A trip to the fringes

A trip to the fringes

A trip to the fringes

0 comments 📅02 December 2014, 19:03

We take a diesel Outback 2.0 CVT 2013 to the wild but extremely interesting surroundings close to the city of Terespol, where time has stopped in the eighties.

The first leg of the journey (Warsaw-Siedlce) is managed by my wife, who usually drives the second generation Subaru Outback in petrol version. 100 kilometres go by smoothly and I am thoroughly enjoying myself reclining on a soft seat with lots of room. I try to relax and catch up on some sleep. Every now and then I hear my wife’s comments on how smoothly but not sharply the car accelerates. The fact that I do not hear the characteristic murmur which becomes audible above 4000 rpm is due to the fact that the car is set on full automatic gear shift and there is a lot of traffic. ‘The seats can lull you to sleep’ – I hear another comment from the driver’s seat. It is true. When compared with the relatively hard, low set leather seats of our other Subaru, these ones are very soft indeed. The suspension is… well, different. On the one hand it allows for smooth clearance of uneven pavement and lets you “feel” the road. On the other hand, when driving at higher speeds, for example on a ring road, you can sense the unpleasant up and down bouncing of hard suspension. There is one more difference, which my wife observed. We call it the “tank effect”. When negotiating a high kerb with our other Subaru, we feel like we could clear it even if it was a metre high. The new generation also climbs obstacles well, but the feeling is less enjoyable.

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‘This rear view parking camera is excellent’ – I hear another positive comment from my wife. As we later find out it performs well in all light conditions and is correctly synchronised with intuitive operation.

We reach Siedlce – one of our waypoints. ‘How do you open this?!?’ – The words are uttered to the sound of someone trying to repeatedly pull the handle… Well, automatic door lock following the start of the car is nothing new now. It is however very specific in a sense that you need to manually unlock each door from the inside before pulling the handle.

We switch driving. I follow the road East in the direction of Terespol. I discover manual mode for the automatic gear shift. When downshifting, for example to stop before the car or when approaching the lights, the car brakes with the engine just like a fully manual gear shift. I definitely like it.

Taught by experience we stock up in a reliable supermarket near Orlen petrol station close to Łosice. We buy the typical set of products when travelling to the East of Poland – delicious dry smoked sausages and fresh bread – just in case. Finding a reliable restaurant in such rural area is no easy task. 

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Now we are ready to go to the Polish-Belarussian borderland.

After leaving Łosice the traffic and population density lowers with every kilometre bringing us closer to the Belarussian border. In villages we see a lot of wooden houses reminding us of the previous era.

Border zone
We start feeling well – here we can enjoy the slow life, green pastures and views unspoiled by modernity. Such places have their own peculiar charm. For example, when parking the car for 15 minutes it is guaranteed that some form of local wildlife will surely appear. In our case it was a woodpecker, to which our 7-year old son immediately reacted with a nursery rhyme about its red hat.

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When approaching Janów Podlaski we turn left to Mierzwice and then turn right taking a small road through Stary Pawłów. The village fits into the local borderland landscape. It is worth to stop by the renovated old Orthodox Church of Saint Nicolas the Wonderworker in Stary Pawłów. The church was built in the years 1929-30. It is located in a beautiful place which is also the venue of many orthodox ceremonies with their magical scent of wood. 

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After a short stopover, we move on. There are storks everywhere – I’ve always been very curious why they have a black shade around their eyes. Not many people know that out of 230 pairs of storks, one quarter come back to their nests in Poland. I could even venture a hypothesis that it is easier here to meet a stork than a human being. A pair of binoculars is highly recommended when travelling to these corners. Thanks to this, you can, for example, catch a glimpse of these magnificent birds.

Unpaved road winds close to the stream. We stop by a wooden crucifix, guarded by four trees. We come back to our childhood memories of village life with the smell of wooden houses, tractors, the sights such as farm roads, the sound of songs of larks, mooing cows and to frolicking with the dogs in the meadows.

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Rough terrain is not something that the driver of a Subaru Outback should worry about. The car clears obstacles, climbs hills and the higher clearance gives extra comfort when driving through sand. This is something we rather have gotten used to by our prior experience with Forrester and now Outback. We push on, pass a small bridge and then turn left.   

A stable
After a short while we see in the distance horse enclosures and the buildings of the oldest Polish national stable, founded in 1918, famous around the world for their beautiful Arabian and Anglo-Arabian thoroughbreds.

We approach the complex from the side of paddocks and historic 19th Century buildings known as “private stables” which now provide shelter for mares with their foals. We stop by one of them. This is feeding time. Looks like time has stopped here. The kids admire beautiful foals, mares and rather wild Arab thoroughbred stallions.

