Welcome to my place . . . Cieszyn, Poland

Paddy ‘Spud’ Murphy on life in the slow lane in the quiet, historical border town

Paddy ‘Spud’ Murphy on  Czantoria mountain in Poland, where he is still waiting to see a wolf.

Paddy ‘Spud’ Murphy on Czantoria mountain in Poland, where he is still waiting to see a wolf.

 

Hello, I’m Spud Murphy. Well, I wasn’t baptised Spud, but sure look at the Murphy head on me. I’m a copywriter and podcaster. I don’t podcast about copywriting though, God, that would be a boring podcast. I make documentary podcasts and vlogs. I moved to Poland 10 years ago. My girlfriend, now wife, said we could move to Katowice for three years since she’d lived in Dublin for three. One wedding and two wee Murfs later, and I’m living in the town of Cieszyn on the Polish-Czech border.

What do you like about living in Cieszyn?

I remember reading about the slow living movement years ago; Cieszyn’s perfect for it. No rat race, no business or industrial centre, no suits rushing to work barking into phones convincing people to buy things they don’t need. It’s a quiet town steeped in history. It’s beside the Beskid mountains, so there are hundreds of hiking trails and a dozen ski slopes within 20 minutes of my door.

Where is the first place you bring people to when they visit Cieszyn?

Czantoria mountain is known for the skiing on the east side, but I love hiking on the west. I’ve seen countless wild animals: deer, boar, eagles and hawks. No wolves or bears though. A local farmer saw wolves two days before I was there for the photo. Hopefully I’ll see some soon.

The top three things to do there, that don’t cost money, are . . .

Three brothers founded Cieszyn. They stopped for a drink at a spring and founded the town. They built a well on the spring and you can visit it. The castle here dates back to the 5th century. If you’ve ever had a 20 zloty note, on its backside there’s a rotunda, which is part of the castle grounds. Finally, go hiking in the mountains where you’ll see some wild animals and some incredible sunsets.

Where do you recommend for a great meal that gives a flavour of Cieszyn?

Winowacy is my favourite restaurant, try the duck and kluski (Polish gnocchi), it’s amazing! Across the border there’s a Radegast brewery bar; it has outstanding beer, but don’t be in a rush – it takes a few pours before it’s served, so it is like Guinness, but lager.

Where is the best place to get a sense of Cieszyn’s role in history?

The Jewish cemeteries really hit home for me. Poland has seen many changes over the years. Poland-Lithuania had an empire that stretched to Turkey, then Poland was wiped off the map and divided between Austria-Hungary, Germany and Russia. Cieszyn was part of Austria-Hungary and had a large Jewish community; all that remains now are two silent, overgrown graveyards.

What should visitors save room in their suitcase for after a visit to Cieszyn?

Cieszyn has two breweries and a brewery pub, so save space for beer. They have these special “Cieszyn sandwiches” too. Herring, egg and mayonnaise. Sounds nasty, but they’re great – maybe don’t put them in your suitcase though, imagine the smell if you forgot about them.

If you’d like to share your little black book of places to visit where you live overseas, please email your answers to the five questions above to abroad@irishtimes.com, including a brief description of what you do there and a photograph of yourself. We would love to hear from you.

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