Blogs from Lesser Poland, Poland, Europe

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Europe » Poland » Lesser Poland July 12th 2014

You have to change you mind set as an English person travelling in Central Europe. The UK was last invaded a thousand years ago and even before that the coast has defined the country and how we define nationhood. In Central Europe with no watery separation it is quite different. Borders and tribal lands have moved over the millennia and right up until the present day like the tides in the sea. There are no coastal boundaries in Central Europe only, arguably, arbitrary stakes in the ground. Except they are not of course arbitrary as the Ukrainian soldier patrolling his border when we were hiking on Tuesday underlined. No where is this more apparent than in the Bieszczady mountains and presumably the surrounding countries. It seems to impact the very soul of the land with the ... read more
The Sanok coat of arms
The wooded Orthodox Church at Bachlawa
Bieszczady climbing wall or beech bracket fungus?

Europe » Poland » Lesser Poland July 12th 2014

Oh and another thing: First, the flowers. You can not escape but notice how lovely the Poles keep their gardens. Yes the English garden is quintessential (when it isn't block paving for the car). It is just that so many Polish gardens are bright and neat. Every grave in every cemetary is a wash with (silk) flowers. The blaze of colour make them look places of celebration and not mourning. Secondly, bimber (pronounced bimbeerr)! This is the homemade spirit of the Bieszcady. Luckily Walter had a bottle. It can be made from potatoes, apples or even cabbage. Whatever you can get. He said it was strong, and drank it with Coke. I had it straight and to be fair it was quite smooth compared to some of the French 'Bimber' I have tasted from ferme Lefriec! ... read more

Europe » Poland » Lesser Poland July 12th 2014

On the bus Lesko to Krakow 8am July 12 2014 'See you on the internet' said Yedyne as we left the BGTK Gallery (www.BGTK.pl) in Zagorz. Not a phrase we would have used in the past when we were travelling and yet most appropriate for the circumstance of today. It was our last day in the Bieszczardy mountains and it was pouring with rain. So we has decided to find some artist craftsmen and explore some of the wooden churches so common in the area. The first gallery was at the home Zdzislaw Pekalski in Hoczew (www.pekalski-gallery.com) and contained the best carving I had seen. What made his work stand out was that he used the natural form of the wood in the final shape of the sculpture. It felt he was working with the wood ... read more
Antoni and Yedyne

Europe » Poland » Lesser Poland July 12th 2014

We would never have come here if it had not been for Tomasz. When he knew we were travelling through Poland he immediately offered us his summer house in the Bieszczady mountains and took charge of our transport throughout his homeland. Thanks to Tomasz and Renata they have made our stay exceptional. We feel like royalty. Tomasz has arranged everything. First, he put us in the care of Alicja and Wladyslaw (we called him Walter) Cienki who run the Hotel Spa Karino in the nearby town of Bereska (www.pensjonatkarino.pl/en). They treated us almost like family from the start. They picked us up from the bus and fed us at the hotel before taking us to Tomasz's house which has been laid up with everything we could possibly need. What a fantastic house in a fantastic location. ... read more
Sailing on Lake Solina
With Alicja and Walter on a wet Tarnica

Europe » Poland » Lesser Poland July 8th 2014

But then we had this opportunity. What a wonderful walk. From just outside Wetlina in the Bierszczady Mountains National Park you climb up first 'little' Rawka and then 'big' Rawka. Following the border to the West brings you to Kremenec where Ukraine Poland and Slovakia meet. The National Park is amasing. With an early start there were few other walkers. It is pristine woodland thanks to the history of few inhabitance. If there had been people they would have cut the trees down long ago and grasped sheep. the. It would have looked just like England! So now we will be visiting 27 countries and not 26.... read more

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Europe » Poland » Lesser Poland July 5th 2014

On the bus from Krakow to Lesko July 5 2014 Our packs are too heavy and yet we have two items we bought just before we left England that we are glad we have at the moment - namely our light weight day packs and our packet jackets. The weather is now hot and sunny, more of that later, and a few days ago we had donned our Packet jackets, yet again, to embark on the freewalkingtours(.com) polish food tour of Krakow. This was very simple in format as the guide takes you from restaurant to restaurant for titbits/pica-pica/after-bites (that is supposed to be 'after' a shot of vodka!) which cost around 1plz/20p each. In between strolls in the rain we had sausage, bigos (a cabbage meat stew), zurek (a sweet and sour soup), pierogi (homemade ... read more
Only one of us needed a helmet
Just like old times
Krakow's Wawel Castle complex

Europe » Poland » Lesser Poland » Kraków June 30th 2014

After going the wrong way because of roadwork's, we arrived in Krakow. The hotel was in a narrow street with double tram rails taking up most of the road. Cars parked on both side. We managed to squeeze in between cars but sticking out. We were searching where to go, here came the tram, ding ding ,he actually chased us through the street. Found a way to make a U-turn. We came out of that okay. Now for parking. We found it. A car wide next to the Hotel. Finally we had the car parked. Everything was close by so no need to use the car. The Hotel is close to the old city. Krakow was not bombed as much as Warsaw, we find it remind us of Paris with it's building style. Except the price ... read more
Cathedral on Wawel Hill
chapel next to church
church of Peter & Paul

Europe » Poland » Lesser Poland » Kraków June 28th 2014

We arrived in krakow and quickly found our way to the tram stop. The tram ticket cost the equivalent of about 35p and we only needed to go a few stops to the hostel we booked the night before. In typical fashion for this trip after one stop the tram stopped moving. There had been an accident which the bus in front couldn't get round and so was stuck on the track. The tram quickly emptied but not knowing where we were going we stayed on and waited. Eventually we found our way to our stop (stradom) and our hostel was about a minutes walk. We stayed in hostel B movie. Each room had a different film name, including the godfather, dirty dancing, the matrix, Casablanca and we stayed in sin city. And the walls where ... read more

Europe » Poland » Lesser Poland » Auschwitz June 1st 2014

***VERSIÓN EN ESPAÑOL MÁS ABAJO*** Conflicted. One word that perhaps begins to capture the emotions and thoughts going through my head during the last few days. Krakow: A Jewish community that once flourished with over 60,000 souls was decimated during World War II. Walking around it's now revived and rebuilt Kazimierz neighborhood, where the former Jewish quarter prospered for over 700 years with its several synagogues, now full of poshy restaurants selling pork dishes to tourists and a community with a mere 200 Jews filled my heart with sadness. In Krakow, not much remains of the Ghetto on the other side of the river except for its main square full of empty chairs as part of a monument to commemorate the lives of those who will never come back to fill them. Seeing what remains of ... read more
Main Ghetto square with the empty-chairs monument
Map showing camps from where Jews and others came from
Only 6 of these gas cans were used each time to massacre 2,000 people

Europe » Poland » Lesser Poland » Kraków March 4th 2014

What a whirlwind two days! We knew when we decided to go to Krakow that it was going to be tiring and quick but I felt that we needed to visit Auschwitz Birkenau given we were so close. I've always felt that the atrocities of the past should be known and acknowledged by all generations and as such, Auschwitz Birkenau was very important to me. So important that we got a 10 hour sleeper train from Hungary to Poland, and then another one from Poland to the Czech Republic. Firstly, I have to say I didn't expect to like Krakow in Poland all that much, didn't know anything about it but it was the closest major city to Auschwitz so that's how we ended up there. It was a pleasant surprise, a lovely city with rich ... read more
Gas Chamber at Auschwitz
Carriage
Chandelier made of Rock Salt




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