First thing’s first: so sorry for my blog absence for the couple of days (maybe even weeks, actually). Had a quite tumultuous time, but things’ are finally getting better. Now, time for the delicious part: Berlin‘s Canal, the best spot for crazy good eclairs in the German capital. Having started this compact cafe as an ice cream shop in 2015, co-founders and pastry masters Daniella Barriobero Canal und Guadalupe Eichner decided to move into eclairs to keep customers happy during the winter months. The pair worked intensively to create the best eclairs possible, and if you want to get your hands on one of the seasonal, heavenly varieties they’ve developed, it’s worth to get there early. You won’t want to miss out on the likes of the pistachio and raspberry eclair, with Sicilian nut pastry cream, whipped ganache and fresh berries; or the matcha sesame, which features the best Valrhona Opalys white chocolate. Sneak a couple of these delights home with you in a box when you next stop by for a coffee.
After the Tary mountains and Zakopane, there’s just no way not to visit Cracow. Historically Poland’s former capital and oldest university town lies in a broad valley on the banks of the Vistula river, and is a treasure house of national culture. Its ancient, elegant Old Town has been placed on the UNESCO list of World Historic Sites. It is ideal for a long weekend break, without the tourist hoards and high prices. Be dazzled by its art and architecture, from baroque to Art Nouveau, renaissance to Gothic, and by the sheer spectacle of the city. Here are some of the gorgeous places I’ve visited this time…
The Józef Mehoffer House is a museum located in the former residence of the painter at 26 Krupnicza street and is listed in the Register of Historical Monuments. It boasts an adjacent, blooming garden extending to the south. In 1932, the house was purchased by Józef Mehoffer who was captivated by its old-fashioned look as well as its spacious courtyard and garden shaded by old green trees. The building already constituted part of the city’s history. Mehoffer carried out its thorough renovation, leaving the structure of the building unchanged but introducing new interior divisions. The process endowed the house with features of a carefully devised family residence, which was dubbed „The Cone Palace”. The outbreak of the war in 1939 interrupted the finishing works. After their return from a German camp in Ash in the Sudetes, the Mehoffers – despite the misery and horror of the occupation – continued the tradition of musical and literary gatherings in their home. It was here that the painter also worked, having lost access to his atelier in the building of the Academy of Fine Arts in Matejko Square. After Józef’s death, the family stayed in the house filled with works of art, archives and memorabilia. As early as in 1963, Zbigniew Mehoffer, the painter’s son, began to expend efforts to create Józef Mehoffer’s museum in Krupnicza street, which bore fruit only many years later. In 1986, in accordance with the will of the artist’s family, the house and the land became the property of the State Treasury and was transferred to the National Museum in Krakow for the purpose of establishing a branch dedicated to the artist. After further renovations and redecorations, the Museum was opened to the public in 1996.
For a proper dose of art and architecture, you should definitely visit St. Francis’s Church with its original, floral polichromies by Stanisław Wyspiański, the Wawel castle and cathedral, and the 19th Century Polish Art Gallery at Sukiennice (in the same building you will find the best store with locally-sourced decorations and traditional, hand-made rugs -“kilim“).
The Princes Cartoryski Museum. The most valuable art collection in Poland, and one of the most valuable ones in Europe. The Lady with an Ermine by Leonardo da Vinci or the Landscape with the Good Samaritan by Rembrandt van Rijn, as well as many other masterpieces of not only painting, but also sculpture, crafts, military, applied arts, can be viewed in 26 exhibition halls, on two floors of the renovated Princes Czartoryski Museum. In 1801, Princess Izabela Czartoryska née Flemming created a collection of national treasures. The resources she collected were presented in Puławy, in two park pavilions: The Temple of the Sybil, and since 1809 also in the Gothic House. It was in the Gothic House that the Leonardo da Vinci’s Lady with an Ermine and Rembrandt van Rijn’s Landscape with the Good Samaritan were exhibited. During that time, the pearls in the Czartoryski collection also included the Portrait of a Young Man by Rafael Santi (lost during World War II). However, the museum did not survive the November Uprising, and in 1831 – following Prince Adam Jerzy Czartoryski’s emigration – the collection was transported to Paris. It only made its way back to Poland in 1876, in connection with the scheduled opening of the museum in Krakow. World War II brought about significant losses to the collection. After the war, the museum was taken over by the National Museum in Krakow, and in 1991 fell under the management of the Princes Czartoryski Foundation. On December 29, 2016, thanks to the purchase by the Polish government, the Czartoryski resources became an integral part of the National Museum in Krakow. After all these years, visitors can finally see Czartoryska’s precious collection.
Cracow is also a great place for vintage fashion! Vintage Shop on Szpitalna street has a lovely selection of unique jewellery, designer items and adorable, tapestry bags from 1960s and 70s.
If you ever decide to visit Zakopane, avoid the main Krupówki street (it’s a really bad looking commercial street…), but check out the “niche” places, like the Willa Koliba and Willa Oksza, or the amazing Władysław Hasior Gallery. Born in 1928 in Nowy Sącz, Władysław Hasior is one of the most remarkable modern, Polish artists. From 1959 he participated in every regional Zakopane artist ehxibitions and Art School Complex painters performances. In the 60s and 70s, Hasior showed his works on many national and foreign exhibitions. His works were transported from small workshop to the gallery by Jagiellońska street in 1984. The gallery was located inside former resting site of “Warszawianka” sanatorium, built by Wacław Nowakowski in 1935. Wooden resting site had two floors, glazed from south. Thanks to this transformation, the multilevel ehibitional interiors were created, often used as concert halls and living rooms or atelier of Hasior. In Władysław Hasior Gallery, various artworks found their place, like banners, assamblages, compositions and sculptures made from “trash” materials and junky, everyday items. Bearing metaphoric, ironic and contrary titles, they provoke reflection on the modern world and art, just as Poland’s history.
