Let me just say that I seriously needed my little vacation. Wow did I need it. I was getting to that nasty place in my mind where stress likes to overwhelm and not make nice with grey matter. But, before I tell you all about my vacation in Poland, I just have to say;
How freaking bad was The Immortals? Seriously. I came into it with such hope and left the theatre wondering why I’d ever spent the money on it. Man I was depressed. And it had such promise! I mean, come on, the Gods can die? Made by the same guy who did 300? Buff, shirtless guys (shut up. I’m a girl, I’m allowed.) Hells yes! I want some of that!
The premise was so awesome, too. Long story short; it follows the story of the Titans v. the Greek Gods, the twist is that the immortals can be killed by each other and by this crazy Epirius Bow. Which, you know, everyone wants. More importantly, the invading king wants it so he can unleash the titans and kill the gods. Because he hates them. They let his family die even when he begged and pleaded with them to spare his wife and child.
Boo hoo, don’t really care.
How awesome is it that the gods can kill each other? And I don’t mean “kill each other” in that Zeus bitch slaps Ares with a lightning bolt and Ares goes into the clouds only to re-emerge with a legion of soul-sucking demons. I mean like “wham bam” thank you ma’am, you dead mother f**ker!
Cool premise. Bad execution.
It would have been great, could have been great, had the movie not felt like a ripoff of Clash of the Titans and 300. Theseus was basically Perseus with a different name. Unlike Perseus’ family who gets killed by the gods, Theseus’ mother is this tragic figure who slept with some guy, or she was supposed to be a prostitute or something-I don’t know anyway, she dies because of asshole soldiers, giving Theseus the chance to show off his fighting skills. Like Perseus, Theseus has no belief in the gods. Unlike Perseus, he doesn’t get a cool guide to show him the ins and outs of his epic journey to save the known universe and come to grips with the knowledge of the gods needing humans blasy blasy blah. Io was awesome. The Oracle, was not. She should have been. By all accounts, the writers should have played up the fact that she could see into the future and each move that Perseus made could bring her visions to fruition or dash them on the rocks and change destiny completely. Nope. Fifteen minutes in and the bitch is giving up her virginity because the story needed a love interest. To make matters worse, the writer decides that a standoff between Theseus and the invading king is good enough to close the plot hole that is the Oracle’s vision. And the titans v. the gods? I have this sneaking suspicion that the sequel is the movie I should have watched. And, what is it with filmmakers and only using certain gods? Okay, okay, there are a lot of them, but really? If you’re going to have Athena, don’t use Apollo, Ares was her brother and the GOD OF WAR. Use him in a movie about titans and their demise. Again, I’m pretty sure the sequel they so clearly set up for is the movie I should have watched. The only thing it really had going for it were the battle scenes and blood so lovingly pulled from 300.
Much like The Lady in Black (I hope) will make a better movie than book, the Immortals really should have been a book. A thick book. Over one thousand pages of book.
Poland, on the other hand, was awesome. Like I said, I really needed a vacation. Everything was becoming overwhelming. My writing, work, life, even my dog was beginning to get the better of me. Through no fault of their own, of course, but because I was nearing the end of my rope. I don’t think I have ever felt so…lost in my own invented world. It was all swirling around in my mind; character relationships, POVs, what if I did this, no no no what about that? Should I change the time again? I could abandon steampunk and set it in the present time-that’d be easier, I could combine a few characters to make this happen, maybe that will-
So, 21:30 Wednesday night, my mum and Lori (my mum’s coworker and travelling companion) picked me up and we made the two hour trip up to London. Four hours later, I was on a plane on my way, blissfully letting go of everything. A brief stop in Germany and I was on another ride to Krakow (Cracow, Krakau) Poland.
Goddamn was it cold.
No shit, Jason, you say. Look at the geography, you say. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know. That knowledge still didn’t take away from how cold it was. Krakow, however, is not a place to be troubled by temperatures. Even the pigeons know how to keep warm.
On first glance, the city isn’t much. Graffiti stains buildings that have seen much and look as though they haven’t been retouched or rebuilt in many years. On the outside, it’s downtrodden and poor. Once the dirt is washed away however, Krakow shines.
One hundred churches, synagogues, innumerable restaurants and boutiques, an open market, statues, and so much amber it will make your head spin. Krakow is beautiful, a merging of different cultures behind an outer skin of soot and spray paint. There is a darkness, a sadness to her buildings. An air of solemnity hangs over the city, palpable to those sensitive to that sort of thing, and those that paid attention to their history teachers.
The city of Krakow remembers, even if her people do not. She remembers the ravages of war and occupation, Nazi flags and Communist propaganda. Her buildings, standing bright and tall during the day, seem to huddle together at night, ushering in her citizens inside as if to say “I’ll hide you” though war is sixty years over and done.
The twenty first century is slow in coming. The city seems lost in time, despite the internet, cellphones, and broadband television. Obesity is almost nonexistent, everyone walks. Food is equivalent to luxury, and history is a living, breathing thing.
Oskar Schindler’s factory is in the city, sequestered away from the destruction of the former Jewish ghetto around it. It’s been turned into a museum explaining the horror that was the Nazi occupation of Poland. Another museum, the Dom Sloski building, is in another corner of the city. This museum takes its visitors through not only the Nazi occupation of 1939-1945 but the Russian Communist occupation that lasted until 1956. Within this museum, are the cells used to house Jews and Poles the Nazis planned to interrogate. Scribbles litter the walls, dying words of doomed souls.
Then there’s Auschwitz-Birkenau.
This place I did not visit.
Not because I have no respect for history, or live in denial of the Nazis or liquidation of the Jews, Poles, Gypsies, and anyone else that was deemed unfit for life. I’ve read Mein Kampf and poured over psychological dissertations of Hitler and the causes of World War II. The truth is; I fear the dead. I fear ghosts. Most of all, I fear those buildings that have witnessed death.
Silly, I know. True, every word of it.
What we did see of Poland, was amazing. Despite the walking. And the pair of boots I had to buy to keep my feet from freezing.
My mum has a thing with churches, and if I hadn’t put my foot down, we would have seen all one hundred of them. Six churches in two days is all I can handle. God aside, it was freezing inside those walls. I was already cold, I didn’t want to turn into a popsicle. Castle Wawel took up a whole day of walking around, and just to get from place to place took a marathon of walking and map consulting. Kazimierz, the Jewish corner, was sobering.
All in all, the trip was a great one. I did buy myself some amber, only because there was so much of it and I felt I had too. Benedictine tea, chocolate, and two pairs of shoes capped off the trip.
Oh, and the hotel pillows.
Best hotel pillows ever.
It is good to be back, though. Five days is enough to replenish the spirits. That, and a good cuppa.