TATRA AREA RESEARCH GROUP
© TARG All rights reserved.
Newsletter for March 2003
Greetings to all of our TARG members new and old! My two sons and I
just got back from a WONDERFUL trip to the Tatras! (You can read all about
it in the column below.) Needless to say, I can't wait to go again with many
of you in August! As promised, I was able to bring back some books, maps and
calendars above and beyond those for TARG members who had sent me their
special requests and money. Many of these items I brought back will be of
interest to you. I even found some new titles I had never seen before. Click
on "Available books, maps, etc." on the TARG website at www.mytarg.net (or
http://mytarg.net) for photos and detailed descriptions of these. Remember
that the procedes from these modest sales go to funding TARG and our future
projects. Thanks for your participation!
On our TARG website, you will also notice some photos of the village of
Podbiel, Slovakia. Podbiel is celebrating its 400th birthday! We will be
visiting this quaint village in August, but TARG member Karen Melis shared
this website URL with us to visit now, so I thought I would let the
membership know. Thanks, Karen!
Due to time constraints, I'll have to wait until the next TARG
Newsletter issue to include your wonderful letters and other submissions.
Please forgive! We were just off in March having way too much fun in the
-- Paul K. Bingham
1. The URL of our TARG website is: www.mytarg.net or http://mytarg.net.
Visit any time!
2. The URL for Podbiel, Slovakia information:
OUR FABULOUS WINTER TRIP TO THE TATRAS_______
I'm back to report on our adventures of two weeks in Eastern Europe and
the Tatras. And what a wonderful time we had, too! As I said in the last
issue, I and my two snowboarder sons (18 and 21-years-old) decided to take a
trip to the snows of the Tatras, do some site-seeing, and visit family. And
we had a marvelous time!
Truthfully we were a bit apprehensive about going: the war, terrorist
threats, anti-American sentiment...all the "doom and gloom" on the news is
hard to ignore. But I must tell you that I have never felt safer traveling.
Everywhere we went the bag checks were thorough. I even got used to taking
off my shoes and being "wanded" and inspected at every turn. Once in Europe
we had nothing but kindness shown to us. We were in England, Austria, the
Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland. People were wonderful, helpful and
never once brought up the events so far away. It was truly marvelous to take
a break from all of the 24-hour coverage we had experienced in the USA.
For my sons, it was their first trip outside of the U.S. They could
scarcely take it all in. This was not a research trip, but mostly geared
towards fun for them. Having said that, I did manage to hit a couple of
dozen bookstores, take lots of photos and learn even more about the
beautiful area we cover within TARG.
We first flew into Vienna and visited the enormous armament museum there
before connecting with our train north through Bratislava, Zilina, Zywiec
and arrival in Krakow. The museum was fascinating, including an extensive
display of weapons the invading Turks used against our TARG ancestors. How
formidable and frightening these hordes must have been to our serf forefathers!
In Krakow we encountered our first snows and ice. It was early March, so
it was expected. Nonetheless the old town was bustling. My sons absolutely
loved the Cloth Market and ended up buying a huge hand-carved cherrywood
chess set for a mere $35. After a super night in the Hotel "Batory", we
hopped a bus south to Nowy Targ. The snow got deeper, but the sun was
shining and the views were glorious!
I had managed to book us a night inside the famous Niedzica castle our
ancestors knew well. Poised overlooking the Dunajec river, it has been
restored mostly as a museum, but also has a few rooms which will hold up to
35 guests. In Nowy Targ we got the "bad" news that we had missed the last
bus of the day that went directly to the castle. The only other one went to
Sromovce about 3 km away. With my son's long snowboards and other gear, I
didn't see us trudging through the ice and snow that far before the castle
locks up for the night.
We found a line of taxi's, and "Jan" from Waksmund took us through
nearly an hour's worth of icy roads and right up the main ramp literally to
the wooden door of the castle for what turned out to be about $40 US. He was
also worried we would not have anything to eat that evening, so insisted we
take a huge home-made Kielbasa he had in his trunk!
Once inside the castle the boys were wide-eyed with wonder. A woman
escorted us up to what we thought was the castle's office and reception area
for guests. It was filled with antique furniture and windows looking out in
all directions over the village and Dunajec below. It turned out to be our
room! None of the castle staff speaks English, but following TARG's own Paul
Hadzima and his example, I'm working on my Polish now! We actually got along fine.
This was a "pinch me" moment for us in the castle. 1000 square feet in
three rooms filled with history was ours for the night! The bathroom was
modern and there was a TV and phone, but everything else was from past
centuries. My boys broke out their wooden chess set and set it up on the big
round table in the middle of the main room. We spent the remaining hours of
the day playing under a chandelier and the gaze of the castle's last Solomon
heiress in the portrait on the wall.
