From Diary 1 and the
southern Poland, I now head up through the western part of the country.
The rain, mist and lack of light make the photos open to interpretations: I'm not sure what they actually show. It is that bad, I actually stop trying. Then I reach Krakow, and the rain stops. I park right around the corner from the central square, and feed the meter. But the ticket only aloud me one hour. I feed it a lot more, and now I have to parking spaces the first hour, one for the next.
Here are a lot of old, well maintained buildings, some real impressive. Especially the old market hall is a real big building. In front is a souvenir- and second-hand market, inside, it is souvenirs all the way. The basilica is closed for tourists due to a service - fair enough, the locals surely pay their part.
I see a lot of the central streets, and I guess this is one of the cities that could last for several days, if it was experienced with a friend. I might have to get back. On my way back to the car, the sun finally breaks through, and breathily, I consider doing the same tour once again - but no.
It would have been faster to walk to the next sight; Wawel Castle, and further more, I fail to find a place to park. Well, it is huge, and way newer than I had expected. Not rally my taste anyway. I pass more glorious buildings, and then some rather neglected ones.
The next sight is way out in the countryside; The national park of Ojcow. The countryside is mixed with a lot small towns all the way, and it seems like it is a rich part of Poland. Then I turn into some small mountains with wooden houses. A little church spans the river; Kaplica w Ojcwie. It started life as a spa, but in 1901, it was turned into a church. The next set of buildings are some small water mills at the same little river.
The first I see, is the tall pinnacles of limestone. Here are not many, but they are rather big. They are part of a ridge, which is covered with mainly beech. Then I reach the park's parking, and it is a steep fee! Right over it, the last remains of the Ojcow Castle is found. The entrance fee is a quarter of the parking. Well, here are not really anything, but the view.
I enters the park, but despite I really try, I find no plants in the forest, which I wouldn't find in Denmark. Then again, I have not been closer to Denmark, since I left. The road is following the gorge, but it just leads from one little hotel to the next, or a restaurant. This is apparently the beginning on a long hiking route, connecting small castles and alike. For me, the nature is not appealing enough, and I head on.
It is almost 300 kilometres to the next sight. The GPS estimates a bit more than three hours, but the first 100 is through one little village after another, with 40 and 50 km/t speeding limits. And they are to modern and rich to be real interesting, although the sunshine do help. There are a few stretches of open farmland, but again; too familiar.
Then I reach the highway and some rather big cities. The landscape flattens out completely, and almost every square meter is farmed. The other side of the highway have some major congestions. One on ten kilometres, another of 20 kilometres. People are standing outside their cars, smoking. I fear it is only a question about time, before it is my time.
It is almost six, before I make it to Wroclaw, and it is a huge, modern city. I head for the old part, but a bridge is closed, and that does cause some problems. It is the second time today, a major road is closed without any warnings or detour signs. Real annoying!
With a bit of luck, I make it to the hostel, and I can park in a huge common yard for free - unless my car it towed... Here are a washing machine, and I'm in need after two months. I remember to head out and find supper before I slip into skiing underwear. I find out, I have a whole day of adventure in this city, and try to book the bed for yet another night, but I can't. Krakow Old town and Ojcow National Park.
21/7. I get a late start, but make it just as the botanical garden opens. It is a real nice garden, well maintained by ten gardeners and fifteen helpers. Here are lakes, carnivorous plants in a swamp, nice rock-gardens and colourful flowers. A funny bed have odorous plants and signs with the bottles of products they are used in.
Every thing is well marked, and some of the layouts are real beautiful. Here are several greenhouses; one with African succulents, one with Mexican and two with so many sorts of Ivory; Hedera helix. One have only small ponds with swamp plants, one is filled with Bromeliads and another with ferns. One have some raised beds with a total mix of plants.
