By way of wishing everyone a very HAPPY EASTER here’s a long post with lots of pictures. (Pictures are way better if you click on them, by the way)
In September 2009 a guy called Radek commented on a post where I was complaining that Warsaw is poorly situated in terms of options for a day-out. His suggestion was to go to Łowicz (wovich). I ignored his comment for the best part of five years but finally a few weekends ago I decided the time was right. My excuse for inaction is that I was waiting for them to build a motorway out in that direction and finally they did, they built the A2 just for me!
Handy road for us, the A2. We can get onto it very easily, 5 minutes, and it allows us to get to Poznan in 3hrs, Berlin in 5hrs as well as being a fast route to Chopin Airport and to any direction south, such as heading for Katowice or Italy. No need to muck around in town whatsoever. The only problem now is that they are completely rebuilding our easiest entrance to the A2, which is at the Grota-Roweckiego bridge junction (Trasa Toruńska) on our side of the river. As this forms part of the major Warsaw ring-road they are replacing the dangerously old slip roads as well as upgrading the main road sections in both directions. It’s a hell of a mess but will be far better when its finally finished.
Sooooo, getting to Łowicz was easy the question was what to do when we got there. As it happens the choice is so extensive that we didn’t actually do Łowicz at all! We’ll save that for next time. What we did do was this:
Just the other side of Łowicz is a small place called Maurzyce and there you will find a Skansen. Hard to explain in English what a Skansen is but it’s a collection of old buildings that show how people lived in the old days, a kind of open air folk museum I suppose. Poland has plenty of them, I suspect all part of communist propaganda – “You may live in a shoe box but at least it’s better than this!”. I’m not actually sure it is.
It is quite an extensive Skansen compared to some we’ve seen and has a decent range of buildings from homes to farm buildings and even a very nice church.
We were there on the 29th of March and they didn’t officially open until April but as they had visitors anyway they let us wander around, which was nice. There’s a small charge, maybe 5 zlots a head.
Who can resist a nice bit of welding? According to Wiki the Maurzyce Bridge over the Słudwia River (tributary of Bzura) is the first entirely welded road bridge and the second welded bridge of any category in the world. Well hurrah for Stefan Bryła who designed it and K. Rudzki i S-ka who built it along with about 20% of the bridges in the Russian Empire AND the Poniatowski bridge here in Warsaw!
One of a long list of palaces at one time owned by the Radzwiłł family, who were doing alright for themselves with 23 palaces, 426 large and small towns, 2032 estates, and 10,053 villages until Janusz made a few bad decisions involving Swedes and Russians and it was all downhill from there. Henryk Sienkiewicz wrote of Janusz Radzwiłł “Earthly ruin, a fallen soul, darkness, nothingness-that is all he managed to attain as a reward for service to himself”.
Well he’s gone but the palace remains.
It’s a nice place for a wander both inside and out. Inside they have numerous rooms to see all in good condition and outside the gardens are pretty good too and include the first Plane tree every planted in Poland, back in in 1770.
After the palace we stopped for a lunch-dinner at the Dworek Biała Dama which is just across the street. It was decent enough but followed the regular pattern for such places, very similar to the restaurant we ate in across from the entrance to Chopin’s birthplace. They start great and then get worse with each successive course. The soup was magnificent, the main course was huge but lacking any flair and by the time we got to dessert the chef had given up completely. It’s not like there’s a big choice out there and we’d go again but don’t expect miracles when the menu runs to 20 pages. Whatever you order is unlikely to be freshly cooked and the only reason the soup is great is because it keeps well.
Our last visit before heading home was….
Muzeum Ludowe w Sromowie
This museum is a family affair. It was opened in 1972 by Julian Brzozowski (1925-2002) who is clearly a man who enjoyed a bit of whittling. For years without end he carved wooden figures and placed them into animated scenes which are still working today. Again we were lucky to get in as we’d arrived 10 minutes before closing time and there was nobody there. There was a phone number pasted on a tree though so Marta called and the guy, son of Julian, said he’d be happy to come over and show us around anyway although we’d have to pay 30 zlots a head because we weren’t a group.
He walked us through the various outbuildings each with a different collection of scenes and one with a lot of old horse and cart type equipment. He was clearly and justifiably proud of his families achievements. Not only was Julian a busy man, farmer, whittler extraordinaire, musician, village elder, but his mother, sister, everyone had contributed something.