Back in 2008, when we were still living in Germany, Bill and I decided to take a trip to honor our sixth wedding anniversary. We had been wanting to go to Dresden, thanks to a Powerpoint presentation one of my husband's friends sent him. We also wanted to go to Prague. I had found an interesting looking hotel called The Blue Beetroot while researching places to visit.
The Blue Beetroot was run by a British couple of Polish descent. They had purchased a dilapidated barn for about $4,000 and fixed it up. It's now a thriving boutique hotel. In 2008, it was still getting started and it sounded like a really neat hotel, albeit in a place called Bolaslaweic. I didn't know that Bolaslaweic was the pottery district in Poland, even though I owned a couple of Polish pottery pieces.
The price was right to stay at The Blue Beetroot, so I booked a couple of nights in Dresden, five nights in Poland, and a couple of nights in Prague. What I didn't know was that besides great pottery, Bolaslaweic was home to some great artists, notably Dariusz Milinski, a fascinating painter, and the Borowski glass factory, which is notable for its glass sculptures. I've linked to the Borowski studio in Germany, but Bolaslaweic is where the factory is located and you can get your hands on some beautiful pieces at a fraction of the cost. Below is a chameleon that I bought at the factory for about $650. In America, it sells for over $1500. I have two other sculptures as well-- a hippo and a "gonzo" (bird).
Bill and I came home from Poland loaded down with art, including three glass sculptures and two sketches by Milinksi. I wish we could have bought one of Milinski's paintings, but we visited the glass factory first and spent a lot of money there. Please click this link and look at the paintings if you're interested in art. His work is amazing.
We had an interesting experience in Milinski's gallery. His parking lot was empty and he had a big dog tied out front who seemed kind of mean. We went inside and there was art everywhere... paintings, drawings, sketches, and sculptures. Nothing had a pricetag. Milinski himself wore pants made of the American flag and a ripped up t-shirt. He looked a little like Charles Manson and spoke no English. My husband's rudimentary German sufficed for communication purposes.
He made us coffee, turned on some music, and watched us as we looked at his work. I saw several paintings I wanted. Unfortunately, he only wanted cash and we were low on cash because we had just spent a lot of money at the glass studio. It would have required going to an ATM and there wasn't one close to the gallery. I saw one painting that he wanted about $600 for. It would have been a steal, really. We ended up leaving with a couple of drawings. We were disappointed and I think he was, too. If we ever get back to Bolaslaweic, we will go back and buy a couple of his paintings... if we can still afford them!
Milinski's puppet theater
Sketches by Milinski. All of the people depicted in his work were inspired by people he knows from his village. Must be quite a place!
Back in November, we went to Scotland and while we were visiting Edinburgh, we stopped in an art store. I was quickly attracted to one specific artist's work. It was by Matylda Konecka, yet another Polish artist. I regret not buying a large print or two. Instead, we purchased a small framed print that fit in our luggage. If we ever get back to Edinburgh, I'm going back to that art store for more. Click here for Matylda Konecka's Web site.
When we were in Florence, we ran across a street musician playing guitar so beautifully it made me weep. It turned out he was from Poland... Piotr Tomaszewski is an award winning Polish guitarist who makes his living selling CDs on the streets of European cities (though according to YouTube, he seems to favor Florence). We bought two of his CDs for 20 euros and that music was easily my favorite souvenir from Italy.
Two videos I made of our trip to Italy in 2013. I used Piotr Tomaszewski's music as background.
And a few years ago, Polish-American dancers Anna and Patryk were featured on America's Got Talent and actually brought tears to my eyes.
After pondering all of this, I'm thinking we'll have to get back to Poland and the Czech Republic at some point. Eastern Europe is fascinating... with so much undiscovered art and music to be had at such affordable prices. I didn't find Poland to be the most beautiful country I had ever seen, but there is still much beauty there. I want to explore more of it. Poland is full of hidden beauty... You might not necessarily see it in the scenery, though I did manage to find a couple of beautiful scenes; but you can find it in the art, music, and dances of the people. It's well worth a first visit and a repeat visit!
Polish landscape near Karpacz, a ski resort area...