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Siedlisko Sobibór, Poland

Siedlisko Sobibór- oasis of peace

Sobibor doesn’t bring the best associations forward. In Holland it’s known just as a concentration camp. Nevertheless, Poland goes on and with a booming economy the most unexpected branch of tourism flourishes… even there. Yep, I’m talking about agrotourism. It’s a tourism focused on enjoying nature, simple surroundings and life. That’s exactly what Siedlisko Sobibor is all about.

It used to be an old, forgotten farm but with a lot of love and hard work it became something special. Rundown buildings were brought back to their glorious times with traditional carpentry and restored furniture. Every single accommodation is different, yet together they create a peaceful, well balanced rural experience. There is a big farm house that has been there for more then 100 years, smaller log houses and an old stable. The new addition are two stilt houses hidden a bit in tree branches.

We decided to stay in one of the two studios in the old stable.


Our stay

Lace studio, in which we stayed, has its own kitchenette, tiny living room, bathroom and of course a bedroom. it was all very tastefully decorated with lace and in our bedroom, we had a true masterpiece, a huge rosette window… over 200 years old. It might not be the best choice for people who like to sleep long, the window lets a lot of light in. We loved it though, we could wake up naturally and enjoy the beautiful view of the rising sun over the fields.


The food

The meals served in Siedlisko Sobibor are not included in the price, but we would recommend at least trying them once. Breakfast is a feast of local produce. There is always a selection of local cheese natural or with herbs, meat cuts, pancakes, fruit and home baked bread. Heaven! It’s served as a buffet so there is plenty for everyone. There is also an option to sign up for dinner. The dishes are different everyday but it’s mostly hearty polish food made with love. Depending on the season you can expect mushrooms, variety of vegetables and homemade juices. The menu always included a soup, main course and a dessert.

The surroundings

Siedlisko Sobibor is a destination on its own. It’s meant to slow you down, make you relax, breath in the fresh air and enjoy the simple nature. The is no reason to come here if blissful nature is not your thing. There are no massive attractions nearby. You can go kayaking, bird watching or walk in a nearby forest. There are also lakes nearby but the biggest one is a typical example of cheap, polish tourism. There are plastic water bikes, plastic restaurant, mediocre food and all that set up in the most cheesy way possible.

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Podlasie, Poland

Podlasie- the highlights

Back in 2016 we went to Białowieża for the first time. On the bus there we spotted stunning wooden houses, colorful orthodox churches and an almighty forest. Afterall the region is called Podlasie which could be translated to “under, near forest”. Already then, we decided that we would come back someday with a car to be able to explore it properly. That occasion came sooner than expected…

Starting in Białowieża…

Our journey started in Warsaw where we rented the car, that was the most efficient and the cheapest way to approach our road trip. Later on we drove to Białowieża. We wanted to stay at Carska hotel and be as close as possible to the primeval forest. Białowieski National Park is an absolute must see and one of the very few untouched forests in Europe. It’s also a house for lots of wild animals. The most famous one is the bison. But we have already written a post about things you absolutely need to do around Białowieża.

This time I would really like to focus on other highlights Podlasie has to offer.

Tatar settlement

Poland is not a very multi-culti country, there are not many foreigners who live here. The same goes for religion, the crushing majority is Roman Catholic. In recent years that faith has been stronger then ever. Not going into politics… it’s extraordinary to see some variety in Poland, communities with their own faith and customs. Like Tatar settlements live in two tiny, tiny villages Bohoniki and Kruszyniany. We visited the second one and it left us speechless. It’s one of those experiences worth travelling for… even though the path there was quite rough and we thought we left paved roads forever.

Tatar history in that region dates to the XVII century when they were recruited as warriors to fight for our king. Afterwards they gained land and other professions. Nowadays they speak polish, but they keep their religion- Islam. It’s unbelievable that in a small village with just a few houses different faiths can co-exist. They even have their wooden mosque, where they gather few days a year. It’s possible to visit it and hear a story from one of the Tatars about their history, bond with Poland and their customs. It’s interesting and we would highly recommend it. The guide there will tell you passionately even about his marriage with a Polish woman, faith of their kids and local goodies. Talking about food… While there you CAN’T miss the Tatar restaurant on the other side of the road. It looks cheesy to the point that we seriously considered leaving the village and drive somewhere else. But we were so hungry that we decided to give it a chance. Sitting there at one of the plastic tables and observing dishes served on plastic plates we were wondering if we made the right decision. And then my coffee came… it was like if we were back in Oman. The coffee was intense, rich in smell and flavor. I could taste the cardamom straight away. I was intrigued. Then we got their layered savory cake with turkey and their traditional dumplings filled with beef and served in broth. Heaven. We could taste the love, the hours of hard work and the complexity of those dishes. It was better then any restaurant in Białowieża and we went to the best ones (supposedly). It was as if Poland met Iran and made the best menu possible. It gets even better… those goodies cost from 10 – 39 zl (2-9 eur).


