the Eastern Poland and Diary 2, I now follow
the northern coast.|
25/7. As usually, when I sleep in the car, I get ten hours of undisturbed sleep. I kind of want to stay, but I know, I will be restless within a hour of two, and I head towards the Czolpinska Dunes.
It is through "real far-out in the countryside-Poland", with wooden barns, storks, a fox, lakes, meadows, a few cows and bushland. I stop at a little lake in the forest, and here, the European Beavers have been busy. Large trees have been munched down, and the bark removed.
I find the right parking for the Czolpinska Dunes, and start the long walk through a pine forest. Here are a few ponds with Green Frogs, some peat moss and a lot of pines. After a long time, I reach the actually dunes, and they are truly huge. Some is said to reach 40 metres in height. Some are overgrown, some are barren and still in motion.
The trail is in deep sand, and the assents quite hard. After half a hour, I reach yet another pine forest. This is significantly lower, and the trees bear marks of lack of nutrition. On the other side of this forest, the Baltic Sea is found.
The beach is real wide and made up by perfect white sand. Only in a few places, it is scarily dotted by a few round pebbles, rounded by the surf, polished by the shifting sand. It is warm enough for me to dip my toes in the rather green water, but walking along the beach is not really interesting, as here is only perfect white sand - and greenish water.
I start on the long walk back, and start meeting bathers, struggling with all their equipment and children. My next sight is Gdansk, 150 kilometres south. The better part of the way is through even more "far-out countryside", and I really enjoy the tour. I stop a few times at the forests, but they look too much like Danish ones, to catch my attention.
A couple of giants do that, but I fail to find out, what they actually are doing here in the countryside. When I meet the city of Gdansk, I try several tire companies, but none have size Lupo. Pity, as I really need some new front tires by now. I find a little parking space, and get the car in. Feed the meter for the morning, and do the short walk to the hostel, which look like a four star hotel.
I drop the bag and head out in the gothic part of the city. Here are over 1500 "old" houses, many churches, a huge river and a lot of tourists and what goes with them. It look just like a gothic town, but it is actually rebuild after the last war, using old drawings.
I wander for four hours, and see pretty much them all. The amount of amber is astonishing, while the old market is a bit disappointing; only clothing. Besides from that, Gdansk might be one of the cities worth returning to one day.
The neighbour to the hostel is a vegetarian/vegan restaurant, and it feel so strange to have the entire menu to choose from. I end up with a great Curry. Then it is back to work the rest of the evening. Czolpinska Dunes, Northern Poland, Gothic Gdansk.
It is only a hour drive to the first sight. More farmland with
harvesters, timber houses and small villages. Besides from all the
harvested or ready wheat and barley fields, here are some Lucerne,
beets and potatoes.
It have been impressively restored since, and now, it is a complete castle with a lot of exhibitions and the soul is regained quite well. The parking is steep; like a camp, but the entrance way more fair. I even get an audio guide. I don't feel like it, but the nice lady is quite insisting.
I have to admit; it is actually great to have. It is narrowed by a Brit, and have a great balance between information and shallowness. And it know where I am, and skip the story and start the next, when I get enough in one room, and find the next. Further more, it have a display with photos of the next door to enter, and alike.
The fortified area is waste; actually half the size of the entire Vatican. All building have been restored by now, and besides from the original interior, new have been made from old drawings. Here are a long line of exhibitions: Amber, which made a major income, when the Teutonic Order concord the coast, just for that. Ancient weapons and armour in a huge collection. Stained glass from windows and more. Here are a replica of the old mill, benches from the assembly halls, rosary garden and much much more.
After close to four hours, I have had enough, and my parking is expiring. I head on towards another castle, but pass Malbrok Station, which accordantly to my notes should be wooden. It is not, but it is never the less an impressive brick building. I look for new tires, and find some second-hand, almost the right size.
It is now clear, the new steering parts I got in Albania was NOT adjusted right, but the neighbour to the tire company have the right laser equipment - and soon time as well. While he work on that, I find the head of a screw in a back tire. And I have to give the mechanic; the rattling from that baring is getting a bit loud these days. He can have a new barring in the morning, and I figure I better take the offer.
I drive to a nearby campsite, and get a plot next to the big Nogat River. It is only four o'clock, and I make a stroll along the surprisingly clear river. Here are many different floating plants, one I only have seen way closer to Equator: The Floating Fern; Salvinia natans. However, it is supposed to be found in central Europe at least. Another is the Frogbite; Hydrocharis morsus-ranae, one of my favourites.
Back at camp, I do some repairing of my gear and eat the fresh vegetables, I bough on the way here, along with some great humus. As I worked at the mechanics, I finish pleasant early for once. Malbrok Castle and more North.
27/7. The baring arrivals at eight as promised, and is mounted right away. The mechanic is a great guy, who have been building on his camper the last ten years, since he brought it back from Ireland. He have even changed the drivers side in it! He refill the engine oil and even offers me a huge discount on the alignment on the searing wheels and a free montage of the baring!
It is strange to drive in a almost soundless car; no growling anymore. And it is so easy to steer, when the front wheels go in the same direction. I have several options to the next target, and I choose the slightly longer country road. It is three hours of fantastic summer countryside with all the idyllic ingredients: Lakes, huge fields, forests, bushland, storks and unspoiled villages with smooth copplestone roads and wooden houses.
I spot something grey on a distant field, and pull over. It turns out to be cranes; Grus grus! They are real jumpy, and I refrain from walking closer, hence the blurry photos. The beets on one field is completely flattened by drought, but the grass along the road are doing fine.
