08/10/2017 Biala Podlaska Poland

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.

Piotr,  Kornelia,  Barbara and Kamil  and Piotr’s Godson and his family, plus my Navigator, of course

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.

My Navigator with her Polish Passport

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.

Ziggy and our campsite with 77 kayaks

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

Left Liwiec

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.

My Navigator enjoying the view at Gosciniec Pod Zaglamco  

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.

Our Dinner place in Poznan Old Town

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.

Poznan Old Town Architecture

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.

Poznan Old Town Architecture

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.

My driver updating his monument knowledge

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.

Just another Poznan Old Town Monument

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.

My Navigator catching up on her notes in the forest

 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.






08/02/2017 Suwalki Poland

POLAND 2nd August – 8th August

Left Merkine, Lithuania heading for Poland

Suwalki Poland

First chore for the day, was to find somewhere to repair our back tyre which had been slowly losing air since Helsinki. We have been filling up with fuel and at the same time topping up the tyre. Couldn’t see a puncture so guessed it was a leaky valve. As it was getting worse needed to find a tyre repair shop and soon.

We passed many service stations along the way, many had no air hose at all and some who were not able to give us the 5.5 Bars (80PSI) we needed to pump up the tyre. The most air pressure we were able to get was 3 Bars so we headed to the largest town closest to us and drove very slowly towards Suwalki on a tyre which was inflated to at best around 3 Bars. We did a quick google translation and needed a shop that said Opony (polish for tyre). It was now midday Saturday and based on our information, most stores closed around noon on a Saturday.

Yeah!!! – after two tyre repair shops were unable to fit us in today, we were able to find a shop and within an hour we were hoisted up, the tyre removed (with a lot of effort) hole plugged up (hole in middle of tyre) and tyre refitted to Ziggy (with a lot of effort) – a total of 40 zloty – a mere $15.00 for all that work and we were away again.

Augustow Poland

Next we travelled to Augustow where there was a great place we wanted to camp in at a marina near the centre of town. Driving through town, it was obvious this is one of the hot holiday spots in Poland and felt apprehensive regarding a vacancy here. The town was packed, the beaches were packed, people everywhere. We could hardly get anywhere near the gates to the marina. Looked a fantastic place to stay but certainly not during the peak season. After a frustrating 20 minutes, we quickly headed out of town and tried to find Plaska and Plaska Water Station, the home of our friends we helped bring their boat and car out at Merkine.

Plaska Poland
(Campsite: Stanica Wodna Plaska)
email: Andrzej@kanal-Augustowski.pl Ph: 502667272

Andrzej (Andrew) and Gosha (Margaret) and Jacob (their son) greeted us like long lost friends and quickly made us feel at home.

We parked on a beautiful lush green lawn, right on Kanal Augustowskim, where ducks swam happily past the beautiful water flowers. We were surrounded by campers in tents, caravans and some in sleeping bags ready to settle down under the stars. There are also cabins for hire and 4 boats ready to take away for a week at a time and navigate the beautiful waterways. The waterway consists of 18 locks – 14 locks through Poland 1 right on the border with Belarus and 3 through Belarus (no visas required by Belarus but you can’t leave the boat for a swim!!!)

Our campsite at Stanica Wodna Plaska with the hire boats in the background

Space is limited for motorhomes so would suggest phoning first to check availability.

There are Kanal front huts with tables and chairs and a small restaurant and bar serving absolutely delicious Polish food. We were lucky to sample the absolutely “must have” home made Kartacze (potato dumplings filled with meat, seasoned with onions and pork) and two beautiful Salads and sampled two amazing homemade liqueurs made with Andrzej’s secret recipe.

Andrzej and Gosha with us outside their restaurant and office

A secret hideaway away from it all in the midst of a tiny little place only 20 kms away from Augustow – a must to see and spend some relaxing days.

Jezjoro Nidzkie (Lake Nidzkie)
(Camp in the forest)

We had keyed in the co ordinates for a camp spot called Camping U Basi, Jaskowo, west of Pisz, however on the way, we found a great free camp about 3 kms from our proposed destination.

