Monday, 17 July 2017

Excursion to Kazimierz Dolny in Poland 15/16 July 2017


1993 historic rally around Poland - stop at Kazimierz Dolny en route


[Note a certain 1974 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow parked in the top right hand corner]

Sic Transit Gloria Mundi



Click on photographs to enlarge - far superior rendition on your screen

Photos by Błazej Żuławski (BZ), Henryk Grocholski  (HG)  
Michael Moran (MM)



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The CCC had for a long time been planning an excursion to the former picturesque port of Kazimierz Dolny on the Vistula River not far from Warsaw. The idea finally came to fruition at Paul van Arkel's initiative on the weekend of 15/16 July. Some members elected to stay overnight which made it a very pleasant and convivial occasion full of cheer and fine companionship. 

At this place, grain from the surrounding countryside was brought and stored in architecturally characteristic granaries by the river for onward transport by horse-drawn barge or sail to Gdansk for export. This is a rare survival in Poland of a largely intact small Renaissance town with fine late Renaissance churches typical of south-eastern Polish architecture. The distinguished historian Adam Zamoyski wrote of the parish church of St. John and St. Bartholomew: 'One of the most characteristic and beautiful buildings of its kind.' The market square contains some quite extraordinary seventeenth century houses. 

The transparent quality of natural light here attracted many painters and the town has remained an artistic centre and a magnet for artists. The views along the Vistula and the distant silhouette of the castle at the village of Janowiec on the opposite bank make fine subjects for landscapes.


Some eleven cars and crews assembled for the off at the MacDonald's car park on Wał Miedzeszyński - possibly the largest CCC group we have ever assembled for an excursion except perhaps the one to the Modlin fortress a couple of years ago. We decided on a picturesque minor road to Kazimierz with a first detour en route to Puławy to the magnificent wooden Kościół Matki Bożej Bolesnej at Mariańskie Porzecze.


HG

'What road did you say?' 
'That one there!' in some impatience
 'Oh I see now....'


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              BZ

Kościół Matki Bożej Bolesnej at Mariańskie Porzecze




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A fraction of the astonishing polychrome trompe l'oeil decoration of the interior of the church


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Mirek Staniszewski given the huge key to the church by the custodian priest who gave us a superb historical lecture on the church


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Henryk Grocholski placed in a contemplative and rather awe-struck mood  by the polychrome interior - as were we all


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A miracle....                          MM





How men jostle for position...              HG






A hold up en route to Puławy                       HG



We then drove on to the historic town of Puławy for some intensive sightseeing and refreshment. This small town was the center of political and cultural life in Poland between the 1780s and 1831. Cars parked and heading off on foot for a 'flash of culture'.






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Czartoryski country house (1722-36) rebuilt in neo-Classical style ca. 1800 by the architect Piotr Aigner for Prince Adam Czartoryski


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The remarkable cast iron staircase in the house - must be one of the first and certainly unique in my experience

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A painting of Władysław Czartoryski by 'our' Henryk's great grandfather Tadeusz Grocholski
A complete surprise for Henryk who had never seen this painting 


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The beautiful Park at Puławy was laid out by Princess Izabela Czartoryska in 1798 in collaboration with the English landscape gardener John Savage, Jean-Pierre Norblin, Wojciech Jaszczołd and Piotr Aigner - all outstanding archtects in their day.

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The Temple of Sybil (1801 - Piotr Aigner) with a suspicious character in yellow jacket and sunglasses crossing from the left (note attempt to conceal camera)


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MM in a rather happy mood before visiting the neo-Gothic cottage (1800 - Piotr Aigner). 

This building was the first serious historical museum in Poland. 
Princess Izabela Czartoryska used this building and the Temple of Sybil to accommodate her extensive artistic and historical collection. 
This collection now forms the basis of the Czartoryski Museum in Kraków

The famous  painting Lady with an Ermine by Leonardo da Vinci hung in this cottage


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Interiors of the neo-Gothic cottage


Below:

Refreshments in Puławy. 
Some decided against a visit to the museum and park and patiently waited for the rest of us


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It was at this point that 'the team' divided and some headed straight to Kazimierz Dolny. The larger group made for the castle of Janowiec on the opposite bank of the Vistula river.



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How Poland has developed since 1989! 
The futuristic 2017 BMW i8 in our group (driven by Błazej Żuławski) and a 'Duży Fiat' (FSO 125p) as driven by me in 1991 when I was working in Warsaw on a training programme




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Parking in the grounds of Janowiec Castle was picturesque and straightforward. 

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The eloquent ruins of the Gothic Renaissance castle of Janowiec (1526-37) built as the a seat of the Firlej family in a commanding position on the opposite bank of the Vistula to Kazimierz Dolny. Once gambled away on a hand of cards by one of the Lubomirski family in the 18th century.


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Henryk Grocholsky's family owned the castle in the 15th century


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We then left the castle to take the exciting cable ferry across the Vistula to Kazimierz Dolny




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And so we arrived at Kazimierz Dolny and checked into the Król Kazimierz spa hotel. 
A pleasant drink and meal al fresco in the late evening sun






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Facade of ornately decorated 17th century houses in attractively naive conception in the Market Square


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The parish church of St. John and St. Bartholomew in winter - deserted Market Square



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Interior and organ of the superb parish church of St. John and St. Bartholomew 


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Detail of the Lublin late Renaissance style of decoration in this church found in 
south-eastern Poland


The evening after dinner was full of festive cheer which apparently became more festive with each passing second of alcohol imbibation (invented word)

I was however dragged away by a couple of very friendly Polish journalists ( Jonasz Tolopilo)
who were fantastically keen to interview me concerning the RREC (Rolls Royce Enthusiasts' Club) and my long experience of ownership of these cars. They also wanted to compare my 1974 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow with the latest Rolls-Royce Black Badge 'for those young people who desire an edgier Rolls-Royce'. Interesting market niche. The car was impressive but the purple interior and ceiling of stars was really not my sort of thing at all. 



