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Poland

Handmade Polish Pottery

Manufaktura Pottery Tour - Bolesławiec

I must admit, like I mentioned in my previous post, I did not know about Polish pottery. I was lucky enough to have a friend introduce me to it and now I am hooked! There are five quality levels for handmade Polish pottery, 1-5. The best being "Quality 1" is exported to the US and other countries while "Quality 2-5" are sold in the local factory outlets and also any leftover pottery from export is also sold in the factory outlets. The pottery sold in the States costs at least two times as much as it is in Poland and a lot of the time, more than that. The pottery is handmade in factories and my friend was able to get us into a tour of one of the factories.

Factory outlets:
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I found the tour very interesting and it helped that it was in English. We went to "Manufaktura" for our tour, which was located in Bolesławiec, Poland. I believe the guide said there are three factories in the Bolesławiec-area that are associated with Manufaktura. I included a link to company down below, if you care to read more. The tour was about an hour long. I learned that there are basically four steps to the handmade pottery process: shaping/molding the clay, firing, painting and glazing, and then the final firing. The first stop on the tour was the shaping area. We watched a worker shaping the clay into the various shapes of plates, mugs, dishes, figurines, etc. A pink line is painted/put onto each piece (this will disappear later in the process, as I recall) signaling a piece can move on in the process. If the shape is not right, the clay can be reused and remolded. Next, the pottery is ready to be baked/fired in the oven at 900 degrees Celsius for 8 hours. During this baking, the pottery pieces are stacked on one another. After the baking, the pottery is put into a water bath to find any cracks that may have appeared. If there are cracks, the pottery does not move onto the next point, which is painting the pattern. The paint is mineral based and therefore can rub off on your fingers. So, the painters are only allowed to touch the rim and the bottom of the pottery. The painters are given a pattern/design to follow and sometimes these are seasonal other times it is the traditional blue and white pattern which most people are familiar with. Patterns/designs are specific to a certain factory; each factory has their own designs and shapes for their specific handmade pottery and in some instances, these can be rare. For this particular factory, the key was a blue rim around the top of the piece of pottery. I was amazed at the intricacy of the designs on the pottery. After painting, the pieces are glazed and then baked again. The baking this time occurs at 1250 degrees Celsius for 13 hours. During this baking, the pottery cannot touch because the glaze will cause the pieces to stick together, so each piece is carefully arranged on the cart. Once the pieces are done, they are reviewed for any flaws, which could be an extra polka dot or flower, etc. Each piece is given one of the quality ratings above during this review. To my untrained eye, I could not tell the difference between and Quality 1 and 3, but there is a price difference. On some pieces, if you look at the bottom, the painter will have signed the piece. After we finished the tour, we did a little more pottery shopping and then departed for yet another acclaimed pottery shop, Andy Pottery. I also included a link to Andy Pottery below, too.

Shop inside Manufaktura:
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Pottery.JPG

Factory Tour:
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Manufaktura: http://polish-pottery.com.pl/en/manufactory/
Andy: http://www.andypolishpottery.com
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I was able to purchase some pottery at the factory outlets, some at Manufaktura and at Andy Pottery. There were so many options in shape, size, and pattern to choose from, it is definitely overwhelming. The pottery is dishwasher, microwave, and oven safe, but I think it is just too pretty to eat off of, ha! I really enjoyed the tour and learned quite a bit.

On to Slovakia...

Posted by LCP 01:46 Archived in Poland Tagged poland tour polish pottery handmade andy manufaktura bolesławiec Comments (1)

Poland

Pottery, Mountains, and a Salt Mine

Greetings! I just returned from a trip to Poland and Slovakia. I figured I would break the trip out into three different posts because it may get rather lengthy and I imagine not everyone is interested in the pottery experience. I have to give credit to my friend who basically planned the whole trip and introduced me to Polish pottery, which I did not know was a thing, but now I am hooked! She is of Polish heritage, so she made sure I tried local specialities while we were there. She is also deserves credit for some of the pictures below. At a few of the places we went to, not only did we have to pay an entrance fee, but we also had to pay to take photos, and she had the better camera and is better at taking photos.

To start with, travel around Europe can be very economical. This was my first experience with Ryanair, a budget airline. There are several of these types of airlines. Google flights can also be your best friend when trying to choose between all of the different airlines. While I had heard stories about Ryanair, both good and bad, I was interested in how my journey would unfold. First of all, Ryanair is cheap, as you are basically buying a random seat on the plane...not reserved seating-that's a fee, no checked baggage- that's also a fee. And don't even bother thinking you get a beverage or food on the flight because that is also a fee. There are nice food options in the airport, so we just picked up food before boarding. I was lucky enough to be allocated a middle seat each time, but it was not that bad, even next to a baby on the return flight. There is also no jetway to walk down to board the plane (I imagine the airline may pay a fee for that and I'm sure that fee would be passed along to the customer), so you walk on the tarmac to board the plane, despite whatever the weather may be doing. Also, they have very strict bag policies. I "upgraded", for a fee of course, to "priority boarding" which allowed me to carry on a personal item and a bag with specific measurements and weight. I stuffed my bag to the brim and I just hoped no gate agent wanted to weigh it or look in it. I was a little nervous about this, but I managed to get all of my beloved pottery back with a little help from my friend. The other thing is non-EU members have to print our their boarding passes, there is no mobile version, otherwise you pay a hefty fee to get the pass at the airport. My experience was definitely a positive one with Ryanair and we will continue booking with them because they have very reasonably price tickets to places we want to visit. My return ticket was $17.25! You honestly can't beat that. Also, the time of day can affect the pricing as well- our flights were very early morning flights, but to me, that just means you don't have a day wasted on travel. One trick I've learned is to figure the British schools' holiday schedule, half terms I think it's called, and then book trips the week after. Prices tend to creep up before the half terms and during because that's when most people with kids in school travel, so I wait until the week after the term ends and then book travel because it is much cheaper. It's also cheaper to travel throughout the year while school is in session.

