Jo’s Monday walk : Las Wolski and Bielany

The spires of Bielany above the tree line

The spires of Bielany monastery, above the tree line

Every time we drive out to Balice, Kraków’s airport, I can’t help but look skywards at Bielany monastery, high above the tree tops. On the last day of my recent visit, I finally achieved my ambition to see it up close.  Well- the outing didn’t go quite to plan!

If you saw my Six word Saturday you’ll know that the day started damp and drizzly but, undeterred, my cousin Adam drove us out to the Las Wolski woods and deposited us there.  My rainproof jacket was about to be tested again.

A long sweep of pebbly drive carried us upwards through dense greenery and opened out at a large car parking area.  We had reached the zoo!  At 10 in the morning nobody much was about- just one inquisitive red squirrel, who didn’t stop to chat.  We debated what to do while the weather cleared, and the zoo seemed a reasonable option.

The path through the woods

The path through the woods

Zoological gardens!

Zoological gardens!

I don't know that I expected to find elephants in the woods!

I don’t know that I expected to find elephants in the woods

But the meerkats were keeping a sharp lookout!

But the meerkats were keeping a sharp lookout

While the peacocks performed a merry dance

While the peacocks performed a merry dance

But my out and out favourite was this fella

My out and out favourite was this shy fella

And his friends- messy eaters, aren't they?

And his friends- messy eaters, aren’t they?

But awfully good at posing!

But great at posing!

The sun was breaking through in patches by the time we left the zoo.  A map gave us a rough direction, so into the dappled sunlight and shade we went, full of hope.  It was really just a case of follow your nose.  At crossroads I always defer to Michael’s choice because I never get it right! It was a lovely woodland wander, but the clues were scarce.

Excuse the grafitti'd map

Excuse the grafitti near Bielany!  You are here?

Finding a clearing with a woodcutter busy at work, I dug into the phrase book for the Polish word for monastery- klasztor!  It didn’t sound quite right, but the woodcutter wasn’t phased by a grinning idiot in the woods.  He waved his saw in an uphill direction, which seemed to make sense.  It definitely would be at the top of a hill.

And so it was!  The sun was radiant by now and the photo opportunity had me skipping forward, camera at the ready.

The entrance to the monastery

The entrance to the monastery

Promising, isn't it?

Promising, isn’t it?

And in the doorway, even better!

And in the doorway, even better!

The temptation was too great.  By now, you know that Michael had retreated to a safe distance. He didn’t want to incur the wrath of the monks!  A sign by the door gave the opening times, and it seemed the last tour was at 11.30.  It was now 11.45!  If only we’d walked faster, or not spent so long with those giraffes.

Tentatively, I rang the bell, and waited.  And waited.  No sound from behind the doors.  Should I ring again? Michael’s expression, from far away, down the path, suggested not, but what the heck! I had my idiot English grin at the ready. Still- nothing!  They must be deep in prayer within?  I had to content myself with taking what photos I could from the grassy courtyard.

If only I could get closer!

If only I could get closer!

It looked so intriguing!

It looked so intriguing!

But there was nothing else to do but make our way down to the road, and seek out a bus back to the centre.  It was a glorious afternoon and we spent our final hours in Kraków by the river.

Arriving home at teatime, I explained our adventures to the family, to be greeted with hilarious laughter.  It seems that the monastery is open to the public just one day in the year.  And to men only!  Next time perhaps I should do a little more research before my walk.  But back in the UK, I found this link, on Wikipedia.  Confused?  Me too, but I hope you enjoyed the walk anyway.

I’ve been sharing Monday walks for a while now, and I love it!  Can’t wait to see where you take me this week.  You can post a link in the comments below or in the body of your post, whichever you like.  And no, you don’t have to walk on a Monday!  I will add your link to the bottom of my post next week so that everybody gets to see them all.  Half the fun is sharing!  Happy walking!

