Arriving in Krakow
We arrived into John Paul II Kraków-Balice Airport at 11.45pm last night on a flight from Lisbon. We were expecting freezing temperatures on our arrival but were surprised that it was relatively mild as we waited outside the shiny glass clad terminal for an Uber to take us our city hostel.
Arriving into Krakow / Photography Rita Ansone
Outside Krakow Airport / Stills Stephen O'Regan
As we sat on the steel seats we were apprehensive about what the next 10 days would bring. We've been anxious for days. This whole trip, this whole project has been quite spontaneously organised. But more about what this is all about in a bit.
As we waited we were approached by a couple of visitors - Pedro and Sam - who asked for a cigarette. I obliged, informing them that I was quitting tomorrow. The two friends (from Portugal) were in a party mood and even encouraged us to come to a few bars with them. I was tempted to say yes, but knew we needed a good nights sleep to try get in gear for the days ahead.
Pedro and Sam at Krakow Airport / Photography Rita Ansone
Our Uber driver was a nice woman in pretty dress called Hanna. I tried to make small talk with her, but her English was not too great, and my Polish was non existent.
The Uber Ride to the Hostel / Stills Stephen O'Regan
Our hostel for the first night was a simple affair, our beds being on the top floor of-coarse. Despite our exhaustion we decided to go for a very short late night walk around the area. All was quiet in the neighbourhood, and the wind was beginning to blow and swirl.
We finally laid in our beds in a room with slanted windows. The rain began to fall and make a soothing pitter patter, which helped lull us to sleep. That, and for me the sleeping pill I felt was necessary, just incase.
Capturing eachother in the hostel/ Still Stephen O'Regan / Photograph Rita Ansone
We awoke today to blue skies. Incredible. We are over dressed. That said the weather promises to be a rollercoaster in the days ahead.
We have given our selves today to find our bearings and try to research people to talk to in the days ahead. Rita is already editing some photographs from yesterday, and I am exploring Twitter and other socials to see who we might talk to.
One story on Twitter that has already struck me is that of Oliwia Dabrowska (from Krakow) who played the “girl in the red coat” in “Schindler’s List” who is coordinating help for refugees from Ukraine.
I am amazed to find out that Rita has not seen Schindlers List. I just showed her the scene of the girl in the red dress - and I needed to take a quick pause to stop myself from becoming weepy. I would like to find time to visit Schindlers Factory on this trip.
So what is this trip all about? How did it come about?
Well, for the past almost 2 years I have lived in Lisbon. During that time I have made a video series called People of Lisbon where every week I make a short documentary about a different interesting person living in the city. I work on the project with a talented photographer - Rita Ansone. I like to think of it as a humble project that has had some good attention.
A couple of weeks ago I was contacted by my friend Stephanie from London who asked could I drive. I can not. That was a pity to her, as she informed me that she was travelling to Poland to drive refugees from the border of Ukraine. I jokingly suggested I could come and make a documentary about it perhaps. Her response "great, can you fly out tomorrow." There was no chance. It was too short notice.
Just a few days later I was contacted by a friend in the US.
"Hi! How are you?? Do you have interest in doing the People of the Ukraine? I think it would be a really cool idea. The US is not doing what they should be doing. I think seeing your videos would really help raise awareness. Maybe you could go to Poland?? Let me know what you think!!!!" - Kelly
There has been a lot of back and forth since then, The idea refined to the simple idea of travelling to Krakow and documenting what we could find. As another friend said - "there's probably a lot of people already doing that."
"Well we will be doing it aswell."
(In the interest of full disclosure - Kelly has kindly become the Patron/ Producer of this project. Thank you Kelly!)
Suffice to say, here we find ourselves - overwhelmed and underprepared.
During this trip we might try identify some charities of worth to help support the Ukrainian refugee cause.
One organisation (associated with my friend Stephanie) is trying to raise funds to transport the Ukraine refugees to family or safer environments. Find out about that here.
Finally, I see that Pink Floyd have reunited to record their first new material in 28 years, a protest song against the Ukraine war. The band tell that all proceeds from the single will go towards Ukrainian humanitarian relief. I might guess that means that just by watching the video below you are contributing .
Apologies for the meandering nature of this first post.
- Stephen O'Regan, 2.04PM Krakow