general ramblings · life

Holiday memories

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Nika will be our guide today

Not a knitting-related post – just some photo memories from my springtime holiday in Poland.

First of all: unlike last year, the weather this time was just awesome! No return of winter, just sun and 20-25 degrees Celsius, which for me is the perfect temperature. It’s warm but comfortable, without the need to wear thick clothes but the evenings can still get a little chilly which is a perfect excuse to wear some knitted garments or shawls 🙂

I come from Upper Silesia, an industrial, mining region, so not a place any tourists would choose as holiday destination. For most people in Poland, when they think about my region, they imagine smog, coalmines, and ugly, industrial landscape. This is true in some parts of it, especially in the cities which are definitely not beautiful (see pictures below), but there are also large forests, mountains, medieval castles, and in general beautiful places worth seeing.

Last year, my parents moved to a neighbouring region of the Dąbrowa Basin. It’s very close to their previous home, but there are many historical antagonisms between these regions (stemming probably from the time of Partitions of Poland when they were annexed by different countries) so some people in either of these regions feel insulted when their regions get mixed up. It’s most common to mistake the Dąbrowa Basin for part of Upper Silesia, which it’s not. See, nobody in my family really cares for those antagonisms (and we’re not really from either region originally anyway) but still after my parents’ move I realised how little I know about their new region! So this stay in Poland was a good opportunity to get to know it a little better.

But first I had to visit Pszczyna (if you are wondering how on Earth to pronounce this word, this page might help a little but even with it, it’s one of those Polish words that make my boyfriend burst out with laughter and claim that my language is a torture device designed by the Polish people for themselves), a small, historical town known for its castle and lovely Market Square. I used to visit it each year before moving to Ireland, usually in the spring, just because I like its lazy atmosphere, beautiful castle and park and lovely architecture. And when I was a university student the old park was a great place to study practical botany and zoology. The local herd of bisons held by the Von Pless princes was used to reintroduce declined bison in Europe, and there is still a bison sanctuary with other forest mammals that can be visited in Pszczyna (but I skipped it this time).

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Pszczyna Market Square and entrance to the Castle (on the left). There is a restaurant where I had a delicious coffee and cheesecake at the Market Square.
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Just one of the typical houses in the historical part of town

The Castle was first built in the middle ages and then reconstructed in Renaissance style. It doesn’t really look like a castle anymore, more like a palace, including the interior.

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The Castle is surrounded by a beautiful park – much larger than what the photo shows
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This used to be a dining room but it serves as concert hall now
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The Grand Staircase

And, as everywhere in Poland, there are World War 2 cemeteries and military earthworks very close to the park.

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Mass grave from WW2 (including boy scouts killed in 1939) and from the Silesian Uprisings.
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Part of the defense system from 1939

After Pszczyna, I decided to visit places closer to my parents’ new home. Just like the Błędów Desert – anthropogenic desert created over centuries, now partly overgrown due to natural ecological succession processes, but still quite unique in this part of Europe.

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Looks empty…
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…but life always finds a way!

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Another regional place of interest is the Będzin Castle, constructed in the 11th century, but then destroyed and reconstructed several times over the years. Looks just like from the child’s drawing and I love it 🙂

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Spring and its fresh shade of green
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Spring came into the castle tower too – pigeon sitting on eggs on the inner wall of the tower

Alright, this post is getting a bit long, so just two photos from the regional museum:

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Traditional male clothes: miner’s gala uniform
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And female traditional folk dress.

I chose them because I love Polish and generally Slavic folklore so why not to share it with the blog’s readers 🙂

And that’s all that I wanted to show this time, except one thing that I left for the end – pierogi, because there’s no visit to Poland without trying them!

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With a side of sour cream and sauerkraut. As traditional as it gets 🙂

8 thoughts on “Holiday memories

  1. Thank you for this candid view into your native country. The place one grows up is always a special place, as it helps form so much of who we are.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I grew up in an area of Canada where there were many people from the Ukraine. That introduced me to pierogi, how I loved the the next day, fried and smothered in onions and sour cream. My arteries thank me!

    Liked by 1 person

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