Designated as Parking, it was a large grassed area at the beginning of the National Forest. There were a few houses about and given that it was off the beaten track, we were surprised how many cars and bicycles actually went by. We had passed quite a few of these Parking spots but didn’t realise they were part of the National Forest.

We saw several fishermen go into the forest. Eager to find out where the forest tracks led, we put on our backpacks and followed the tracks through the forest. The tracks were marked at each intersection, so these were designated walking tracks. Only a few minutes in we came to the massive lake and followed the track right around the lake. So quiet and peaceful and nothing but us and the huge forest trees. Walked for about an hour and decided to head back. Suddenly about 50 metres away a group of 8 deer ran across the track in front of us. Too slow to get the camera going so missed that photo opportunity.

My father loved the forests in Poland and I can remember the stories he told of collecting berries and mushrooms in the forest. We have seen many people in our travels walking with buckets in hand and picking berries and mushrooms. We didn’t see any berries but came across several species of mushrooms – one with a beautiful bright red top – looks more like a flower. Do not know enough about which ones you can eat so left them be.

Really enjoyed this beautiful place.

(Camp: Camping Mozir – Port Lomza)

A really well set up camp spot at a small marina on the edge of town. Pricing information in “Campings” was incorrect – instead of €15 + electricity it was a mere €6.5 incl electricity. We advised them of the inaccuracy as I am sure the camp would be packed if they changed this info. Set around a beautiful park and river which provided kids playground, gym equipment and a great bikeway. The place was packed with people coming and going all day and night. A great pizza restaurant and bar only metres away, which we just had to try, overlooking the park.

Marina and office at our campsite at Port Lomza

Took the bikes for a ride into town but once the bikeway stopped, we had to negotiate around the crazy drivers and narrow footpaths. A little too hard for this novice rider so happily walked the bikes back to the bikeways and pedalled home.

Spent a relaxing day the following day catching up on some reading and gave Ziggy a well deserved spring clean.

(Coord N 52.393311: E 22.661150)
Wild camp at restaurant on Bug River

We are still totally amazed at how impatient, aggressive and dangerous the drivers in Poland are. We keep to the speed limit and are regularly passed as if we were standing still and are regularly passed over double unbroken white lines, going uphill and or round corners.

This part of Poland has no rest stops at all and it has been virtually impossible to find any camp sites whether free or at a cost so close to the Russian and Belarusian borders. The roads today were so bad and we really looked forward to stopping for a break.

Found by chance this great spot on the Bug River at Drohiczyn with large grassy area and a restaurant which serves traditional Polish food. Sat in a massive undercover outside area at the restaurant and watched locals riding bikes, horses and swimming.

Polish restaurant at our wild camp spot at Drohiczyn

After a delicious Polish dinner, we camped here for the night overlooking the Bug river.

05/31/2017 – Szczecin Poland

Wednesday 31st May – Szczecin, Poland

Stayed in the camping spot at the Panorama Hotel just outside of town.  Very secure with security guards at the gates.  Very expensive at 70 zl ($25 approx) but had water and power included.

Arrived here as some of the blackest clouds and strangest cloud formations we have ever seen loomed overhead.  Just managed to park in time before the wind began howling and the storm hit.  Only lasted for a couple of hours and now we are back to full sunshine.

Only reason we stopped here is to stock up on everything in Poland before we go back to Germany tomorrow and then to Scandinavia.  Ziggy will be feeling unhappy with the extra load she has to carry but the driver and his bride will be happier at the lower cost.

Spent a peaceful afternoon writing the blog and doing some chores.

Wednesday 31st May – NeuBrandenberg, Germany

Before leaving Poland, we stocked up with supplies at Lidl and then Kaufland for some things Lidl does not have.  Finding it really difficult to find the range of herbs and spices we have back home (particularly hard when you can’t read the labels).

