Folk, food, chocolate and Tatar warriors.

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June 7th 2006
Published: June 12th 2006EDIT THIS ENTRY

3 June Supraśl

We decided to visit the Folk and Food Fair being held in Supraśl, a pleasant little town in the Knyszyn Forest near Białystok. Seeing as it was a nice day, we got the bus as far as Orgródnicki and walked the rest of the way to Supraśl. Ogródnicki is changing, many new large houses have been built their recently. We passed a small lake and sunned ourselves there before navigating our way to a nature trail. The trail was so badly marked we needed the compass to find our way along it! As we circled Supraśl on the footpath, lads on motor scooters bore down on us at high speed. I resisted the temptation to stick my arm out. We hit the festival to find a very different environment. Stalls were set up along the street and the finest local produce was on sale, honey, herbs, cheeses, bread, meat - much from Lithuania. The first appearance of dreadlocks was noted, almost giving an atmosphere of (well heeled) rural south west England.

4 June Białystok

Our friend Radek, came up for a visit, with health, weather and time limiting him to a 24 hour visit to the city. Radek’s tour of Białystok was provided by Barbara, Kasia’s sister. The visit started with a tour of the museum which included an exhibition of the Tatar community. The Tatars settled in the fifteenth century in Podlasie (NE Poland) after fighting for the Polish in numerous battles - most famously against the Teutonic Knights. The Tatars, from the Mongol’s Golden Horde were given land and their community survives to this day. In fact the wooden mosque at Kruszyniany
is a bit of tourist draw, especially as Tatar food is also offered in the village.

Keeping their Muslim faith and culture, the community has also successfully integrated within Polish society. Next up was a tour of the wooden houses of Bojary district, very much a feature of old Białystok, with vernacular architecture: much has been replaced by new housing or flats. We headed back into town towards the Branicki Palace, the basis of the city of Białystok before industrialisation. The parkland is open, but not the buildings which are occupied by the Medical School. Much to Barbara’s chagrin, they have received money from the European Union for maintenance of a tourist attraction, despite locking the tourists out! Barbara is in a position to not let that one go! A quick visit to a photo exhibition of Ukraine followed, in a café full of folk already sat at tables, so it was a bit chaotic. Then over to Wedel’s drinking chocolate emporium, which adds a bit of finesse to Białystok’s city centre. Not a bad day, considering the cold drizzly weather.

7 June: Return to Leeds

This journey was via Warsaw, and Radek met us at Wschodnia (East) station. We got whisked away in chauffeur driven car before waiting over 10 minutes at the level crossing in front of Radek’s workplace (They do a lot of shunting there). Strange that no one seemed to bat an eyelid when the director strolled in with two people lugging huge rucksacks! We had a chat over tea and doughnuts, it was a nice break before our trip to the airport and the flight back to Liverpool, and thence to Leeds.


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