Such well spent time must be concluded with a meal consisting of traditional Polish dumplings and red or white borscht soup served in the local inn “Wygoda”. During the season, the restaurant offers outside seats under umbrellas. During this time of the year, however, the patrons thought the time is better spent indoors. The food is delicious and fulfilling. Horse fans can stay overnight in modest but clean rooms.

We say goodbye to the stable and go to the centre of Janów, passing the whole building complex designed in the 19th Century by Enrico Marconi. We leave the place with a feeling that we will be coming back. 

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After visiting the stable in Janów, time to focus on our main destination – meandering oxbows of the river Bug in the Podlaski Przełom Bugu Park. The surroundings of Janów consist of countless pastures and meadows stretching along one of the wildest, unregulated and mysterious Polish rivers. Bicycle and long walk enthusiasts should visit the Łęg Dębowy nature conservation area. It is located close to the river and every year during spring it is flooded. We enter the town of Janów. Near the Old Square we can find one of the oldest petrol stations in Poland which has been operating since 1928. Next to new pumps there are still manual Temper Extakt petrol pump units. We are not concerned about tanking, though – this is the advantage of diesel fuel. Despite the fact that the car has higher clearance and weighs almost 1700 kg we can still drive for more than 500 kilometres. We go further to Terespol and enjoy the passing landscape full of green fields and wooden houses.

La Linea – Balum Balum
Right after passing the town of Błonie we turn right into the direction of Cieleśnica. There is an asphalt road between a row of very high trees and a beautiful church. After two minutes we arrive in a great park with a prominent palace – once the property of the Cieleśnicki family. Classic architecture with Ionic columns and a decorative façade looks extremely beautiful surrounded by trees and greenery. This is the second place on our trip which offers a possibility of extended stay. High standard of accommodation in the palace, spa and a restaurant with its own horticultural garden sounds like a tempting idea for a holiday with kids. We, however, decide to push on.

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During the period between the two world wars the property was managed by Stanisław Rosenwerth-Różyczka, one of the founders of an aviation company in Biała Podlaska. It was then when many utility buildings were erected including a steam powered mill, a distillery, a brickyard and a power house. After World War II the property was nationalised and converted to a collective farm which, by the way, is still operating. 

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We are back on the road to Terespol, still passing wild countryside and an occasional shrine. 

Next point, Pratulin and the Sanctuary dedicated to the Martyrs of Podlasie. 

The landscape is so relaxing that it is difficult to focus on anything else. We still want to see a few places, so after a quarter or so we leave the village of Krzyczew and come back to the road to Terespol.

A few hundred metres down the road we approach a parking lot with a characteristic decoration in the form of a tank. This Soviet Army vehicle, according to the legend, was the first to cross the river Bug during World War II. Before we park the car we would like to see one more thing. The barrel of the tank points to a small field road, which can be used to climb a small hill. 

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Among the trees we find… a stone? …a sculpture? …

It has the shape of a crucifix which also resembles a human figure. Some people claim to recognise some facial features as well. This artefact is probably pre-Christian and despite numerous attempts to analyse is archeologically and scientifically, the specialists have not been able to conclude the purpose of such stones. They are called “stone countrywomen”.

The hill with “the stone countrywoman” is a great vantage point offering a panoramic view of the surroundings and is part of the Nadbużański bicycle trail.

On the way back we cross the road to Terespol and pass the tank. A sandy road leads us to one of the most beautiful corners of this location – a nature conservation area known as the Switzerland of Podlasie.

This place has very diverse flora. It is not difficult to find a hundred year old oaks, lindens, aspens and maple trees growing side by side. The winding river is a truly magnificent sight further enriched with the song of thousands of birds. This is a fantastic place to observe nature in full bloom, or to relax.

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It’s a pity, but it’s time to get back home.

Our own family car is equipped with Android Asteroid system which is definitely a better choice than the on-board navigation of Outback in terms of intuitive interface. After some struggle we manage to set the course for home.

In conclusion, it was possible in just one day to visit beautiful pristine areas and establish real contact with nature. It would be great to stay longer. We definitely plan to come back here. Perhaps in September for the horse auction…

A few words about the car – Subaru Outback CVT diesel. It’s difficult to resist the urge to press the gas pedal as the car is almost literally begging for it. When overtaking other cars the engine issues a pleasant growl and our only worry is getting rid of the bugs off the bumper as we usually end up first in a column of cars. The car behaves correctly on long haul trips, however, it is when we stray off the main road that the Subaru fully shows what it has got. Downsides: slightly bouncy ride on uneven motorways and not the most intuitive infotainment system. Upsides: quite good dynamics suitable to both my wife and me. My older son’s comment that ‘the car is gonna stay with us, right?’ and the tears of sorrow on the face of the three-year old when he was told that we had to give the keys back. My own comment is that Outback is perfect both for trips like the one described above and for everyday use.

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