Dunajec Gorge

Six word Saturday

The 3 Day Quote Challenge #3

 “Because in the end, you won’t remember the time you spent working in the office or mowing your lawn. Climb that goddamn mountain.”― Jack Kerouac

It’s the last day of my 3 Day Quote challenge, but it’s also Saturday, and we all know what that means.  I’m sure lovely Annika won’t mind sharing me, just this once.  I’ve found her some beautiful photographs of the Dunajec Gorge in Poland to say thank you.

The rules of the challenge :

  • Thank the person who nominated you.
  • Post a quote on 3 consecutive days.
  • Share why this quote appeals so much to you.
  • Nominate 3 different bloggers for each day.

I always loved the image of Jack Kerouac.  The spontaneity of his writing, the freedom of life on the open road.  I was desperate to be a part of it, to escape the everyday.  Mostly it was in my imagination.  I spent many, long years in an office.  So today, whenever I get the chance, I’m out there.  Never truly ‘On the Road’, but always aspiring.

My final nominees.  Take part if you’d like, or if you have the time :

Lovely Gilly at Lucid Gypsy

Brian at Bushboy’s World

And Patti of Pilotfish

If you’ve not been nominated and are itching to give this a go, please do.  Not all of the nominees are able to take part.  And please don’t forget your Six Words for Debbie.

My Call to Poland

Sukiennice, the impressive Medieval Cloth Hall, in  Kraków’s Rynek Glowny

You might call me unimaginative, but I’d never thought a great deal about Poland until that strange evening, 12 years ago, when Dad got a phone call from ‘home’.  For 64 years he’d had no contact with his Polish family, leaving the farm aged just 15, and in German custody.  That phone call turned our lives upside down.  Until then Dad had been my only Polish relative.  Imagine, overnight, you belong in an enormous family, who don’t even speak the same language as you.  But who welcome you with open arms.

That’s just how it was, and when Cathy asks ‘what is it that draws you to a place?’ then the lure of family surely has a part to play.  Over at Wanderessence she’s been exploring the reasons why we travel, and so much more.  I’ve always had that restless urge, but my first visit to Poland was a revelation.  I’ve never been hugged and kissed so much in my life.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  Outside of family and friends, Polish people are not normally smiling nor especially welcoming.  Given their history, they have good cause to hold a little in reserve.  But Dad was the long lost brother, and was treated like Polish royalty, while I followed along in his wake, smiling fondly but often with little real idea of what was going on.  The language barrier, you see.

Coach and horses have right of way in Rynek Glowny

The country looked so very different to the one I was used to calling home.  The chalet style houses looked different, out in the countryside.  One of the things I found really strange was that pipes often ran overhead alongside the country roads, rather than underground, as I was used.  But in the historic centres of the cities, the intricately painted and decorated facades had me stand and gaze in awe.   Kraków and Wrocław- I’ve been privileged to know both of these beautiful cities, because of my family.

Polish eating habits are different too.  Second breakfast, lunch at 3 in the afternoon, and cake before and after almost everything! (that must be where I get it from 🙂  )  In the previous year, I and my husband had acquired a holiday home in Portugal.  Totally different culturally and in climate too, yet I found myself wondering, if we had known of the existence of the Polish family sooner, would I have been looking for a house in Poland?  I suspect I might.  I’ve always had the sea on my doorstep, and Poland is landlocked on 3 sides.  The Baltic coast is too far from family, but I’ve always been drawn to lakes and mountains too.  A visit to the Pieniny Mountain range, and the spa resort Szczawnica, linger in my memory.  Rafting through the Dunajec Gorge was a totally unforgettable experience.

I have shared some wonderful times with my Polish family, and written about them extensively, while trying not to give embarrassment.  The series My Personal A-Z of Poland has many tales to tell.  Dad died in October 2016 and I haven’t been back to Poland since.  But I can still feel the call.  Writing Easter cards took me back into each of their homes.  New youngsters have been born since my last visit, but my elders are growing older and, in some cases, frail.  I’m feeling the need to return, just once more, before starting my new life in the Algarve.

Dad with Uncle Wlodek, at home in Zgorzelec

I’m linking this to Cathy, on her series A Call to Place.  The lady is a human dynamo, seeking to improve her travel writing and to entertain us along the way.  Pay her a call.  She’ll be so glad to see you.

Six word Saturday

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Polish memories tucked away- for now!

But it will take me a while to forget my boatman

But it will take me a while to forget my boatman

And the astounding scenery

And the astounding scenery

Of the Dunajec Gorge

In the Dunajec Gorge

You might have seen my river rafting post yesterday.  I had the best time!  And looking back I have so many more lovely memories from Poland, and that’s not even including the wedding.

