Continuing the Polish Perspectives Series, Cailin travels to the hard working city of Bialystok as the first stop on her tour of Poland.
My husband’s Babcia lives in Bialystok and so it was the first stop on our tour of Poland. Bialystok is located in the northeastern corner of the country and only 40 km from the Belarusian boarder. My first thought of the city was much like the rest of the eastern side of Poland; remote and untouched. Full of farms and hardworking people, Bialystock’s main industry is alcoholic beverages and textiles. Numerous breweries can be found in the surrounding area, one of which producing the popular pivot – Zubr.
We took a three-hour bus ride through the small towns and villages between the two cities. This was the best experience I could ask for. The bus ride enabled me to see not only Poland’s major cities but its distinctive small villages as well. It’s these villages that really showcase, in my mind Poland’s true identity. In contrast to major cities such as Warsaw and even Wroclaw, Bialystok and many other eastern villages have maintained their culture and not given in to Americanized commercialism.
Although not a top tourist destination Bialystok, established in the 14th century is slowly recognizing the need to conserve historic buildings in order to draw tourists. A massive undertaking was made to revitalize the town’s main square, which has been fully restored to its pre-war architecture. The town square is now considered the gem of Bialystok. Speaking with the residents, townspeople first did not know what to make of the revitalization. With no cars allowed and numerous bars and patios, the square was considered a nuisance and deemed not necessary. However, with education and the introduction of restaurants, ice creameries and shops the residents began flocking there every night. Now weekly festivals are held and parking is impossible to find!
I cannot compare Bialystok to any North American city that I know of. To me cities draw tourists based on architectural monuments and museums. Bialystok draws me in with its people. Hard working and self-sacrificing, the people of Bialystok charmed me far more than the poetic cobbled stoned streets and notable palaces.
About Cailin Szczesiul
In addition to being a successful young professional Cailin is an avid traveller and blogger. She writes about everything from baking to music to home décor. For more information please check out her blog . You can also follow her on Twitter.