Poland – Rich History, Beautiful Country

Today was less ag, more cultural, beginning with a bus trip that took us into Slovakia. It was just like crossing over from Ottawa to Gatineau in that there was no border check or anything – we just drove straight on through.

According to our guide Jan, it was not always this way. Until the 1980s the border was patrolled by dogs, guards, protected by barbed wire and it was not uncommon to be completely searched. This was under the Czechoslovakian regime. Today, the Polish and Slovacs get on very well.

Niedzica Castle
niedzica1Niedzica Castle is located in the southernmost part of Poland in Niedzica. It was erected between the years 1320 and 1326 by Kokos of Brezovica on the site of an ancient stronghold surrounded by earthen walls in the Pieniny mountains.

The Niedzica Castle stands at an altitude of 566 m, on a hill 300 m upstream from the Dunajec River. The outline of Niedzica. It is known as one of the most picturesque castles in the country and adorns the covers of many books.

niedzica2

The last inhabitant of the castle left Poland in 1943 during the war. The castle was then seized by the Soviet Union, all of the contents burned, and has gradually been restored.

Dunajec Rafting
dunajec1The Dunajec River Gorge runs through the Pieniny Mountains in the south of Poland and the north of Slovakia (as Dunajec is the border river between the two countries in the area). The gorge is characterized by some of the most interesting geological and geomorphological structures and area-specific natural ecosystems with little anthropogenic influence.

Wooden canoe trips have been organized daily by Goral highlanders between April and October since the early 19th century — when their customers consisted mostly of guests of nearby Niedzica and Czorsztyn castles.

The trip began in the village of Sromowce Kąty, and ended in the resort town of Szczawnica, 18 km downstream. It took about 2-3 hours and was absolutely breathtaking. The surrounding rock reaches 300 m in height almost all the way through.

dunajec2

Following rafting, we had a lovely lunch in a nearby village – egg, white sausage and flour soup followed by potato pancakes stuffed with pork and a nice poached pear for dessert.

It was then off to Krakow, with a gorgeous view of the mountains and scenery on the way.

40% of Slovakia is forest, while 30% of Poland is forest.

poland2 poland3 poland4 poland1

We’ll be staying 2 days in Krakow for what promises to be a very powerful experience exploring some of the history here. During dinner, our guide Jan spoke of his recollection of socialism and it was both fascinating and terrifying.

-Heather

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