The Jaszczórówka wooden church constructed by Stanisław Witkiewicz in Zakopane
The Tratra mountains in Poland aren’t just beautiful nature, but as well an important epicenter of Polish culture. The origins of the Zakopane Style go back to the late 19th century, when the Arts and Crafts Movement was in full bloom. It was created by Stanisław Witkiewicz, who settled in Zakopane in 1890. The Zakopane Style was the first Polish national style that went beyond the framework of theoretical postulates and could be carried out in practice, not only in Zakopane, but also in many other places in Poland, particularly in the Austrian and Russian partition zones. Stanisław Witkiewicz came across this idea in 1898. The inspiration for the Zakopane Style was therefore more the Ruthenian Style, which the artist could have encountered in 1868–1872 during his studies in St. Petersburg. In 1886, after his first trip to Giewont, he wrote: “…the highlander hut is a higher sort of construction in which the practical features are decorated in an expression of certain aesthetic needs. This is less raw material than a fairly developed style from which one might evolve a new and independent type of building.”
The first home in the Zakopane Style was Zygmunt Gnatowski’s Koliba Villa, which Witkiewicz built in 1892–1894. Witkiewicz considered the highlander carpenters and woodcarvers to be co-creators of the architecture he designed. The Koliba Villa was meant to settle all doubts as to the possibility of reconciling folk architecture with the requirements of the more complex and refined demands of comfort and beauty. According to Stanisław Witkiewicz’s precepts, the Podhale hut was to be the model for the Zakopane Style villa, which the Polish artist sought to make the Polish national style. Furnishing the hut with stylish furniture and other everyday items of his own design was his point of departure. His main task was to use the characteristic attributes of folk furnishings, “artistically employing” the constructions themselves. Ornament was shifted to background, though in many cases it was an important element. Podhale folk ornament, much like that of other regions, was mainly limited to geometrical and plant motifs. In the Zakopane Style this repertoire was expanded with motifs of the flora of the Tatra Mountains.
Willa Koliba & Willa Oksza
The first attempts to use Podhale ornament in artistic crafts involved carving ornament on wooden furniture – chairs, beds, and a screen. Based on designs by Magdalena Butowt-Andrzejkowiczówna and adapted by Franciszek Neužil, this furniture was produced by the Professional School for the Wood Industry in Zakopane for Countess Róża Krasińska in the 1885/1886 academic year. Beginning in 1887, this decorative movement was promoted by the school and was called the Zakopane Style. Stanisław Witkiewicz was critical of this furniture, mainly for its construction “without regard for the shapes of the original highlander pieces.” The failed attempts of the Wood Carving School inclined him to adopt the “highland style” himself. In the course of five years the first villa furnishings in the Zakopane Style, some to his designs, emerged in the Koliba, Oksza, Zofiówka, and Pod Jedlami villas. Attempts were made to harmonize the furnishings with the villa architecture, while “every detail” was to be “covered with highlander ornament or given highlander shape” to fill the interiors, while also creating designs “that had never been seen in highlander huts.”
The Zakopane style dominated architecture in the Podhale region for many years. Although the cutoff date for buildings designed in the Zakopane Style of Architecture is usually held to be 1914, many new pensions, villas and highlander homes are built according to the architectural model devised by Witkiewicz to the present day. The museum of the Zakopane Style of Architecture located in the Villa Koliba provides visitors with information on the Zakopane style.
Willa Oksza (Witkacy’s paintings), store with local craftsmanship & Bachleda Resort Hotel.
On islands as well-travelled as Santorini, you might expect to sacrifice substance for style in local restaurants. Well, a lot of restaurants here are overpriced and rather ordinary But between the traditional tavernas and smart supper spots, travellers can find fresh seafood, family-run restaurants and modern Mediterranean dishes in the less known places. Many tables are angled just so to watch the sun set over the caldera, making every evening meal something quite special. Here are my top three addresses!
This is the best restaurant on the island – and the best proof of that is the fact it’s locals’ favourite. The most delicious recipes of the Santorinian and Cretan cuisine, the freshest ingredients from the kitchen garden, refreshing raki (the iconic grape-based pomace brandy of Crete) and unique wines, this place will please you with its laid-back atmosphere and high quality dining. Reminiscent of an island house porch, and an atmosphere full of the Aegean Sea’s colors and aromas, Metaxi Mas serves authentic and original dishes: fava (the famous yellow split pea dip) and white eggplant in the oven, beef fillet in Vinsanto sauce, and boneless pork chops in orange sauce with baked potatoes. Don’t forget to try their octopus, it’s amazing. Maybe the restaurant doesn’t face the sunset, but the food served here definitely does the work.
Exo Gonia, Santorini PC 84700
In a unique spot, the bay of Ammoudi, you will enjoy the warm hospitality and the delicacies of the Dimitris Taverna established in 1989. In this dreamy corner on the extreme, north part of Santorini, below the famous village of Oia, nestled in the imposing red rock, the tavern prepares fish and sea food dishes inspired by the mediterranean cuisine to accompany ouzo, beer or the famous Santorini wine. Dimitris and Joy, the couple that are the owners of the restaurant, decided ito open this taverna in a small, abandoned warehouse, where locals used to store the boats. More than twenty years later few things have changed. The love and passion for the fresh seafood, the Greek and Mediterranean cuisine remain the same and are shared with the visitors of Santorini.
Ammoudi (Oia), Santorini 84700
This 80-year-old taverna is a quaint spot to try traditional, reasonably priced dishes such as fava with capers, mackerel fritters and white-aubergine pie. Their loukoumades (fried feta cheese balls with tomato sauce) is heaven!