21 years later - Craców revisited
For years I have dreamt of retracing my own footsteps to revisit, see and experience what has changed over time at the places where I stomped around, made my research notes and photographed right, left and centre.
My first novel, The Viennese Ring, was a warming-up exercise but after that my career as a writer gained pace and shape with the second novel, The Shrew in Craców.
I clearly remember my research trip to the city in the autumn of 1996 with a backpack on my back. I had rented a private room with a woman who picked me up at the bus station. Her very large flat had been converted into small, and very cheap, rooms.
In the autumn of 2017, 21 years later, I had the great pleasure to return and revisit “my” Craców. Everything was exactly like before – and yet everything had changed. What made the biggest impression on me was probably the old town centre as a whole; the area in the immediate vicinity of Kraków's main square, the market square Rynek.
During my first visit, the area was certainly beautiful, but everything was very run down and there was scaffolding everywhere. Now the restoration work has been completed and has added atmosphere and charm to the city.
Of course, I was curious to revisit the river Wisla, where back in 1996 I walked around looking for the right locations for my novel. I clearly remember the house of the shrew. It was barely standing, located on the riverbank, close to one of the bridges. The house itself was gone, of course, and replaced by a modern residence with a funny curved roof (photo 2).
Time has changed many things in Craców for the better, and the city, which is on the UNESCO World Heritage list, is still absolutely worth a visit.
Time has also changed me. This time I was staying at a very nice hotel and not in a makeshift room on the second floor ... Oh well ...
1) Jens Henrik Jensen back in Craców, November 2017. In the background River Wisla and just left of the bridge the building that replaced the old house of The Shrew - an important character in volume 1.
2) Jensen and a closer look at the rather strange-looking new building at the riverbank.
3) Rynek, Cracóws main market square. Measuring 200 metres square, the Rynek ranks as one of the largest medieval squares in Europe.
4/5) Beautifully restored buildings characterize the old town centre.
6) Local artists put their mark on the area close to the old city walls.