What to do on a foggy, gloomy day?  Hop in the car and go exploring, of course.  It’s been foggy and gloomy for weeks and one Saturday early in November was no exception.  We decided to forge out anyway and check out a place we haven’t been before…and make a return trip to Torun to see some of the sights we missed on previous visits.

Our first stop was Ostromecko Palace and Park in…where else? but Ostromecko.  This is one Polish town name that I can actually pronounce!  The Palaces (yes, there are actually two!) and grounds are now used as Hotel and Cultural Center.

When we arrived we were ushered into the gate (which surprised us)….but as we were getting out of the car, we realized that the gate guard thought we were there for a wedding as the bride soon came out of the house and we were greeted warmly by the family.  They indicated in Polish with lots of hand gestures and smiles that we should join them, but we didn’t want to interfere and weren’t exactly dressed for the occasion.  So instead we wandered around to the back of the property, past this pondIMG_6475…got this incredible view of the back.IMG_6478Where is the front you ask?  Well, somehow I managed to delete the pictures of the front before I could download them onto my computer.  But take my word for it, it’s equally as beautiful.  This is the view standing on the back “patio”.IMG_6477IMG_6476

See all those dark brown “spots”?  Must be some sort of gardening technique because we’ve seen in quite a bit….it’s actually little piles of fresh dirt.  Maybe to cover up and kill weeds?  We walked the paths along the side of the “great big lawn” and got this view looking back.  Must have been falling over when I took the picture…IMG_6491IMG_6490Just so you know we were really there….Here is David…and of course I’m behind the camera.  I bet this is really beautiful in the spring and summer when there is some sunshine!

Ostromecko is also a public park with lots of hiking trails.  If you didn’t come through the guarded gate to the “New Palace”, you would walk through this side street entrance for access to the park and hiking trails.IMG_6496

Coming in the gate from the street, to the left is the “New Palace” and to right is the “Old Palace”.  Although we didn’t do this, you can go inside walk around the grounds where you can get a panoramic view of the Vistula River.IMG_6494

Next to the Palace is the Parish church of St. Nicholas, Stanislaus and John the Baptist. The place of worship was built in the gothic style in 1630. The church tower dates from 1764, when it was rebuilt by the then owner of Ostromecko, Governor of Pomerania, Paweł Mostowski.  (If the flag on the on the church spire was flying in the right direction, you would see his initials on the flag)  We didn’t go inside.  Remember I told you there was a wedding about to take place when we arrived?  IMG_6498The service was being held while we were wandering around the cemetery that surrounds the church.IMG_6508Why all the flowers and lanterns on the graves??  November 1st was All Saint’s Day and it is a National Holiday in Poland.  Everyone travels to their hometown to visit the cemeteries where their relatives are buried.  And by everyone, I mean EVERYONE!  Weeks prior to this day, the stores are full of candles, and glass lanterns.  These are all brought to the cemetery and placed on the graves of loved ones.  And flowers….did I mention the flowers?  Some of the most beautiful flowers I have seen have been here in Poland. IMG_6502 David thought these roses were fake…but no, I checked…real and with thorns!  The flower arrangements are placed on the graves along with the candles and lanterns.IMG_6503IMG_6501On November 1st we were driving to Berlin and passed by more than a dozen cemeteries filled with people….like standing room only people…with police directing traffic, cars parked all along the road and in fields.  Its was, in a word, awe inspiring.  Even on Memorial Day in the states, I haven’t seen anything like this.  I was told later by a friend who went to one of the cemeteries in Bydgoszcz, that it was like a big party….they were even selling popcorn!

Leaving the cemetery, we passed by this “totem pole” as David called it.IMG_6512He says anything carved out of a tree trunk is a totem pole. There is a sign at the bottom, which I didn’t get in the picture, that tells what it is and I’m pretty sure it is referencing the church or a patron saint perhaps?

We had to travel up these stairs to get back to where we parked the car. Don’t you just love the fall leaves?  IMG_6516After leaving Ostromecko, we continues our drive and went to Torun to try and see some of the sights we’ve missed on our previous trips there.  Since this is getting a little long, I’m going to leave that for another blog post.

But I’ll leave you with this picture, from the front of the New Palace….someone forgot their “drink” from the wedding…..IMG_6517