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August in Poland. Mimosas in full bloom.
In Poland we often say that "Autumn starts with mimosas". Mimosas is a colloquial term for goldenrods. The plants you can see on the photo above. The words come from a love poem by Polish poet Julian Tuwim; however, most people associate it rather with its musical interpretation by one of the legends of Polish music Czesław Niemen. The title of the song is "Wspomnienie" [trans. by the author: A Memory]. Enjoy!
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If you are afraid of the Warsaw hustle and bustle and you think there is nothing special there and around, let me suggest an alternative destination to those of you who look for a moment of peace and would like not only to experience it, but also preserve this peace of mind after leaving the place. Let me invite you to Juan Soriano's Sculpture Park, a sublime combination of nature and art in the forest enclave of Owczarnia. Just 30 kilometers away from Warsaw.
When you reach the gates to Juan Soriano's Sculpture Park, you are welcome by a large silver plate with information about the founders of the park. The Foundation of Juan Soriano and Marek Keller and the Embassy of Mexico in Poland. Mexico seems to be the key to this remarkable place which expalins a lot about its unique character. You will for sure not find another such place in the area as Juan Soriano's Sculpture Park. This sense of Mexican touch is very strong here from the very moment you reach the impressive gates already recalling of a hacienda type of destination. As you follow the linden alley leading to the heart of the park your eyes already get caught by the sight of the first sculpture of the cow in the light of the alley only to be naturally recaptured by the view of the dynamic sculpture of the bullfighter and his realistic adversary on your left hand side.
In my opinion, this set of sculptures, I named corida, is one of the most powerful in its magnetism from all of the sculptures you will see in the park. I took me a longer while to admire the bullfighter's dynamism from all sides, I continued my walk down the path through the woods pondering upon the nature of this sculpture only to return to it again at the end of my walk and still not to be able to grasp it. This dynamic vision often comes up my mind and stands in front of my eyes.
A walk thorugh Juan Soriano's Park is an occasion not only to admire the unique works of art, but also to contemplate nature. The park is rich in many charming spots similar to the one above. It is one of my favorite spots where you can lean against the round pillars on the small bridge over a a babbling stream winding in the surrounding woods. Another one is one of the many benches situated on the path along the large pond, from where you can admire a nice view on a small gazebo amidst the pond on the other bank. Quite a secluded part of the park where you can enjoy a moment of solitude only to be disturbed by hunting fish the pond is abundant in.
A walk further down the path leads straight to the gazebo. Upon the entrance you are welcomed by the defiant look of the siren in bronze. I guess many women could see themselves in her like in a mirror and possibly realize the remarkable power they have over men thanks to their beautiful charms. She seems as if she tried to tell you: "You are nothing to me, but I want you to admire me."
The gazebo is shelter not only to a stunning viewpoint of the pond, its green surroundings and the water busy with colorful fish, but also to a hammock, where you can take a real rest and listen to the sounds of nature.
After this moment of relaxation I am finally ready to meet the challenge of confrontation with high art.
Juan Soriano's Sculpture Park is famous primarily for the bird sculptures. There are the main theme of most of the sculptures you will see here. After a while you will, however, discover that much more abstract questions stand behind these birds.
The question of origin of life. Of fertility. Of reproduction. Of birth. The above shown scuplture of the hen attracted my attention, because it stood out from the others. A hen? - I thought - What does a hen have to do with all these majestic birds? Only then I connected this sculpture with others of similar theme - origin of life, fertility, reproduction. I still ponder over the mystery behind the question why chicks do not hatch from all eggs. Maybe I have not found an answer to my question here, but yet another visual clue that might bring me closer to solving my question. The sculpture of the hen also reminded me of the x-ray tradition in the art of Australian Aborigines.
Sexuality is yet another question Juan Soriano tries to tame... for... in us?! I have never been in Mexico, nor have I ever studied Mexican culture, still I have this feeling that there is a big gap that distances Mexican and Polish cultures in terms of attitude to sexuality. I guess Mexican culture has a much more relaxed attitude to it. Personally, I do have a very conservative attitude to sexuality. I often feel insulted and ashamed by the way Polish contemporary culture, art, media use it. Juan Soriano takes a much more subtle approach to this subject in his works. Not so insolent. The pathway leads the viewer along the works in such a way that the subject is introduced gradually and naturally starting from apparently innocent representations of birds through allusions to origin of brith to end with strong accents of sexuality and fertility.
A walk thorugh the park ends naturally in a flowery garden with decorative white benches that invite you to sit down and take a moment of reflexion. It is also possibly the best moment to admire the corrida which gains on drama in the last rays o the setting sun.
My proposition to those of you who look for real initmacy in the middle of the holiday season in Białowieża - one of the most popular summer destinations in Poland right at the gates of the Białowieża Forest, one of the oldest primeval forests in Poland.
WHAT IS GLAMPING?
Have you ever heard of glamping? If not, let me explain it to you. It is yet another alternative to a regular camping, which combines standard hotel facilities (such as, for example, shower, comfortable bed) and outdoor charms (intimacy, contact with nature, independence). It can take different forms usually of freestanding constructions, such as: a tent, yurt, airstream, pod, igloo, hut, villa, cabin, cube, teepee or treehouse. To put it short, a glamorous camping. Surprisingly, Poland can also compete in this worldwide trend. Let me present you one of such Polish unique glamping ideas with a remarkable historical background. A perfect example of Polish fantasy. The Drzymała's wagon, which is the key attraction of the accomodation Ranczo pod Gwiazdami* in Białowieża.
