Beginning of April. Spring in full bloom. The sailing season has just begun and more and more boats dare to face the capricious sea. The sun is just about to rise over the Baltic Sea. The symbol of the Polish freedom. Today is going to be a sunshiny day for sailors!
If you liked this post, leave a comment or visit my official fb profile Poland for Beginners.
As you have already learnt from my previous posts, Polish winters can be cold, snowy and icy. Still there are many ways to tame this apparently unpleasant conditions and enjoy oneself! Winter swimming is one of them. In Poland we call it morsowanie. The term derives from the inhabitant of the Artic Ocean of the North Pole - the flippered marine mammal walrus. It comes as no suprise then that some call the female passionates of this winter activity - the phocas ;)
Before you undress and jump into the water, warm-up. Alone...
...or in a group. Winter swimming is best if practiced in a group. Remember to keep yourself moving all the time until you finally jump in the water.
SWIMMING IN AN ICE HOLE
Some believe that the essence of winter swimming is to jump into the water in a specially cut ice hole. Personally I believe that the sea or lake do not necesarilly have to be frozen in order to enjoy winter swimming. This year the thickness of ice on the suberbian Zegrzyńskie Lake was 25 centimers. Impressive, indeed.
HOW TO PREPARE TO FULLY ENJOY ONESELF
Many winter swimmers swim with standard swimming costumes rather than with wetsuits or other thermal protection. However, it is worth making an investment at least in neoprene shoes or socks, at best also in neoprene gloves. Just as the ones used by divers. It will make winter swimming much more pleasant, indeed. It is also worth wearing a cap. Feet, hands and head are said to be the body parts most vulnerable to loose heat. Therefore, you should take special care to protect them properly. After swimming better have your things prepared and ready to change quickly. A thermos full of hot tea would also do you well!
WHERE CAN YOU PRACTICE WINTER SWIMMING
You can practice winter swimming practically everywhere. Groups of winter swimmers function practically in every Polish city and usually are open and free of charge to everyone: children, youth, elderly people. Everyone can try winter swimming out! To find out more about winter swimming in Poland, check out the publications on this website: https://www.facebook.com/groups/498787166845867/ or write directly to me and I will help you out with all the necessary information.
If you liked this post, leave a comment or like my official fb profile Poland for Beginners.
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
If you liked this post, let me invite you to my official fb profile: https://www.facebook.com/polandforbeginners/
THREE REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD GIVE A DIVE A TRY
If you think just now "No, I never gonna do it", I can tell you it comes as no surprise to me. It is exactly what I have been thinking before I finally made the first dive in my life.
MY FIRST INTRO
It was a totally spontaneous idea which came up my mind during my second stay by Lake Hańcza, Poland. I have not even considered it prior to my departure there and I was lucky, because if I did, I would probably find 100 and one reasons not to do it. A day was enough for numerous people to stir up my doubts to the maximum. Fortunately, it was nothing new to my instructor, Jarek Bekier from C.N. Banana Divers, who immediately put me to the ground. A good instructor (dive partner) is a treasure.
DIVING IS SAFE
Diving is absolutely safe if only you keep calm and be reasonable. Besides it is never so that you go underwater alone. First, you have to perform an introductory dive, so called Intro, which is always done with an instructor - you hold his arm during the whole dive which is no deeper than 6 meters or less depending on your comfort. The same thing concerns the diving course and further dives. It is always up to you how deep you dive. There are numerous reasons you should give it a try at least once in a lifetime. And do it here by Lake Hańcza in Poland. Let me give you 3 reasons:
1.GAIN A NEW EXPERIENCE
Trust me diving is a great experience! It is almost as if you were flying. I guess it must be exactly how cosmonauts feel in the space. Weightlessness. Indeed, on the surface divers look clumsy and I must admit they also feel clumsy. Like ducks. But as soon as you immerse in water this whole burden you carry on your back disappears as if a magic wand has touched you. C.N. Banana Divers is not only the best equipped and open all year diving base in the region, but it also has a very experienced crew who will do its best to make the first dive a fantastic and unforgettable eperience to you. If you do it once, you will for sure want more. It was my case - I came back to make an Open Water Diver course here because of the people and good memories from the Intro, though in the meantime I had a chance to make it in more spectacular circumstances - the Australian Great Barieer Reef. What makes diving a great experience to me are first and foremost the people and the people who make C.N. Banana Divers are just great!
2. DISCOVER THE UNDERWATER WORLD
I know what you're thinking: "If I want to see the underwater world, I will go to the zoo and watch the fish in the aquarium or watch a film on Youtube. It wil be the same." Well, not quite. When you dive, you also interact with fish and vice versa. You can almost touch them. It often happens that you can also be object of interest for the fish. Predatory perch, for example, loves bubbles so he will always accompany you on the shallower waters. Besides, fish look totally different in natural environment than in capture, especially if you can watch them from the same underwater perspective and not through the glass or lense of the camera. They are almost transparent and glittering with all the colors of the rainbow.
3. ENJOY THE EXCEPTIONAL NATURAL ENVIRONMENT
Lake Hańcza is famous for its first-class water. The water is really crystal clear here. You can admire fauna and flora even from the platform on the public beach. There are places where transparency of water reaches up to 6 meters. There are also many rare species of fish which can be seen only in Lake Hańcza. The lake is situated in Suwalski Landscape Park on the side of the main routes. Therefore nature remains rather intact here. Besides, it is the deepest lake in Poland and also in the middle of the European Plain. In its deepest point it is over 108 meters deep. Another good reason to perform a dive here! Just imagine your friends' faces when you tell them that you have dived in the deepest lake in Central Europe!
Well, I hope I have convinced you! If you have any questions, you're welcome!
HAVE A NICE DIVE!
If you liked this post, let me invite you to my official fb profile: https://www.facebook.com/polandforbeginners/
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.