Here are last week’s walks :

Don’t miss Pauline’s scarecrow-

Or Yvette’s video-

And you just know you’ll get a lovely poem with Viv-


  1. Great post again ….. Jo! Love the peacock … showing off big time. Otherwise I have very mixed feeling about Zoo set ups. I love what that 7th earl of Bath in England dose animal park on his estate,Longleat. Don’t like wild animals keep in small areas. Your shots of the animals are great … and your walk is magical as always.

  2. I loved your walk this week Jo. I am intrigued by the zoo – I would like to think that the animals are happier in that environment than some others I have seen.

    1. I’m busy constructing tomorrow’s walk, Colline. No animals this time 🙂 It did seem quite a happy zoo. Certainly the parties of school children who trooped through enjoyed it.

  3. Stunning shots as usual Jo. I so loved to see the beautiful animals and what a lovely walk that was indeed. They do look happy. A pity I wasn’t there with you. Those monks would have heard me for sure and let us in. I don’t do discrimination. 😆

    1. I don’t think they do, Sonel- they just don’t like(or aren’t allowed to like?) women 🙂 I can live with it!
      It was a lovely walk anyway. Thanks, darlin. If I needed moral support, I’d know where to come 🙂

      1. I think it’s more of an issue that we might make them realise what they’re missing Jo. hahahahaha. I can live with that as well. LOL!

        Will always be here for that moral support hon. 😀 ♥ Big Hugs ♥

  4. Oh Jo, this is such a hilarious story. At least you did meet a cute meerkat and some elegant giraffes along the way. This reminds me of the day I ventured to the south of Crete to Preveli Monastery, only to find they had just closed the doors for a 3 hour break! At least they were open every day, and to men and women!! So funny. It still sounds like you had a lovely time and met some interesting characters along the way. 🙂

    1. Michael really wasn’t amused when I insisted on seeing if there was another entrance or better view afterwards, Cathy. You can imagine! I’d try the patience of a saint 🙂

      1. Yes, Jo, yesterday I went to the Franciscan Monastery and to a winery in western Virginia. It was a lovely day. Today I hate to admit I’ve been lazy, but I should go out. Heading to a light dinner and movie tonight with Mike.

      2. Yes, we’re getting along well, but there is still no decision. He’s even supportive of me going abroad again because he knows I’m happiest when I can have freedom to travel. He might even travel with me, but it could only be rarely because of his job. He can’t take off work much. I want the financial independence to travel some on my own. You know, Jo, it’s not just the travel though. I love the whole challenge and immersion experience of living abroad.

      3. Yes, I can understand that. You’re lucky to have someone who will try to understand. I’m in your Franciscan post now 🙂

      4. Yes, maybe it will be good for us this way. He likes to travel but in a very limited way, and you know me!! He is good to me and I think he does want me to be happy. I’m just not sure if he still has any real feelings for me.

      1. Yes one day at a time and loving life a quiet one but nice 🙂 clean, plant, play paint 🙂

  5. What a lovely zoo in the woods! Love elephants and the giraffe photo is adorable. Interesting about the monastery too! A fascinating day’s walk this Jo, unusual in every sense of the word and really enjoyed it, thank you 🙂

    1. Got to get all these Polish memories out of my head and onto… what shall I call it? not paper or celluloid, but I’m sure you know what I mean, Sherri. I could spend my life doing this (sometimes feels like I do!) but ‘life’ gets in the way! Thanks for listening to my rambles 🙂

  6. You have a walker’s sense of direction, Jo, and your instincts got you to the monastery. I think you did pretty good considering you couldn’t get inside. One day a year! That doorway was beautiful. At least you got that close to the heaven inside. 🙂

    1. I definitely should get points for effort, Lynne 🙂 It was still worthwhile (though Michael might disagree). I have partially satisfied my curiosity, after all these years.

      1. I’m watching the Chelsea Flower Show coverage on TV too, so not all work, Amy, and it’s really never work when you love it 🙂

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