The rough Polish roads have finally taken a toll on Ziggy.  I guess this is the punishment for taking backroads to go through wee villages rather than zooming down motorways and not seeing anything but cars, trucks, trucks and more trucks.

We travelled on one section of about 70klms where every 2 metres there was a join in the concrete but with no filler in the expansion cracks or if there was a filler it stood proud above the concrete causing quite a jar.

When we stopped we couldn’t open some of the pantry sliding drawers – some of the screws had started to loosen just enough so the screw head would not allow the drawer to open – a couple of minutes work with a screwdriver and we were back in business.

Next time I went to start Ziggy – turned the key and nothing – and we were in the middle of nowhere – my Navigator was urging me to contact ADAC whom we have breakdown service with but as all the contact information was in another language thought I would lift the bonnet and try to fix the problem myself.

Well I must admit my knowledge of Fiat Turbo Diesels is extremely limited (zero) but thought it might be a dead short to the battery after all the bumps we had encountered.

Found that we had a loose connection on the positive battery terminal – unfortunately this terminal post is the one right at the back and with my limited tool kit was not able to organise a proper repair so just wiggled all the connections to the positive terminal a bit and we were under way again.

Found a battery supplier in the next town (he was trained in London and therefore had some English) who fixed  the loose connection by replacing the clamp.   Two guys took nearly an hour to remove and then replace it – total cost 40 zl , around $14 – unbelievable service.

All fixed and stocked up now we headed out of Poland and crossed the border into Germany.  Back to the land of wind turbines and solar panels and beautiful roads.  Good roads are to be expected as Germany is a very prosperous country and Poland whilst being a very beautiful country, is still recovering from the Soviet era and does not have the funds to fix its minor roads.

We arrived at our Campsite  – Yachthafen NeuBrandenberg – very late in the afternoon and opted to spend the rest of the day sorting out our shopping and finding places for the extras we bought.  Every nook and cranny was utilised , though we did find some extra room that we can fill before going into Denmark.

Water based garages for boats in Neubrandenburg
My navigator going over one of the bridges in the beautiful parks

Thursday 1st June – Schwerin, Germany

Another beautiful day, so off we went on our bikes after brekky.  This campsite is part of a yacht club and sports centre and the bikeway went along the waterfront and around some beautiful parks.    Headed back by 11am as this is checkout time at these campsites.

We travelled through the beautiful hills and valleys and thought at any moment Julie Andrews and the Vonn Trapp kids would appear over the hills and start singing for us. 

A really fantastic drive along the motorway and both Ziggy and my driver were ever so happy.  There were beautiful red poppies and purple and white flowers scattered along the side of the motorways for miles and miles – pretty as a picture.

We arrived at Sportbootzentrum Ziegelsee Schwerin.  This is a marina and has about 10 waterfront spots.  We were a little late and did not get any of these.   The harbour master ushered us to a spot around the corner – ugh –  view was of old boats on hard stands in different stages of disrepair – though we had glimpses of the sea.

Schwerin Town Centre

We had heard what an excellent little town this was and as we were only 2kms away, we hopped on the bikes after a late lunch and rode into town central.  Beautiful cobbled streets and again a stunning Old Town with cathedrals and town halls and restored old buildings set around the town square.  The area is a “bike free”” zone so we walked the bikes up and down the many streets in town.  The city is surrounded by a lake and in the middle of the lake is a huge fountain.   We rode around the lake and then headed uphill back to our camp.

Armed with a beer and wine, during our walk around the marina, we came across the first British registered Motorhome we had seen since we left Dunkirk.  Lovely couple who we shared an hour or so with before starting dinner.

Schwerin Town Centre

Went to bed around 10pm and it was still light outside.  The further north we go the longer the daylight lasts.

Friday 2nd June – Sehestedt, Germany

Because we had missed out on a prime waterfront spot the night before, we decided to head off early this morning around 7am.

