A few people have asked me our location in Poland and whilst I may have occasionally dropped hints and names into posts I have never really explained in depth, so I thought I would try and provide a few links to explain our location and provide a feel for the surrounding area.
This post will eventually become a page at the top of the blog so if you would like any specific information added about the area or available activities then please let me know and I will amend accordingly. Remember we want to take guests in in the future so this will hopefully become a guide for guests.
The nearest village is that of Pstrągowa although we tend to use the village of Czudec for any shopping trips; it has a population of about three thousand and as a consequence has more than just the one shop; the journey through the forest is also great fun in our trusty Niva 🙂 We have friends nearby who own a number of four wheel drive vehicles and they have toyed with the idea of providing excursions over some of the more challenging terrain, so watch this space.
The area caters well for walkers and mountain bikers, with many marked routes and paths through fields and forest. The laws in Poland allow free roaming over private land, provided there are no signs displayed stating the opposite. Mushroom picking is the national pastime and foraging trips will be organised when the season allows.
The City of Rzeszow is around 30-40 minutes away by car and we visit there on the first Sunday of every month to check out the antiques fair; it could be described as a flea market but I thought I should big it up as its amazing to see what they have for sale; from war time antiquities to hand crafted copper baths! I will do a post about it after our next visit. A trip to Rzeszow also gives you the chance to peruse the big name shops which seem to be springing up all over since the expansion of the airport. Rzeszow itself has quite a history and can be an interesting day out if you visit the old parts of the city even if you can’t help but notice the communist influence on some of the buildings as the town expanded. In the summer there are a number of cultural festivals with food and music often laid on for free in the central square.
Back to the ranch and the countryside; it’s the reason we choose to settle where we did and the Google map below gives you a good idea of how remote the area is. Try the co-ordinates below to explore the area on Google Maps and Google Earth
This is part of the real charm for us, only one road in, no close neighbours and a reassuring number of green tones on the map. And even though the land is predominantly agricultural, a big farm in considered big at 10 hectares (24 acres) and most are just 1 or 2ha; many of which are no longer farmed. The farming also seems to be done in a traditional way and the only additive I have seen used is lime and copious amounts of animal manure. Odd, to me, is the lack of boundary walls or fences; with the exception of the occasional electric fence to protect against wild boar, most fields are left with a little strip of scrub land to mark their border.
One of our closest neighbours runs a dairy farm of around 18 cows so many of the surrounding fields are devoted to fodder crops and hay; he is obviously doing well as he is the only farmer in the area with a tractor registered in this millennia. The standard mechanised plough puller predates my birth and there are a number of Heath Robinson devices running around, built by the ever industrious and inventive farmers of the land; horses are also still used by many and it’s not unknown to see ploughs pulled my manpower alone! We buy our milk from a small nearby farm and the hand milked white stuff is delivered by one of their children when ever we need any; one day we hope to produce our own.
There is no denying that this is the poorest region of Poland, but for me that makes it the richest.
As you would imagine all this countryside lends itself to bird and nature watching and we are lucky to have a pair of buzzards that nest close by; I have enjoyed watching them bring up their young for the last two seasons and the acrobatic training can be mesmerizing. As well as the wide variety of bird species deer and fox are a common sight, not to mention slow worms, lizards and newts; I hope to study and learn more about the diversity once we are settled. It’s also worth mentioning that in this remote area, devoid of street lights, the night skies are dark and clear; perfect for the stargazers out there.
Despite the natural beauty that surrounds us we still like to travel to the Bieszczady Mountains and we have scaled many of the peaks on our trips there; it is very reminiscent of the Lake District without the lakes, with the exception of Solina which you pass by on the way. Many of the hill tops go beyond 1000 meter (3280 ft.).
It only takes a few hours to drive there and once there you have a choice of hostels, hotels and lodging houses to choose from depending on your required level of luxury. We normally stay in one of the Hostels at around 25 Pln (£5) per night; communal kitchen’s and dining areas are the norm, but they are always warm and inviting and you have he opportunity to meet some interesting people. The StayPoland website is a great source of information if you are wondering what you can get up to in the area.
I have yet to ski in Poland, but it is something I hope to do in the future and as well as Bieszczady we have a few more local slopes within an hours drive; nothing too taxing, but more than a challenge for my armature talent.
Of course there are many other things to see in the area, the history of old Poland is all around and there are state funded outdoor museums named skansen throughout the country. They normally cover a wide area of land and showcase the buildings of the last three or four centuries, which are painstakingly moved from their original location and reconstructed on site to create mini villages through the ages. These include some very impressive wooden churches that have survived many hundreds of years.
I love to visit them whenever we come across a new one, especially enjoying the frequent open days showing how life was in the past; artisan craft demonstrations, food markets and enactments of past farming practices, all make for a great day out.
Krakow is around a two hour Journey and has so much to offer that it would warrant several pages, so I’ll leave it to the experts and point you in the direction of http://www.krakow-info.com/ ; the site has a few less adverts than your usual city guide. My personal favourite place to visit is the historic square, which has yet to succumb to the madness of weekend ‘stag do’ tourism; it does happen, but the seedier industries that normally go hand in hand with this kind of weekend are hidden away and tend not to spill out into the street.
I feel I should also mention the Milk Bar which serves a traditional Polish set menu for less than a fiver, fantastic food and one of the few times we actually eat out; well worth hunting down.
I just noticed I’m into 1300 words so I can imagine this post will be broken down further when it becomes a page; so if you would like me to add anything then I’d appreciate your feedback, what would you like to do on a holiday to Poland?