The Orthodox Churches

They made us forget that we were still in Poland. They are the most prominent buildings in the whole region. Maybe it’s because we both haven’t seen one before, but they all seemed so different and so fascinating. Some of them were blue, some green, some “just wooden”, we spotted quite many with rich-looking golden ornaments.

Our favorite ones were in Trześcianka (green one), Puchły (blue one) and Narew (another blue one). Unfortunately, only the one in Puchły was open to the public, all the rest that we saw were closed.

It’s worth reading a bit about the differences between Roman and Orthodox churches. Unfortunately, the guy who worked in the only open one was not keen on sharing information. He was much more interested if people were married or not and if they had kids. If someone answered no to these questions he would be very unsatisfied and unpleasant so better to keep your mouth shut.

The Land of Open Shutters

That’s the name of a collective of three small villages (Soce, Trześcianka and Puchły). Their name is a tribute to their exceptionally well-preserved wooden architecture, especially their shutters. It’s also an attempt to maintain them and keep the traditions alive. It’s a very rural area so many farmers opt for a modern, more efficient way of building/restoring the house instead of taking care of the wooden beauties they have. It’s hard to blame them since it’s probably difficult and pricey.

Thankfully those three spots still manage to keep the past alive. They not only have colorful, open shutters in all the shapes and forms but also carved, wooden ornaments on the facade of the house to go with them. Together with flowers, small farms and dirt roads it creates a very cozy, rural feeling.


How to get to those places?

A car is a necessity! The interesting spots are quite far from each other and we haven’t seen any buses connecting those. Bah! To some there isn’t even a paved road. A plus is that you’re most definitely “off the beaten track”. Podlasie isn't a popular destination so you can be almost certain to explore everything without a fear of crowds.

We rented our car via Pepe Car, we literally took the cheapest option which cost us 10 EUR per day plus 4.60 EUR per day for an extra driver.

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Carska, Bialowieza, Poland

Orient Express Experience in Białowieża

The Orient Express has always been a very highly placed dream on my bucket list. The old-time splendor, smell of wood, sounds of a riding train and excitement of a new adventure…. Who wouldn’t want it?

Over the years I have searched for Orient Express-like trains… and they were always outrageously expensive. I already made peace with the simple fact that that item will never disappear from my bucket list. Life works in mysterious ways and in the least expected place I found out that my dream could be an affordable reality.

Carska apartments

A couple of years ago we visited the Białowieski National Park to see bison and untouched nature. During one of our bike trips around Białowieża we came across an old train station now adapted as a hotel and restaurant. Quite a bizarre sight considering how dense the surrounding forest is. Back in the XIX century it was one of the favorite hunting places of the ruling Tsar. He loved coming there but the last part of the journey had to be done on horse and was difficult during autumn and winter. To get there faster and easier he decided to create a train station. In 1897 the work was completed, a station named Białowieża Towarowa came to life. With time it became a destination for passengers and goods trains. Somehow the place survived the First and Second World War and years of abandonment. In 2003 its new owner decided to turn it into what it is now… an extraordinary hotel and restaurant.

The first time we saw it, we could only admire it from the outside. It might be affordable for European standards but for our backpacking budget back then it was a vague dream.

Our stay

The idea of coming back there popped in my head as my 30th birthday was approaching. I really wanted that day to be special. After all you don’t say goodbye to your twenties every day.

Carska offers various accommodations in the old water tower, station agent house and… train wagons. It was clear to me that we had to get that last option.

The wagons are designed to bring back that XIX century Tsar splendor and make you feel like you travel back in time. Each of the four is a bit different but all of them are stunning, filled with vintage pictures, lamps and even a peculiar belt opening system for the windows. To maximize the feeling of a train they are connected with a vintage steam engine locomotive. Pure orient express experience… maybe except for the fact that it’s not moving… But we had a solution for that too. We played a YouTube clip with sounds of a moving train. It was just pure magic.

At night the place was pitch dark and it played tricks on our imagination. As we got used to it we appreciated the sounds of nature coming from everywhere, stars including the Milky Way (absolutely no light pollution) and flying owls.

