Podlasie Stories and Tips

A lake of snakes!

Topilo Photo, Podlasie, Poland

Having studied a local map in search of things to do in Bialowieza National Park, I settled on the idea of visiting Topilo. 24 kilometres from Bialowieza through the forest, it seemed the perfect cycling distance and the route through the forest seemed appealing. Off we went to rent some bikes, soon returning past our lair - Berozka and along the road towards Hajnowka for about a kilometre before turning into the forest on a sign posted path. Our bikes were far from perfect but squeaking apart, they did the job.

The path was muddy and full of puddles and it wasn't long before my dear wife had a face like thunder. Quite what she'd expected on a forest path after three days of rain, I don't know but in order to keep the peace, I agreed to head back to Bialowieza after under an hour's cycle and then head there by car. The journey by car is considerably longer, taking you to Hajnowka then on a slight bit of rough track.

A small memorial to people who died during WW2 in Topilo is on the right as you enter the town. There's a shop come bar outside which we parked our car outside of and were greeted by a dog who proceeded to show us around the village, making an occasional diversion to a bush to mark his territory.

On the left was a train wagon, marking the terminus of a narrow-guage railway, next up on the right was the comically named, western themed pub "Ostatni Grosz", translating to the last grosz, the smallest denomination of Polish currency. It genuinely had a bit of a ghost town feel to it, opposite this was a bench that acted as a train station on the narrow guage railway, over the bench was a shelter carved with the name of the town Topilo.

Slightly further up was a wooden seating area with a large fireplace, where you could cook should you wish. We continued following the railway line to the small lake on the right and then circumnavigated it, passing water snakes, birds and lots of insects as well as beautiful flora. I spent ages fiddling around trying to get good shots of some of these chaps from the animal kingdom but my photos definitely don't do it justice!

Tranquil yet bustling with wildlife, we didn't see another soul in this town other than the owners of Ostatni Grosz but I found it to be a very beautiful and interesting place, so many "wild" places are in fact visited by hordes of tourists but that really wasn't the case here and I'm quite reluctant to recommend it in case that begins to happen!

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