To begin our journey, we flew from London (Stansted) to Wrocław, Poland. Once we landed, we picked up the rental car and drove to Bolesławiec to do some pottery shopping at the outlets. I was very lucky on this trip because my friend knew where the best places were, especially the factory outlets. It is much cheaper to buy the pottery in Poland rather than in the States...at least two, mostly more, times less expensive than what you'd pay in the States and you can get some rare pieces exclusive to the factories. I will save those details for the pottery blog post. After some serious pottery shopping, we drove to the Hotel Garden, also in Bolesławiec. The hotel was wonderful! We had a spacious room and they restaurant was fantastic. Before dinner, we walked around the city center. At dinner I tried, Polish vodka and apple juice, since it was something I was told was a Polish speciality...it was very smooth and quite enjoyable. I especially enjoyed the breakfast the next morning. The next day we did a pottery factory tour-more details in the next post-and then drove down to Zakopane, which was a five hour car ride. Polish roads are EXCELLENT! They are comparable to American highways, in most places, and they have great signs.

Bolesławiec:
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Polish vodka:
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Zakopane was beautiful and is a hidden gem in southwest Poland. It's known as a local resort town. We had a beautiful view from our AirBnb, we couldn't beat the price either, $24 a night! After arriving, we explored "walking street" which is where all of the shops and restaurants are and then had dinner at Zapiecek. My friend and I shared a bunch of different plates, so I could try some traditional polish food. We had potato pancakes (latkes) , sour soup (soup with hard boiled egg and sausage), and pierogis, which are my new favorite food. They are kind of like a ravioli and can be stuffed with different things; my favorite being potato and cheese, but you really can't go wrong. After dinner we walked a little more, went to a grocery store to pick up a few things as we opted to have breakfast in the flat and pack lunches during our daily excursions. The next day we drove to Slovakia and visited a few places, including a cave and a UNESCO World Heritage site. I will save the Slovakia details for a later post. After the day in Slovakia, we drove back and ate at Chtopskie Jadto, which is a Polish chain I believe. We had potato pancakes (latkes), golumpki (stuffed cabbage), and more pierogis.

View from the flat:
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One of the churches in Zakopane:
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Potato pancakes and sour soup:
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Pierogis:
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Golumpki:
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Our last day in Zakopane, we did a hike to Morskie Oko in the High Tatra Mountains...google it and you will see why...it is stunning, such dramatic views! The Tatra Mountains are part of the Carpathian Mountain chain in Eastern Europe. The mountains create a natural border for Poland and Slovakia. I have a lot of pictures from the hike, so I will let those do the talking. Round trip, it was a 10 mile hike and a lot of the paths were still snow-covered, but it was sunny, without a cloud in the sky, and sixty degrees when we did the hike, perfect weather! The lake itself was still frozen, but the views were still amazing! Following our hike, we drove back to the flat and ate at Mała Szwajcaria, where we had tried a different golumpki and more pierogis. After dinner, we picked up some Pączki, which are Polish donuts. Mine were cream filled and delightful, but I believe my friend said traditional Pączki are jelly filled.

Hike in the Tara Mountains to Morskie Oko:
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Pączki:
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Our last day in Poland, we went to the ”Wieliczka” Salt Mine near Krakow. I included a link to the mine's website below. The salt mine is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The mine is several hundred years old. There were nine levels in the mine, and we were able to tour three of them. There were several chapels that were constructed within the mine and statues, that miners had created. My friend some great pictures in the mine, so I will let those do the talking as well. The mine is not active, but miners still work in the mine ensuring it is safe for tours. We ran into several who were working during our tour. After the mine, we made our way back to Wrocław, for our flight back.

”Wieliczka” Salt Mine: https://www.wieliczka-saltmine.com

Salt mine:
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My overall impression of Poland was that is a wonderful country for visiting. People were very helpful. The food was delicious and the roads were fantastic. Poland is also very cheap. While Poland is a part of the European Union, they use their own currency called the złoty. The exchange rate was roughly 1 złoty = 0.26 USD when we were there...that makes it really cheap to travel around and explore the country. I plan to go back to visit Warsaw and Krakow, and to see Auschwitz.

On to handmade Polish pottery...

Posted by LCP 00:25 Archived in Poland Tagged food poland hike salt mine zakopane pottery tatras Comments (0)

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