I was most impressed with everything I saw. It was divided into 3 parts: The way to Independence, World War II, and Communist Poland. The building stopped operating as a prison only in 1980.
Then the Bishop's palace hove into view and, especially with free admission on a Sunday, how could I not visit. A typical 'stately home' kind of a place but there were also many portraits hung on the walls. I was struck by how different our lives can be - from the beggar, to the (political) prisoners, through to the aristocracy.
Back to the hotel for a nice relaxing half an hour in the jacuzzi.
That's long enough for a blog I think so I'll just finish by adding a video clip showing the exhibition in the prison. The commentary is in Polish but there are English subtitles.
Roll on Wales, next week.