For forest lovers there are amazing paths just a short walk from the wagons that we indicated on the map below.

The food

Carska restaurant serves local cusine inspired by Tsar times. Their menu features a lot of game meat, berries and mushrooms. It’s tasty although quite pricey. They also serve breakfasts that are included in the price for the guests. The quality and quantity really vary per day… and is a bit underwhelming considering that the hotel is rather high-end for polish standards. Once we had an average breakfast in the restaurant room and once in a beautiful hunting room with a huge selection of meat cuts, egg creations, fruit etc etc.

How to get there?

There are buses going to Białowieża but because Carska is situated outside in the forest it’s very recommendable to go there by car. For a more affordable option (if you don’t have too much luggage) you can also rent a bike in Białowieża.

How much does it cost?

One night in one of the wagons costs around 100 eur. Other accommodations vary from 80-130 eur.

More about activities around Bialowieza?

Head to our previous post about it:)

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Łódź, Poland

One day in Łódź

Łódź is famous in Poland for its film academy. Almost all the people that matter in the business pass through that school. Although for many years people went there not for pleasure but for must, now it’s been changing. It’s becoming more and more a bit of a hip city full of young life and creativity. It’s also a very good one day trip from Poznań or Warsaw as it’s just around 2hrs away. Why to visit Łódź?

  1. Łódź Light Move Festival

Visiting Łódź Light Move Festival in October we found ourselves in the world of dreams and nightmares as that was the theme this year. There were installations in parks, 2D/3D mappings, light tram, virtual reality and surprisingly not that many people. Maybe because the festival is still quite small and focused just around the main street of the city. Still very much worth a trip to see it. To make it easy you can download an app android IOS which gives you access to the whole map so that you won’t miss anything.

  1. Manufaktura- not only commercial center

Manufaktura as it is now, is a result of one of the biggest renovation projects in Poland. Previously in the 19th century it was a flourishing series of factories producing various textiles. It was bought in 2000, when its best years were far behind, by a French developer. It took 6 years to bring it back to life. Fortunately the most important and prominent part is still the original factory building, red brick with big windows. The complex is truly huge with a big square in the middle. That’s where most of the life happens in Łódź, there are concerts, cultural events and even an artificial beach in the summer.

  1. Street art miracle

Before coming to Łódź we really thought Wrocław would be the capital of street art in Poland. Well not anymore. Łódź surprised us with numerous pieces of art spread all over the city. There are masterpieces everywhere: on a side of an awful communist block, by the pedestrian crossing in the center and even above a parking lot. It makes this fairly grey city way more colorful, fun, artistic and interesting. Our favorite one was definitely a mural of a famous Polish pianist Artur Rubenstein who playfully stares at the pedestrians. Detailed map of all the amazing murals you can find on the web page of the street art foundation. If you want to see all the pictures first you can check them out on their facebook. (The murals below are included on the map)

  1. Off Piotrowska- hip place for lunch and so much more

As usual when something becomes really popular it becomes a bit outdated for the cool ones. So Manufaktura is not a place to be if you want to be cool. For great cafes, artistic shops and restaurants you have to go to OFF Piotrowska. It was built in the late 19th century as a fabric factory and I would say it wasn’t that much renovated before it opened as a cultural underground in 2011. The windows of the upper part of the complex are broken and it’s all a bit rustic and honestly that’s the charm of it. Going there we felt that it was something real and special… more than Manufaktura. We strongly recommend Drukarnia, it’s a stunning place for lunch, dinner or drinks where you can just sit and relax watching people pass by through the huge industrial windows. It definitely doesn’t hurt that all the people working there smile and seem to enjoy a nice talk and their job.

  1. The famous tram stop

Since 2015 Łódź is very proud of its brand new tram stop that some of them call a “unicorn stable”. Its roof is made of a colorful, almost rainbow-like membrane that’s supposed to imitate more dangerous stained-glass. The effect is quite unbelieve and looking from a distance we got an impression that it almost looked like a part of a cathedral with its high ceiling, colors and arches.

  1. The biggest Jewish cemetery in Europe

180 000 graves ... That’s probably our biggest regret. We were just not in a mindset to visit a cemetery but we strongly recommend it. It’s such a big part of Polish history. In the south you will find 45000 graves of Jews who died in the ghetto and nearby some empty graves that were digged by the Jews for themselves as they were forced by the Nazis. As the Soviets were advancing too fast, the graves remained unused and are left there as a reminder.

