This weekend, I had a lot of fun making a video with the best moments of our big summer trip! Have a look and tell us what you think. We will write about all destinations in detail later this year!
First of all, a happy 2015 for all our readers! Ingrid and I are ready for new trips, new experiences and new memories!
The area mentioned in the title of this post is located near the town of Przemysl. It’s a vast area, which has to offer a bit of everything: nature, history, culture and architecture.
Located not far from the Polish-Ukrainian border, Przemysl used to be an important trade center. Nowadays, you can admire its beautiful churches.
This small village has a very special gem, located near the main road: Poland’s oldest orthodox church. It was built between the 14th and 16th century. Unfortunately, the church was closed.
Turnicki Nature Park
Interested in nature, hiking and/or cycling? Then this nature park is something for you, with its primeval forests, magnificent wildlife and the river Wiat, whose course we followed by car.
Or, you can do what the locals like to do on a hot summer day: look for a place in the shadow near the river.
Another cozy village with a rare attraction: a wooden Greek Catholic church. Also closed…
Polish version of a pilgrimage village. Pilgrims can follow trails through slopes and forests; the final stop is a magnificent church, devoted to the Holy Virgin.
These were our highlights. If you want more information about this fascinating region, head to the tourist information office of Przemysl.
After Ingrid and I left Warsaw, we drove southeast, to a town called Lublin.
I had been here once, and thought it was a good idea to stretch our legs in Lublin. Ingrid agreed.
Lublin has about 350.000 inhabitants and is often called “little Krakow”. It does have a charming old town…
… and lots of churches!
Outside town is Majdanek,
a Nazi German concentration and extermination camp established on the outskirts of the city of Lublinduring the German occupation of Poland in World War II. Although initially purposed for forced labor rather than extermination, the camp was used to kill people on an industrial scale during Operation Reinhard, the German plan to murder all Jews within theirGeneral Government territory of Poland. The camp, which operated from October 1, 1941 until July 22, 1944, was captured nearly intact, because the rapid advance of the Soviet Red Army during Operation Bagration prevented the SS from destroying most of its infrastructure; but also, due to the ineptitude of commandant Anton Thernes who failed in his task of removing incriminating evidence of war crimes. Majdanek, also known to the SS as Konzentrationslager Lublin, remains the best preserved Nazi concentration camp of the Holocaust.
We kept close to the monument, which represents mangles bodies:
Another charming town is Jaroslaw. Invaded by the Tatars and the Austrians, it came back to Poland in the beginning of the 20th century. During World War II, most of the Jews fled the town; those who stayed behind were immediately executed by the Nazis.
… wasn’t easy. Vilnius, Riga and especially Tallinn had been small, compact and cozy. Now, we found ourselves in an enormous city with 1.7 million inhabitants and with motorways everywhere. Quite a difference!
With all the roadworks going on, our GPS soon became disorientated and it took her 17 detours before we finally arrived in our hotel, a huge concrete block, that seemed to have run away from the Communist times. Luckily, they served us some great food:
The next day, Ingrid and I decided to explore the Old Town of Warsaw. Just a matter of finding a place to park the car.
The Old Marketplace was almost completely destroyed during World War II. In that time, the Germans bombarded 80% of all the buildings of the Polish capital. When peace had come back, the inhabitants of Warsaw decided to give the marketplace its prewar appearance again. In other words, it looks old, but it isn’t.
Yes, it looks beautiful. But it also looks fake to us and it’s way too touristy. Luckily, the young man from the local tourist information office could help us. He knew exactly what we were looking for…
I think this is the biggest discovery Ingrid and I have made this year… Himmler – chief of the Gestapo and the SS – had his own field headquarter, a small complex of bunkers, protected by mine-fields. It was built in 1941 and destroyed in 1945. Himmler’s bunker is the best preserved one. We actually found this thanks to the owner of our b&b. By the way, program your GPS for Pozezdrze if you want to visit it.
