Krakow – It’s getting hot in here
Krakow | Krakow, June 12th, was the last stop of our Poland Tour. The day before we made our way back south from the far north near Gdansk. Again and again we had picked up one thing in passing by: It was to be the hottest day in Gdansk ever measured that early in a year, and Krakow had also been flickering under 30 degrees heat and a bright blue sky for a week. And that is what we remembered from our stop in Krakow along with inspiring and courageous conversations: the heat!
Euphoric about our great time at the Baltic Youth Camp in Gdansk, our journey began early on Whit Tuesday. After about 8 hours we had mastered the almost 600 km in the crackling sun without air conditioning to Krakow – both rather well cooked than medium, but mastered.
And the view was a great reward for the resulting lack of body fluids. In the north the sea, then the road lined with birch forests, reminding us of southern French pine forests. Wide fields and hills in the south, past Warsaw, Łódź and Katowice with their magnificent architecture.
The Dome in the plain heat at the Institute for European Studies
„The European Union has missed out on creating a European spirit and common culture. We need a new public discourse and unified solutions for current challenges.“Participant under the Dome
And also Krakow is more than worth a visit, truly deserved the title of European Capital of Culture in the year 2000. The old centre is surrounded by the city wall and park where even late in the evening tourists from all over the world and locals stroll around.
At its centre the ancient market square with the oldest “shopping centre” in the world, the Sukiennice can be admired. About 20 minutes by foot, always surrounded by beautiful old buildings, the Jewish quarter Kazimierz, today’s art and cultural centre of the city. Of course, there is much more to see, but on a Dome tour the sightseeing time is limited to short evening excursions.
Another cultural highlight: The former capital of the Kingdom of Poland (until 1596) is home to one of the oldest universities on our continent. Founded on 12 May 1364 by the Polish King Casimir the Great, the Jagiellonian University is today the oldest university in Poland and one of the oldest in Europe. And it was and remains an international institution: Poles, Romanians, Lithuanians, Hungarians, Germans, Czechs, Swiss, Englishmen, Dutch, French, Spanish, Italians and even Tartars have already obtained their diplomas there and fallen into despair about unpassable exams.
Of course, the European Public Sphere could not miss out on this opportunity and so the more than 41,000 students from 94 courses could to get to know the Europe Dome in June this year and vice versa. Suggested by our local contact, we wanted to talk about the rule of law in Poland and the European elections. And which place could be better suited than the Institute for European Studies, which also houses the Centre for Holocaust Studies?
That is why, at 9 o’clock in the morning we arrived on at the faculty. And the sun was already burning in the sky. We bravely started the construction. Equipped with T-shirts wrapped around our heads and a lot of sun cream we started our work. After a short time, our assistant Camille, doctoral student on the subject of “Perceptions of the EU in the population”, joined us with two friends. Soon, around 10 o’clock, we had cracked the 30 degree limit and could only screw at a snail’s pace.
Creatively seeking shelter from the midday sun
Although the construction was completed before the the first talk, scheduled at 12.30 p.m., the idea of sitting comfortably in the blazing midday heat and discussing complex contents seemed to us…difficult – and apparently also to all the other students we met on site and who asked again and again in disbelief whether that was really what we wanted them to do.
Hence, after a short break in the shade we started improvising. Fortunately we had bought some rolls of painter’s fleece for the indoor events of the BeNeLux tour earlier this year. And luckily we had packed them again. After a fashion, we finally managed to hang the sheets into the dome. It now seemed to be even more artistic and we had at least 1m2 shade up to our belly height.
To make it short: The whole of Krakow stayed in its siesta until 4 p.m.. And we did the same. Even the few smokers who dared to go outside the door and those who escaped their exams did not dare to step under the dome.
It was only after the end of the midday heat that the time finally came: Our first guest, a student from Poland, entered the dome and wanted to make a statement in Polish on the European Parliament elections and the rule of law in Poland.
While he spoke, one other participants dared to join, so that the conversation quickly switched to English. And when 4 passing students in their second year of European Studies decided spontaneously that it was their duty to participate and make a contribution the group widenend. We agreed and rejoiced in secret.
Without my moderation being really necessary in the naturally fluent conversation, the topics wandered from the nationalization of the elections, the political situation of Poland, to the instrumentalization of the European Union as a provider of monetary funds and to the general role that the EU should play.
What can and should we expect from the European Union? How supranational should it be? How do we deal with Western dominance and general ignorance in this regard? Is there a division between East and West and why has no solution been found so far?
How is life as a Pole in Poland? How as a newcomer? On what basis would we like to act, one legally secured by treaties or one ideologically based on the proclaimed values of the EU?
Our Dome Talk in Krakow
In spite of the safe sunstroke and a Dome Talk with a manageable number of people, we had a lot to think and discuss about during the dismantling of Dome and on the way to Berlin the next day. For the catalogue of ideas with which we will present the input of the citizens to the European Parliament at the end of the year, Krakow certainly was an enrichment.
Yet another highlight: We had managed to organize a colorful big cloth for the stop in Berlin 2 days later. Since also there 34 degrees and cloudless sky were announced.