Where on Earth?
Honestly, I forget I'm in Poland sometimes. Maybe not that I forget, but just that it's kind of normal now. Every once in a while though, something will come along and remind me. The latest such thing was the map above. Never, did I ever, or could even have possibly imagined that someday I'd find myself there. There being in a tiny Polish village 3 kilometers from the border with Belarus. At the time, I found it so ridiculous that I had to take a screenshot of the visual. I still find looking at it funny.
Where is that? Bialowieza Poland. Why? The Mrs. and I were there for our one-year wedding anniversary. But why there? Because someone told us about a train hotel, and the more we looked into it, the more fun the place looked for a relaxing anniversary/winterigetaway trip. So why not right? Exactly.
I found Bialowieza fascinating. For so many reasons. First, you can stay in a train hotel. How cool is that (photos below)? Second, there's a massive forest. Reportedly the largest remaining section of "primeval" forest in Europe. Third, it's the home to the largest remaining herd of European bison (Zubr is Polish). They're literally just walking around, and part of the fun is trying to find one. There are also wolves, moose, deer, lynx, foxes, etc. Fourth, this is the part of the world where Catholicism and Orthodox Christianity meet, so every tiny village seems to have both a cathedral-like Catholic church as well as an onion-domed Orthodox church. Enough with the numbers, when this part of Poland was part of imperial Russia, Bialowieza was a favorite vacation spot of the the Russian Tsar (at least the last Tsar anyhow). Now it's still a tourist destination, so there are some very good places to eat, drink, sauna and sleep (you know, the important things in a vacation). It was so good we're thinking we might go back in the spring when the forest explodes with blooming everything (although, now being in Europe, we have a hard time going back anywhere when there are so many other new places to visit... we'll see).
I've polled the Poles I know (pun-intended), and most have never been to Bialowezia. You guys should go, or let us know the spots that are even better. My writing about it will never do it justice, so on to the photos:
And of course, the thing that brought us to Bialowieza in the first place, the Hotel Carska. A hotel inside a renovated train station and train cars originally built for the Russian Tsar. Super Cool.