Sep 112009

On Wednesday we made a trip to the mountains south-east of Kraków, the region between the Beskides and the Tatra. In a journal from 2001 I have read about the region, that legions of its inhabitants had gone to America, especially to Chicago and Toronto, but that most of them never had given up their houses.

Indeed you see innumerable of the typical wooden houses being uninhabited. In fact it’s pretty easy to see why: Although the region is beautiful, there is not much work available, almost no industry. My impression is though, that in the meantime tourism has become a substantial pillar of the region’s economy, with Zakopane being the #1 winter sports center in Poland.

Personally I was not particularly impressed though. I am afraid I am spoiled by our own mountains.

Other than that, let me bring forth one gripe that I have with Poland: It’s the habit of the Polish to burn things. We have called this trip jokingly an olfactory trip into the past. Let me explain.

Sometime in my youth it became forbidden to burn junk and plant remains on the fields or in your garden. Neither I nor my parents had ever done such a thing, but it was pretty common among farmers, and I can vaguely remember the protest against the law. It worked well though, and here in Poland I can experience what it means to the environment to not have such a law: It’s crazy, you see fires everywhere, everybody seems to burn some hay, leaves or whatever, and the air is constantly – and pretty unnecessarily – filled with smoke that hangs over the landscape like fog. That’s rather unfortunate, because the pollution by the heavy industry seems to be well under control.

By the way, the final image shows the name of a village. Language is another problem here in Poland, if for nobody else, then at least for me. Normally when I read a name in German, English, Italian, Spanish and to a degree French, I know how to pronounce it, and when I see it, I can more or less immediately recognize it. Not so here. Polish spelling is in a certain way elaborate that makes recognition pretty hard for me, and in some cases, like with this village’s name, it takes some pondering before I even have an idea of how to pronounce it 🙂

The Song of the Day is “Close To The Borderline” from Billy Joel’s 1980 album “Glass Houses”. Hear it on YouTube.

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