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Published: September 20th 2016
When you look at geographical map of Poland you may say we have been spoiled by the diversity of the landscape. We have access to the Baltic Sea, we have beautiful lake districts and broad river valleys and finally the mountain ranges in the south. You could say we have it all! So why so many people choose to go abroad rather than spending holidays close to home? I think it’s very natural to underappreciate what you have just under your nose. Also while for a Westerner tourist holidays in Poland might be ridiculously cheap, for an average Pole it’s not exactly the case. So no wonder that many Poles choose cheap holidays in Turkey, Egypt or Tunisia over the holidays back home because if both come down to the same price why not choosing something unknown and tropical over familiar?
If there is one thing I absolutely love about Poland, it’s the beautiful southern mountain ranges, Tatras in particular. And every few years I try to make it over there, walk the familiar trails and challenge myself to walk some new ones. In general I prefer mountains over the sea so it will come to no surprise
that Baltic Sea doesn’t really excite me too much. The water is quite cold all year around and even if the temperature heats up slightly during the summer, it’s very likely you’ll experience an algae bloom then as well. Swimming in the sea and sunbaking are not my things anyway but I would never say no to a stroll on the beach though. When it comes to rivers they are best enjoyed in cities as the cities are in general built around them... And that leaves the Polish lakes for last...
When my sister and I were kids we spent quite a few summers by the lakes with my grandparents. My parents were there too but most of the time for the weekends only, as someone had to bring the ‘big bucks’ home. The 6 of us – my sister and I, my parents and my grandparents would jump into our fabulous yellow Fiat 126p and drive to some nice place for a week or two. They weren’t exactly the most exciting holidays for my sister and I back then as it was basically impossible to keep us entertained all the time, but we did have a
lot of fun for sure! There were no computers, mobile phones or anything like that so it was all about playing outdoors and making new friends, but we enjoyed spending time and doing some activities with my grandparents also. And they sure did everything possible to keep us happy – my grandpa would teach us how to fish (and prepare the fish for eating afterwards as well), my grandma would play cards with us, altogether we would walk the forest searching for berries or mushrooms, rent a small boat and cruise around the lake and more... I may not have appreciated these times as much as I should have back then but I’ll treasure whatever memories I have from this time forever...
In the recent years it didn’t happen too often for my sister and I to be in Elblag at the same time but thanks to the arrival of the little munchkin, this summer we were in Elblag altogether 😊 So when someone came up with an idea to go for a few days to one of the lakes, without second thoughts we all agreed and soon after were on our way to the Kaszubia Region
Kaszubia is located in northern Poland in the Pomeranian region. It is said to be one of the most beautiful and culturally attractive regions of Poland. Some even go as far as calling it ‘Kaszubian Switzerland’. Green pine forests, beautiful lakes, fresh air and peace and quiet make this place a very special one for sure! Not to mention that it’s very unique culturally as well as the region even has its own language! We booked our stay in the very heart of this lake district, at the Lipa Peninsula.by the Wdzydzkie Lake.
Apart from relaxing, strolling through the forest (sadly too early for picking up berries or mushrooms), having family dinners together and a few beers in between (at least the boys did) and simply breathing in the fresh air, we did a few side trips as well. First we went to the nearby Wdzydze Kiszewskie to the Kaszubian Open Air Museum (Skansen). The park has on display many regional buildings from XVIIth to XXth century – folk cottages, craftsmen workshops, church, school, windmill and more... The interiors were carefully reconstructed to give you an idea of what it was like living there
during those times as well. My mum took it upon herself to play a role of our guide, well mostly the guide for Grant and Brian as the rest of us could read all the signs in Polish of course. She was so into her role that some German tourists started following us around as they thought my mum was an actual real guide! A big pat on the shoulder for my mum then. 😊
Another day we went for a trip to Koscierzyna to check out the Railway Museum. They had a surprisingly wide collection of old trains and steam locomotives on display. Not only that, you could actually check them out from the inside by climbing up into the engine rooms of some of them. It was funny to see there one of the trains that I used to take not so long ago, during my studies to be exact, between Gdansk and Sopot. These commuter trains had looked like they belonged to the museum back then already for sure and I wouldn’t be surprised if they were running between Gdansk and Gdynia still... Might need to make a trip to Gdansk to find out!
