This is my husband's this year's discovery as we didn't know this small museum existed at all. It's next to the church in the old timber parsonage and very interesting it is too. You can see items of Lithuanian folk art - pottery, paintings, also on glass, straw work, embroidery and many many more, all really pretty. Opening hours: Mon.- Sat. - 10...more
When you are in Suwalszczyzna don't miss the region around Punsk, which is sometimes called the capital of the Polish Lithuanians, as large part of its population of just over 1000 is Lithuanian. One of the most interesting things worth seeing in the area is the 19th century railway station at Trakiszki. It's the last station in Poland before the...more
We came upon this fair purely by chance, having stopped in Suwalki on our way from Warsaw with the intention of having ice-creams as the day was hot. It was a Saturday afternoon so we were surprised to see quite a number of people strolling in the square of this normally rather sleepy town. Then we heard the music and saw the stage and the stalls...more
The town of Sejny is situated 30 km east of Suwalki not far from the Lithuanian border. Founded in 1522 in a forested area, it became a municipality in 1593. In 1602 it was left in a will to the Order of Black Friars from Vilnius, who founded the first brick church there, which was later extended to form a whole complex of the Church and Monastery...more
Smolniki is a village north of Suwalki situated in an area abounding in lakes. For a nice view of the vicinity visit the place called 'U Pana Tadeusza' on a hill by the main road. The entrance fee is just 1 zl and from the specially built platform you can see the whole valley with the lakes at your feet. Afterwards, you can cross the road and take...more
Punsk, in Lithuanian Punskas, a small town north west of Suwalki, is the capital of the Polish Lithuanians. Visit the Lithuanian Cultural Centre (Dom Kultury Litewskiej) and find out if there is anything going on - the town has a few folk ensembles, a Lithuanian magazine and two folk museums. It would be interesting to visit it on midsummer night...more
Next to the Jewish Cemetery is the Orthodox Cemetery with the nineteenth century timber Orthodox church. The church is closed though and its windows boarded over but you can see some old graves of tzarist officials nearby, some with wrought-iron crosses.Our guidebook speaks of a molenna of the Old Believers in Suwalki too and even shows a picture...more
When you have seen St Alexander's Church, don't leave the Old Market Square but walk across the park to its south side to see some of the most interesting buildings in Suwalki. On the way you can visit the Tourist Information in the park, the white building in the middle where you can get free access to the Internet and ask the nice and...more
At the turn of the 19th/20th centuries the population of Suwalki was multicultural - it consisted of Poles, Jews, Lithuanians, Germans, Russians, Belorussians, Gypsies and Tartars.Reflecting this ethnic diversity are the old cemeteries in Zarzecze Street. Starting from the south, there is the Muslim Cemetery for the Tartars, a small corner now...more
This monumental clacissist church was designed by Piotr Aigner and built in the years 1820-1829 with some changes introduced later in the 19th century. On both sides of the main entrance you can see precious statues of St Romuald and St Benedict, the patron saints of Suwalki, which in 1667-1842 guarded the Camaldolite Monastery on Lake Wigry. In...more
In the 18th century a town but now only a village, Jeleniewo is situated north of Suwalki and surrounded by beautiful hilly countryside with numerous lakes and forests. The village boasts a timber church dedicated to the Holiest Heart of Jesus, with belfry, dating back to 1878, but with some eighteenth century paintings and other artefacts inside....more
Situated just 1 km south-east of Punsk, there is a small Skansen Museum - 'The Lithuanian Farm'. The three farm buildings make a charming picture with their thatched roofs, the well with the wooden crane and the wooden fence surrounding it all. Although it was closed when we came, they opened the buildings for us, letting us see the interior of the...more
Suwalszczyzna abounds in post-glacial lakes. Situated north-west of Suwalki, Lake Hancza is the deepest of them with the maximum depth of 113 m. Its crystal clear water is a habitat of all kinds of fish, and even crayfish (vide:photo) but the area is a nature reserve so no fishing is allowed. The banks are mostly steep and high, with many boulders,...more
Stanczyki is a village situated at the bottom of a deep post-glacial valley on the Bledzianka river and with two nice lakes nearby, where scouts and tourists often camp in the summer. But most tourists visit the place to see the enormous railway viaducts designed by Italian architects and constructed here in the years 1907 - 1926. The viaducts were...more
Surrounded by the Wigierski National Park, Lake Wigry is the largest lake in the area, with a maximum depth of 73 m. The trip around it on the tourist boat 'Tryton", the same that Pope John Paul II travelled on in 1999, lasts about 1.5 hour. The small bar on the boat even offers the famous 'Papal' cream cakes that the Polish Pope used to like so...more
This smallish grey building with a large car park for lorries at the back offers good cheap food which can satisfy your palate. Chris likes all their soups and I can't remember leaving the place disappointed. Perhaps the company at the other tables is not always great: two or three local drunks can be encountered there esp. at the weekends but they...more
The restaurant offers a number of traditional local and other dishes, straight from the oven or the frying pan. Really delicious but also a little more expensive than the ones in Jeleniewo for example. If you are going there in the evening you'd better phone in advance. The first day when we arrived there just past 6 pm. we were told the cook had...more
This charming Lithuanian restaurant is a recent addition to Punsk. Serving Lithuanian dishes, it is frequented not only by tourists but also by Lithuanians from across the border as there is no other restaurant in the vicinity on the Lithuanian side. The wooden building looks really lovely both outside and inside and the furniture is wooden too,...more
The festival is held in August and lasts for 3 consecutive days but not every year so check their website. Apart from the concerts and dances there are workshops and slide shows presenting various aspects of Celtic life. We only went to one evening concert as it was 60 km away from where we were staying but enjoyed it enormously. It was mainly traditional Irish music and dance but the day before you could also hear Scottish pipers. Wish we had gone to see it the day before as well!