Flower stalls at Borek Falecki market

I loved the flower stalls at Borek Falecki market

There's always something to see in the Rynek

And there’s always something to see in the Rynek

Or a horse who's all set to go

Like a horse and pretty lady, who’s all set to go

Cafe culture in the arcades of the Sukiennice

Cafe culture in the arcades of the Sukiennice

And we can't leave without one last piece of Polish cake

And I can’t leave without one last piece of Polish cake

I still have a few memories to share some day, but later this week I’m heading to the Algarve and you know I’ll bring a pocketful of memories back.  The laptop won’t be coming with me.  It’s in very poor health at the moment and needs a little expert attention.  The camera will, of course, but I haven’t used it since an unfortunate episode on Monday.  Wish me luck with that.

I won’t be here for Six word Saturday next week but I’m pretty sure I’ll find you all the following one.  Meantime, don’t forget to visit Cate at Show My Face to read this week’s posts.  And, most of all, enjoy your Saturday!

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Water : river rafting the Dunajec

The start point at Smorowce Nizne

The start point at Smorowce Nizne

Finally I reach the river rafting post, one of the highlights of my recent visit to Poland.  I think it fits quite well with Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge : Water.  It’s a subject that I love, though you might have to excuse the odd mountain creeping into the background.

Here come the rafts

Here come the rafts

And the experienced oarsman, of course

And the experienced oarsman, of course

And off we go!

And off we go!

The rafts have one older oarsman in the front, poleing skilfully and doing the commentary (po Polsku, of course!) while a younger model provides strength and endurance at the back.  We are very lucky with the day and the water is serene and calm.

A flat expanse of sunny water

A flat expanse of sunny water

We pass by the village of Czerwony Klasztor, in Slovakia

We pass by the village of Cerveny Klastor (Red Monastery), in Slovakia

With Trzy Korony (Three Peaks) visible on the Polish shore

With Trzy Korony (Three Peaks) visible on the Polish side

Under the bridge- don't forget to wave!

Under the bridge- don’t forget to wave!

Can you see the peaks of the Tatry Mountains in the distance?

Can you see the peaks of the Tatry Mountains in the distance?

We round a bend and the terrain changes completely

We round a bend and the terrain changes completely

For a while the boatman can sit and chat

For a while the boatman can sit and chat

And a party of school children are delighted to overtake us!

And a party of school children are delighted to overtake us!

The scenery is lush and green

The scenery is lush and green

Dwarfing us sometimes!

Dwarfing us sometimes

And naturally I get my bum wet in some of the faster eddies!

And, naturally, I get my bum wet in some of the faster eddies!

But all too soon the journey ends and we are pulling in to shore

But all too soon the journey ends and we are pulling in to shore

I hope you enjoyed my watery journey.  It took about 2 hours through the Dunajec Gorge, and ended up back at Szczawnica, where I was staying.  If you ever have the opportunity to go there, don’t hesitate.

But first you need to visit Cee, and have a little more fun with water.

Jo’s Monday walk : the Dunajec Gorge

Shall we start at the chair lift?

Shall we start at the chair lift?

To be fair, I have so many photos it’s hard to know where to start!  After the wedding, my Polish family were wonderfully indulgent of my wandering ways.  I had booked into an old wooden villa for a couple of nights, in the upper part of the thermal spa town of Szczawnica, right down on the border with Slovakia.

Why there?  Well, I already knew that the scenery in nearby Zakopane was beautiful.  Part of the Tatra Mountain range, it is renowned for Summer hiking and for Winter sports.  But, as always, I wanted to see somewhere new, yet still within reasonable distance of Kraków.  The Pieniny Mountains are not so high, nor so busy, and they have a beauty all their own.

Szczawnica (rough pronounced ‘Sh-chav-nitsa’) sits in the river valley of the Grajcarek, a tributary of the Dunajec River which forms the border with Slovakia.

Come with me on my walk, and see what you think.

Ok- so from the chair lift we're going to walk alongside the river

From the chair lift we’re going to walk alongside the river

Using this lovely boulevard

Using this lovely boulevard

And crossing some of the many bridges

And crossing some of the many bridges

And sometimes looking back to check the view behind

Not forgetting to look back to check the view behind- peaceful, isn’t it?

This was one of my favourite houses- just look at that roof!

This was one of my favourite houses- just look at that roof!

And always, the river, rushing along beside

And always, the river, rushing along beside

After many twists and turns the Grajcarek flows into the Dunajec, and the beckoning scenery becomes much more dramatic.