Within a half hour we struck a traffic jam and slowly inched our way towards the motorway.  We saw in the distance, traffic at a complete standstill both ways on the motorway.  We were not far from the entrance to the motorway when we saw several fire trucks and then the partially burnt out carcass of a truck, now completely blocking both lanes of the motorway and fortunately on the other side of the motorway.  Our side was slow because everyone was gawking at the sight. The other side was complete chaos and for the next 20kms people were standing and out of their cars wondering if they were ever going to move. 

We were rewarded because when we arrived at Stellplatz Nord-Ostsee Kanal, there were only three waterfront spots left and within 15 minutes the place was fully booked out.

Our view from Ziggy

We are on a canal which in fact is a large vessel shipping lane.  As we were parking Ziggy, a massive cruise ship followed by a huge container ship passed less than fifty metres from where we were parked.  There was also a ferry right in front that continually took cars across to the other side.  We watched the massive ships and other pleasure vessels pass by.

This is the same cruise ship pictured above – photo taken on our way to our campsite

There is a bikeway that runs all along the waterfront to the next village, so we took advantage and off we went biking again.  

Happily exhausted, we then sat and enjoy our wonderful view.  Would be time soon to crack a bottle of vino and ponder on what a wonderful experience we have had so far.


05/26/2017 – Gdansk Poland

Friday 26th – Monday 29th May – Gdansk, Poland

There were heaps of roadworks on the new motorways so took us a little longer than expected to get to Gdansk.  The countryside changed from farm houses and lush green paddocks to more sandy soils and more industrial and commercial buildings popping up everywhere.  The towns were getting larger so we certainly knew we were heading for a tourist destination.

Another perfect day of sunshine when we arrived at Przy Wydmach campground.  A beautifully set out campground amongst tall trees and spring flowers in full bloom.  A massive campground with cabins and tons of room for everybody.  We had a bit of a heart start when we arrived and the gates were locked but within a minute or so they opened.   Reception staff spoke English and they were so helpful – so the rest was easy.

Located about 20 minutes by tram from Gadansk Old Town and the trams ran every twenty minutes and for around $4 each we had a 24 hour ticket to get on and off as many times as we wanted.  The campsite is also located about 150 metres from the beach (and the Baltic Sea) so that was a plus that we would explore later.

We followed the directions given to us and after crossing a bridge over the river Motlawa – there we were at the gates to Old Town.  Wow, Wow and double wow.  We thought Old Town in Kraków was just the best but this place was more than special.  It was Friday late afternoon and the place was alive.  The whole area of Old Town runs about six blocks in all directions.  The old buildings were unbelievable.  Each at least three storeys high and everyone a different colour and each with statues carved into stone and some high above the roof lines.  Hundreds of gargoyles are featured in Dluga Street (the Main Street) and all other streets.

Gdansk Old Town
Gdansk Old Town
Gdansk Old Town
Gdansk Old Town
Gdansk Old Town

Buskers were scattered all down Dluga Street.  From three piece rock groups to a string quartet, pan flutes and saxophones, clowns, snake men, painters – you name it – they were all there.  Both sides of Dluga Street offered every kind of restaurant and food you could want.    In the middle of the street is Neptune’s Fountain a favourite background for tourists to pose for photos.  We sat in a restaurant just opposite to Neptune’s Fountain and were entertained by people and buskers for hours while we had dinner.  Sadly there was also a gentlemen’s club opposite as well and we watched the ladies trying to entice men into the club.  Quite amusing to watch.

Part of the lunch time entertainment in Old Town Gdansk
My Navigator enjoying lunch in Old Town Gdansk

We headed back to the tram stop after dinner and went to check out the beach before heading back to camp.  Although it was around 9pm it was still light for a short while and there were still some people on the beach.

Next day we set off again as there was so much to see.

We walked along the boardwalk of the river where there were all sorts of water craft including rowers, speed boats, day cruise boats and of course a couple of pirate ships.  Again restaurants and shops all along the way and of course the mandatory ice cream shops.

