Monday, March 31, 2014

Riding the Boleslawiec Beltway

Despite my heritage, I am not a collector of Polish Pottery.  After this last weekend, however, I am a buyer of Polish Pottery.  Really, how can one resist?  If you travel to Boleslawiec, Poland you are in the belly of the beast when it comes to high quality pottery.  Apparently, it is a fraction of the cost compared to the United States.  This means Polish Pottery collectors, also known as packs of loud women, from across Central Europe will caravan to Boleslaweic to spend the weekend going from factory shop to factory shop in search of the perfect pattern or piece(s) of pottery.

Traffic Circles Decorated with Pottery

A friend and I decided to take our first girl's road trip to this "Las Vegas" of girl's road trip destinations.  From Vienna through the Czech Republic and into Poland we drove.  From super highways, to four lane roads to curving, pot hole filled country lanes we passed through towns and hamlets to small to reference on a map, but still wearing noticeable scars from their Warsaw Pact history.

Internet Map

A few words about our accommodation, The Blue Beetroot, located off the beaten path in a small neighborhood outside of Boleslawiec.  This small, lovely inn has a kind staff willing to go the extra mile for customers, in addition to providing "the secret map" to all of the best pottery shopping locations.  Breakfast and dinner were superb and the rooms were cozy and comfortable.  Some of our fellow guests decided to loudly reenact their party days, which did put a damper on the quaint surroundings.

The Blue Beetroot

Now, a brief primer for Polish Pottery in Poland shopping virgins.

1.  Arrive early enough on the first day to do some reconnaissance.  We used our first afternoon in town as a dry run for the big day.  Luckily, my friend is a most excellent planner and translated the "secret map" into a very helpful navigation and planning tool.  Without her attention to detail, we would have missed out on prime shopping opportunities.

Copying the "Secret Map"

2.  Expect to have a physical reaction to looking at the pottery.  Really.  The stores are filled with so many different patterns, colors, and styles, just looking at everything can make you feel light headed.  We took a break and headed to the Farmers Market to check out the local color.  

Decisions Decisions

Now I'm Dizzy

Potatoes for Pierogies

These Might Look Familiar to My Family

3.  Don't feel like everything needs to match.  This is difficult to do.  If you feel comfortable making a commitment to one pattern, go for it.  Those artfully mismatched Polish Pottery Pinterest boards look so pretty, but I just decided to buy what I like and call it a Pinterest fail.


My Attempt at Pinterest

4.  Buy it when you see it.  This is especially true in the 50% off room where we were followed and elbowed by a scruffy looking, lung hacking man who picked up what we put down to add to his pile.  We guessed that he is a reseller who works the craft fair circuit by buying low and selling high.  Also, I still regret not purchasing a piece I liked and there was no way to back track.  This obviously means a return visit is in my future.

Do Not Walk Away From Eggs (or Pumpkins)

5.  Polish men want to wash the windshield of your car.  Yep, while the women make the pottery the men folk wash car windows. They approach you in parking lots or wash without permission while you're shopping and expect payment as you hop into the car.  It is disconcerting, but thanks to my friend, we did not have to find out what happens if one does not pay.

At the end of the day, this is one adventure that must be repeated, especially now that we have the "secret map".  I doubt I will ever be a Polish Pottery collector, but the enjoyment of the artisans' designs and the opportunity to eat pierogies, polish goulash and piggies (golumpki) is too good to pass up.  See you next year Boleslawiec!

Sunset at The Blue Beetroot


  1. "Packs of loud women." You are too kind, much too kind.

    Love the potatoes photo. Still wish I'd gotten that chicken photo. ;)

    1. I owe you a barnyard photo op. Next time we back up before it's over :)