Saturday, June 5, 2021

Bieszczady and Beksiński

Last weekend we checked off the final spot on my Poland must-see list—the Bieszczady Mountains. They are not the biggest mountains, nor the largest Polish national park, but they have been recommended to us by multiple Polish natives. 

We drove four hours to get to Poland's little south eastern tail that boarders Slovakia and Ukraine. In fact, a stretch of our main 21km hike was along the Ukrainian boarder (which was much more secured than our previous hikes along the Slovakian boarder). The countryside these is different than our area, our the nearby Tatry Mountains. The Bieszczady Mountains are lower, and most of the park is tree-covered rolling hills with patchworks of dark and light green. 

We chose a route that hit three of the highest peaks in the park. As most of our Polish hikes go, it was pretty cloudy and windy for the first two peaks, but we had some views and an overall marvelous time. While there, we also saw a snake, bear tracks, and a hedgehog! Although it's hard to say what made the area so special, I loved being in the Bieszczady region.

On our way home, we stopped by the town of Sanok to visit the Zdzisław Beksiński gallery. I had never heard of Beksiński until moving to Poland, but, at least among all of my Polish friends, he is the best Polish artist ever. His paintings are very detailed but dark: apocalyptic landscapes, deadly bodies, and nightmarish figures. 

I didn't realize it, but the Beksiński gallery was part of a the larger Sanok museum, so in addition to the multiple rooms dedicated to Beksiński, we also got some other artists and city history. As with most local history/art museums, a good chunk of it was religious, but it was still a nice museum. Afterward we tried a local specialty—proziaki, a soda bread that was filled with various sandwich fixings. All-in-all, it was a super enjoyable way to spend our second-to-last weekend with our car (our moving company is picking up all of our stuff on Monday). If it's the last Polish trip we take, it will be a good last trip. 

Our hike started off sunny, but as soon as we got into the woods we were under cloud cover. 

Like most of our Polish hikes, we hit some cloud cover and many crosses.

Once we were outside of the cloud cover, we had some great views!

On the boarder (granica). In the background you can see the yellow and red striped pole next to he yellow and blue bole, marking the Polish-Ukranian boarder. 

We didn't come across any mountain huts with restaurants and accommodations, like are popular in that Tatry Mountains, but there still were some little spots to keep out of the rain.


The Sanok museum started us off with some WWII history...

...and of course there was religious art. I particularly enjoyed the depictions of hell. 

This is the favorite of a few people I know. It seems especially apt after a year of quarantining. 

This one might be my favorite. I didn't notice the facial features until I stepped back. Although this doesn't show it especially well, in many of Beksiński's paintings I felt like I was looking at the bright colors that are found inside of a human body.

Downtown Sanok. It was very cute, and very Polish: colorful buldings, a church, and umbrella-covered restaurant tables.

The soda bread sandwich, which is a specialty of the Subcarpathian region of Poland. 

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