Welcome to the Polish Disneyland

 

I write this in a slightly dark press marquee near Strzegom in Poland, our base for the next week and home of the 2017 FEI European Eventing Championships.

Opposite me Michael Jung is chatting with the German press and outside the riders are exercising their horses in the rain; the forecast isn’t quite a bad as it was (it was rain, rain and more rain) and, if we’re lucky, we’ll get away with just some showers today and Saturday and some more of the glorious sunshine we had when we first arrived

But before we get into the nitty gritty of competition there has been the teensiest bit of time for a little touristy stuff, starting with our own accommodation next to a magical castle .....

Libby and I arrived in Poland via Germany on Monday evening, slightly later than planned thanks to a delayed flight. After picking up our hire car in Dresden and tootling over the nowhere to be seen border (apparent only by a sudden appearance of less familiar looking wording on the signs) we were in Poland for our first ever visit. Yay!

Arriving anywhere new at night can be fun but it is not for the faint hearted. Leaving the high speed highways the roads became increasingly bumpy and occupied by late night Polish farmers trundling tractors from field to field as we made our way to Zamek Książ (Castle Książ). For once I had done no research on where we were going, resulting in almost child-like interest as we turned up the long driveway to the castle

The child-like sensation was intensified when it appeared that we had suddenly been transported to Disneyland

The floodlit gates at the first turn in the drive heralded what was to come as the fully lit Castle hovered before us. Dating back to the 13th century, it has been added to by various rulers, counts and kings from differing countries and provinces over the many years, had tunnels dug under it by the Nazi regime that confiscated the castle during the war and is now being totally restored by the local government

A cluster of hotels, including our own Hotel przy Oślej Bramie, are in the courtyard to one side of the castle. I ducked down to the reception area while Libby fended off the parking man/security man with the line designed to foil any innocuous official (“Sorry, I don’t understand you – I’m from New Zealand”)

 

 

Our room was ready and the receptionist escorted me down .... and down ..... and down ... through the main hotel, out through the garden, down some very dark stone steps and finally to a hefty wooden door ............. to Room 10 (god knows where Room 11 is). Finally getting the key to work, I headed back up the stone crevasse where the receptionist kindly continued her midnight stroll by walking in front of the car down to where we could park outside our big wooden door

The impression that we were in a quiet corner of the castle did not hold up when we awoke the next day. A bit like Hugh Grant in Notting Hill we were caught unawares as we opened our door to discover a popular cafe close by and tourists casually strolling around the extensive gardens and castle walls

 

 

It was apparently a public holiday and Zamek Książ was the place to be. That, or Libby’s presence there had attracted huge interest as black lycra clad photographers from New Zealand are probably quite rare

Anyway, it is an amazing place and we’re loving it – take a quick look around ............