Relacje » Pocztówki z Lubelszczyzny, 31 sierpnia 2007
Spending your holidays at home can be tricky. At first you immerse yourself in homey pleasures ... and after two days when you feel you're full with all the food, and your mouth is dry from answering all the questions your family asks you, well - you know you've had enough. And that is when having a bike proves useful. It did for me anyway.
I come from the eastern part of Poland, more specifically from a little town called Łuków (pronounced like "wookoof" for those who have problems with diacritic signs in Polish). It is located near three culturally diverse regions – Mazowsze, Lubelszczyzna and Podlasie and I wish I could say that Łuków's culture takes from all the three and thrives on them, but I cannot really. This town really is just a small, sleepy town.
Still – it is home, and I feel at home there. And more importantly, it is also a great place to just cycle around and enjoy the area. The landscape may not be breathtaking; its rather flat, getting hilly more in the south east, closer to Lublin, and further south. The soil is of average quality; there are some rivers, a lake here and there, and lots of forests, coniferous for a large part so with pines, spruces and other trees I cannot really name, which have this special scent and unforgettable sound when wind plays in the treetops. There are meadows with usually black and white cows (almost always called Mućka or Krasula) and fields that seem to stretch on and on.
That’s the countryside. If you want to get more civilised you can visit the cities, because there are a couple of them too. Lublin of course, the biggest town in the region, where architecture bears visible traces of Jewish influence, just like in most of the other cities in the region. Also, the city I heard described as having the prettiest square in Poland – Zamość, called the “pearl of Renaissance”. Very near to the west of Lublin: Nałęczów, Kazimierz, Puławy and Janowiec are worth dropping by. There are tons of old manor houses and quite a few palaces scattered around, one of my favourite is the one in Kozłówkahttp://www.muzeumkozlowka.lublin.pl/
This part of Poland is also the region where Catholic, Orthodox and Jewish religion coexisted for many years, and in some places they still do. So you can take a look at synagogues and Orthodox churches (Kostomłoty's and Terespol’s ones are in the pictures) and Catholic too. Most of them are located along the eastern border.
There are a lot of things I could write, but let me just say that all in all, it was a good month and I’m really glad I was able to discover and rediscover so many places here. Hope this is a bit of an encouragement to have a look around and enjoy!
P. S. 1. The pictures were taken mostly in the countryside in the northern part of the region; there are a few photos of Lublin, Kock, Kozłówka, Jeziorzany, Terespol, and some of the places on the way.
P. S. 2. A few technical details if you want to cycle in this part of Poland. These are just my extremely subjective observations.
Roads are varied, and that means varying from beautiful and new, “sponsored by the EU” type, to hardly rideable ones – either because of the sand or, more often, because of the horrible, horrible surface. So basically with a little effort everybody can find what they like ;)
There are very few railways, so I guess the most reasonable way to see most places in the region would be to plan a couple of days trip moving on all the time. The system where you go somewhere by train and then come back cycling would not really work here. I’m not quite sure about the places to stay for the night, but I don’t think finding an equivalent of B&B (called “gospodarstwo agroturystyczne” here) would be a problem.
You'd better have a good map with you since there aren’t too many official cycle routes. The ones in the southern part are not bad from what I heard, the biggest one is called Centraly Szlak Rowerowy Roztocza, and it goes all the way from Kraśnik, not far from Lublin, to Lvov, Ukraine.http://www.szlakirowerowe.lubelskie.pl/
As for animals, if you are not afraid of cows, you should be fine. Lots of people ride bikes (not in helmets though, so get ready for some really curious looks!) and dogs are usually quite used to. I haven’t seen any ticks in the forest, only squirrels and deer, there are also foxes and some wild boars, but not too many, so typical polish fauna, nothing too exciting.
People here are rather loud with their charming, soft accent, and also quite chatty, sometimes even a bit nosey, but really honest and usually helpful. It is not a very tourist-oriented region, not yet anyway, relatively cheap and clean as far as the environment is concerned, definitely calming down and relaxing surroundings.