Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Friendly Poland

The road towards Poland had been a pretty long and quite boring one. The thousands of trucks we had seen before, had become even more trucks and the overtaking manoeuvres by suicidal car drivers had become even more aggressive. Welcome to Lithuania! And then we entered Poland… Crossing the border into Poland is really entering another part of the world. Lithuania is flat but as soon as we passed the Polish border we rode into a hilly landscape. The second thing I noticed is the S-bend in the road just after the border. It was the first S-bend we had seen for a week!

First impressions then were good. Poland bring it on! Shortly after the Polish border we went off the main road and onto narrow winding ones. Part of it gravel and sandy too. Compared to Lithuania it was literally from one extreme to the next. The landscape we were riding through was beautifully green, not impressive or spectacular but easy going. Quite a few small old farms dotted a landscape shaped by old rivers lined with gnarly old trees that seemed to have been there for centuries. A very welcome change in landscape! The campground we had found on the map was indeed situated next to a small lake; it was the parking area of the local boat club… As it looked somewhat run down and there seemed no-one present we back tracked a little to a very friendly place which the owners had named Lukowy Kat, which means Curved Cat! Great spot with proper showers and toilets, place to wash the dishes, wifi and cheap too. The Lukowy Kat can be found at N54.07679 E23.07490

The next morning we left late. The flue virus which had sidelined Mike for a few days in Helsinki and still affected him, had now found a new host: me! With Mike only half-fit and me not even 1/4 progress was slow. When we finally did leave we found a couple of great roads through the surrounding National Park. Tree lined roads and dense forests make for a great ride!

We noticed once again people's faces had changed. Much friendlier and more open than the Baltic states. We also noticed that although Poland is clearly much wealthier than Lithuania and Latvia, the wealth also seemed more divided over the whole population. No longer did we see the excesses where 5% is extremely rich and 95% is poor. The women, in my humble opinion, look better too… not the high maintenance make-up fanatics that we saw in Tallinn but friendly.

Poland also turned out to be much friendlier for our wallet. Fuel, camping and food is all much cheaper here. All in all we like it very much here. As we had heard such negative stories about Poland and were warned for the apparently high crime rate here, we were pleasantly surprised. The only thing hampering our progress were the many roadworks.

Unfortunately thousands of trucks terrorise Poland as well. I know it's too much to ask but could someone in the government give the order to install a proper railway system in this country, pretty please! If not, Poland will suffocate under the tens of thousands of trucks on the road here every day, like in the Baltic countries. It's not as bad yet as in the Baltic countries, but not much better either. We reverted to the narrow local roads, which are a bit bumpy but at least there was something other than trucks to see. Actually once you're off the main roads, the A roads and even the B roads… Poland is quite nice!

The landscape is pretty much determined by farming. Mostly small scale farming. Even complete with traditional Stork nests on high poles. For some reason most churches we saw have two towers, and every small town seems to have a church. They look a bit like small castles, somewhat oriental even, yet Poland is predominantly catholic. Plenty of small Maria statues around too, some very elaborately decorated.

We hadn't seen any campground for 300km and as our progress had been slow, we arrived quite late at the campground we had found on the GPS. It turned out to be a rogue coordinate… We tried to find another one which was not much and filled with wanna-be military types and thus decided to continue towards Warsaw. We had preferred not to go to Warsaw but there seemed little alternative. Just 30 km before it we luckily did find a campground which wasn't on the GPS… 10 minutes later we knew why… and you can read about it in the next post!