Szczawnica

‘S’ is for Szczawnica

Plac Dietla and Cafe Helenka

Plac Dietla and Cafe Helenka, in the upper town

Well, where else should it be?  If you saw my Monday walk this week, you’ll know that I have a new Polish love in my life.  The thermal spa town Szczawnica in the very south of Poland, where it meets Slovakia, was a rich discovery for me.

Alkali sorrel springs and a temperate climate make this an ideal base for the treatment of respiratory and digestive ailments.  In the mid 19th century a doctor, Jozef Dietl, saw the potential and began the development of  hydrotherapy treatments unique to Poland at the time, turning Szczawnica into a spa town.  An Inhalatorium equipped with pressurised rooms was built, and in the woods, Willa pod Modrzewiami (villa under the larches).

The start of World War II halted developments and in 1948 the spa was nationalised by the government and used for the treatment of miners and metalworkers.  It was not until 2005 that the ownership of the resort was returned to descendants of the Stadnicki family, the pre-war owners of the estate.  They invested hugely to restore the spa to its former glory.  Dietl Square was rebuilt to its historical design, with Cafe Helenka at its core, and, in 2oo9, 5 star Modrzewie Park hotel replaced the villa.  A museum dedicated to the project soon followed.

Fretwork shadows

Wood is everywhere- I love these delicate fretwork shadows

Cafe Helenka and its wide terrace

Cafe Helenka, in its lovely situation

Facing it, across Plac Dietl, the spa museum

Facing it, across Plac Dietl, the spa museum

Brightened for me by a flurry of Spring flowers

Down in the lower town, a flurry of Spring flowers!

the park

The park is a lush green

No shortage of water

And naturally, there’s no shortage of water!

There are pretty riverside walks

There are pretty riverside walks

And bridges by the dozen!

And bridges by the dozen!

And did you ever see a quirkier souvenir kiosk?

And did you ever see a quirkier souvenir kiosk?

Not for us the 5 star hotel!  I had chosen to stay in a lovely old dark wood chalet, ‘Willa Danusia’, in the upper town overlooking Plac Dietl.  Naturally that meant a steep climb home on an evening, but there’s always a price, isn’t there?  Inside the villa, the wood was pale, while the view from our lofty porch provided wonderful views.

One evening we dined handsomely in the ‘Willa Marta’ in the lower town.  It also was constructed from dark wood, but most of the town had a more modern appearance.

'Willa Danusia', high on the hill

‘Willa Danusia’, high on the hill

'Willa Marta', hotel and restaurant

‘Willa Marta’, hotel and restaurant

An evening stroll through the upper town gave me a chance to breathe deeply and make the most of the tranquil atmosphere. I know that I felt better, just for being there!

Nymphs in the woods

There are nymphs to admire in the woods

Looking down on the square

Playing their pipes

Stylish hotels

And 5-star Modrzewie Hotel, among the larches

The picture of health?

The picture of health?

As the light fades the fountains begin to change colour

As the light fades the fountains begin to change colour

Glimmering in the dusk

Glimmering in the dusk

Evening falls

The lights come on around the square

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Looking down, we climb the hill back up to the villa

From the porch the tiniest crescent of moon is visible

From the porch the tiniest crescent of moon is just visible- can you see it?

Just visible through the trees, from our porch

While down below, the lights twinkle goodnight

‘Romantykaly’, as they say in Poland.

Willa Danusia cost almost nothing for a basic bedroom and a very fine breakfast.  Willa Marta was perhaps a little more stylish but definitely wouldn’t break the bank.

I had intended my ‘S’ post to be all about the Sukiennice in Krakow.  Maybe I’ll find time to write a second.  Meantime I’d like to thank Frizz for providing the incentive this week with Tagged ‘S’, and also Julie Dawn Fox for her Personal A-Z Challenge.  I can promise you a wonderful read at either website, and perhaps you’d like to join in with the challenges?

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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?