Mariacka Street Gdansk – “Amber City”

Today we spent more time exploring all the streets – so many wonderful buildings to see some including the Main Town Hall (built before mid 16th century) .  The Crane (on the boardwalk of the Motlawa River – is the largest medieval port crane in Europe).   St Mary’s Basilica  (a Gothic building which is the largest European church).  Mariacka Street (richly decorated tenement houses and famous for its Amber collections and paintings).   I was so lucky to receive a beautiful gift from Barbara and Piotr before leaving Biala Podlaska, which included an amber bracelet and necklace.    It is so beautiful, I wanted to share it with everybody.  Thank you so much, it is really special.

Amber bracelet and necklace gift from Barbara and Piotr
Neptune’s Fountain Old Town Gdansk
The famous Crane (Rope pulley) in Gdansk Old Town

We had heard about the new and controversial museum “the World War II Muzeum” and walked about fifteen minutes outside of Old Town to see it.  Like everything else we have tried to book in Poland, it is virtually impossible to get into some place special immediately.  We were told that we could get in in about 4 hours time.  We were already tired from all the walking – think we have worn out the tread on one pair of shoes so decided to stay on in Gdansk for another day and see the Muzeum.  We booked in for 10am Sunday.

World War 2 Museum Gdansk

Sunday was solely planned to see the Muzeum only as we had heard it can take several hours to see everything.

One of our prime reasons for this trip was to find out more about my parents lives during the war years as they refused to speak of it to us.  I now understand why.  Those years were horrific and it is only now through some of the museums we have visited and the information given to us by my family here, that we understand how badly Polish people were treated during those years. 

It took us 5 hours plus to go through the museum and we didn’t see everything.  Really worth visiting by all who are interested in the history of this era.

So much to see in Gdansk, we didn’t have time to see everything but strongly recommend a visit of at least three days.  We have really enjoyed our stay and will leave reluctantly.

The travel bug has really hit us now and we are really looking forward to getting to Scandanavia in the next few days.

Tuesday 30th May  Mielno, Poland

It was a long but easy drive and Ziggy and her driver were very grateful for the smooth roads.  We picked Mielno because it was on the Baltic Sea.   It is a town that has tried to become a tourist destination but has not made it.    Maybe when the summer holidays in July and August arrive, it may become alive but now not much is open – even the WC’s in town (if you could call it that) were closed.  Couldn’t even find one that you had to pay for, let alone one that was free.

The beach itself is really great and there are a couple of nice restaurants on the waterfront.

Camping Rodzinny itself was set at the back of a house and was quite okay, though I did not take to the owners at all.  Money hungry and everything was a problem.  Bathrooms were good, though the showers turned off about every minute which was an inconvenience.

Think we were a bit spoiled at Gdansk so we’re not looking through rose coloured glasses here.


05/24/2017 – Wolfschanze – Hitlers Bunker – Gierloz Forest Poland

Wednesday 24th May – Gierloz, Poland (aka “The Wolfs Lair (Wolfschanze) or Hitlers Bunker”

Set off after breakfast on our bikes to further explore Suwalki.  The bikeways are shared by both pedestrians and bikers but unlike back home, bikers have one lane and pedestrians have the other.  Much more civilised as there is no competition for space.

Suwalki Town Centre

There are several beautiful parks in the centre of town and as we rode through them, we came across some kindy aged kids marching through the park.  They had a long pink rope which they had to hold onto with one hand but they still managed to be able to wave to us with their other hand.  We tried to take a photo of this gorgeous sight but the teachers asked us not to.   Reminded us of Setinne and Eli (our grandkids) so stopped for a while to take this in.

Suwalki Parks

Had a great ride around the man-made lake, parks and gardens, then town and back to Ziggy about two hours later.

Roads are getting busier now and we are seeing motor homes on the road – have only seen a handful over the last three months.  The warmer weather is bringing them out.  We have been wanting company along the way, but soon we are sure we will be complaining about competing with them for parking spots.