The next morning we went out early to capture some day-break photos of
the castle. The temperature was about zero, but there was little wind. We
made our way through the snow and out onto the upper Dunajec dam. The lake
was completely frozen over. Lots of small animal tracks could be seen in the
snow on the lake, but we were happy staying up on the dam.
Through the cold mist we could see the Niedzica castle and Czorsztyn
castle ruins beyond and upriver. Back at the castle we were just in time for
breakfast in the castle's main dining room. We learned we were the only
guests in the castle the night before! One of the Hungarian barons watched
us eat from his portrait over the fireplace. As we finished up, we noticed
the cleaning lady heading inside the museum portion of the castle with her
mop and bucket. Our hostess had said we could follow her up and need not
wait for the castle's public opening at 10:00 AM. We followed the little
Babka up the wooden steps and into the bowels of the main castle. My boys
had a whole castle to themselves -- and not just any castle -- the one that
had ruled over our ancestors long ago! They were in hog heaven!
Promptly at 8:30 our cab driver Jan was back at the castle door to take
us to Zakopane. He took us through all of the back roads on the way, showing
us all of the sites, including the boys' first look at our ancestral village
of Jurgow. The ice was bad, but Jan seemed perfectly accustomed to the
conditions. (As for this native southern Californian, I was glad he was
driving!) We made it to our pension in Zakopane without a hitch.
We then headed up to Kuznice, the lower cableway station just outside
Zakopane. The wait in line was nearly three hours. But once inside our
gondola, the views below were marvelous indeed! Up and up we went until we
reached the top of the Tatras and Kasprowy Peak -- the very center of our
TARG study area! It was a clear day, and the views from our deeply
snow-covered vantage point were breathtaking!
Zakopane was as lively a place as it is in the summer. We had a
wonderful Goral dinner their, complete with Goral music, and headed for our
pension. Little vans you can flag down take you anywhere in the city for a
quarter. It was super. The next morning we got up early and back in line at
the cableway station. This time we were through the line in less than an
hour and up to the deep snows of the Tatras. Later in our trip we would
visit the Tirolean Alps. But this proved to be the best snow on the trip for
snowboarders and shutterbugs alike!
After a day on the slopes, Cousin Lucjan picked us up in Zakopane and we
headed to Spisz for a night in their home in Jurgow. We had a sumptuous meal
and friendly family conversation waiting for us. We brought a half hour
video of our family, home and Pacific Ocean's beach in San Diego county for
the cousins to watch. They enjoyed it so much that the next day, with a
living room full of village friends and relatives, they asked if we could
play it again! We were naturally happy to oblige.
Lucjan took us to all of the village sites: the historic mayor's house
(now a museum), the 200-year-old mill, and to mass in the village's wooden
church of St. Sebastian built in 1733. We also visited the home of Jan
Plucinski, the Goral violin maker of the village. None of us had ever been
to his attic workshop, but we got a tour this time. How wonderful to see
this! We will be visiting him and the other sights in the village on our
August trip. I can't wait!
Sunday night we had to say our sad good-byes and head back to Krakow. It
snowed all the way. In fact, Lucjan said it snowed for most of the week
after we left! We headed for the Alps, but as I said earlier, they were
having a heat wave (in the mid-fifties) and all of the snow was quickly
disappearing. We all wished we had heeded the family's invitation to stay
with them in the Tatras longer. And next time we will!
Flying home we did what everyone who visits the Tatras does...we were
already planning our return trip! Luckily for me it will be this coming
August. I won't need my thermals, hooded coat or gloves then. And the hills
of white will all be hills of green. But the smiles, handshakes and
wonderful food will all still be the same!
(For a few trip photos, see the TARG website at www.mytarg.net or
http://mytarg.net and click on "Trips Page".)
SPECIAL TARG TRIP IN 2003____________
Folks, wouldn't you love to join us on our return trip? We'll be in
Krakow, Zakopane, Jurgow, at Niedzica Castle and so many other wonderfully
fun places together on the big August trip? It's not too late to join us for
this Goral Homecoming Trip to Slovakia & Poland guided by Helene B.
Cincebeaux and her staff this Aug. 5 thru Aug. 15, 2003. We will be in ALL
of the old Slovak counties of Spis, Liptov and Orava and in Poland's Spisz,
Podhale Orawa and Krakow regions, too. We will have side trips available to
archives and other destinations of interest. For a full itinerary and other
information see our "Trips Page" on the TARG website at:
www.mytarg.net/Trips.html or http://mytarg.net/Trips.html!
To contact TARG the e-mail address is: TARG_NET@hotmail.com. Our mailing
address is: TARG, P.O. Box 3533, Escondido, CA 92033. Our new website is at:
www.mytarg.net or also http://mytarg.net.
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