Travel to Poland: Copernicus, Olstzyn, Grunwald and Malbork
Reflections on a month-long ‘roots’ trip.
Positively Poland: Four
“We should take an early breakfast. Our day’s destination will be Malbork where we will visit a big old Teutonic castle — it’s open only until 4pm. After dinner we’ll go to the Hotel Stary Malbork.”
Our planned Sunday itinerary set up by our our dreadlocked Polish “leader” cum informal tour guide is this straightforward. Our detination, Malbork, home of Malbork Castle, the largest Gothic castle in the world.
But today we will deviate and detour.
OK. So, yes, I should have had certain things, like aspects of today, planned and organized ahead of time. But it didn’t happen.
It is only once I am in Poland that I look seriously at my notes and register that my late father’s relatives lived in Olsztyn.
I google “Hennig Olsztyn” while at our horse farm overnight stop and come across some chess playing Hennigs and a couple of others who most likely are relatives. Too late to contact them now.
But it’s agreed that we will stop in the town, wander around — and have our first of many encounters with Copernicus, who was not only a mathematician and astronomer but among many other things, lived here at the castle and filled the role of regional administrator from 1516 to 1521.
After Olsztyn we will do a side trip to Grunwald, the famed (1410) Teutonic battle site: one of the largest battles in Medieval Europe — regarded as the most important victory in the histories of Poland, Belarus and Lithuania.
Then it will be on the Malbork and the castle — which has a Slow Food Poland Gothic Cafe and Restaurant. Unfortunately, with the castle’s 4pm close, we can only check this out and not linger.
A shame, given that Malbork — while we have accommodation in a delightful hotel where morning breakfast is a treat — doesn’t have much by way of restaurant options on a Sunday night.
We steer clear of a large MacDonald’s and find a small local place on the main street where — maybe we just chose the wrong items — but among other things neither delectable nor that delicious, we eat mediocre pierogi — then head downstairs to a great little retro tango-inspired patisserie place for coffee filled with sweet temptations including very good chocolate cake.
Then back to our hotel for beer and vodka in the basement lounge and another evening of iPad action: this time googling for answers to all the things we had questions on during the day.
Again, to let the pictures do most of the talking: