Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Have you ever been to Polish mountains yet?

There’s a saying in Polish, well not so much a saying as a quotation, you’re praising what’s foreign, you don’t know what’s yours, you know not even what you’re possessing (Stanisław Jachowicz). Well, that’s just a rough quotation. But what it means really is that we’re so keen on visiting foreign countries (which is great) and we tend to neglect what beautiful places we have in our own countries (which is not that great).

That’s is why I’ve decided that apart from describing marvelous places that I’ve seen outside Poland, I’ll try to focus your attention a bit on more or less tourist-friendly but definitely worth seeing places in Poland. I’ve already described Hel (single “l”) a bit. A place where I grew up so I have a lot of sentiment for. And which is a place in northern Poland.

This time I’ll move further down map-wise. We’re going to the southern part of Poland. The mountains. Pieniny Mountains. When I was little I used to hear that Pieniny Mountains are the most beautiful of all Polish mountains. That was when I decided that one day I have to see them. Zakopane in Tatry Mountains is very popular among tourists, Jelenia Gora in Sudety Mountains is popular as well, Bieszczady region (south-eastern part of Poland, border with Ukraine) is picturesque and hardly populated but that’s not what I was looking for. Pieniny – that was it. That was what I wanted to see, to visit, to experience. Just for the record, I’m not a mountain freak, I don’t climb, alpinism is not my cup of tea. Still, I love the views in the mountains. I can go there once in a while to breath the fresh air, to experience something different, to relax and get tired at the same time. And to feel that specific pain in my muscles that is strictly connected with the satisfaction of completing the route, of getting to the top of the mountain, of achieving certain goals.

Pieniny are definitely beautiful! Even though the weather was horrible as for the holiday season when we were then (raining every other day!) I could imagine what a beautiful place it must be either in perfect sun or in autumn when leaves change their colours into yellow, red, brown…

We decided to stay in Czorsztyn. As for me that was a great choice. Both castles were really close (I’ll write about these two some other time). It wasn’t that far to Sromowce Wyżne – Kąty where the rafting on Dunajec starts (some other time about that as well). It was quite close to all the main climbing routes (the Three Crowns – Trzy Korony, the Castle Mountain – Gora Zamkowa, Sokolica).

We chose to rent a room in a house close to the lake. The room was big enough for us, had its own bathroom inside, there was an open kitchen to be used by us if we liked to. The room was not modern in its look maybe, but it was very clean and comfortable. And most importantly, the beds were very comfortable, which is important after a day of extensive physical exercise (like climbing ;)). And it wasn’t expensive either. But the views from our window – wow! The lake, the castles, and Tatry Mountains. Peaceful, quiet. The sore end of the village, lake-most part of it.

There are many places in the village where you can eat some regional specialties. And, of course, you have to try oscypek! There are three kinds of it (well, I think three). From white to dark brown, depending on the time of smoking process. Oscypek is made from sheep milk. It’s a kind of smoked cheese. You can observe the process of oscypek making in one of shepherd’s houses (bacówka) on the routes in the mountains. I don’t really like oscypek but it’s a definite must when I’m in Polish mountains. And you can buy them practically everywhere (well, not only in the mountains even, but it’s the climate of the mountains that adds a lot to their taste. At least for me).

So don’t hesitate any more and come and visit our marvelous mountains! ;) And here are some photos to convince you. Mind you - the weather really wasn't that nice...

That's the view from our window one morning - the lake and Tatry Mountains

 Shepherd's house (or bacówka) in the back - oscypek making in process I suppose - hence the smoke

 That's the place where we stayed. The cat belongs there as well. It was really friendly, as you can see ;) And mathced my hair colour perfectly ;)

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