  1. Piotrowska street

Although we were not really impressed with Piotrowska street, it would be a sin not to mention it. It’s the main pedestrian street in Łódź where all the life is. It’s almost 5 km which makes it the longest pedestrian street in Europe. If you expect no cars, you’re gonna be disappointed just like we were.

There are quite a few sculptures there as well as the Walk of Fame to honor the Polish pearls in the business like Roman Polański.

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Stary Rynek, Poznan, Poland

9 things not to miss in Poznań

Poznan is my city, I was born and raised here. Probably that’s why it was so difficult for me to see its beauty. Now that I don’t live here anymore, it’s much easier to appreciate what used to be „just” normal. Also in the years that I was away, the city has changed so much and became even more beautiful. Although it’s not nearly as popular as Warsaw or Wroclaw, I think it should be. Or maybe let’s keep it as a hidden gem 🙂 below a few unmissable things to do in Poznan.

  1. Enjoy goats headbutt each other and then some exceptional food in the Old Market Square

The Main Square is famous for pair of mechanical goats that appear every day at noon to headbutt each other 12 times. According to legend the real goats were stolen by a cook that was preparing a banquet for the voivode and his guests but he had burnt the meat and well… needed replacement. The goats felt that those were their last hours so they escaped and ran into the town hall tower and started butting each other which provided such entertainment that voivode decided to save their life and order mechanical goats for the tower.

Although they’re a must see, except for the goats there is quite something to see on the main square. It’s just such a lovely little square with colorful houses and lovely little cafeterias everywhere. If you’re there for lunch we would recommend Weranda Café which changes its interior all the time and serves great food. After lunch you can go to Cacao Republic which is a charming, romantic little place serving decadent desserts and liquid chocolates….mmm. In the evening there is nothing better than going to Brovaria where they have their own little brewery. Jandirk has a problem resisting their honey beer every time we pass by there… Obviously your trip to Poznan wouldn’t be complete without a shot of vodka. Poland has the best vodka in the whole world and for 4zl per shot you can try quite a few in a nice, communism-style bar called Pijalnia wódki i piwa.

  1. Find out all about our croissants and Poznanian dialect in the Croissant Museum

Poznanian people are very different from the rest of the folks in Poland… supposingly scrooge, supposingly with a bit more distance and we talk our funny, little dialect. In the museum a cheerful guy or two, will tell you a bit about Poznan and about our pride- Saint Marcin croissant. They are delicious, heavy, filled with poppy seeds paste, raisins and other goodies. We stuff ourselves with them all day long on the 11th of November when there is a big celebration for Saint Marcin, his name day and the Polish Independence Day. Saint Marcin is also the name of one of the biggest street here so you can imagine that the celebration is epic.

  1. Stroll through the park of Citadel and stop at one of the graves of the British Empire

The park was built on the leftovers of a fort that was there since the XIX century. Some of the fortification is still there but except for that there is a military museum, military cemeteries and plenty of open space. For lovers of art there are quite a few sculptures scattered all over the park. The biggest one is called The Unrecognized and consists of 112 statues of headless people walking in all different directions. In the summer Citadel is very cozy especially because of organized parties, open-air markets etc.

My favorite place in the park is the Old Garrison Cemetery. It might sound weird but those, mostly British graves from first and second World Wars, have just something peaceful about them. Each one of them is unique, many have beautiful, personal notes from the family and yet from far they all look the same. I supposed that’s why not many people come here. And it’s a shame.

  1. Get twisted looking at the most twisted staircase in Poznan

Since I remember Okrąglak has always been a symbol of Poznań. Built after the 2nd World War it was quite unique and modern, later on it became a store house and then it was closed for a long time. Now after many years of renovation it came back as an office place. But you can still enter the building and see the most twisted staircase ever.


  1. Enjoy your own beer at the side of Warta river

Especially during summer Warta River is a must-see. There are concerts, café’s, cultural activities, bars, city beaches and even little Jacuzzis. There is also plenty of space for absolutely everyone so you can just come with your own booze and food and picnic looking at the cathedral.

  1. Appreciate street art all over the place

Poznan is growing stronger and stronger when it comes to street art. In last years there have been more and more master pieces coming. The most spectacular one is definitely “The Śródecka tale” which tells the story of the neighborhood and reminds you of the houses that used to be there. It is really realistic and standing in front of it you don’t realize for the few first seconds that it’s a painting and not a reality. Except for that one Poznan has many poems written on the walls in many different places and even an old postcard-like painting in the city center.

