Rynias is a hamlet (a small settlement in a rural area) hidden on a glade in a middle of a forest and offering a beautiful panorama of Slovak and Polish Tatras. You can distinguish many famous peaks like Hawrań, Lodowy, Gierlach (the highest Carpathian peak) and the highest summit in Poland – Rysy.
In a central place of the clearing you will find a chapel located in an old house from 19th century. The house, like all houses in Rynias, is made of wood and was built using log construction. Life slows down here, you hardly meet people… the only sound accompanying us was dogs’ barking. Several years ago the well-known Polish actor Michał Żebrowski built house in Rynias, but it seems to be inhabited quite rarely.
It is a perfect place for backcountry skiing, mountain biking or just for a walk: http://geographers-eye.blogspot.com/2013/03/hidden-in-woods-backcountry-trip.html
I felt like a real explorer! Looking through a guidebook I came across an information about a Jewish cemetery in Podwilk in Orava region. Perfect destination for a short trip! Together with Andrzej we decided to find it. Comaparing instructions from a guidebook with a map we finally got it. It wasn't so easy - the cemetery is run down and overgrown with bushes.
Many of the tombstones is covered with ivy and moss what creates an aura of mystery but at the same time leads to destruction of the gravestones. Several years the cemetery was under the restorations - some matzevas were set vertically, garbage was taken away. Nowadays nobody is taking care of the cemetery.
The remains of other Jewish cemetery you can find also on Bachledzki Wierch. The cemetery originated in 1931. In 1941-1942 it was destroyed by Nazis. Nowadays there are no matzevas, only contemporary monument dedicated the Holocaust victims.
More about that cemeteries and general directions: http://geographers-eye.blogspot.com/2013/03/jewish-cemeteries-close-to-tatra.html
St. Elizabeth's Church in Trybsz is a part of the Wooden Architecture Route in Małopolska Region (Lesser Poland). It probably arose in 1567 funded by the local peasants or a head of a rural subdivision. The church was built using log construction with the walls, as well as the roof, covered by a wooden shingle.
The most important and characteristic feature of the church is late-baroque polychrome from 1647. It covers walls and ceiling with a paintings presenting biblical and Marian themes. They originated due to reintroduction of the Catholicism in Spiš.
The ceiling is covered with two scenes: the Assumption of the Virgin Mary and the Last Judgement. A background of the first one is the panoramic view of the Pieniny Mountains and of the second one - the Tatra Mountains. This is the first known representation of those mountains in Poland.
More about Trybsz you will find on my blog.
Not only is Antoni's work not for sale, but son, Marcin is also reluctant to part with some of his work. As we reviewed his studio and all the wood sculptures scattered throughout... I went straight to my favorite. . . an angel seated on a chair. Well, that is not for sale. Next I chose a figure...and again, that is a favorite and not for sale. And so it went until I finally pleaded for him to duplicate one of my favorites. He was reluctant to do the same thing twice, warning that no two can ever be exactly the same. I mentioned that I liked the way some of his figures were what we call "pigeon toed" (an expression which they had never heard). The toes turn in toward one another. It was agreed he would try to do one before I left Poland and have me approve it by email... then sending it with the bus driver down the mountain to Krakow. Well, that's how things are done around Zakopane.
A few days later we got the call and email and as luck would have it Magda had to make a trip to Krakow, so we met for another lingering visit over coffee and I received my treasured sculpture created by the man with my gr.father's name... a true Polish naive wood sculpture. I will treasure it always.
When it was time to leave the gallery, Marcin walked us out to our taxi and waved a last good-bye. Charming people. Wonderful visit. Very, very special for me.
Marcin Rzasa continues the tradition of wood carving which was a lifestyle he knew all his life, having a father who was dedicated to his work. I find Marcin's art very different from his father's, which is more somber, religious, with deep meaning. Marcin's work has sensitivity and a bit of humor. After seeing him around his son and daughter, I could understand that he would create and enjoy children in wood as much as in life. When you don't understand a language, you tend to watch peoples' actions and facial expressions ... and I noticed there was a special bond between Marcin and his son...perhaps the boy will follow to become the next generation of artist and wood carver.
We had a lovely visit... stayed for tea... and I was so glad I had perservered until I met this creative man and sweet family.
