We discovered that shrine quite by chance in a small village by the road between Rutka-Tartak and Szypliszki. We stopped there to have a look at Lake Szelment Maly which is visible from the road and sat there on a bench for a while enjoying the view and the atmosphere of the little village. There was a village dance at the other end of the place but we parked the car by the church and sat there facing the lake. Then Chris noticed some statues just across the road: one of Pope John Paul II and the other this charming shrine to St Florian, who traditionally guards villages against fire. No wonder as the first timber church at Becejly burnt down and had to be replaced by the present one dating from 1929-1937. The shrine was founded by the local firemen and consecrated by Pope John Paul II during his visit to Poland in 1999.
The shrine is not easy to find - it's to the left of the church a little removed from the road. What a find!
Fondest memory: On our first visit to the area we stayed on a farm at Potopy and the hilly fields around with the steep paths did not invite walks. The gravel roads were unpleasant to walk on too: whenever a car passed it raised a cloud of dust, which covered both the car and the passers-by. So, when not doing any sightseeing, the only thing we could do was to hang around the house feeding the farmer's goats for instance. The goats grazed in the field at the back of the house but could not get at their delicacy - the apples from the nearby orchard. So we would pick the ones that had dropped on the ground and take them to the animals, which devoured them with great gusto. A really nice job for city-dwellers and probably even more so for children.
One night I woke up before 5 a.m. and on my way from the bathroom incidentally looked out of the living-room window which overlooked the valley. What I saw was so unusual that I quickly went to get my camera and wake up Chris to join me. It was still quite dark but we could see that the valley was bathed in thick white mist which looked like snow. It filled the whole valley like an enormous lake but you could see the hills emerging from it like islands in the distance. I had only seen similar mist once on our way back from the Bialowieza National Park but never such an expanse of it. It looked lovely and mysterious but didn't last long as the sun began to rise. Just one of those fleeting moments that you can remember for the rest of your life.
The pictures I took are not too good, I'm afraid. I would need a much better camera to capture the white in the dark.
Favorite thing: I noticed this little old timber cottage right across the street from the Jewish Cemetery in Suwalki. With the traditional porch, the well by its side and windows characteristic of the area it seems to have come straight from a picture book. Only the roof has been changed. And the cottage is definitely lived in and well kept - the beautiful flower beds tell you a lot about the owner.
Fondest memory: Staying close to nature as we were, we enjoyed the visits of numerous meadow and forest creatures, which were always very welcome on our verandah. The grasshopper in the picture may have got onto our deckchair by mistake but it seemed to enjoy staying on the verandah so much that even when I put it on my arm, it wouldn't leave us but tried to climb up to my face instead. In the end, my husband was able to put him in the grass, not without effort. Perhaps we should have taken him to Warsaw to let him spend the winter behind our radiator, there being no stove in our city flat. But I very much doubt if it would make him happy.