Charming village with an even more charming parish church. Too bad it was closed…
The Pyramid of Rapa
Pyramid? In Poland? Well, it’s not as big as the ones in Egypt, but this mausoleum for the Fahrenheid family has the shape of a pyramid. Baron Fahrenheid had it built in the 18th century after travels to Egypt, where he became fascinated by the concept of mummification. And yes, all the members of the family who are buried here are mummified.
And then there are of course the many lakes…
The Masurian Lakes is a district in the northeast of Poland, containing more than 2000 interconnected lakes. It is a very popular area, not only because of its natural beauty, but also because of the many cultural, historical and religious places and buildings. The Wolf’s Lair is only one of them; take your time to explore this area. This is our selection of highlights.
There are churches and then there are churches; the Sanctuary of St. Mary belongs to the latter category. It is one of the finest examples of Baroque architecture in Poland.
These are pictures of the outside:
The interior is simply magnificent. The decoration is rich and colorful – what a contrast with the Danish churches!
Ingrid would have taken more pictures, but there was a church service going on.
The bigger lake, the bigger the touristic resort. Like Mikolakji for example:
Shops, pubs, hotels, restaurants, …; Mikolakji has everything a tourist wants.
230 square kilometers of forest…
Meet the European bison, which had almost become extinct in the northeast of Poland. During 2 centuries, they had all disappeared in this area, but thanks to the breeding program of the Wolisko Park, they are back for good. The animals avoid contact with humans, but there is a pen where you can observe them.
First of all, since Ingrid is seriously ill, I am taking over the website for the next 6 weeks.
Three years ago, Ingrid and I saw the movie Valkyrie, based on the 20 July plot. During this event Colonel von Stauffenberg tried to kill Hitler in the Wolf’s Lair, one of Hitler’s most important military headquarters in the east of Europe.
Last year, we had already visited 2 places that were connected to this plot. We were at the Bendler Block, where von Stauffenberg and his staff had planned the attack and were executed afterwards. Ingrid and I had also been at the Plötzensee Memorial, where anybody else, who was – more or less or not at all – involved in the event, was beheaded or hanged.
The Wolf’s Lair was the only place we hadn’t visited. I was actually convinced that the place didn’t exist anymore, but Ingrid was too curious and did some research on the Internet … and proved me wrong. 5 minutes after her discovery I had booked a b&b, some 30 kilometers from the Wolf’s Lair.
The bunker where von Stauffenberg tried to kill Hitler is completely gone… but not forgotten:
There are moments when it all looks so idyllic, with those trees…
But most of the time, it’s impossible to ignore the huge ruins:
Or have a look at these pictures: the people look so tiny…
The complex counted more than 30 concrete bunkers: for Hitler, his personnel and staff members of the SS and Wehrmacht.
Finally, I think Ingrid did a great job with these pictures. What do you think?
You can find more information on the official website.
Lars and I started our visit to the Pomeranian coast in Miedzyzdroje, the most popular coastal town. We had actually underestimated how crowded this place was going to be. It took us more than 30 minutes to get rid of our car and afterwards we literally had to wade through a huge crowd of people in order to go to the beach. Miedzyzdroje is all about entertainment for young and old; think (beach) bars, restaurants, shops, tourist stalls and every kind of attraction imaginable. There is even a short Walk of Fame.
Another reason why people flock to Miedzyzdroje is its nearby nature park. But here we faced the same problem: lack of parking space. So we decided to go east, to the town of Kamien Pomorski. As soon as we arrived at the Rynek, we knew we had made the right decision.
Finally, some peace and quiet! Lars and I decided to do what the locals did: go for a stroll along the waterside…
… and have some fried fish and a cold beer:
The biggest and most beautiful landmark is the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, with its exquisite organ. We were very lucky, because when we arrived at the cathedral, an organ concert was about to start.
Afterwards, we went east to Mielno and Uniescie. According to our travel guide, these are 2 cozy coastal towns. Lars and I tend to disagree. Just watch the video:
Kolobzreg, on the other hand, was another delightful surprise. It is a health and seaside resort, with a very charming harbor and historic monuments.