One area bear the markings of an immense estate: Huge alleys, endless fields and little other settlement. The central building is just some remains of the outer walls, but most of the large farm buildings are still in use. I only stop a few times, but I surely enjoy the ride. This is the perfect road-trip!
I reach Niedzica at noon, and getting into town is a bit difficult, as they are renovating most streets at one time. I try to find a light lunch. That causes some problems, and I end up with a large and rather dull pizza. I do a tour around the little square, one side with rather old buildings, the other with one huge "Soviet" block. Then I walk to the Niedzica Castle, which it intact, small and rather uninteresting. Part of it is a restaurant, another the local library. I guess it would have been more interesting before yesterday's overdose of Malbrok...
I set the GPS for Warsaw, realising I won't make to the Belarus embassy before the close for the weekend. And no way I wait the entire weekend to be bounced, just because I lack printed reservations for hotels, or the car in not welcome. Belarus will be a tour by it self - if ever. There were not much to see anyway....
It is through even more nice farmland, but I choose some bigger roads this time. Well, not highway for long. I reach Warsaw at three, and find the Botanical Garden. However, finding a parking lot is an other matter. I end up in an area I'm not aloud in, parking where I can't.
I see most of the garden, while I try to locate their greenhouses. It is a nice little garden, but more a flower park than a botanical garden. It does have some botanical sections along with rock-gardens and Alpine hills, but nothing special.
I end up asking at another ticket counter, and it turns out; the greenhouses are outside the garden. And they closes at two! Bit of a boomer, but I'm use to that. I set off to find the hotel, but the traffic is jammed, the city not that interesting. My plan was to see the old part with the castle, but the amount of old towns and castles I have seen, and traffic and lack of parking lots, make me alter the plans.
It is a four hour drive to Bialowieza National Forest with its bison, and I might start on that tour. I had expected a big road, but it is fare from. The first 40 kilometres takes a hour and a half due to roadwork and way too many cars. Then I get out in the farmland again, on a two lane road.
Here start to be quite some wooden- and timber
houses in the small villages, and the rather large churches look
exactly like Roskilde's Cathedral. I actually see one bizon; the
first blue harvester I ever seen. They were made in Poland until 2004.
28/7. I have another great road-trip day ahead of me. The first stint is three hours through yet some more great countryside. Just like the very best of Denmark. Well, added some wooden houses. Some clouds are gathering in front of me, and the promised rain might come sooner than expected.
I have been recommended a bison safari, but I'm not that keen in the rain. I start with one of the refugees for bison in the area: Rezerwat Zubrow. Besides from bison, it have the other larger mammals of the area: Lynx, Moose, Reed dear, wolf, boar and horses.
The area is large, and the areas each species have; huge and green. Actually, it is impossible to find all of the animals. One of the wolves have something against me, and make skin-attracts again and again. It ignores the other guests, but keep coming at me. It even get the other wolf excited. I must admit I'm glad the fence is there. And I can't figure what triggered that hate? I get great along with all dogs.
I just get back to the car, when it start drizzling. I head for the Bialowieza National Forest, and do a few short walks. It is so close to a Danish - besides from the bison, and I fail to find the appeal. I get to the area that takes a guide, and return. I spoke with four groups, who had been on a bison safari, but apparently, due to the heat or time of year, the animals are hiding. I must do with the ones, in the enclosures.
My next target is just a way-point; Augustow, three more hours through farmland and way more forest here. It is dense and mixed, not cultivated. The grass in the clearings are so green and lush, and it have apparently been raining plenty around here. Denmark, on the other hand, have not had a drop in almost two months, and experiencing the driest summer in time of record: 185 years.
The villages are made up by around 90% wooden houses, and even some of the onion-shaped towered churches are too. The rain comes and goes, and I don't dare walking too fare away from the car, when I enters the forest. Here start to be some planted pines; huge trees. The fields are just small pockets in clearings.
Here are a few wooden windmills, but it don't seem like they are mended at all. Here start to be some Jerusalem artichoke/Sunroot; Helianthus tuberosus fields, which are flowering by now. Just before I reach Augustow, the rain really pickup, and I'm glad I have "new" front tires.
I turn into Road 16, which should be scenic, leading into pristine forest. The first part is through pine plantation, but that ends. Then it is mixed and rather dense forest with dead trees in some areas. In other, the grass covers the ground in-between the trees, and that does look nice. I do some walks in the dry sections, but here are not that much unknown or interested.
Then I get to another farmed area, with a lot of diary cattle. Here start to be a lot of lakes and summer guests. I reach Wigierski National Park; another huge forest. It is yet again with the ground covered in herbs and grass. I do some short walks, but it is all to familiar.
I had thought of camping around here, but due to the rain, I have gotten here a bit early, and I rather head on. I should be able to reach the next planed camp before seven - in Lithuania. Some stretches are in massive rain, others have not seen rain for days. Like most others, I pull over once, when the rain get too intense.
In an effort to get rite of my last Polish money, I gas the car, but I still have around €20 left. I stop at a large supermarket, and try to spend them on supper and food, which can be stored for long time. A bit hard, the Polish prices considered, but I succeed. Then I just have to find room for it in the car...
Before I get to the border, I meet the first hills. Small, steep and covered in vegetation. It surely add to the beauty, and I hope I will encounter more, on the other side of the border. I get to the almost invisible border a bit pass four, and drive straight through. Rezerwat Zubrow, Bialowieza National Forest, Wigierski N.P., North-Western Poland
Poland have been a great adventure, and it have
so much to offer. I have driven 3070 kilometres, taken 2217 photos
and spend €525 + €77 on the car. The major expense have been hotels
with €165, food with €149, diesel with €121. I might consider
returning to some of the fine looking old - or remade - city centres