Arrived at Gierloz and were greeted by guards at a security gate.  There were already 8 or so giant Tourist buses parked in the grounds.  We were directed to a motorhome area which we shared with about 5 motor homes and 8 German motor-bikers who were erecting tents.  We were a little amused because when they took off their helmets and leathers, they were just like us, old folk out on a group get together.   Thought we might have a sleepless night but they were so quiet we didn’t even know they were there.

For a mere 40zl around $14 you got to camp under a canopy of beautiful rain forest trees, have electricity and water and a huge bathroom facility (to be shared with the large numbers of tourists here during the day but very quiet after dark. This price also includes admission for 2 to the Museum.

Hitler – assassination attempt

Groups of school children were everywhere.  History is very important to Polish people and it is drummed into their children from a very early age.

There were no brochures available and when we went into the information centre, we were advised they were closed (in the middle of the day?!!!). There was a very large map of the area so we took a photo of it and ventured out on our own.  We won’t go over everything here but if you want more info there are many websites under “wolf’s lair”, Poland” – one link is http://www.thirdreichruins.com/wolfschanze.htm

Hitlers Bunker – by far the biggest, thickest and best camouflaged

Bunker 13 is Hitler’s bunker where a failed assignation attempt was made on his life by one of his top advisors.

Inside one of the bunkers
The bunker walls were really thick

Hidden under a canopy of forest trees and over many acres, we found old buildings and bunkers in ruins.  Very well camouflaged under the trees, they would have been impossible to see from the air.  Truly amazing to see the depth of the walls, some concrete walls would be nearly 3 metres thick.

There are still a few toys to go for a ride in

The gates are locked at 8pm so we had a very peaceful night amongst the trees.

Thursday 25th May- Elblag, Poland

What’s that noise?  Woke up with a start!  Just the phone ringing –  so in a dazed stupor climbed down from the dizzy heights of the second floor and greeted the caller in a sleepy voice.  Hi Sis said my little brother, what are you doing still asleep at 8am in the morning.  Only answer I could give is “benefits of being retired and loving it”.

Good to hear from home at any time so after a lengthy conversation and a relaxed breakfast headed out of the forest and the Wolf’s Lair to our next destination.

There was a U Boat museum only 19 Klms away so with the advice of the guard at the gates we headed in the direction he described.   Our first mistake for the day!  The road got narrower and narrower (down to one lane wide) and bumpier and lumpier, and the fuel tank was looking a little low so after about 10km we decided to head back to civilisation and a Fuel station as we had no idea where we were and what lay ahead in the direction we had been going.

Arrived in Ketrzyn about 20kms later, filled up with fuel and as time was getting on, headed for Elblag. 

The sat nav was obviously sabotaged in the forest (spies I think) and went haywire.  It did everything in its power to take us along the worst Polish roads we had been on – 70kms of potholes – some were so big you could take a holiday in there and in some places the road got down to not much more than one lane.   Really glad we filled up with fuel.

Got to say though, we went through some of the prettiest countryside.  Huge trees on both sides of the road created an arch of foliage over the road for 30kms or so.  Being spring time the leaves were young and so green.  Shame my driver couldn’t take the time to appreciate it.

By the time we arrived at Elblag, Rob was truly spent and sat and relaxed with a few beers for the rest of the day.  No exploring today.  Think we may give up sightseeing in the countryside for a few days and head for Gdansk along the motorway provided the sat nav behaves itself.

We stayed in Camping Elblag.  Great central camp spot and top class.  Very secure and safe and about 15 motor homes here – mostly German couples.  Brought out the BBQ and after a movie and a bottle of red wine – turned the phone off and slept soundly.


05/16/2017 Kazimierz, Poland

Tuesday 16th May – Kazimierz Dolny, Poland

Not a great looking day to begin with but in no time at all, the sun peeked through the heavy cloud cover and remained there for the rest of the day.

The 100 km trip was relatively easy with only a short part of it hair raising for the driver.  Seems that roadworks happen in the tightest of situations and when you are driving a bus (almost), can prove to be very difficult.

We travelled again through acres and acres of orchards, not sure what kind the trees were but expect they were predominantly Apple.  It was very sad to see so many old people in some very poor looking farming areas of the country.