  1. Look at the cathedral from a whole new perspective

For me the Cathedral was never anything special. Living in a country where for each neighborhood we have probably two churches, they stopped impressing me in general. But looking at it from the new museum (Porta Posnania) changes the perspective completely. The museum embraces the history of the “cathedral island” with its modern architecture. Just in front of the museum there is also a nice area just by the river where you can have a picnic.

  1. Go shopping at Stary Browar

Stary Browar is definitely one of the most extraordinary commercial centers that I have ever seen. It was built on the leftovers of an old brewery that goes back to the beginning of the 19th century. It still has the old, classic look and atmosphere but with an interesting twist of new, futuristic art. You can not only buy all you need in there but also enjoy cool cafes, art exhibitions and lots of cultural events

  1. Enjoy the mesmerizing fountain

The fountain on the Freedom Square was built in 2012 for the European Football Championship and since then it’s been a pleasure for the eye and relief in warm days of summer. Although I heard it’s difficult in maintenance, from a visitor point of view it’s very impressive. It not only changes colors but also looks a bit like sails of a boat. It attracts many people that would otherwise never choose that place to relax.

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Zakopane, Poland

What to do in Zakopane?

Zakopane is THE city to visit in the mountains. It´s a Mecca for those who want to see the mountains even if they don´t necessarily want to hike one 🙂 that’s where we started our journey through the peaks. And there are a few things to do to get in the mood 🙂

  1. Eat oscypki like there is no tomorrow

Oscypek is a typical smoked cheese from the mountains. From every baca (old man from the mountain) you will hear a different story of how it was first made. We like the one where it was supposed to be always in baca’s pocket waiting for rough times to come and then when it would come baca would nibble on it a bit to ease his hunger. From that activity came the name and from the pants the pattern on the cheese. Every product needs a bit of a legend. We heard the real ones are made only from May till September.

It’s best to eat them grilled with cranberry sauce. They are just insane!!!

  1. More good food at the the U Wnuka restaurant

The first two floor house in the region built around 1850, then the first post office, shop and even a casino 🙂 now it’s “just” the oldest and probably best restaurant in Zakopane that serves insanely good food and looks sooooo charming and cosy!! It has obviously oscypki but also a lot of other local dishes like moskole (kind of potato pancakes) and a selection of local meat for example sheep meat 🙂

  1. Feel like a star next to the Zakopane sign

Maybe Hollywood’s one is bigger, maybe the one in Amsterdam is more known but just look at the one in Zakopane, it is amazing! It was built for an International Mountain Folklore Festival a few years ago and they just kept it. The sign itself is as folklore as it can get and the view just behind it on Giewont (The Sleeping Knight Mountain) is just unbelievable.

  1. Warm up your muscles going to Gubałówka mountain

There is a cable car going there but it’s cheaper and greener to just walk there. It’s not really challenging and it doesn’t take long (around an hour) and it’s nice to warm up your muscles before hitting the real deal. The walk itself is quite nice as it goes through the forest but once on the top it’s actually quite disappointing. There are a lot of shops, restaurants, cars etc. It’s more like a circus than a mountain. But there are beach chairs that you can use for free to sit around and read a book or just enjoy the view.

  1. Go on an amazing hike- Małołączniak mountain (2096 meter above sea level)

It’s a very spectacular hike which begins at Mała Łąka. It’s really easy to get here from Zakopane you just take a bus that passes through there and the bus driver will leave you by the road. It will take maybe 15 minutes and cost 4zl pp. After paying the 5 zl entrance fee to the path you are free to start the adventure. Mała Łaka Valley is actually already pretty. It will take you slowly through the forest and next to a small river and then slowly you will go up. It’s not too difficult and the views are insane. First you take the yellow path and then the blue one. The only surprise might be a few chains almost at the top of Małołączniak but once there, it will all be worth it. The views on the peaks, the air and when we were there the clouds… all spectacular. From there we took the red path to get to Kopa Kondracka which is another peak with amazing views. From there we followed the yellow path and went down up till Wielka Polana where we picnicked a bit. We just really couldn’t resist. It was such a stunning forest glade with views on the mountains and the end of the hike 😀 Yep from there it’s literally just a walk in the park to get to Mała Łąka and from there a bus to Zakopane.

It took us a day to do the hike stopping all the time to take pictures, drink water and enjoy the views. You can download our hikes for Maps.ME not to get lost (Małołączniak-Mountain-Hike and Gubałówka-Mountain-Hike) or use this life saving app (Android, IOS, Windows Phone)…. That will take you there (only in Polish unfortunately but still great to have).

Interested in more hikes in the Tatra mountains? The're right here.

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