* trans. by the author: The Ranch Under the Stars
GLAMPING IN POLAND - HISTORY COMES FULL CIRCLE
THE DRZYMAŁA'S WAGON
It may seem that we have no chance to compete with the world in the field of glamping. And yet! Ranczo pod Gwiazdami offers one of the most original ideas inspired by Polish history. The Drzymała's wagon. Once a symbol of the fight against germanization under Prussian rule. At the turn of the 20th century Michał Drzymała, Polish peasant, living in the Greater Poland region under the Prussian regime, opposed the authorities who denied him permission to build a house on his own land. He came up with the idea of buying a circus wagon and turning it into his home. The authorities argued that a wagon standing in one place for more than 24 hours is a regular house, so Drzymała was slightly moving the wagon every day and, thus, also provoking growing reluctance of the authorities. Finally, the authorities removed the wagon and soon after Drzymała sold the plot. The case of Michał Drzymała gained notoriety not only in Poland, but also in Europe. Drzymała became a Polish hero. Today, as you will see, Drzymała's idea was successfully adapted to the needs of tourism and stands for a new quality of independence this time available to everyone.
RANCZO POD GWIAZDAMI
Ranczo pod Gwiazdami is my proposition for these of you who want to enjoy a perfect stay in Białowieża. Let me present you with all its advantages.
The ranch is situated on the outskirts of Białowieża, a small Polish city on the Polish-Belarusian border, away from the center of the city usually crowded and noisy in the summertime. Here amidst forests and meadows you can enjoy silence and solitude, and real contact with nature under the starry sky. The Drzymała's wagon is located on a large green fenced plot at considerable distance from the asphalt road rarely used by cars if not for the sake of reaching the housholds sparsely distributed in the area. You can enjoy real intimacy here as the ranch offers a large green space entirely for their guests.
There is also no electricity or canalization here. These potential disadvantages were successfully overcome by the application of innovative and eco-friendly solutions such as portable toilet and shower facilities, water heater on solar batteries and LED lighting solutions. Personally, I enjoyed most the portable pressurized shower. It gave me a lot of fun! It is a special container you fill with water and opperate manually by pushing a button on the handle similar to the one in regular showers. There are no batteries to change. No pumping is necessary. It is just pure pleasure! Drzymała's wagon has a seperate small but comfortable enough space to be used as shower cabin/ bathroom where you can enjoy privacy. Do not worry about charging the batteries in your laptop, camera or mobile - the owner offers such a possibility in his household situated nearby.
Opposite the shower cabin there is also a small kitchenette with all the necessary equipment, such as a portable tourist gas cooker, pots, dishes, cutlery, tea-towels and so on. You do not really need to take any of those with you. Everything is included in the price of the accomodation. The sink together with the term which operates on solar batteries is situated outside the wagon. The same thing concerns the portable toilet hidden in a nicely woven wooden compartment. Wooden fencing additionally divides you from the range of sight of passersbys so you can fully enjoy your privacy here.
HOTEL STANDARD ON FOUR WHEELS
In addition, the interior of the wagon offers comfortable bed on a platform for two with a small window overlooking the surrounding wild and peaceful flowery meadows and dense forests. Bedding is, of course, also included in the price. The platform hides a table frame which you can pull out whenever you feel like sitting on the comfortable wooden shelf with lots of cushions and having a coffee, playing cards or doing other things. The interior was designed in an intelligent way so to economize as much as possible on the space used. Apart from the above you will find lots of other useful things inside, such as: wall mirror, shelf, books, local leaflets, candles and so on.
TAKE A CHANCE ON A ROMANTIC EVENING
Apart from all the above, there is also a separate space for a fireplace with all the necessary facilities, including wood, ax, grill, benches. Lack of street lighting enables to enjoy the beauty of the night sky, which is remarkably starry here. If it is not enough for you, you can always take a romantic walk under the moon in the labirynth of live fence situated right next to the wagon.
EXPLORING BIAŁOWIEŻA AND ITS SURROUNDINGS
The ranch is a perfect starting point for the exploration of Białowieża with its primeval forest. You can do it on bicycles which are also included in the price of the stay at the ranch. Prepare yourself well for the trip, especially if you plan to cycle off the main trails. Białowieża forest is one of the last and largest remaining parts of the immense primeval forest that once stretched across the European Plain. You may encounter many obstacles on the trails, such as protruding roots, puddles or mud. It is also possible it might rain. For sure, a cycling trip is a great idea if you want to enjoy nature to its fullest and there are many beautiful places here and around, including Belarussia - just 4 kilometeres to the border from Białowieża. As far as Białowieża is concerned, I would recommend to see the white Białowieża Palace, once a train station, today shelter to an elegant tearoom, mini botanic garden with many sculptures of animals you can meet in local forests, corner of small naturalist and playground.
You shall also take a walk in the local park, visit the Musuem of the Białowieża Nature and Forest, drop by the European Bizon Reserve. Apart from the above it is also worth visiting the neighbouring cities of Hajnówka and Bielsk Podlaski, especially to have a taste of the remarkable architecture of colorful Orthodox churches which remind me personally of fairy tale castles.
And do not forget about degustation of regional delicacies! Kartacze* are an absolute must on your menu list!
* Lithuanian potato dumplings filled with minced meat served with greaves
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POLAND FOR BEGINNERS
Hi! My name is Victoria. Welcome to my personal travel photoblog about Poland created especially for you, my foreign friends, who are curious about Poland!
English philologist and film editor by education. Translator by occupation. A lover of my motherland Poland and globetrotter with journalist ambitions. Passionate about photography. I love traveling, active way of spending time and contact with nature. Experience and explore - that is what drives me! I am on the look for happy islands.