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Murray Edwards College
University of Cambridge

Anna Ryan: Musical tour to Krakow, Poland

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    10 Dec

    In July, thanks to the support of the Gateway Travel Award and Rosemary Murray Travel Exhibition Fund, I was able to travel with the Cambridge University Musical Society Music Tour to Krakow, Poland. 

    After a couple of days rehearsing in chapels around Cambridge, we set off on the incredibly long 28-hour coach and ferry journey across to Krakow in Poland, where we stayed in a youth hostel. 

    During the trip, outside of all the music-making, we had the opportunity to do some sightseeing around the city itself. We explored the main square, city centre and old town, dipping into beautiful churches and art galleries and trying lots of the local cuisine including pierogi. I particularly enjoyed walking around the Jewish Quarter with our trip's tour guide – this provided an interesting insight into Jewish life in Krakow and Poland, especially around the time of World War Two. 

    Over the course of the week, we performed three concerts in different venues: St Catherine's Church in Krakow, the Church of Our Lady of Consolation in the nearby town of Nowa Huta and an incredible outdoor amphitheatre in Rabka (a village in the Tatra Mountains – south of Krakow, near the Slovakian border). Our programme for the concerts consisted of Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 6 'Pathetique', Mozart's 5th Violin Concerto (with an amazing professional soloist) and Mala Suite by the Polish composer Lutosławksi. I found these pieces all very enjoyable and productive pieces to play as I had never played them before and had to learn them over a very short period of preparation time. 

    In the mornings before we had rehearsals and concerts we had a couple of fun day trips to attractions around Krakow. These included visiting an aquapark, which was one of the largest in Europe, where we had a great time team building by playing a massive round of water volleyball. Moreover, we also had a trip to the Ojcow National Park which had beautiful views and walks and was a really nice contrast to spending lots of time in the city. On the last morning we had a slot of free time before we got back on the coach for the journey back to England. I decided to take a tour of the Wieliczka Salt Mines. These were incredible as having walked through the mines with a tour guide for hours we had only seen less than 10% of the mines' many miles of tunnels. There were many unbelievable features including huge statues, chandeliers, a concert hall and chapels all made of salt! 

    I would like to thank the Gateway Challenges Scheme and the Rosemary Murray Travel Awards for enabling me to have this wonderful experience. I would highly recommend the schemes to all current and incoming students as the experience gained from both all the sessions and the trip itself has been invaluable.

    Anna Ryan
    Arts and Humanities - Music