Biala Podlaska – 10th – 16th August
Arrived in Biala Podlaska on Thursday evening 10th August and stayed until the following Wednesday 16th August – again into the welcoming arms of my Polish Family.
Barbara and Kornelia had just returned from a scuba diving holiday in the Canary Islands and were still on holidays when we arrived. Piotr was home for 4 days before taking off to Spain with a group of Russian tourists (he is the coach driver) and Kornelia joined us on Friday evening for 4 days before heading back to Warsaw University.
We enjoyed six great days and nights here – some with only Google Translate to translate for us and the rest with Kornelia translating for us. It is quite a lot of fun using Google to speak and translate and quite often Google does not quite understand our Australian accents and gets the words all wrong which makes us all break out in fits of laughter. We do get to say lots more when Kornelia is around to translate for us. Barbara has been taking English classes for quite a few months now and is able to understand quite a lot as long as we speak very, very slowly.
Friday was a really big day for us. Finally, after more than 12 months, I received my Polish passport. A marathon effort – so many times I thought of giving up. The whole process (in excess of 12 months) was not made easy by the Polish Government Citizenship and Passport offices.
You may wonder why we went to all the time, trouble and expense to obtain dual Citizenship (Australia and Poland) and a Polish Passport for me but the following are the reasons why:-
Australian passport holders can only stay in the Schengen Zone for 3 months in total before being required to exit the Schengen Zone for 3 months before being able to return to the Zone again.
That would have made our trip around Europe (about 30 countries) very awkward, inefficiently time consuming and expensive to organise.
Now we can both stay in the Schengen Zone indefinitely without having to leave.
Additionally, we can also enjoy the benefits available to European Citizens such as opening bank accounts, purchasing vehicles, taking up permanent residency and purchasing real estate.
We also wanted to be able to provide an option for our 2 daughters, should they wish to do so, to be able to apply for Polish Citizenship themselves, via hereditary access rights. We feel that the way the world is changing it would be good for the girls to have that option – if they don’t want to take it up then fine.
I refer to Barbara as my little sister now – the sister I have never had. Barbara, Piotr and Kornelia have been so wonderful and leaving this time has been so very hard as we know the chances of coming back soon are slim. They have promised to visit us in Australia and we believe they will come.
Ziggy was in real need of a pair of new shoes on the front (having done in excess of 20,000 klms on some terrible roads), so Piotr kindly arranged for the delivery and fitting of 2 new tyres and when they arrived on Wednesday, we said our “not goodbye but see you laters” and sadly left Biala Podlaska.
Liwiec Thursday 17th August
Our campsite for the night – Zaliwie-Szpinki (Coord N 52.258565 E 22.090296)
At a cost of 40zl or around $15, we found another magic Polish holiday spot. Remote and in a rural setting. It offers swimming and kayaks for hire. A great flat grassed area with the locals (cows) just a stones throw away (fortunately behind a fence so campsite was not littered with farm cakes). Weekends here are packed, but again we were alone and had only the owners to share with.
Groups are catered for with a huge marquee, kitchen and undercover dining area. Basic meals and drinks are available – though expect this is not open for one or two people. There are over 70 kayaks for hire here. They provide WC, shower, water and electricity (though by long extension lead only)
Enjoyed a great steak on our BBQ – picked up at Lidl after leaving Biala, and washed it down with a reasonably good red.
Friday 18th August
Wanted to get through to the western side of Warsaw today and as all roads seem to lead to Warsaw, we had no option but to go through this great Polish Capital. Arrived in Warsaw just before lunch but the traffic was still horrible and took quite some time to get through to the western side.
There just was nowhere to stop to have lunch, so pulled into a large service station for a short lunch break. There were no customers at all as their fuel prices were quite high and no one was anywhere to be seen.
Then an angry pony tailed specimen of a man (I am giving him a good description) came out of the shop and not so politely told us to move on. This is the first time we have experienced anyone in Poland that has not been so helpful and polite. People here are great and we hope that soon, Poland will open more camping facilities and service points as we feel more tourists will come if they are available.
Travelled through acre after acre and mile after mile and town after town of fruit and vegetables growing on both sides of the road. Maize, strawberries, cabbages, cauliflower, radish, beetroot and spinach to name a few. We are sure Poland must be the salad bowl of Europe. Apart from the large farms everywhere, every house has its own vegetable patch in the back yard. When in Biala, Barbara came home every day with fresh fruit and vegetables she picked up from a local farmer (apart from the veges she has in her hot house out the back).
Near Skoki Male, Poland
Our campsite for the night was Gosciniec Pod Zaglamco (Coord N 52.60425 E 19.41930)
After 2 unsuccessful wild goose chases trying to find a camp for the night, we found a roadside resort with massive amounts of parking, including parking bays for trucks. We figured if they welcomed trucks we had a chance. We dropped into the bar and spoke to the owner who was more than happy for us to stay the night but apologised that he had no facilities for us to use. The rest is history. We had a couple of drinks and sat by the huge lake and watched sailing boats dock at the small marina and come in for dinner and then sail away into the sunset. We spoke about how much we missed our boat and the sea and agreed that after our overseas adventure, we would find another boat.
The outdoor area and gardens are just beautiful so we stayed, had dinner (so reasonably priced) and then settled in for the night. Very quiet and slept peacefully.
Friday 19th August
Left Gosciniec Pod Zaglamco.
Decided that tonight, we would find a camping ground instead of trying to find a wild camp so travelled for a couple of hours only. We had had a couple of long days driving – today, it would be a shorter drive.
