Travels Around Poland

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Over the past couple of years we have made a large number of short adventures around Poland. The country has many small cities and towns that are hundreds of years old with very interesting history and architecture. We focused primarily on the north, east and southeastern regions of the country from the Baltic Sea on the north to the borders of Belarus on the east and Ukraine on the southeast. Each location was unique and and in every spot, we found extremely friendly and warm inhabitants whether they were working in restaurants, shops or owners of the accommodation in which we stayed. In many cases somewhat surprisingly in remote areas, people spoke English to varying degrees and were very open to speak English and to put up with my attempts at the destruction of the Polish language which I am quite adept at. We had many laughs with the people in both languages.

In the north we spent time in Gdansk and Sopot, both on the Baltic Sea coast. Gdansk is a lovely Hanseatic city with beautiful architecture and a mix of centuries old buildings and modern structures. (we have been in Gdansk many times) One of the highlights of the days in Gdansk was a truffle pizza; a very tasty meal. About 10 kilometers west is Sopot a wonderful seaside resort town with the sea on one side and hills on the other.  We spent time walking in the forested hills above town and along the multi-kilometer Boulevard along the beach.  It has a pedestrian zone about kilometer long that is just chock full of restaurants, pubs, ice cream shops and stores of every description; capped off with a long wooden pier jutting out to the sea. I had rented an apartment in Sopot back in 1990 and 91 when we started the business in Poland. Ewa was born and raised in the town. Sopot is a very vibrant and enjoyable town; actually our favorite place in Poland. 

To the east we spent some time in the Lake District in a charming wooden cabin with a wood burning fireplace/stove. While there, we had a very sobering visit to what was called "The Wolf's Lair" which was Hitler and the Nazis compound toward the and of World War II. It was comprised of massive reinforced concrete structures with a good portion underground with anti-aircraft gun emplacements on the roofs. You could feel the evil in this place.  I felt it worthwhile to add the url: We also spent time in other areas in the east which were so close to the Belarus border that our cell phones were pinging from a Belarusian cell tower across the the small river. This is an area which is part of and adjacent to what is called the Sulwalki Gap - the supposedly most militarized area in Europe. If there was a ground war in Western Europe, the expectation is that this area would be one of the first to be attacked given its geographic characteristics and proximity to Kaliningrad which is a Russian enclave. There was constant troop movements, APC's and US tanks being shuttled around on transporters and many NATO soldiers around.

There is an abundance of cute villages and towns in the east. Sparsely populated, most young folks have left for the eldorado of bigger cities and as a result the towns are very quiet and inhabited primarily by older people - one gets the feeling that time stopped in the 1980's.

In the South we were in the Bieszczady mountains which lie in the southeast corner of the country on the Ukrainian border. While there, our cell phones pinged from towers in Ukraine. It was odd that there was a war going on just a few kilometers to the east of us. This is an area of Poland which is quite sparsely populated and wild with brown bears and a great deal of other wildlife. Also, you will see a photo of a very unique bakery in the town of Przemyśl using wood-burning ovens and run by a cadre of stern ladies. (Wonderful) There are also some photos (not mine) of an area called Zakopane that looks exactly like the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. We did a bit of hiking there, in particular a place called Valley of 5 Lakes - quite strenuous for an old boy like me, Ewa however almost runs up these hills.

Some small towns we have really enjoyed are named: Sandomierz (where we spent Valentine's day), Zamosc, Białystok (close to the Belarus border) and Supraśl just to name a few. If you are curious give them a 'google' - I did not want to make this text too long. 

We have done a number of bike rides around the countryside. Each one had unique sights and character. One that stands out most was in west central Poland in an area called Bory Tucholskie. We rode through forests thick with wild blueberries. It was one of most interesting experiences we have had - kilometers of forest floor carpeted with low wild blueberries - like a carpet - photo in the gallery.