Summer in Poland is really on and though working on structuring my notes, pictures and memories from the world trip I also use this sunny time to make short trips in order to discover my own country. While traveling I was frequently asked what my country is like. And though I could say main details about Baltic sea, wild lakes in Mazury and my beloved mountains in the south of Poland (Bieszczady and Tatras) and draw a simple map I must say I really enjoy to rediscover my homeland in more details and I take up every possibility to pay visit to some previously unknown areas. And I wish to give you, especially my co-travelling friends around the world, some more information and encourage you to visit my country.
Firstly – Kiermusy, where one can see (and even book a stay in) a few old houses with beautifully painted shutters and old inn. There is a lot going on during weekends as some old fashioned festivals cultivating historical events are organised. One can also buy beautiful artesanias. But even during a week this place is worth to be seen. What greats you first is sound silence.
A short walk over golden and green fields will lead you to a little castle staying next to the reconstructed historic border crossing between Poland and Lithuania dating back to 15th century when through marriage of Polish princess Jadwiga and Lithuanian prince Jagiello those two territories got united and new page in Polish history started.
There is also a place where one can see żubr, a huge animal reminding bizon. This huge mammals that can weight even up to a ton cannot live without the help of a men and as over the last century their population dropped dramatically they are strictly under protection. In Poland the main place to observe żubr in his natural environment is the National Park in Białowieża in the northern part of Poland. Nevertheless a few exemplars have been brought to Kiermusy and it looks they adapted pretty well here.
A few kilometers further east there is an European Stork Village in Pentowo.
Storks are for me really a sign of my home country. Those beautiful big white birds with black wings and red beaks feel pretty well in Poland and since ever are part of the Polish countryside landscape. And I guess Lithuanians and Latvians could say the same (lately, playing on the ‘Let’s go to Aloja’ festival in the northern part of Latvia I felt like at home exactly because of… storks).
Storks are so popular that they are present in many folk sayings and legends. Of course the best known is that storks bring babies (the other version that was said to the kids to avoid ‘difficult’ questions was that babies can be found on the cabbage field). It is also believed that if the storks put their nest on the rooftop of the house it means that people living there are good ad honest.
While searching more on the storks legend and sayings I discovered one I did not know. Mainly that long time ago where there were too many reptiles and amphibians in the world God put them all into the shawl and ask one man to throw them into the ocean but without opening it. But staying on the seaside the curious man could not help and opened it letting them escape. God being angry changed him into stork and ordered to clean the world as a punishment. And this is what storks are doing since then.
True or not this beautiful birds are just cute and visiting the village in Pentowo gives the unique possibility to come closer and observe them in their natural environment. There are two towers enabling observation of the nests and nearby wetlands being feeding areas.
According to Euronatur organization the White Stork was originally widely established in Eastern Europe. Today there are large gaps in the distribution. In Denmark the stork has completely died out, in Sweden there are only a few forms of it raised in captivity and in Hungary the population is stagnating. In Germany , France, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain an increase in the populations has been observed lately. One major centre of distribution of the White Stork lies currently in Poland. Around 40 % of the world population is to be found in the new EU member states in Eastern Europe. The stork village in Pentowo is one of the 13 European Stork Villages in Europe.