The Jews in Dynów

Dynów – a little, sleepy, provincial town in south-eastern Poland, a place where, as we sometimes say, birds are turning back, 40 km south of Rzeszów. But the landscape is really nice, San river, hills, a lot of green every direction you look. But to say the truth – nothing special.

So, you can easily understand how awe-struck surprised* I was seeing in Dynów such a scene as below.

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The Jews in their traditional garb. It wouldn’t be a shock for me if it was some 70 years earlier. Polish towns like Dynów before WWII had essential Jewish minority, in some cases it could be majority as well. But after Holocust and after the war with “help” of ruling communists almost no Jew at all left in Poland, let alone ones practicing their habits.

I searched a bit in internet and found that Hassidic Centre of Polish Jews were built lately in Dynów and that’s why we can meet again guests of original culture, which was so closely tied with Polish before WWII.

* In the first version of this post, before edition which I made today I used word “awe-struck” instead of “surprised”. I admit it was my word-mistake as of course I hadn’t been frightened by these people 🙂 It’s because my English vocabulary is still too limited and sometimes my poor memory plays tricks on me. And it probably will happen again as it’s not such fun to check every second word in a dictionary and blogging should be fun, shouldn’t it?. And I did was awe-struck when I realised what I had published in the first draft 🙂

Bicycle trip from Rzeszów to Baltic coast, Pl, … chapter 16, 20th August 2014 – the last kilometres

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Train from Gdańsk to Rzeszów with change in Bydgoszcz was due to leave just after 8 a.m. I traditionally (as for sleep in tent) woke up very early, about 5 a.m. and soon was ready to leave the camping. To my surprise gate was closed and as reception was supposed to open at 8 a.m. I got nervous that I’d miss my train. But luckily very soon next people came to go out and somehow they managed to wake up a guard so Gdańsk was again open for me.

Having apr. 2 hours to kill and being on the border of Sopot – the most famous Polish seaside resort I resolved to ride there for a while.

At the outset I rode through Sopot wooden pier, the longest in Poland (512 m). That early it was nice there without usual crowd and in addition for free.

Next stop – “lopsided” house on “Monciak”, the main promenade in Sopot.

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The time came to slowly divert to Gdańsk. For the last time I turned to pay farewell to the sea.

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I had opportunity to watch as fishermen just having returned from fishing carried their spoils onshore.

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It couldn’t have been the other way, my last kilometers toward railway station in Gdańsk was constant struggle against the wind. But as I had big time reserve I won. I still had enough time to take a picture of a tank T-34, the first who entered nearby Gdynia in March 1945.

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And it’s high time to thank my bike for it safely carried me along east and a bit of north Poland, we both reached Gdańsk railway station.

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To my surprise my train had no special car for bicycles, it was just average regular one and I had to strain all my force to hoist my bike on. Train form Bydgoszcz to Rzeszów wasn’t any better. I had to leave the bike on the very end of a train aisle.

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After 9 p.m. I reached my hometown Rzeszów where my wife awaited me on the platform. It was the nicest surprise of that day as I hadn’t expected her there. We walked together last 3 of 1.617 kilometres of my journey. The loop has been closed.

Bicycle trip from Rzeszów to Baltic coast, Pl, … chapter 15, 19th August 2014 – … and finally I see the Baltic sea and beauty of Gdańsk !!!

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The most important day of my journey started with beautiful blue sky. I wandered a bit here and there in the centre of Elbląg strongly surprised how nice the place was. It wasn’t really old town as it was quite destroyed during II WW, but new buildings were constructed the way that gave away the atmosphere of old commercial town which was quite close to Baltic.

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Next kilometers were extremely tough. I felt in legs that the sea was closer because wind was getting stronger and stronger. The area was almost tree-less at least along the road, completely flat, with many canals and there was no shelter from the wind. When I answered the phone call I could hardly hear words. It’s Żuławy Wiślane, the lowest part of Poland, reminding a bit the Netherlands.

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Seeing a sign “Stegna 5 km” I realized that these are last kilometers before I’d reach the sea with no help of car, train, plane, just using my strong will and muscles. It was really something and it let me conquer the wind and finally I did see Baltic! It was great!

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Although it was quite a warm day with temperature about 25 C only very few people were swimming. The apex of courage for majority was to dip their legs up to knees in water. I did the same and was sure why things were that way – water was horribly cold. Baltic unfortunately is not Adratic and although sometimes the water temperature comes up to twenty something there are days when it oscillates between 8-10 degrees only – during summer!

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But I told myself I’d swim tomorrow when I had more time, even in that cold water. Now was time to hit the road again towards Gdańsk. The last hurdle on the way (not counting the wind of course) was the Vistula river – as it’s often said “the queen of Polsih rivers”, which I overcame wth little help of a ferry.

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I had to admit that when I finally reached old town of Gdańsk I was tired, weary, exhausted, worn-out and sorry but haven’t learned yet more English words to describe my state of that moment. But it wasn’t important because I was in the most fantastic, beautiful old town in whole Poland! Gdańsk is more beautiful than Warsaw, Cracow and Wroclaw combined together, that’s what I’m quite sure of.

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You’ve got to admit that in Gdańsk not only old builings are beautiful:

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And of course the pictures can’t express it the proper way, but here are some examples of Gdańsk beauty:

The most famous fountain of Naptun, if you haven’t been there you haven’t been to Gadńsk 😉

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Żuraw – old granary originated from XV century, another famous symbol of Gdańsk

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SS Sołdek was a Polish coal and ore freighter. She was the first ship built in Poland after World War II and the first seagoing ship completed in Poland. Now she is ship museum.