Our campsite for the night: Camping Wrzesnia
Again our Sat Nav took us on a wild goose chase. Have had enough of this Sat Nav – so many times it has let us down, particularly in the bigger towns. Have decided to buy a Garmin Camper 770 at first opportunity. Tried to find this in Poland but they don’t stock it as there is very little requirement as it is motorhome and camping specific. Expect to find it in Berlin in a few days. Happy to toss the one we have out the window!!
Finally, after a “cook’s tour” of this town – compliments again of our Sat Nav – we found this camp site. Looked like a demolition derby – massive trees with girth of 1-2 metres, totally uprooted – some torn in half – trucks full of tree carcasses – chain saws going at every corner – looked like a massive tornado had been through this part of town.
Owner didn’t speak English so couldn’t not get an explanation from them. Searched the web and found that massive storms had hit this part of Poland approx 6 days earlier, leaving some fatalities and the Polish Media saying that it would take until 2019 to clear the damaged trees in the forests.
The campsite generally would take around 20 motorhomes but only about 6 had been cleared of debris and were able to be used. We camped in the one with the least amount of trees standing nearby! The campsite is on a waterway and we took a walk around it – just couldn’t believe what we saw. So thankful we were not parked here during this massive storm.
Again, we were the only motorhome here.
Saturday – 20th August to Monday 21st August
Left Wrezesnia and unfortunately did not take photos of the devastation.
We passed forests with only a few trees left – complete forests totally demolished for miles and miles. Strangely, we did not see any damaged houses so hope they escaped with little or no damage.
Our campsite for two nights: Hotel-Camping, Malta, Poznan
So happy to see the countryside return to normal (no damaged trees)
Again our Sat Nav let us down and once we arrived in Poznan we went round and round in circles. When we were within 400 metres of the first camp site we selected our Sat Nav took us to a low railway bridge which we had no way of making it under without leaving our satellite TV dome embedded in the concrete. With no way around it, we selected Sat Nav option 2 and again were provided with incorrect information but we finally arrived.
One of the most expensive camp sites we have stayed in at 90 zl – just over $33 per night but really well located and only a short distance by tram to Old Town.
Research told us that Poznan has a great Old Town (forgot to mention, we picked up a 50GB internet package in Biala (thank you Kornelia) for 20 zl ($8) so can use internet day and night until we get to Germany.
Took the No 8 tram – about 500 metres walk away and 6 stops later arrived at the Old Markets in Old Town. Spent some 6 hours there and took happy snaps by the bucketful. We are so intrigued and so drawn to these building treasures that have been so beautifully restored. An absolute gold mine for these cities, where tourists and locals gather in the thousands daily and into the evening and enjoy the restaurants and entertainment provided there.
Of course dinner and a few shots of our favourite vodka (mad dog – vodka with a dash of cherry syrup and a few drops of Tabasco) which we found in a pub on the way out – warmed us for our tram trip and the 500 m walk home.
We have been invaded at the camp site by Italians – about 20 motor homes belonging to a club are here for a couple of days – should be fun!
We have gone from being the only motorhome whilst wild camping to all of a sudden a United Nations of about 40 motorhomes, side by side.
Slept in till around 8.30 – late for us. This place is set on a huge lake which has an Olympic class 2 km x 9 lane rowing course. On both sides of the rowing course, there are indoor and outdoor pools and water slides, toboggan rides, tube rides and so much more for families to enjoy.
We had planned to walk to the massive shopping centre at the end of the lake – 3kms away and then come back and go biking. We did the walk round trip of around 8kms and that was the end of that. The bikeways were fantastic – probably best we have seen so far – but just didn’t have the energy.
The weather in Poland since returning here a couple of weeks ago has been sunny and some days even hot – last couple of days it is getting cooler in the evenings – think we have had our two weeks of summer now!
Rest of the day was spent reading and catching up on info for the blog site.
Monday 21st August
We have now seen so much of Poland and this time again taking a different route.
We are headed for the border between Poland and Germany with one more stop on the way in Poland to stock up on supplies (alcohol and meat in particular). and selected the place to camp but again, found a gem along the way.
Wild camp in Nadlesnictwo Skwierzyna – forest
Our campsite for the night : (Coordinates N52.59115 E15.32806)
There is a massive national forest on both sides of Highway 24. We had passed a couple of designated parking places in the forest along the way and commented that now that we are about to leave Poland we have found the illusive places to stop and park and camp for the night. Just couldn’t resist so pulled in at the next one. Only facilities were tables and dustbins but it is really hard to describe the majestic trees and the lush mossy ground cover with a multitude of different coloured moss and plants. Saw mushrooms growing not far from our camp site.
We have had perfect weather this time round in Poland but today the rain clouds came over and it bucketed down for most of the late afternoon.
The temperature is dropping day by day and is quite cool at night now – almost time to bring the winter woolies into play again.
Wanted to walk along the forest tracks again but rain prevented us from leaving Ziggy so a quiet and restful afternoon was on the agenda.
Tuesday 22nd August
Woke up to an overcast day and it wasn’t long before a car pulled up beside us. Out came the gum boots, hats and baskets and off they trundled into the forest to pick mushrooms. We had seen some mushrooms yesterday but there were heaps more this morning.
Saw another half dozen or so parking spots further down the road, so for the traveller, a goldmine of places to camp along this highway. Cars were parked at every available spot with eager mushroom pickers seen tramping through the forest.
Kostrzyn nad Odra
Last town on the highway before leaving Poland, we stopped here to stock up on wine and food supplies. As usual Lidl was our first stop but only a small one so not a lot of wine to choose from. Polish people are generally not wine drinkers so the selection has not been great so have stocked up on the labels we recognise. Have had some woeful wines in our travels. The fridge is full, the bar is full and so ready to move forward to our next adventures in Germany – another country, another language, another currency and other challenges.