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Published: April 1st 2018
Wandering Into Karpacz
Some Komorskas And Sherrys strolling into the village
Happy Easter. Easter Saturday in Poland is the day when people attend church for the Blessing of The Easter Baskets, a revered tradition that dates back to the 7th century. In modern times, baskets are carefully prepared and are set with a white linen liner and contain symbols of meat, eggs, cakes and breads. The foods in the baskets all have a symbolic meaning relating to the death and resurrection of Christ, renewal, and the joy of having an abundance in life.
We attended the church with Tim and Andrzej, and after placing the basket on the table with many others, the priest gave a blessing and used a straw brush to sprinkle holy water over the baskets and the congregation.
We then visited the local cemetery where Andrzej placed fresh candles at the graves of family, and at the grave of an old colleague who was a close friend. To me, this seemed more reverent and moving than the basket blessing, as many people take a quiet minute of reflection after attending to the candles.
Like All Saints Day, it’s an opportunity to pay homage to those they love and miss.
After leaving the cemetery we
went back to the Komorskas to partake in another Polish tradition, eating. Food features regularly throughout the day and, in fact, I have just had a cake and coffee session in Karpacz, that I’m calling lunch.
Karpacz, a Village at the foot of the mountains in Lower Silesia near the border with the Czech Republi, is a resort town popular with skiers, hikers and cyclists, and it’s a peaceful place for an indulgent few days away. We are staying at Hotel Relaks, a chalet style hotel on the edge of town. The dark timber doors and panelling mixed with cream paintwork gave it a warm 1940’s feel but I’m sure it’s younger than that.
We arrived about midday , settled in to our rooms and went to check out the action in the Main Street. The soft coloured tones of the alpine style buildings could have had you in Switzerland or Austria. Decorative gables and fascias combine with the crisscross timberwork on the exterior walls just to remind you that the snow on the ground is real and so is the cold weather.
The scent of local cooking is never far away and the waffles and sausages
combined with the various stews, cheeses and vegetable dishes draw you into a feeding frenzy again. With dinner in mind, I shared a sausage with Tim ( they’re about a foot long) and later opted for hot smoked cheese. This is a personal favourite and is smoked camembert style cheese, served hot with a dollop of jam. The roadside stalls that sell this would make a killing in Australia. It’s smokey odour was quite strong as you sank your teeth into a firm skin that gave way to release the smooth warm cheese inside. The sweetness of the jam finishes it off beautifully.
Polish people love their food and there is plenty to love about it. A culinary style developed over centuries, some of the nicer dishes are quite simple and I imagine were originally peasant food, made with the ingredients locally available. Some of the best, in my opinion, are vegetarian rolls wrapped in cabbage, cooked wild mushrooms, and a variation of gnocchi that compares well with the Italian version.The dinner buffet held a wide array of local dishes and recommendations came from everywhere as to what was good.
Conversation gets loud and lively at dinner time
A Local Restaurant
Serving up sausages, braised beef dishes, potato dishes, and cooked cabbage rolls and other vegetables. All designed to warm you up.
and our 16 strong group kept up with the best of them. Dinner is a slow drawn out affair, a kind of celebration of sorts, whereas I’m more used to an eat and leave arrangement. After dinner we retired to a room out the back that had large deep leather couches around a oversized coffee table, to play some sort of games.
Card games and board games are popular in Poland and people often prefer these over turning on the TV. Unaccustomed to their games and with our language barrier , Sue and I were quite happy to sit them out and just watch the fun. Things didn’t go to plan and we ended up in the thick of it all, with people interpreting what we heard and what we said.
I soon realised that the entertainment was not in the game itself but came from the responses and behaviour of the participants themselves. Marek acted as drinks waiter while various people took on the role of ring master of this circus. Andrzej liked to build drama and tension to a question prior to even asking it, Grandma Luisa sometimes gave the answer instead of what was meant
The Smoked Cheese Stall
That boy knows how good these are. I’ll be eating some more of this today. It’s hard to do justice to this treat by describing it. The smokey flavour literally melts in your mouth.
to be a clue, while Uncle Staszek delivered expansive clues until the answer was dropped in the contestant’s lap, and then complained of insufficient detail in clues if he was slow to answer. Infused with this was laughter, light hearted banter, and two Australians just trying to follow it all. I think the comment of the night, that summed it all up, came from an exasperated Marek who at one low point whimpered, “ I only have one life, and this is what I’m doing?”
What happens in the games room, stays in the games room, but Poles are funny people.
Easter Sunday starts with a formal breakfast ; a jacket and tie affair, suits preferred. It is a meal more like a dinner to me, with cold meats, cheeses, salads, pastries and sweet cheese pancakes, followed by desserts. I’ve got to get out of here while I can still fit into my clothes. The meal started with everyone having a small portion of one of the eggs from the Easter Basket and then it was breakfast as usual. It’s a great start to the day, and I had no idea what else was planned. After a long
meal the children had an egg hunt with grandparents acting as egg GPS’s to ensure no one missed out and a clean sweep was completed, and then a small group of us were heading into the snow.
On the way we had an impromptu stop at Karkonoskim Park, a UNESCO site with walking tracks and a waterfall. The interesting aspect here at this time of year is the waterfall encased in frozen ledges, surrounded by end of season snow. It was about -2°c but if you layer up it’s not too bad.
We resumed for 30 minutes, driving deeper into snow bound country until we reached our destination, the gondola at Karkonoski Park. The ride to the top is 1.1 kilometres in enclosed cable cars and the visibility weakened as we rose, until the dropoff point was reached without any warning. It was the first snow visit for Sue and only the second for me and while it was exiting to join the skiers and other fools like us who froze without a real purpose, I was happy to be inside after venturing out for a walk and some unsuccessful acclimatisation. It was bitterly cold on any exposed
skin and reminded me why I surfed instead of skied when I was younger. Well, the cold plus the expense, and having to hang out with the ski set. It really was worth it though as I’ve never been in those conditions before.
Our arrival at Hotel Relaks saw us walk straight into the mid afternoon cakes and coffee break. This became the lunch I mentioned earlier and if I can find Tim hopefully we’ll go for a long walk ( and pick up a hot smoked cheese snack while we’re out).
Easter has been fantastic and there’s still more ahead.
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