Gosia and I had to hire a car to bring us to the gallery which is outside the main retail "strip". The driver pulled into what looked like someone's back yard, but there was a sign, so we decided to ring the bell. A handsome curly haired man answered the door and invited us into the gallery just inside the door. I immediately saw my favorite piece which had been exhibited in Sandomierz a few years ago. The studio has numerous pieces of sculpture created by Antoni Rzasa... the father of the man who greeted us. It is interesting to see the framed pieces which accompany the sculptures....showing the artist's first sketches of his intended work. Sometimes it is a quick idea dashed on the back of an envelope which later became a piece wonderfully sculpted in fruitwood.
Marcin spoke in Polish to Gosia and eventually beckoned his wife, Magda (who speaks English) to join us. We learned that Antoni's work is not for sale, but travels around Poland on exhibit and soon will be shown in Italy.
Marcin and Magda are planning a trip to Italy to retrace his father's steps on a journey he made before Marcin was born. The story goes that when he returned from Rome he was very depressed. He told his family and friends, "Everything has been done." He couldn't work for six months... but then he created perhaps his greatest work...and my favorite..St. Francis. Marcin tells the story that as he grew up, it felt as if the sculpture was his "older brother".
There is a small room off the gallery where they have stock piled many more pieces which wait for display space.
It was more meaningful to see the work in this place where you had more of the feeling of the artist in his own space. Antoni built this house where Marcin and his family now live... and Marcin continues to carve.
There are other places you can go in the region, nearby are 2 quieter resorts, Male Ciche and Murzacicle. Also as a daytrip you can visit Morskie Oko to get to Slovakia you need to pass through Lysa Polana.
It's a long walk up a shallow valley alongside a stream. Not too strenuous. To get there you have to take a microbus to Lysa Polana (6 zl.), get off at the frontier, walk through the passport control. Then, just as you go over the stream, you take the dirt track on the right.
To jest fajny spacer!
When you get bored with sitting at Rusinowa Polana you may go up the grassy slope to the top of the hill. Gesia Szyja in Polish means "Goose Neck) so be prepared for easy but tiring and boring walk up the steep hill. But I'm sure you'll find the views rewarding!
A nice place to sit and rest or have a picnic is Rusinowa Polana The best way to reach it is to go by bus (Polana Palenica/Morskie Oko direction) and get off at Wierch Poroniec. Then follow the path up the hill. After 45 mins you'll reach Rusinowa Polana. It has a wonderful view over the mountains
on the far side of Swinica is the valley of the 5 lakes. Literally, a valley with 5 lakes... its a fantastic walk along the valley, and the path goes past all 5 lakes, ending (& starting) at the Roztoka Shelter. The walk itself is reasonably gentle, with only one or two steeper sections, and one section marked dangerous.
Climbing to the summit of Giewont is not as difficult as it may seem from the bottom of the mountain. For myself & Agnieszka it was torture, as we'd climbed Swinica the day before... Anyway, the hike starts at the entrance to the park (where you board the cable car), and heads up past the Kondratowa hostel, where a break for something hot was in order! After that its an uphill slog all the way to the top, including some rather interesting chains as you near the summit.
once on top, the views are breathtaking! A full 360 degree panorama unfolds around you, and the view of Zakopane itself is unbeatable. You can then descend into the Wielka Polana valley, and end the hike at the car park on Koscieliska rd.
one piece of advice: if you end the hike at the car park, make sure you have a car there! the walk back into town is VERY long...
Since my hotel was a few blocks off of Krupowki, I walked back and forth a few times and usually cut through this peaceful little park that you can find if you locate the Hotel Litwor. Walk up Krupowki, hang a right on the little street that goes to the hotel and just beyond the hotel, you'll find this peaceful spot. Everytime I walked by there were people sitting and enjoying the weather or kids playing basketball or just hanging out.
If you don't want to do high mountain hiking but just enjoy the branch of the Tatra mountains, it is not necessary to plan your tours. Just walk a little bit outside of Zakopane or to an entrance of the National Park, and you will find a lot of marks for different trails, and mostly you will meet only a few other people hiking. By that way, we made a wonderful tour with fantastic views over the basin of Zakopane and the Tatra mountains.
Taking side roads, short cuts around Zakopane gives you amazing views. The roads are winding up higher and higher, all covered in snow and you just feel like it was fairy tale, sooo charming.
Btw, it's pretty smart to put chains on the wheels when driving these roads.