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Stone gargoyle – one of many in old cobbled streets

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I strolled from street to street  till I thought it’s time to book a train ticket for my return way to Rzeszów. I wanted it for the day after tomorrow so I could finish the journey next day reaching on the bike the most northern point of Poland some 50 km from Gdańsk. You can imagine how furious I became when I learned at PKP (Polish Railways) ticket office that it’s not possible, they have no available tickets and I could only buy ticket for the next day or for 3 days later. The second option was impossible because I had to be back at home earlier, so I was forced to shorten the journey. This meant that my secret plan of riding bicycle from the most southern (which I did in May) to most northern point in Poland will never come true… At least not in 2014.

Almost with tears in eyes I bought the ticket for the next day, there was no other way out.

My not the best mood corresponded well with the sight of ruins on the Island of granarys, the only remnant of WWII damage in old town.

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The last thing to do that day was to find somewhere to sleep. As I hadn’t arranged any meeting with WS/CS host I decided I’d look for a camping and I found convenient one on the border of Gdańsk and Sopot.

A bit earlier I took one more glance at the Baltic sea, close to Gdańsk pier.

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Bicycle trip from Rzeszów to Baltic coast, Pl, … chapter 14, 18th August 2014 – colourful, almost fairy-tale village

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First thing early morning after waking up I felt cold, so warmed myself up with hot shower and left camping. My aim for that evening was Elbląg town. I hadn’t settled accommodation there, so was really pleased answering a phone call as it turned out that very nice CS member Ania was inviting me to her flat. Having an issue of where to sleep off my mind, the rest of the day passed very pleasantly with the exception of weather which was beginning to deteriorate as I was closer to Elbląg and entered the town in gushes of wind and partly wet after couple of showers.

But earlier that day I found myself in a fairy-tale. Almost. Reaching Nowe Kawkowo village I was taken by surprise when I saw the aristically painted signs and other items which made me feel like in other reality.

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Soon it turned out there is lavender field in that village too, quite unique for Poland, especially for it’s northern part with climate much more severe than Provence or Croatia.

The next surprise was a bus-stop, the one so cute, with painted qusi windows I’ve never saw similar one in Poland. I told older woman I met there that it’s the most beautiful bus-stop in Poland and she was a bit surprised, but also glad and told that every painting in this village was made by their mayor with the soul of an artist.

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I did my best to spend more time in that merry village but eventually I had to go.

First, I reached Morąg town. I stopped by Lidl shop to buy something to eat and noticed a bicycle with a trailer with a lot of stuff in it and the flag of Republic of South Africa.

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I was so intrigued by it that of course I managed to meet the owner after he did his shopping. We had nice little chat and I learned that this man was in his third year of great journey (“I’m retired and it’s all my life”) cycling all the way through Africa and Europe. From Poland he was to go back to RSA and I’d hoped he’d go through my town going south, so I invited him, but when he checked his maps with detailed itinerary for future travel it turned out he’d miss my town about 160 km going from Cracov straight south to Zakopane and later Slovakia.

I paid him my deep respect for his incredible challenge, we wished each other all the best and I set off to visit old town of Morąg, including the town hall with original Swedish few hundred years old cannons and remnants of a castle.

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Next stop – another medieval brick old town – Pasłęk. I visited it being a bit in a hurry as there were sinister black clouds on the western horizon and I was afraid of imminent massive storm.

About half an hour wasn’t enough to admire all that town had to offer, but enough to take a few picture of old gates and charming but a bit derelict lane leading somewhere down.

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Finally I made it to Elbląg where I spent wonderful time in company of Ania and her boyfriend, sipping delicious soup we shared our travelling stories, it was nice to know that we have in common a few  places we like much.

I was really tired that day, and as it emerged some time later, so distracted that I’d forgotten to take from bathroom my cycling clothing after taking shower. Ania sent it back to me by post a few days later and I was very ashamed as I left it dirty and opening the parcel I found it all washed and fragrant.

Bicycle trip from Rzeszów to Baltic coast, Pl, … chapter 13, 17th August 2014 – the least bicycle-friendly stage

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Off I went from Mrągowo towards Olsztyn. It’s a nice direction for car drivers as lately rebuilt road nr 16 is a fast and sort of expressway, but creates problems for cyclists, especially not the local ones. Bicycles are not allowed there, of course for the sake of safety. There are also narrow lanes along the main road where one can ride a bike, but the problem is they just vanish sometimes, are severed and you don’t know how to get where you want. Generally, there are no many roadsigns there. It’s a pity because that area has a huge tourist potential for cyclists, but unfortunately someone forgot how to make use of it.

On my way I reached The Dadaj lake which is very important for me for as I heard family stories it was there I spent my first holiday in tent some 40 years ago. After visiting the nearest village I went on discovering my way to Olsztyn.

Where I could I chose local roads. In NE Poland they are often quite twisty and there are rows of old trees along them.

 It is picturesque, but too often driving there ends really badly.

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I was glad to reach safely Olsztyn at last. As I have never been to this beautiful medieval town at the outset I headed to tourist information for a map and information where to find camping, my first regular camp during this journey. Outside the entrance there was a line of tourist bikes, the sign that I struck home.

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After a few minutes I was ready to visit the old town of Olsztyn.

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It was very nice to roam through streets full of people, look at the castle, old churches, the main square.

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Finally I got to camping located by one of many nearby lakes. It was in western part ot town suburbs which was convenient to me as it saved me a few kilometers of riding next day.