On Thursday, September 3 we awoke early and got prepared to meet our new tour guide for the second part of our trip, Pawel Ciaptacz.
Pawel arrived and helped us say our goodbyes to my cousins’ mother, who we both love dearly. I feel blessed to have made contact with my family in Pysznica, and been able to spend so much time with them over my last few trips. Walking on ancestral grounds, getting to see where your family came from, and where they lived in hearing stories about their ancestral past makes it difficult to want to leave.
After our goodbyes, we headed out and started our drive towards Sandomierz. Sandomierz was only 45 minutes away from Pysznica. So it was a short drive, something we looked forward to after having been in the car so much over the last week.
Pawel, our guide, was well-versed in the history of Sandomierz and I was very impressed. He knew the city well. He took us for a tour of Sandomierz which included the town square, touring a museum, and visiting the Cathedral Basilica in Sandomierz.
We also took a tour of the underground tourist route. It is the old storage for the market square. They couldn’t keep all their wares in the square, they had to store them somewhere. Each tent or shop had their own storage area. It’s quite an extensive walk underneath the city. If you wandered in alone, you could easily get lost. It was quite an amazing experience, and something I’ve never done before. If you’re ever in Sandomierz, I would highly suggest taking this tour.
Part of an unforgettable experience with Pawel, was driving down some of very narrow streets of Sandomierz. When I say narrow, if there was an oncoming vehicle heading towards you, you literally had no where to pull over to get out of the way. I even recall asking him before he pulled down it, “are you sure you want to go this way”? This road wasn’t a short road by any means, which made the experience even more harrowing. But it made for some great laughs.
We also able to take a small mini tour of an area where the ground had eroded you could see layers and layers of Sandomierz dirt. Now this may not seem interesting to some, but having walked it and seen it it was very interesting.
While having lunch at Pokusa Restaurant, Pawel mentioned that Sandomierz was well known for its mead. He suggested that we try it. I can tell you I was a little apprehensive because it became a running joke it was going to cost an arm and a leg, but for 20 zloty it was well worth it. I’ve never tasted anything like this before in my life and I can tell you if you ever have the opportunity to try Sandomierz mead, do it, you will not regret it. Unfortunately, we discovered after the fact that you cannot purchase it any where else other than in Sandomierz. It’s that exclusive and difficult to get.
Our accommodations for the night were at the Dwór Dwikozy.
After a full day of sightseeing, we returned to our rooms for short break before going forward dinner at the Imperial Residence restaurant.
We left Sandomierz in the morning and headed out to our next stop of Tarnow. On our way, Pawel mentioned a very old church and monastery that we should stop and take a look at. We arrived in the city of Koprzywnica. The parish here had been in place since 1200. When we had arrived there was a group of people on a tour bus that were just leaving. Pawel noticed somebody standing outside the parish and went and spoke with him. A few minutes later Pawel came back and told us that the gentleman was the caretaker of the church, and offered to give us a private tour. This man took over an hour of his time to show us every detail of the church and gave us one of the best and most thorough tours we had of a church. He was very proud of the church and its history and he knew it very well.
Taranow is not a very big city by any means. This was just a stopover in between going to Kraków.
We spent roughly around three hours in Taranow and I’m sure Pawel didn’t expect for us to request none other than, pizza for lunch. I know it sounds funny that I kept trying different pizzas throughout Poland, but one can only eat so many Pierogi! We stopped at an Italian restaurant – pizza place called Pizzeria “MARANTO”
I have to tell you, I have seen toppings for pizzas in Poland that I have never seen in American before. Pawel ordered a chocolate pizza. While it sounded intriguing I don’t like chocolate enough to try it on my pizza, but I understand it was very good.
We visited a few old churches and monasteries outside of Taranow, and even stumbled on a movie being filmed. Armed guards with automatic weapons were standing outside and around the area being filmed in. They looked like a SWAT team.
It was also in Taranow that I experienced my first UPS driver incident in Poland. Let me tell you if you think the UPS drivers go fast and drive crazy in the United States, you should come the Poland. Stay off the sidewalks! LOL interestingly enough, their vans are made by Mercedes.
Our tour of Taranow only lasted around four hours. After having seen everything we could in the city, we started our drive towards Kraków.
On the way Pawel mentioned the old ruined castle tower in Czchów. The walk up to the tower was difficult. This castle itself was built in the 14th century and has an amazing panoramic view of the Valley of the Dunajec and the old town of Czchów.
After a tour of the tower, we finished our trip and headed to Kraków. Pawel dropped us off at our hotel, Krakow Residence, where we would be staying for the next five days. We bid farewell to Pawel, but knew we would be seeing him in a few days for an upcoming pilgrimage to see the Black Madonna in Cczęstochowa.