Krakow Culture Extremes- Filharmonia, Theatre, Pub

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Krakow has a well-deserved reputation as Poland’s most cultural city- an old stereotype has it that every resident is required to know at least one piece of poetry by heart. Opera, music, theatre and art all play a major part in the life of the city. The language barrier has been holding me back from getting into this side of life much but I have recently begun to make forward strides.

The opera is still proving a bit challenging for me, despite the fact that it’s available at the cinema nowadays. At some point in my life I’ll probably get around to giving it a whirl. Maybe. I’ve recently made my first visit to Filharmonia to see some real music being performed, centred around a dynamic violin/poetry/comedy/multilingual variety performance from Krzysztof Jakowicz. It was a real joy to see such a showman at work, though I couldn’t understand everything he said in between tunes, and my appetite was whetted for further visits.

Theatre tickets are notoriously difficult to get your hands on here, so I had to wait until a friend started a theatre company, Dragon Theatre, and put on its debut show to break my Krakow theatre duck. The Vagina Monologues is not something that I would normally consider within my entertainment sphere but I thought it only right to support a friend in her endeavours, went along to see it and was pleasantly surprised. It struck a balance between serious matters and light-heartedness and went down very well with the sell-out audience, raising lots of money for charity in the process. I’m sure it won’t be Dragon Theatre’s last appearance on the Krakow stage.

In the interests of equality, Krakow also caters for the more low-brow end of the ‘cultural’ spectrum. The simple scientific explanation goes something like this:

easyjet/Ryanair flights into nearby airports = numerous drunken men in town every weekend = booming industry in the ‘Irish’-pubs-showing-football-and-rugby sector

Thanks to this, the Irish Mbassy has come into existence, filling the hole left by the once popular bar ‘Bastille’. The Irish Mbassy needs customers every day not only at the weekend of course, so to pull in the punters between stag parties there is the pub quiz. Classic money making scheme for them, great fun for us (usually).

‘My’ team (I can’t truly claim ownership or control of it) has established itself as a regular challenger for the prizes on offer to the top 3 teams, never finishing below 4th and even achieving the rare feat of snatching first prize form under the noses of the perennial winners 2 weeks ago. For our insolence we were put in our place the following week and a healthy, if not particularly friendly rivalry is developing- their choice of team name last week (‘Order Restored’) showing a particular degree of arrogance in our opinion. Tomorrow it is our turn to make a statement…

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