If you didn't live in Krakow before 2014, you missed your chance to see the inside of the original train station when it was still, um, a train station. As you know, the building is still there today but the History Land we find there now is only the current chapter in a much longer history. Listen to this episode to learn the story of Kraków Główny railway station.
Yes, a ban on alcohol sales starts next month, but you might not notice it if you don't live next to a 24h store (or unless you're a pathetic drunk). Also in the news, the city government says it WON'T help Wisła Kraków with its money problems but it WILL spend millions on summertime concerts that make John shout "TURN THAT DOWN!" from his window, there might be a new tram line in front of Wawel, Netflix is up and smoking is down, the latest on "Airgate" (a week late), special hours for autistic shoppers and the latest attempt by a Pole to kill himself on a mountain.
He's controversial, has super-cool initials and just might be the Polish Prime Minister one day. Our new KrakCast Profile looks at Krakow's own Zbigniew Ziobro, Minister of Justice and major figure in PiS. Listen and learn about his quick rise in the world of politics, his role in behind-the-scenes drama and his habit of using his office to take action against his enemies, which is why we want to make it clear that WE LOVE HIM AND ARE REALLY BIG FANS!
We're back after a short break to talk about October elections, Swiss Franc loans, yellow boxes on Krakow roads, the bloody carnage caused by electric scooters, the approaching enforcement of the ban on burning solids for home heating and the guy who threatened to blow up the Polish parliament dies in his prison cell (at least he wasn't on a "suicide watch")...
Some people say Polish is really difficult, while others say it's extremely difficult. Alicja Babula-Asaudouska says it's not as hard as you think if you do it the right way. She should know—she teaches foreign students how to mówić po polsku. We had a nice chat with her about what makes Polish so tough, how students can make progress and if there's any hope for our very own Dave (who wasn't there to defend himself).
What kind of horrible person abandons his pet at an animal shelter? One with vacation plans, apparently. That's our weird starting point in this week's news before moving on to a national shortage of medicine, the bizarre but not surprising story behind the new head in the Rynek, this week's major battle over LGBT rights and a controversial sticker, the latest speculation about the end of coal in Poland and how it seems that Platforma Obywatelska doesn't have any friends.
Twenty years ago, Polish cars were everywhere. They're not completely gone yet, but 90% of them have been replaced by Skodas, Kias, Toyotas, Volkswagens, whatever the plural of Lexus is and many more. In this episode, we look back at the roughly 50-year history of the Polish car industry, from early Soviet guidance to terminal South Korean catastrophe. Oh, and Tom Hanks.
KrakCast Profiles are short biographies of important and well-known people in Polish society and culture. In this first Profile, we look at the other Donald T - the Polish one. He was/is/will be (?) an important figure on the political scene here and we've put together everything you need to know about him along with a few things you probably could have lived without.
The idea of charging tourists to enter Krakow is really stupid but we start this week's News with it anyway. After that, we talk about homicidal Krakow drivers, tap water in Krakow, PO's latest drama, our first-ever mention of Moldova and the Eastern Partnership, a strange Synagogue situation and a PiS senator tells high school kids with no place to go this year to look outside of Poland for other options. Also, there's a job opening at the top of St. Mary's Church.
Krakow Airport, aka Balice, aka Krakow John Paul II Airport, continues to set new traffic records every month, despite not having a McDonald's (much to Dave's disappointment). In this episode, we talk about the history of air travel into & out of Krakow, including the original airport, which you can still visit. Kind of.
This week we start with an update on IKEA-gate before moving on to a Krakow-based real estate fraud, the question of what to do with the homeless in Krakow, getting drugged in Krakow's clubs (including Dr. Mike's suspiciously detailed knowledge about how it works), drunk boat captains, our first discussion of slavery (wait, what?) and finish with the Krak-Sat, which is obviously inspired by our show. You're welcome!
Matthew Tyrmand is an activist and commentator in both the Polish and American political arenas. Among many other things, he writes for "Wprost", is involved with "Project Veritas" and has the most absurdly impressive collection of political selfies we've ever seen. Matthew joined us for a conversation that included WAY too many subjects to list here, so listen and enjoy.
Last week, the sixth annual Ride For The Living took place and the cyclist who inspired the event, Robert Desmond, joined us for a chat about how it all came together, what it's like to ride from Auschwitz to Krakow and how the ride fits into the larger subject of education about the Holocaust. Oh, and there's bonus stuff at the end for anyone thinking about kayaking the entire length of the Vistula river. Just listen—it will all make sense.
IKEA is in the news for complicated reasons that we get to towards the end of this week's show, when we also ask what it would take for Poles to fall out of love with IKEA (a nuclear strike?). Before that, it's free money for under-26-year-olds, what to do with the homeless population of Krakow, why so many Poles drown in the summer, no trams on Dietla, the dream of Hyperloop transportation and the Krakow Zoo turns 90.
Andrzej Duda spent last week on yet another visit to America. This time, it was to talk about "Fort Trump", get the hard sell on some nice F-35 fighters and meet everyone at Google. In this KrakCast Chat, we talk about the probability of an increased number of American troops in Poland, Poland's purchase of American military hardware and Duda's latest "U.S. Tour". Well, that was the plan, anyway—things got a little complicated.
This week we start with an update on the bizarre circumstances of Krakow being awarded the 2023 European Olympics, then move on to an old bridge discovered under ul. Dietla, public transport gets even worse, six babies getting lots of free stuff, Krakow is trying force more kids to get vaccinations, Jagiellonian University is #338!, the alcohol ban is still coming...eventually and why do we see so many naked English asses (arses) in Krakow?
Poland has built an impressive game developer community over the last decade and Marcin Kasz, a game industry observer and general tech guy, joins us to talk about everything from Keanu Reeves to the early days of the Polish gaming scene. You don't have to be a gamer yourself to learn something from this episode, although it might help you to understand John's unfortunate comment about killing hookers in GTA. Ready player one!
The big news this week is that apparently Krakow was awarded the 2023 European Games by accident. Really. We also discuss Krakow's new night Mayor (or was it "nightmare"?), before talking about how the trees in Plac Nowy have to go but the mosquitos can stay, a new pedestrian bridge and a rise in the minimum wage are coming, Dave blames kids for Krakow's traffic and Polish drivers cause traffic accidents abroad and steal tanks at home. It was busy week.
In keeping with our tradition of talking about things with no clear answer and the potential to make both sides of the argument angry, we turn to the subject of Polish demands for reparations from Germany for World War II. Does Germany owe Poland compensation for what happened seventy-five years ago? You decide (but listen to us first!).
Summertime weather is here even if the summer (technically) isn't and it's time to talk about some of the signals—apart from the temperature—that tell us that the seasons have changed. Cops on bikes, strawberries everywhere, dying from the heat inside buses & trams and John's obsession with discovering why Poles stand in line for ice cream are among our topics on this KrakCast Discussion.