They appears to have a tissuelab, but as it is Saturday, I don't think I will find any here anyway. I do several rounds, and when I think I have see it all, I head out to find the old city of Wroclaw. One of the most significantly features are the numerous gnomes. The are everywhere, a legendary, here are actually around 500! One in the botanical garden, one on a tram, some in front of shops, one - on a motorcycle - on the steps of a church.
I pass the old market, and of cause; I have to see it. It is still a nice mix of different shops: Some with vegetables, some butchers and several with so many different types of tea. I find a real nice tea salon; Herbaciarnia Targowa. Not only do they have over 300 different sorts of tea, they also have some delightful Greek sesame cakes. And their lounges are a tail of their own. I have a hard time moving on, but there are so more old town - and gnomes.
Where the outer old town are more or less ruins, the central part is in a pristine state. Just the bridges crossing the horseshoe formed river, surounding the old town are fantastic. Here are so many big churches, majestic buildings and lines of decorated, pastel coloured houses, gnomes, restaurants, large squares, gnomes, trams, huge statues and gnomes.
The story behind the gnomes is: In the 18. century, a man was way unhappy with the government. He dressed out as a gnome. More joined in, and the police could do nothing, as dressing up as a gnome is not a crime. And now, shops are getting their own, some are just for fun and some still have a massage.
I wonder around for four hours, before I find my way home - or not-home. Everyone have showed up, one only thought he had a reservation along with his friend, another a volunteer without a bed, and we get to sleep in the common room. Well, it is a cosy place, showers are fine and internet good enough to watch the qualification for tomorrows F1 race.
Then I work a bit before I head out to hunt-down some supper. When I get back, the bunch is trying sangrias, but I just retire to the kitchen and work. At midnight, it is real quiet, and I get a couch at the common room. Wroclaw Botanical garden and Town with some Gnomes.
22/7. I enjoy the included breakfast, and then start the 175 kilometre drive up north. It is through farmland, looking just like Denmark, and I use the highway as much as I can. Here are a lot of bridges for the wildlife, and the scatted bushland and small forests must be great.
Here are patches with oak, birch, beech and later; a lot of pine. Here are diary farms, but hardly any cows out on the fields. The wheat is being harvested a lot of places, while the corn is just flowering. I head bye some minor roads from time to time, and passes small villages. It is large farms and huge fields with giant machinery.
A few times, I head through some fairly modern cities, but they are by no mean attractive. Where Poland have been able to shake its Soviet past, the old blocks still bare the signature. Only a few city centres have some older buildings, with some dignity left.
After three hours, I make it to the big town of Poznan and its real impressive Palmhouse. Outside, the little Wilson Park have a few flowering plants, but the share size of the greenhouse is impressing. 4600 square metres, build in 1992, to replace another. Inside, they are stuffed with around 12.000 different species, divided by origin and habitat.
Everything is so well maintained, although they only have fifteen gardeners, including two Alpinists, doing the cutting of the tall trees and window polishing. One end holds the Mexican succulents and cacti, the other the African succulents. Here are even a little bed with mainly caudiciforms!
In the middle is the classic Victoria house, with a real impressive specimen. Other houses have tropical and semi-tropical plants, with the smaller one covering the floor, the giants above. It is actually hard to tell how tall the trees are, as the canopy is way up in the sky. Only the size of the stems give something away.
Some beds are with carnivorous plants, and in a basement, a large aquarium holds many tanks with not only the aquatic plants, but also a huge amount of fish. All are real great looking. Within the greenhouses, some terrariums have snakes, agamas, turtles, toads and birds. The restaurant have several leafcutter ant nests in closed tanks.
I have a long chat with the gardener at duty - and as usually, I do way to much of the talking. However, I do learn some about how things are done here. When I have seen it all, and made too many photos, I head on. Outside the city, some meteor craters are found in a rich biodiverse area.
Morasko Meteor Craters are found within a nice forest. A trail lead around them, along with a few other sights. I must admit; I had expected a bit more interesting plants. It is pretty much like a Danish forest, with some swampy areas and slightly different habitats.