One of my reasons for choosing Szczawnica is that it sits at the end of a stretch of the Dunajec famed for river rafting.  Not the white knuckle ride that phrase might conjure up for you, but nevertheless, a strong test of the skills of the boatmen.  The Dunajec Gorge drew me to the area.

Szczawnica przystan, or marina

Szczawnica przystan, or marina

The view from the landing stage

The view from the landing stage

A peaceful island lures you for a closer look

A frail bridge lures you for a closer look

A rather strange bird, guarding his territory

At this strange bird, guarding his territory

And the empty benches

No wonder the benches are empty!

And you never know what might lurk in the caves

I wonder what might lurk in these caves?

But the flora are delicate and pretty

But the flora are delicate and pretty

The water and trees are so many different shades

The trees and water are a myriad of colour

But what's this, patiently waiting?

And what do we find, patiently waiting on the river bank?

Wooden canoe trips have been organised through the Gorge since the early 19th Century, when customers came primarily from nearby castles at Niedzica and Czorstyn (more of these in a later post).  The Gorge loops through the valley, the limestone rock reaching 300 metres in height almost all the way.  It makes for some very beautiful walking and cycling, not to mention the opportunity to river raft.

Gentle aquamarine

Hues of gentle aquamarine

Still and smooth

Still, smooth water

And interesting patterns in the cliff face

And interesting patterns in the cliff face

Light and shade

Wandering through light and shade

The shadows adding a layer of mystery

The deeper shadow adding an air of mystery

Families, walkers and cyclists all have access to this dramatic beauty, though Spring and Autumn are probably the times to see it at its peaceful best.  In Summer and on public holidays there are mountain huts where you can find food and information.

An interesting sign appears

I found this sign quite interesting

And then a further clue

And then a further clue- welcome to Lesnica, written in Slovak

Without realising it I had crossed over the border into Slovakia, part of which is formed by the River Dunajec.  It felt quite strange, and looking at the remaining distance to Cerwony Klastor (approximately 2 hours, according to the sign)  it seemed a good time to retrace my steps.  But not without first paying homage to one of the nation’s favourite sons, who loved to hike and ski in the mountains.

Just one more sign- a view dedicated to Karol Wojtyla (Pope John Paul II)

The view is dedicated to Karol Wojtyla (Pope John Paul II)

In no time at all I was back at the marina with a hard-earned beer

In no time at all I was back at the marina, with a hard-earned beer

Fast approaching, round a bend in the river, some boatmen!

Where I saw, fast approaching round a bend in the river, the boatmen!

But that needs to be the subject for another post.  For now, I’m hoping that you’ve enjoyed our Monday walk.  I certainly did!

If you’d like to join in, you’re more than welcome to add a link to a walk you’ve enjoyed in the comments, or to link back to me from your post.  Either way, I really don’t mind.  I try to keep it free and easy so you can join in any day of the week.  The more beautiful walks, the better- right?

Whilst I was in Poland, kind people continued to contribute walks to cheer me up on my return. I’m delighted to be able to share them with you.  Enjoy your walking.  See you next time.

 

Way out in Western Australia we have Pauline, walking on the foreshore :

http://pommepal.wordpress.com/2014/04/29/geraldton-foreshore-walk/

Sylvia is busy packing up her home in South Africa, but still found the time to cherish a few memories in her walk :

http://anotherday2paradise.wordpress.com/2014/05/09/sand-between-the-toes-for-jos-monday-walk-challenge/

Tish Farrell brought me back to her home in Much Wenlock, a beautiful part of Shropshire :

http://tishfarrell.wordpress.com/2014/04/28/much-lettered-at-much-wenlocks-poetry-festival/

A lovely surprise from a lady I’d not met, Gunilla, but will certainly spend some time with :

http://gbkoru.blogspot.fi/2014/05/bloggers-sunday-walk-spring.html

And last, but never least, my sunny friend from Virginia, USA- Cathy, with an arboretum walk :

http://catbirdinamerica.wordpress.com/2014/04/27/the-state-arboretum-of-virginia/

 

Here are some of this week’s walkers,

Paula has been to the zoo :

http://bopaula.wordpress.com/2014/05/12/a-visit-to-the-zoo-part-ii/

And Elaine introduced me to Finsbury Park in London :

http://elainemcnulty.wordpress.com/2014/05/12/a-walk-in-finsbury-park/

And who can resist Amy’s Iphoneography? (is that spelt right?)  What that girl can do with a flower!

http://shareandconnect.wordpress.com/2014/05/12/phoneography-for-jos-monday-walk/

We’re going to be busy reading this week, aren’t we?