Wednesday, May 25, 2016

It’s hard to believe that last year at this time I took a 4-day solo road trip in southwest Poland – a place we had called home for 27 months but would soon be leaving.

As an expat, we do tend to move a lot – at least more than the average person. Our life depends on where my husband’s job takes us. Since hubby had already left to start his new job in Australia, I found myself with 5 weeks to entertain myself and spend with friends.

In my opinion, late spring is the best time to visit Poland. The winter months are filled with many never-ending gray, dark days. Finally, when spring arrives, you almost want to shout Hallelujah! The Polish countryside, especially in the Dolny Sląsk (Lower Silesia) region, are filled with endless fields of brilliant yellow rzepak (canola/rapeseed), red poppies and other wild flowers. I loved being able to stop whenever I wanted on my road trip and take photos of all the beautiful flowers!
Did you know that Poland is one of the leading producers of rapeseed oil in the European Union? Other top producers included Germany, France and the U.K.
Dolny Sląsk, located in the south-western part of Poland, appealed to me basically for the sheer number of castles it contains. I love exploring and I love road trips! Win win!
Taking selfies in front of Polish castles.
Thank goodness my dad taught me how to drive a manual car!
Just me and the open roads in Lower Silesia, Poland!
This region has seen many changes in rulers leading up to 1945: it was under the authority of Czechs, Poles, Habsburgs and Germans and many of them left behind their castles and palaces. Back in 1742, most of Silesia was conquered by Prussia, later becoming part of the German Empire. After WWI, an eastern strip of Upper Silesia was awarded to Poland and the rest later became part of the Czech Republic. Polish Silesia was among the first regions invaded during Germany's 1939 attack on Poland. Following WWII, the lines were redrawn again between Germany and Poland. Millions of Germans living in Silesia either fled or were expelled, and were replaced by Polish population settled from other regions.

As I drove through the Dolny Sląsk countryside, I found numerous abandoned great palaces that were probably once owned by wealthy Germans. In fact, I later learned on my trip that many Germans lately have been returning to this area to seek out their ancestry. That’s something I can relate to because all I really know is that my ancestry is German, but perhaps relatives once lived in the Prussia region too.
I wonder who once lived here. This fancy house had a 2-meter tall iron fence surrounding it and the large property.
Another reason to visit Dolny Sląsk in the springtime is to see the annual migration of the white storks. Each spring, Poland welcomes home roughly 25 percent of thenearly 325,000 white storks that breed across Europe. After wintering in Africa, the storks return to Poland, mainly in the northeast provinces, to nest and are attracted to tall trees or specially-constructed wooden poles. Fortunately, I saw several of these gigantic white storks on my road trip.
In my upcoming blog posts, I’ll talk about the Polish castles, historic churches and other sites I saw on my road trip in Dolny Sląsk. I didn’t find a lot of tourist information in English for this area, so hopefully I can provide some travel tips. Stay tuned for more travel adventures!
Just another cute Polish village in the countryside.
This is what a rural firehouse looks like in southwest Poland. Love the red!
Where has been your favorite road trip?

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Anonymous said...

Looks like a great road trip, Joy. Lovely photos. I have only been to Gdansk and Sopot in Poland but liked both a lot. #WeekendWanderlust

Joy said...

Thanks so much Ahila! I think that Poland is really underrated with how much there is to see and do. :)

Amanda & Brian said...

Looks like a great trip! Lucky for you that you know how to drive a manual car. I have still not learned that skill and it certainly becomes a problem when traveling abroad!

anette charlton said...

Beautiful shots of the flowers, the poppies are definitely my favourite. Do you know if the electricity commission put the frame on top of the poles especially to allow the storks to build nests? I am trying to think of the classic book I read in school about storks - I can visualise the book cover but not the name of it!! Love this post.. Annette