The craters are now small lakes, the biggest not more than 25 metres across. The entire hole up to 150 metres across and 15 metres deep. One of the pieces of meteor which were found here, was a 300 kilo lump. Only 200 places, meteor craters are recognised, and thinking about it, I have seen quite some. One on Madagascar even have a huge metallic meteor laying in it.
I make a few pictures of the holes and the two species of Impatience, but then I'm out of interesting motives. Well, here are a incredible amount of large forest ants, but not much else.
It is yet another 170 kilometres to next sight; the Gothic centre of Torun. More flat farmland, scatter villages and great roads in general. After three hours, I cross a real long iron bridge, and end up in the old part of town. I have found a hotel, which is a bit steep, and I don't get breakfast, but have to pay additional for parking!
I drop the bag, and head down-town. Here are several huge churches, lines of Gothic blocks, nice squares and the remains of an old fortress, controlling the river. I only see a part of the town, as I have half the day tomorrow to kill anyway. I find some spiced pasta, before I head back to work. Here is a kettle, and I bring my own tea and mug. Western Poland, Poznan Palmhouse, Morasko Craters and Gothic Torun.
23/7. No included breakfast, but I am self-catering, and then I head back to the Gothic town of Torun. The sun is from the other side, and I get some photos, I failed yesterday. I also find several statues, worth a shoot. One is the old woman with the geese, laying golden eggs, one is of the famous Torun child; Copernicus (The Renaissance-era mathematician and astronomer who formulated a model of the universe that placed the Sun rather than the Earth as centre of the universe), and one of a donkey.
The town is slowly wakening, but here are so quiet, compared to Sunday afternoon. I get a cup of tea, but suddenly, it is too late for dinner, and I have to rush back to the hotel and check-out. And what I remembered as a 250 kilometre drive in 3-4 hours is 350 in six! And for the first time in four months, I actually have a appointment.
It is same time by a big "V" by the highway, or by a patchwork of small country roads, and I choose the latter. Wise choice, given the GPS works, but it take half a day off, and I have to find my way through so many small villages. Well, the countryside is nice, although it is so close to the Danish.
I reach Kolobrzeg in good time, but not enough to get around the camp. I sit and work in the car, until Sune and Caroline turns up, directly from Denmark, four minutes before agreed. I let them freshen up, while I work on.
I'm invited to supper, and we do a stroll through the busy town. Here are packed with people at the beach promenade, and the perfect beach still have some visitors.
A real cosy evening in great company, although it feel a bit strange talking Danish by now, and further more; to someone who actually understand me. I head out to a nearby camping site close to ten. It is closed for the evening, but not hermetic. Torun and western countryside.
24/7. Sune have invited me for breakfast, and then I follow him to work. A loop around the Polish headquarter, then out into the fields. Lunch in a little cosy village, then out into some other fields. Real interesting to see, and suddenly, it is late, and we are back at the hotel.
Sune and the local guys have recommended some sand dunes close to the northern coast, and as I kind of pass them on the way to Gdansk, I swing bye. Sune find a real good looking hotel in Lekwica at a good price, and I head on. It is two hours drive through beautiful farmland with harvesters, storks and nice little towns.
I drive right to the "hotel", which is a farm: Agroturystyka Lekwica. The nice thatched building is the horse stables, but here are actually hotel rooms above. However, I can camp for a fifth of the price, and I prefer that. It is so lovely people, and they not only invites me and the nice Frenchman on supper, it is vegetarian!
After the meal, it is time to feed the horses. The entire area is extremely nice, and the air teaming with swallows: Best summer memorise for me. We get a tour round the farm, and not only does the man have a lot of ideas: He actually finish the projects. Here are a huge monster truck, a Russian sauna, A huge 4x4 military truck, fitted like the perfect camper, with so many features, even a woodburning stove. In the back of the huge garden, the remains of an ancient castle is found. Christmas trees, North Coast Road.
From the Eastern Poland and Diary 2, I now enters the Northern part of the country in Diary 3.