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Saturday, July 22, 2017

Biking, Exploring, and Cooking- My Polish Vacation, Day 2


Sorry I didn't get this post the day it happened, about 2 week ago. I wrote most of it then but was too tired to post it, and then decided to save writing and posting about my trip until after I came home.

If I had to sum up my first official day on Poland (because the day I was traveling there can't officially be counted, for real), it would be with the words biking, exploring, foraging, and cooking. My Airbnb hosts Piotr and Karolina are really wonderful people, first of all. They speak decent english, are very helpful and kind, and I believe I just made some new friends.

Piotr and Karolina gave me a bike to use for while I was there, and though as a child and teen I bike rode a lot and enjoyed it, I haden't ridden a bike in 15 years. My goal was to explore the countryside and bike to a park 12 kilometers away, possibly, or stay more local.


My day started out seeing this gorgeous view from my balcony window, at my AirBnB in Jastkow, Poland, a village not far outside Lublin:




Once I was fully up, at a very late hour (I went to bed after 4 am!) I attempted to bike to the grocery store. The views along the way were amazing...



The weather couldn't have been more perfect.


A drop cool when I started out, but I warmed up from the exertion of the bike ride.


Gorgeous views all around. Though the purpose of my original bike outing was to get food for myself, the ride there was breathtaking.


Piotr drew me a map and... uhm... I kind of got lost anyhow, because it seems my map reading skills are not exactly up to par. 

But getting lost had its benefits, and I got to see a treasure like this... Cows along the road!


One thing on the map that left me really feeling confused was the bridge that Piotr marked. I crossed a bridge next to this absolutely picturesque postcard-worthy area, but then the rest of the map didn't make sense.


I called Piotr and Karolina for help because I was lost, and they, so sweet, drove out to where I was to help me find the way back (turns out I went left instead of right), before heading to the grocery store. I followed them there.
It was a tiny little grocery store that I wouldn't have recognized as a grocery store from outside. In fact, it seems to be that way with most of these stores. I would not recognize the pizza place, grocery store, etc... since they all look like houses to me, not like what I'd expect a grocery store to look like.

I tried finding some food at the grocery store, but the thing I needed most, fish, the store absolutely had none. Of course it didn't help that no one in the store spoke even a word of English, but fortunately with the help of google translate on my phone, I was able to communicate via key phrases and ask to find our what I needed. A lady realized that google translate wouldn't be enough, so she called up her son who spoke some english and directed me towards another grocery store that I hadn't known about, just a few hundred feet further, where they had a much larger selection, including fish.

At the first store I bought gigantic apples, so cheap and delicious, some celery root, rice noodles, orange juice, and a few more things for about 20 zlotys, around 5 dollars. Celery root is very pricey round these parts, but very cheap in Poland, so I decided to take advantage of that.


I then rode to the second store to get fish.


There was a whole wall of alcohol, and I bought some vodka for 20 zlotys, as well as some more rice noodles.




Total spent at that store? About 30 zloty, or around 8 dollars. 

Right next store was a produce store where I found blueberries and raspberries for insanely little, so I bought some and devoured them! Mushrooms were also super cheap and as a big fan, I bought a lot to cook with, along with some onion and garlic, lemons, and some other produce I might be forgetting. That shop cost me about 10 zlotys, or about $2.75. 

Everyone I met was so sweet and friendly. A few people spoke broken English, a few spoke decent English, but everyone was so helpful and kind. There was lots of laughing and smiling going on, maybe they were laughing at my pathetic attempts to communicate in a language I do not know... But it doesn't matter, it really made me smile!

I learned three words in Polish on my first day in Poland- Jin Dobri (or however you spell it) means hello, and dva means 2 (like Russian). Oh, and shaysh means six.


My first day in Poland also included a lot, a lot of foraging. But to keep things simplest, I put the foraging all in another post, which I already shared the other day.

I biked back from the grocery store, and each time I saw an edible plant, I stopped, photographed, and foraged a bit, then stuck it in the back of my bike.


Afterwards, I biked back to the airbnb and made lunch with what I bought and foraged.


My hosts had a bunch of red currant bushes in their backyard. I picked some and put it in a salad together with horseradish leaves- which taste like a spicy version of kale, with a similar texture, and lambsquarters, with a very mild spinach like taste, and raspberries. Over it I poured a dressing made from lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and raspberries.

