Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Rustic retreat rained off

July days in Poland are similar; you wake to brilliant sunshine and a crystal clear sky; throughout the day the clouds build up, from innocent fluffy things in the morning to threatening dark giants by the evening. And so it was today. But of a whim a decision to head out to the country, to catch a Koleje Mazowieckie train to Czachówek and to take a walk around deepest rural Mazowsze. [Click 'Czachówek' label below to see more from this enchanting place.]

The ticket machines on W-wa Śródmieście are brilliant. Within a minute or so I'd bought a return from W-wa Jeziorki (from the edge of my travel pass area) to Czachówek Górny using my credit card, a mere 14.24 (less than a fiver). This ticket would take me beyond Piaseczno, the Slough of Warsaw, beyond the posh(ish) dormitory of Zalesie Górne where the insecure rich live behind fenced compounds with snarling hounds (how 1990s!), beyond Ustanówek, the first village proper south of the Warsaw agglomeration, and out of Warsaw's Zone 2 (Warsaw has but two zones).

Further south, the train arrives at Czachówek Górny (below), one station in a village noted for its many railway stations. Sadly, Czachówek Środkowy (what would have been the village's fourth station) has been liquidated, the station building demolished to make way for an ersatz car park (to the right of the pic)

Below: a freight train rumbles westward along the Skierniewice-Łuków line, now used exclusively by freight trains - and they run frequently. This railway line crosses the line above at right angles to the one pictured above.

Below: halfway between Czachówek Górny and Czachówek Wschodni. The latter is not actually in Czachówek but in the next village-but-one, Czarny Las (lit. Black Forest).

I observe a huge, towering thundercloud rising above Góra Kalwaria to the east (below). It's moving my way, I'm moving towards it. The wind picks up, snapping branches off trees in the woods that surround me. The cloud rumbles and emits lightning flashes. It's hot. Nearly 30C. The deluge cannot be avoided, nor is there any escape...

Suddenly the heavens open - a massive deluge that instantly turns the road to Czarny Las into a flowing river. My first thoughts are for my camera and phones - all safely stowed into my excellent Samsonite rucksack. I get soaked to the skin - shoes squelching as I walk - but it's not unpleasant, despite the sudden plunge in temperature to 22C. Like being under a refreshing, intensive shower. Sadly no photos - maybe an excuse to buy a waterproof Nikon - the AW1...

I walk through the downpour, utterly drenched, on to Czachówek Wschodni station, from where I catch a train to Góra Kalwaria. The train waits there for 40 minutes before turning back to Warsaw.

Time for a snack and a beer from the local shop, in which I'm the only customer not buying a bottle of vodka(!). Góra Kalwaria isn't a nice place. Bolesna dziura ('painful hole') is how one grafitto on the train shelter describes the place. I wonder how much it would change were it to be brought into Warsaw's Zone 2. Below: another freight, this one an eastbound PKP Cargo train about to pass Góra Kalwaria station hauling a rake of empty coal wagons.

Although the train from Warsaw was packed all the way to Czachówek and beyond towards Warka and Radom, few passengers took the branch Czachówek to Góra Kalwaria. I'm convinced that good public transport to the nearest city is the best way to turn such sad Polish small towns into bustling, vivacious outposts of civilisation.

Below: the north apex of the Czachówek diamond. My train has joined the Warsaw-Radom line from the east; to the right, another track branches off to the Skierniewice-Łuków line line.

Although my walk was interrupted, I managed my daily 10,000 paces (a million per quarter so far this year). City folk should visit the countryside more often. Me included.

This time two years ago:
Thunderstorm over Jeziorki

This time three years ago:
Getting lost on top of Łopień

This five three years ago:
Regulatory absurdities in Poland

This time six years ago:
Czachówek and Alignment

This time seven years ago:
Joy, pain, sunshine, rain