Posts tagged Eastern Europe
Visiting Rabka Zdrój and Hiking Solo In the Gorce Mountains, Poland

Don't be afraid to modify your plans mid-way, you can discover some true gems that way!

When I was hiking in the Island Beskids, I didn't enjoy them much. I liked the views - all mountains are beautiful, but the hiking was boring, horribly tiring, and just not much enjoyable. I started to questions my initial plan to spend all my five days on the red trail, so-called the "Small Trail of Beskids". I decided to go to Myślenice and take a local bus to Rabka Zdrój, one of the most famous spa towns in the Polish mountains.

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Female & Solo Hiking in the Polish Beskid Wyspowy (the Island Beskids)

The beginning of May in Poland is called Majówka. As the 1st and the 3rd of May are state holidays, it’s not only a chance for a long weekend but if you are lucky (and can take some days off) a nice long week of spring break.

This year I decided to head to the Polish mountains for my Majówka. I hoped for a pretty long trip – 8 days but had to cut it to just five because of work-related responsibilities. I wanted to go and see some places I haven’t had a chance to explore yet. I know Beskid Śląski (the Silesian Beskids) pretty well but there is much more to the east of it, where I had never had a chance to hike.

I decided to go to Beskid Wyspowy (The Island Beskids). It’s rather less popular of the various Beskids ranges so I thought it would be the perfect hiking destination.

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The Dohany Great Synagogue in Budapest, Hungary. Simply Marvelous!

I am really happy that sometimes my full-time job sends me to awesome places. A while ago I took part in a conference for teachers run by Centropa. It took place in Budapest where I had never been before. Together with my fellow colleague sharing the trip, we went a day early to wander through the fascinating streets of Hungary’s capital. I was in awe of the architectural beauty of the city. But the best came from the guided tour of the Jewish district. The main point of this tour was a visit to the Dohany Great Synagogue – the biggest synagogue in Europe and second biggest in the world.

Now, I’ve seen many synagogues in my life. I’ve been to old and new ones, prayed in some tiny shuls and huge American temples. But this one… this one is something else! Its uniqueness lies not only in its size but some unprecedented architectural choices. You can learn a lot about the local Jewish community by observing its praying houses – you can see their wealth (or lack thereof), affiliation, praying styles or influences of the local culture.

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Hiking with Anxiety: the Kampinos National Park Edition

I really love fall. The changing colors, crispy cold mornings, the earthy smell of moist soil and mushrooms. But in the battle between nice views and anxiety, the last one usually wins.

You see, I hate leaving my apartment. I know, I’m a travel blogger, you would think I can’t wait to just run out screaming “I’m going for an adventure” in my best Bilbo voice. But I don’t. Even though I feel really good when I’m out in Nature, alone, calmer, it’s hard to go. If only I could teleport directly to the slopes of mountains or lake’s shore out in the wild…

The process of getting ready, planning and leaving my home is filled painfully with anxiety. And even when I'm finally at my destination, it never is free of it... hiking for me is always hiking with anxiety. I guess I should have made it a name for my blog. Or maybe hiking while anxious? :)

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POLIN Museum in Warsaw: Visit the Best Museum in Europe.

Are you ready to get your mind blown?

Go to the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews.

Surprised? 

This is not your old school museum with dusty artifacts and long, boring descriptions of events no one cares about reading. This is one of the most beautiful museums in the world. And it is not just my opinion!

By the long list of awards it has received over the past few years it is pretty obvious a lot of important people think so, too. In 2016 POLIN Museum won the title of the European Museum of the Year Award (EMYA 2016). In the Jury's statement we can read:

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Best Day Hikes in the Silesian Beskids: From Wisła Głębce through Stożek Wielki to Wisła Dziechcinka

Recently, over a long weekend break (May the 1st), I went to Wisła for a short hiking trip.

This is the heart of the Silesian Beskids Mountains and a great place to make your base for a number of day hikes.

My third day of hiking in the Silesian Beskid Mountains proved the most beautiful and the shortest. The weather was just wonderful and sunny.  This year we have been having a really long winter, with gloomy, cold days so this change was more than welcomed.

To read more on why the Silesian Beskid Mountains are a hiker's paradise, check this post. I'm sure you will agree and come hiking around Wisła!

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Best Day Hikes in the Silesian Beskids: From Ustroń through Czantoria and Soszów to Wisła

For my second day hike from Wisła (pronounce: viswa) in the Silesian Beskids Mountains, I decided to start in Ustroń and walk back toward my hotel.

It's a nice linear trail with a pleasant mixture of challenging ascents and steep downhill treks with lovely and easy walking.

There is a lot of forest hiking with enough clearings and meadows to satisfy anyone's longing for mountain views.

If you want, you can stop to eat something hot on your way as there are a few options close to Czantoria and Soszów.

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Best Day Hikes in the Silesian Beskids: From Wisła Center, a Loop Through Stary Groń and Salmopol

Hiking in the Silesian Beskid is just wonderful. Go solo or grab a few friends  - you will have a great time!

You can use the day hikes I created or try to make your own combination.

The site mapa turystyczna is a really handy tool. Yes, it's in Polish, but it's really intuitive and you can quickly figure out how it works. It will show you the distances and elevation.

There are quite a few possible combinations of trails to create day hikes in the Silesian Beskids Mountains near Wisła.

A lot of it depends on where you found your hotel/room and your hiking needs and fitness levels. Hiking with just a day backpack takes a lot of weight off your shoulder and makes you walk faster and longer.

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Why Hiking near Wisła in the Silesian Beskids Should Be High On Your Bucket List!

If you love hiking and seeing new places you should consider hiking near Wisła (pronounce: viswa). This small but charming town in the Beskid Śląski Mountains is the perfect base for many day hikes in the area.

The modest yet beautiful Silesian Beskids Mountains

The Beskids are a long mountain range in the Outer Western Carpathians, comprising of a few smaller parts: Beskid Śląski, Beskid Niski and Beskid Żywiecki. Beskid Śląski (Silesian Beskids) is the most western part and the closest to my heart, as I was born just an hour drive away and used to hike around those hills all childhood.

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A Walk Through Alluring History and Symbolism at the Okopowa Jewish Cemetery in Warsaw

Cemeteries aren’t a typical tourist destination which is a mistake.

You can learn a lot about the place from the final rest of its people. Necropolises show first of all beliefs of the community and relations with a religion (or lack thereof).

But they also teach about the community’s wealth or poverty, artistic styles and fashions, famous people and events.

Warsaw’s Jewish Cemetery at the Okopowa Street is one of the biggest Jewish necropolises in the world. Its place is unique – right next to it is a Catholic Powązki Cemetery (est. 1790) where a lot of famous Poles are laid to rest.

Then there are also the Evangelical-Reformed, Russian-Orthodox, and Tatar (Muslim) cemeteries.

All of them create a clear sign of how diverse Poland, and in particular Warsaw, used to be. If you have the time - visit them all, you will not regret it.

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