BTW, there is a campsite nearby where you can put up your tent as many people come for the 3 days.
UPDATE: I have just learnt from the Tourist Information Centre in Suwalki that, to everybody's regret, this festival is no longer organized nowadays. I have decided not to delete my tip though in case it returns to us some time soon.
Dress Code: Casual, Celtic elements are welcome. Wear comfortable shoes - it's very hard to stay still listening to this kind of music so soon everybody was dancing or swinging to the rhythm.
The shop at the Museum of Lithuanian Folk Art is certainly worth visiting. They sell all kinds of local craft - wood carvings, pictures, toys, dolls, tablecloths, hand-painted pottery, jewellery and what not. I simply had to buy something every time we were there and in fact I would have liked to buy everything if I could. Not all things were for sale though, usually the ones that I fancied most.:(
What to buy: We particularly liked Lithuanian pottery so we now have a small collection of it at home. We bought two cups, two jugs (one for a gift) and a czenakówka - a dish like a small vase with a lid for preparing the famous czenak (see my restaurant tip), but we keep teabags in it.
What to pay: The prices are lower than in the shops and quite a few of the things cannot be bought anywhere else in Poland.
This is a local cake, or should I say local biscuits, that we only discovered on our third visit to the region. It consists of fried flat pieces of dough with some honey, poppyseed (the ants) and almonds. It's quite nice to have with your tea or coffee. The only problem is that it can be addictive once you try it and they sell it in large...more
In the area around Punsk, the capital of the Polish Lithuanians, you can come across many roadside shrines with carved wooden sculptures representing scenes from the Bible - in the picture the Last Supper -or figures of Christ, Our Lady or the saints. The metal cross at the top is characteristic of this region, comprising images of the sun and the...more
Some things are completely unexpected. That is how I felt about Poland and storks. I had no idea that the long legged birds (and obviously babies) came from Poland! On the drive to Suwalki I started to notice these tall tripod nest stands. Mainly they were free-standing but occasionally they were located on the peaks of barns. Turns out farmers...more
The place called 'Skansen Drumlin' at Udziejek off the road between Jeleniewo and Rutka-Tartak may be interesting to stay in but it certainly falls short of being a folk museum.
When we arrived there, a man appeared from the cottage thatched in the English style, collected 6 zloties for both of us and disappeared just as abruptly, without giving us any directions about what to see. The first door on the right had a sign Afryka (Africa) above it but it was locked, we turned the key in the second and a surprised husky stood in it. I am glad we didn't let it out by mistake. Then an angry woman appeared from the door opposite telling us those were rooms to let, not part of the museum. As it turned out, the only things to see were a few traditional farming tools and machines without any descriptions, some cart wheels and... three goats grazing in the yard. Not the sort of folk museum we had expected. So, although I had wanted to have an ice-cream in the thatched cafe, I gave up the idea. Perhaps it would have been fake as well. Mind you, I know nothing about the accommodation they offer, it may be nice but for rooms, some with shared bathrooms, in the country in Poland it is ridiculously expensive, as are the meals provided, which I have now checked on their website. And, if you are looking for a folk museum, go somewhere else, to the professionally run 'Lithuanian Farm' near Punsk, for instance.
Cisowa Gora or Yew Mount is a hill north of Jeleniewo on the left-hand side of the road from Suwalki to Rutka-Tartak. It's 258 m high and looks quite steep from the south but its northern slope is quite mild and easily accessible (see the picture). There is a car park by the road and then you must follow the path. At the top you will find a cross erected there to honour Pope John Paul II. The place commands a beautiful of view of the area so do climb it if you can.
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...more
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...more
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...more