I also sauted up onions, mushrooms, celery root, garlic, horseradish root, and lambsquarters and then mixed it with rice noodles. I baked fish in the oven in some curry powder I brought from home. I made myself a drink from orange juice and vodka.


As I was cooking my meal, my host Karolina was asking about the different plants that I foraged that I was using, and she was excited to learn about the wild edible plants of Poland.

I was about to go eat my meal along with my drink when Piotr and Karolina came over to me and said that in Poland, there is a tradition to not drink alone. They offered me some of their own homemade wildberry infused liquer, and after questioning them about ingredients and method of making it (because of my special dietary needs) and confirming that it was something I could have, we all enjoyed this delicious drink together.


Na zdrowie! To your health, or how you say "Cheers" in Polish.


After lunch I rested a bit, and then decided to go out for another bike ride.
Piotr told me where I could find a forest, something that I love and really find beautiful, not too far from where I was staying, so I hopped back on the bike, and saw many beautiful sights.

Including this house along the way there.


And these picturesque fields...




I rode between some fields on some dirt paths....



And this farm house.


Eventually I could see the forest in the distance.




Up close it was just perfect. Nice breeze. Hearing birds chirping and making all sorts of "forest noises".



The road kind of meandered in and out of the forest, at some points just being at the very edge but still inside...


...and at some points just outside, between the forest and farmer's fields, mainly barley or currant fields.


At some point, I just needed to stop riding. It had been years since I had been on a bike and I forgot how much the seat can dig into you after so much riding. I was still a decent distance from where I was sleeping but my body was protesting, so I figured I was in the perfect place to relax. I literally just lay down on the grass between the tire tracks, the forest on one side of me and the fields on another, and just chilled out... And took silly pictures.


And gazed up at the sky and enjoyed the clouds and the relaxation, and the fact that I didn't have any kids tugging on my clothes, saying "Mommy, mommy, mommy..." (Not that I didn't deal with phone calls because, you know, I'm a mom, and my phone calls got forwarded to my phone in Poland...) Knowing that I had nothing that needed getting done was just perfect...


When I finally decided to get back up and back on the bike, I went a different route to see new scenery...



It was very bright until very late, so I didn't realize how late it was...


I attempted to go back to the fruit and vegetable store for more berries, but it was closed since it was already past 7 pm...


The bike riding was really, really wonderful. There were hills, but not big ones. I was able to ride up most of the hills (but some of them I walked up), but there was just enough to keep the ride from being boring (if anyone could get bored in that type of scenery) and to give me a thrill on the rides down the hill. But more or less just perfect. So much nostalgia, so many fond memories brought up by being in Poland and biking through the countryside.

I had some leftovers for dinner, and then made use of the airbnb's very luxurious bathtub to take a nice relaxing bath with no one calling out "Mommy, are you almost out?!?!" and pounding down the door... You should try it sometime.




Before going to bed, I checked on google maps to see just how much bike riding I did... 23.2 kilometers!!! That's 14.5 miles! No wonder I was so sore.

But it literally was the perfect day, that first day in Poland. So scenic. So relaxing. Brought to mind some perfect childhood memories. I couldn't have asked for a better time.

Total cost? 80 zlotys on groceries, or $20.

Have you ever been to Eastern Europe, any country, Poland or otherwise? Would you say the scenery there is similar to where I was?
What is your favorite type of scenery? Would you enjoy such sights?
Are you a bike rider, or were you one in a past life? How many miles or kilometers are you able to bike ride in one day comfortably?

5 comments:

  1. How beautiful! I went to Krakow a few years ago and thought it was lovely. I traveled by myself, like you, and found the people helpful and kind.

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  2. you are so brave and inspiring!

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  3. Another wonderful post. Great pictures. Thanks for sharing. Big "no" to ever being overseas. I like the beach and mountains best. Mainly water features.

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  4. I bike 22 kilometers minimum 6 days a week so I could certainly have done that. Your backside actually gets muscled and doesn't hurt anymore after you are used to biking.

    My husband and I are hoping/planning to do a biking vacation in the Netherlands in a few months. I need to nudge him to get in shape before we go. :)

    For biking sounds like you were in the perfect area. Cities are interesting but not so good for biking and looking at the same time, imho.

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  5. Nice! Glad you shared this with us. In Europe I've mostly been in cities and haven't biked there. This looks like a great place to bike though.

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