Sunday, 14 July 2013

Looking for a summertime hangout

While being a visitor to far-flung places, I usually am enchanted by proximity of summertime leisure spots for locals. Easy to discern such places when pop by an specific area for a while, but you pass them by several times, such venues do not impress you… Why?

When summer is at its height, the weather is fine and you are staying in town, only sinners and layabouts pickle at home. Nearby places of leisure should beckon and the temptation must not be resisted. For those living in the southern suburbs of Warsaw, I prepared a short guide to local tourist attractions – places “within a stone’s throw” being a good location to spend summer afternoons.

Las Kabacki – huge forest within southern borders of Warsaw. From where I live you can get to several entries to it in several ways: by car (not recommended), by bus (also not my favourite), on foot (kind of far away, especially if you happen you walk in +30 heat), or by bike (most recommended).
Key advantages: proximity, trees give shelter from the heat.
Key disadvantages: range of activities is confined to: walking, running, cycling; the very latter is prohibited on many paths, crowds of people on Saturdays and Sundays…

Powsin – when saying this you may mean either botanic garden or leisure park. The latter is more popular among inhabitants of southern Warsaw districts and can be easily reached by 519 bus (provided the routes have not been changed), by wide and popular cycling path running from Wilanów, by car and on foot. The most preferable way of getting there is of course by bike – not only healthy and pleasurable, but also inexpensive and not time consuming and spares you the problem of “where to park my car”.
Key advantages: good place for a date ;-), gives shelter from heat, lots of bars and possibility to do sports, feels like being on holidays.
Key disadvantages: from my where I live, kind of far away, but for migrants living in their mortgaged apartments in Wilanów – ideal…

Konstancin sanatoria park – the town where my grandparents live has a specific micro-climate, making even over +30C heat more bearable. The phenomenon of slightly cooler spot is noticeable all over the year. During winter thaws snows linger there much longer than in Warsaw or Piaseczno. The park and tężnia have been refurbrished quite recently and have become popular with locals and Varsovians. The destination can be reached in same ways as previous ones (take 710 bus from Piaseczno or from Metro Wilanowska terminus).
Key advantages: good place for a date ;-), fresh, humid air, gives shelter from the heat, many cafes and restaurants around.
Key disadvantages: crowded to the limits at times, cycling in the park is not impossible, but being considerate to comfort and safety or pedestrians requires you to take off your bike, kind of expensive if you want to eat out a lot.

Pond in Mysiadło – well, the nearest spot to my home, just 1 kilometre (to the right, shot on 1 May 2012). There was a time when local authorities wanted to invest in a place and turn it around a magnificent outdoor leisure centre. The pond was meant to be cleaned up, including the floor, where you could find rubbish dumped there back when PGR Mysiadło was in operation, sand was meant to be dumped to the shore, some more benches put up… Plans were ambitious and eventually have been given up. The place is now only a hangout for local pissheads, teenagers and anglers. Actually almost everyone who sits by the pond has the same goal in mind – boozing. Not recommended. And given virtually everyone sees in the pond area a booze-up venue, plans to revitalise the place will be hard to pursue.

Górki Szymona – allegedly the pride and joy of Piaseczno. Maybe I am biased, but if the town in which I spent first seventeen years of my life has anything to boast about, I’m a Dutchman. I ventured there last Sunday to check out how the place where I would go with my parents some twenty years ago looks and, unsurprisingly, little has changed.

To the right – the standpipe is where it was in 1994, I recall well my father developed a habit of parking his Fiat Uno next to it. Only the trees are higher, the road running towards the place has not even been tarmacked… In the background – a chap (was not a pleasure to cycle past him, the odour could not be captured by the camera) pushing a rubbish cart – fits the place perfectly.

To the right – for a short moment I forget I am mere three miles from home and imagine I’m holidaying. There’s a lake, there’s a pier, an angler on the other side. Behind me someone has pitched a tent and its dwellers are eating breakfast.

To the right – the sand-covered hill, why and wherefore this place is named the way it is named. In my childhood it was the place most ‘tourists’ would lay their blankets and towels. Nearby was a sandy shore and swimming baths.

To the right – I tried to cycle around the pond and ride through a wide footpath. It is the only place in the whole area that seems to have a spirit. Finally I did not dare to cover the whole path by bike and turned back. I have to confess I did not feel safe there in broad daylight.

This is the essence of Piaseczno – I feel safer in Warsaw late in the evening than in Piaseczno on a Sunday afternoon. On my way to Górki Szymona I was accosted by four tanked-up hools trying to deprive me of my bike. Fortunately the incident ended just with an exchange of “pleasantries”. Local authorities also want to revitalise the area and attract not only locals by letting a private investor build a guesthouse. I doubt those ideas ever prove successful.

Key advantages: proximity (less than half an hour by bike for me to get there), there’s water out there
Key advantages: not sure if swimming there is safe, whether the water is clean, no other attractions around, no snack bar, etc., shady spot…

So if this is not the right direction, next weekend, weather permitting, I plan to check and document the progress of works on the Southern Bypass of Warsaw, from junction Puławska to so-called Grande Canale, the least advanced section of the road.


Michael Dembinski said...

Don't like the sound of those hooligans. A through-back to some more primitive time... They should be handed over to the authorities.

scatts said...

Hi Bart,

Also happy the hooligans didn't mess the day up for you.

By the way, blogging wise I'm back to what used to be 20east and is now

If you don't mind could you delete Polandian and Strangely Park, which are both definitely dead and link to Scattsblog?

Sorry for the U turn, confusion and general buggering around!