Early morning I set off towards Święta Góra Grabarka, the holiest sanctuary for all Polish Orthodox Christians. It wasn’t far from Siemiatycze, so I rode slowly through forests, surrounded by wonderful scent. When I reached the church, morning mass has just started. I had no plan to take part in it, but few people who were inside sang so beautifully that I didn’t know when 40 minutes passed with me standing, sitting and above all hearing them. It was very far from average Catholic church singing (not very good) in Poland. There are many pilgrims coming to Grabarka every year. Many of them come here with wooden crosses which they leave there. With crosses they bring thanks and requests and they prey moving slowly on knees around the church. Forest of crosses, packed thickly is famous view of this place, it is original , but as far as I’m concerned seems rather depressing.
Region of Podlasie is full of Orthodox churches, some of them neighbour with wells, people drink water from them believing in its healing features.
A stone throw from Polish-Belarus border, in the middle of the forest is located very nice blue Orthodox church in Tokary.
I rambled with bike further along the border, the suface of the road sometime was like this:
In Zubacze I found another Orthodox church, this time it was brown.
Most of churches were closed when I was by them, but sometimes I could see rich interior.
What I liked the most that day were wooden cottages, some very simple and poor and some more decorative.
I remember funny talk I had with one of locals in place called Czeremcha. I was standing on the sidewalk looking on a map when he stopped by me and asked if I was looking for something. As I was getting hungry I asked him if I can find any place with something to eat. He said no, but instead asked “wouldn’t you like to wet your backside?”. I have to admit I was totally surprised by this question and he probably saw it as he quickly added “I mean… to swim a bit, there’s a nice lake a few km form here”. As it was really hot day I found his idea quite tempting and really cooled myself in lake in Repczyce. It was great! But my hunger rose stronger and stronger so it wasn’t long before I was on bike again. About 30 km left from Kleszczele to Hajnówka, somewhere halfway through I ate delicious regional “solianka” soup full of vegetables and meat and finished the route of that day – 106 km in total. In Hajnówka I found my next WS hosts – very friendly family of bicycle fans and was treated with more than decent coffee and home wine …