Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Lublin: Historic Gem of East Poland

We’re excited to have a travel-related post today from one of our new interns, Robert:

Dzień dobry! Witam serdecznie w Polsce! (Good day! I warmly welcome you to Poland!) Today I invite you to come with me on a day’s journey through one of Poland’s oldest and historical cities: Lublin. The earliest historical records place Lublin on the map as early as the 8th century. It is located in the southeastern region of Poland, and is the largest city in eastern Poland. It was used as a major military and trading center from the 10th to the 12th centuries.

Lublin's Cracow Gate 

Co można tam zobaczyć? (What can you see there?) Lublin is filled with museums (muzea), castles (zamki), restaurants (restauracje) and history. If you are looking to get away and visit a place that offers a rich cultural history, as well as a folksy hometown feel, then Lublin is the perfect destination. The town offers a culturally unique ambiance and an active art, music and nightclub scene due its large student population. Cracow Gate surrounding the majestic Old Town (Stary Miasto) is a well known symbol of the city’s storied past. It was used as a fortification system in the 14th century and now serves as the main passage way between the Old Town and newer city. 

The Royal Castle of Lublin, now home to a museum.

Old Town is dotted with outside bars beckoning travelers to rest from walking and sightseeing and to enjoy a drink of fresh country raspberry, apple or blueberry juice and delicious Polish beers. The Royal Castle (Zamek Królewski) is also a must-see if you visit. The castle is the landmark of Lublin, founded and fortified roughly around the 8th century. The castle, along with the bridge connecting it to the Old Town and the parks around it are known as Castle Hill. The Castle has an art museum in its basement surrounded by what used to be a medieval prison and torture chamber. Visitors can visit the castle and wonder at the preserved living conditions from the 8th century.

Visitors can enjoy the quiet countryside just outside the city.

My memories of Lublin are filled with majestic sights. I especially loved walking the warm summer nights filled with people talking and laughing and street musicians lighting up the air with folk music throughout the Old Town. Sitting down for a drink at the rynek (marketplace) and listening to the music and bustling city enveloping you is the best way to become a local. Stopping by Złoty Osioł (Golden Donkey) restaurant is a must for any traveler wishing to try authentic Polish cuisine in a warm and inviting old stone enclave. The restaurant is located on the cobblestone path between the Zamek Królewski (Royal Castle) and the heart of Old Town. Eating the native Polish cuisine is an experience in itself! After a day of sightseeing, nothing is better than to sit down to tender chicken or beef cutlets (kotlet schabowy) smothered in onion and garlic gravy.

Side dishes usually include bright and refreshing cabbage salads mixed with carrots, beets, pickles, cucumbers, radishes, and, of course, potato pancakes. Travelers can also sample hearty sour cream and onion salads, a variety of soups including rich and luxurious goulash, reviving deep red borsch, and warm pierogi filled with everything from fruit to cheese and mushrooms. Bigos is another popular local and national dish, a stew of sausage, cabbage, tomatoes, pepper and carrots that mix together in a satisfying, spicy blend. And of course, all of this must be enjoyed with the best Polish beers: Tyskie, Warka, Żywiec, Okocim, and the delicious beer made in Lublin, Perła!

Here are some phrases to help you get started:

How do I get to …?
Jak dostać się do...

     Cracow Gate
     Brama Krakowska

     The Royal Castle
     Zamek Krulewski

     The Golden Donkey
     Zloty Osiol

     Old Town                              
     Stary Miasto

Is the museum / gallery free?
Czy muzeum / galeria darmo?

How much are tickets?
Ile kosztują bilety?

I’d like to order …
Chcialbym zamowic ...

     Beef Cutlet
     Kotlet schabowy

     Pierogi (dumplings)

     Bigos (sausage and vegetable stew)

     Borscht (beet soup)

     Goulash (spicy beef stew)

What beer do you recommend?
Jakie piwo polecacie?

Learn more about Hippocrene’s Polish Dictionary and Phrasebook!

It’s also available at your local bookstore, and online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.