Thursday, 19 August 2010

Polish Tourist Sites Made Easy

In Dębki, I found a wonderful English language tourist guide that can make touring around the Polish countryside a much simpler tourist experience. Its actually an atlas, with tourist sites highlighted and described. It is called Polish Highways and Byways.

From 2010 08

The format (A4 size) is a single left hand page local area map, followed by a right hand page (sometimes more) of information that includes standard historic buildings, but with wider interesting titbits about, and pictures of, key places. Whether you are staying/living somewhere or touring around, it provides a very easy way to see where you can go or stop and have a look.

The cost in the Dębki discount book marquee (one of three there) was 20zl, so have a look in your local cheap book shops. It is still advertised by Empik on the internet at 39 zl (and on a US site at 30 dollars). Polish, German and Russian versions are also available.

As an example local to me, take Raszyn, which lies next to Warsaw on the Krakow Road, inseparable from the Warsaw urban sprawl apart from road signs. I now know it has a baroque and classicist parish church (1654, rebuilt in 1790) and a classicist former inn and stables (18th Century). I also found that it is the largest village in Poland, which was a surprise; that it was the site of a battle in 1809, and that Raszyn Ponds is a nature reserve nearby. To be honest, none of this would get me excited enough to stop and visit, especially as Raszyn Ponds are clearly visible from the main road, as are the lack of easy parking places next to it. The 1809 battle might well have got me looking on the internet if I hadn't heard of it before. So all in all, even this apparently non-visiting place is given a bit more colour. Wikipedia English adds a bit more (and the Polish a little more than that).

However, none of these, and maybe no English language site, tells you that part of the Polish defensive redoubt is still there with a small commemorative plaque. It's a small patch of green between buildings on the side of the road leaving Warsaw by the traffic light junction with ul. Sportowa (Sport Street). Although not a magnificent site on its own, It might be interesting for people interested in major Polish battles. I only found it walking down Krakowska from the tram/bus terminal at Okęcie, along the bus route to Młochów. It was a hot day and a cold beer in a nice pub would have gone down well. Silly me, although I did eventually come across an acceptable (because of the barmaid), but empty combined pizza restaurant and sports TV pub. Actually, my advice to anyone thinking of doing the same thing is to find the Redoubt, then go to one of the nearby shops, buy a beer from the fridge and go and sit on the mound and drink it there.

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