Our accommodation while in the Rogi area was at the PolishOrigins Guest House, located in the scenic Bałucianka countryside. Zenon and Magdalena, owners of PolishOrigins, had been hosting Ukrainian refugees for many months until their paperwork was in order for their emigration. Now, their lovely home was available for our short stay.
Their large house was ideally located near our route although we would go out of our way to stay there again. A morning walk around the area allowed us to take in the scenic landscape of low hills and nearby mountains. The early morning fog burned off as we made our way down the hills. A great way to start the day!
Our private double room and bathroom were very spacious and quiet with all the amenities. There was plenty of room to spread our luggage out and repack the bags of souvenirs we had been accumulating. Not only was the room and the house very comfortable but also beautifully decorated with traditional and modern touches. Magdalena, an accomplished and award winning bobbin lace artist, modestly showed us her treasures. Breathtaking and intricate!
The meals were delicious creations from the traditional yet modern Polish kitchen. Our breakfasts were a smorgasbord of homemade bread, jams, garden vegetables, local market sausages and cheeses. Magdalena prepared her smalec recipe with lots of bacon and pickles which added a nice bite! Along with some strong coffee, we were well fortified for our daily explorations.
Lucjan, my sister and I also had the unexpected pleasure of joining the family for evening meals. During our stay Magdalena made hearty beef vegetable soup, vegetarian cutlets, melt in your mouth roasted pumpkin and tasty desserts. Her lasagna, always a favorite, was perfection. One evening while visiting around the kitchen table, Zenon patiently ground whole spices using a mortar and pestle for the rustic bread that Magdalena would make for breakfast. We finished off the evening enjoying smooth yet potent homemade wódka and brandy. Yes, we slept well!
As we sat around the kitchen table reviewing our recent exploits, it was clear how passionate the PolishOrigins family were about their work, their heritage and their country. My sister and I were keen to learn more about the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the Polish – Ukrainian relationship from their own perspective. We were intrigued by their plans to establish the (now realized), Polish – Ukrainian Origins Foundation. Bringing new generations of Ukrainian and Polish youth together through outreach, tours and education would be a worthwhile endeavor and investment in a better shared future.
My sister and I knew that one of the PolishOrigins genealogists was working tirelessly in his hometown of Zhytomyr, just west of Kiev. Since we were blessed with the opportunity to visit Poland, we wanted to do something that would directly benefit his Ukrainian community. So, before we left for our next stop, my sister and I handed over bags of medical supplies that we had brought in extra suitcases. Zenon generously arranged the transport of these supplies with colleagues for the long drive to the hospital in Zhytomyr.
Our stay at the PolishOrigins Guest house was an enjoyable and enriching experience – definitely a highlight of our trip!
To be continued –