My parents said they have been to this museum before and it actually had even more trains on display back then, some interesting Russian ones for example, but they either have been moved back to Russia or to some larger Railway Museum in Poland, Warsaw perhaps? Who knows... Interesting collection of trains though!
We also went for a short trip to Szymbark to another Open Air Museum situated there. This museum got me a bit puzzled I have to say... Quite an odd collection of objects to see here... Upside down house, the longest plank in the world, the biggest piano in the world... But right next to it you can see also the Siberian Exile house which was used by the Poles deported to Siberia and which has been gifted and brought in the recent years to Poland all the way from Irkutsk. Also you can go inside the train which used to take away the Polish people to Gulag camps in Siberia... Then you have a bit of Kaszubian folklore right next to it – typical Kaszubian huts where one of them came all the way from Canada... Then there is also a bunker... a
typical wooden church... some statues... and Kaszubian fairytale land! I wondered how all these random things ended up here... Nevertheless, a bizarre and yet interesting place for a visit.
We had such a good time by the Kaszubian lakes that once we got back to Elblag, we straight away started thinking of booking a few more days by some other lake once again. This time we decided to check out another lake district altogether, the largest one in Poland – MasuriaRegion
located in the north-eastern Poland. In a smaller group as it was only my parents, Grant, Millie and I, we chose to go by the Jeziorak lake, the longest lake in Poland, to a small village called Chmielowka. The lake is connected by the numerous canals with other lakes, therefore it is a very popular place for sailing. I actually had a chance to get to know this lake during the last years of my high school, when my friends and I rented one of the boats and sailed around the lake for a few days. Some great memories so it was nice to be back close to this lake again. Contrary to our trip to
Kaszubia, this time we didn’t have plans for any side trips. It was all about relaxing, fishing and walking through the forests which actually are totally different type of forests in this part of Poland, a very dense and deciduous forest.
We timed our trip well this time around, at least when it comes to mushroom picking that is as we weren’t too lucky with the weather. On our first walk through the forest we came back to our hut with a few mushrooms for breakfast already – and we weren’t even looking! So the next day my dad, Grant and I went searching for more. One hour in the forest and we had enough to have a proper meal out of it. We probably could’ve looked for and possible found much more but an hour in the forest was all we could handle – lots of mosquitoes and other weird flying insects. First thing we had to do when we came back to our hut was checking ourselves for ticks! Yeah, not great... not a fan of bushy, overgrown deciduous forests to be honest – pine forests with mossy floor are more my cup of tea,
so Kaszubia wins in this aspect for sure! I started panicking there for a moment as each one of us had quite a few little bugs resembling ticks crawling on us! Straight away I started stressing out about Millie as even though I checked myself carefully before picking her up, one little bastard still managed to land on her somehow! Obviously we got rid of it straight away but I was afraid that there were more around that we haven’t even spotted yet! Thanks to google we managed to figure out (well my mum did actually, a big pat on the shoulder once again! 😊) that they weren’t ticks after all and that these little creatures actually weren’t interested in human bodies at all, they just mistook us for deer... Pheeeew... No more getting deep in the forest for me after that though! Besides we had enough mushrooms anyway... Yummy chanterelles with butter are the best!
As we walked around our camping ground, we have noticed that quite a few people around had big jars with fish (fish in vinegar to be exact) in front of their huts, which meant that it definitely was a good spot
for fishing. My dad simply couldn’t leave without trying out his rod and since Grant didn’t have a chance to fish in a lake (or fish anywhere in Poland) just yet, one afternoon they decided to check out the waters together. It started raining almost as soon as they left and I started having doubts whether they would catch anything at all... So as soon as it stopped raining I went to check up on them and when I saw their happy faces I knew the fishing was going well and they were having fun! Every two minutes one of them would catch something... Well how about that! Not exactly the most gigantic fish and full of bones, but really tasty for sure! Another meal sorted then! And a few more for the next few days as they brought a lot of fish! Nothing goes to waste with my family though, so first my parents fried all the fish and since there was no way we would be able to eat it all in one go, whatever was left went straight to the jar with vinegar! Fried vinegary fishies Polish style! Yum! 😊
Even though we weren’t
too lucky with the weather and spent one day (almost a whole one) locked within the four very tight walls, we enjoyed our time by the lake once again. Another pleasant holiday. And I couldn’t get closer to my family even if I tried... 😉
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