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Jonasz Tolopilo

Jonasz Tolopilo




                                                                                                                                          Jonasz Tolopilo

While I was busy with the purple and chrome Rolls-Royce Disco interior, looking rather surprised at a black Spirit of Ecstasy and chatting about my experiences over many years with these cars of course, the rest of the crew were partying hard. This side of my nature so rarely gets an airing these days! Anyway I wrote to Guy Pinsent who was driving the mustard MGB GT and he sent me the following succinct notes by email of a spontaneous cabaret show that erupted in the early hours of the morning at the hotel bar.


Hi Michael,

Well it is a bit hazy, but here are a couple of pointers from the evening's reconstruction:

- So-called craft beers and merriment in a dive bar somewhere near the  rynek. 
- Back in the hotel, we punished a bottle of the best whisky we could find - a rather interesting red label Macallan malt.      
- Michael Kenny regaling us with stories of his teenage days in Ireland
- Henryk  explaining something about a choir he runs.
- I sang a song or two, apparently well enough for Henryk to declare I was the next star soloist in his choir.
- As to the repertoire, there was a poor rendition of the Handel/baroque parody, "Old Mother Hubbard", to which Blazej, Henryk and both Paul joined with gusto. Then followed by "Isabel Makes Love Upon National Monuments (with style and enthusiasm, and anyone at all)" by the late genius, Jake Thackray. There may have also been an unspeakable rugby song or two thrown in for good measure.
-  The next morning, the MG BGT, did indeed need a bump start out of the hotel garage, and again towards the end of the day.  Otherwise she performed beautifully all weekend.


One never let's the truth get in the way of a good story, so all of the above might never have happened!

And thank you Guy for all of that...

I noticed the rather bleary eyes and no or late shows at breakfast and surmised the worst. A invigorating uphill walk around Kazimierz followed for some and for the happy even few, a climb to the top of the unique geological features of the region known as the loess gorges. 


HG
Higher and higher we climb....

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Past fields to...


We chose the Korzeniowy Dół (or Root Tunnel) a beautiful and scenic gorge named after the protruding, intricately twisted roots of trees growing along the cliff’s edge and revealed by erosion. Some say it feels like entering the realm of Tolkien's Middle-Earth. Sunlight shining through the roots emerging from the loess ground and vegetation make an other worldly impression on the walker. This feature is a favourite theme of the landscapes artists of Kazimierz Dolny.


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While we were fearlessly traversing the gorge, Henryk Grocholski had taken a detour with his wife and Paul van Arkel to look at a church under construction in the village of Bochotnica in the parish of Parafia pw. św. Jana Chrzciciela i Bartłomieja Apostoła. The idea of the church building project was that of his aunt Elżbieta Grocholska-Zanussi and is in her gift to the village and that of her husband Krzysztof Zanussi.



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A witch's cottage on the return walk to the centre of town


All too soon it was time to set off to Dwór Chotynia for a late lunch. Jarosław Cybulski, who was driving the red Ronart  W152 sports car, owns and runs this accommodation and wine business.

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Dwór Chotynia



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First some history...




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Then the well-stocked cellar of rare fine wines....



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Finally the Chłodnik which was outstandingly delicious as was the rest of luncheon...


'That was a good one I must say...'                                 HG

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'I would just like to point out rather forcibly that...'

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Heading off on a tour of  the accommodation areas of the Dwór....


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No comment...on the resident CCC entertainer....BZ

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'Pirhana' fish savagely attack some bread in the pond in lieu of a classic car driver....

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The Elephant Room - each guest room is named after a wild animal - panther, bison, leopard and so on

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And so we prepare to say goodbye....wings extended for take-off!


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I was not present at the absolute conclusion of our weekend at Góra Kalwaria....I had lost the group at a vital roundabout, ill-placed lorries and traffic lights.....however looks like fun was had by all!

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That MGB GT and its sad battery...well...let's not point fingers...





And so a successful, extremely well organised weekend by Paul at Kazimierz Dolny, one of the most picturesque towns on the Vistula River, concluded in a disarmingly casual manner (the founding spirit of the club) as the above final photograph so eloquently expresses!

                                                                                                        Michael Moran  (Chairman)


CCC Members who participated:

Błazej Żuławski - BMW i8

Henryk and Maja Grocholski - 1988 Daimler Double Six

Michael and Basia Moran - 1974 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow

Paul van Arkel - Porsche

Mirek Staniszewski - Porsche

Paul Blackman - 1995 Dodge Viper



Michael Kenny - 1960 MGA 1600 fitted with MGB 1.8 ltr engine, electronic ignition and Weber carburetors 

Guy Pinsent - 1970 MGB GT

Tadeusz Wesołowski - 1969 Series II E-Type Jaguar

Jarosław Cybulski - Ronart W 152


Michael Wrobel - Porsche

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