We arrived at the old historic town of Kazimierz Dolny and soon found our camp for the night.  Strange my dad’s name was Kazimierz and so far we have found a couple of towns with that name.  Will check with my niece Barbara in a couple of days as I can’t find a translation for it.

Lovely little camp spot run by a husband and wife team (Grzegorz Pielak) who do not speak anything but Polish but we didn’t take long to settle in.  It is right across the road from the river with a great bike track running forever along the riverfront.  It only took about 15 minutes to get to the centre of town but again the town square was alive with tourists and bus loads of school kids – shouldn’t they be in school?

Again lots of dust collectors on sale – souvenirs I mean!   Restaurants everywhere.  Seems like every place that has an “old town” takes advantage of this and sets up mega restaurants everywhere.

Being on a river is an added attraction as there are several passenger carrying vessels (including one that could be in included in a “pirate movie”) sitting on the docks.

The village included an old castle and church and so many old but renovated buildings from the 14th century.

Back in our little bus, we settled down under the fruit trees and enjoyed the remainder of a warm spring day.

A tip – be sure to check the price of your campsite when you arrive (and pay when you arrive).  We took the rate in our “NKC Parkings” book to be gospel but found on checkout – a different story.  Couldn’t argue with the folks as they didn’t speak any English so left feeling a little unhappy at the cost.

Wednesday 17 May – Serniki, Poland

We travelled again through farms and orchards.  So beautiful here, so lush and green.  Canola was growing everywhere – there were fields of yellow canola flowers mixed with fields of green – looked like a patchwork quilt. 

We travelled over some very rough roads again, and reached our destination only to find the gates locked.  We are getting a little annoyed now because this has happened several times. 

Our proposed destination  was a resort in the middle of nowhere which was supposed to be open from 1 May but we found out from a local, they decided to delay their opening to 1 June – ….!!…ugh!!! – signage would have been good as we drove a long way over very rough roads and then had to turn around and go back out the same way.

We travelled another 20-30 Klms to the next destination along some woeful roads.  Everything shook, rattled and rolled but we were happy to find Ranczo Arka open and again we were the only ones there.

A ranch turned zoo of some kind which has some very interesting and exotic animals and is open to the public at a small cost.  Only takes 4 motor homes.  They have emus, peacocks, ostrich, moose, kangaroos, naserbar, birds and of course the regular types of farm animals.  They also have a small lake which is the home to some beaver and swans.

Haven’t seen a black rabbit before

It is quite busy during the day but very peaceful at night.  Little animals run around at dusk including families of rabbits everywhere – very cute to watch.

Facilities not much to speak of but we didn’t need these anyhow.  No wi-fi.

Thursday 17th – Sunday 20th May – Biala Podlaska, Poland

We arrived back at Biala late Thursday evening and spent an enjoyable evening with my niece Barbara.

Friday we ventured back to Town Hall to collect my PESEL card (Polish ID Card).  With this card I can now travel freely within the Schengen Zone as a Polish Citizen, without having to leave every 90 days and have full rights as a European Union Citizen. 

By law, Australian citizens can only stay three months in the Schengen Zone and then have to exit for three months before being able to return.   Rob as my spouse can travel with me and remain in the Schengen Zone under the same terms and conditions (we believe – yet to be confirmed).

We then filed my application for a passport which should be ready for collection within 2-4 weeks).   We have now decided to continue our travels in the interim and then collect my passport at a later date.

This whole process has taken over 12 months beginning in Australia and then with the help of Barbara and Kornelia in Poland – another five weeks – after filing many documents in Poland, I have dual citizenship with my passport only a few weeks away.  This would not have been possible without Barbara and I can never thank her enough.  This also now makes it easier for either of my girls to get Polish Citizenship in the future, should they so desire – we believe having European Citizenship could be handy for Renee and Shannon in the future as it would allow them access to currently around 30 European countries and who knows how the geo-political situation may change in the future.

Stadnina Koni Grand Entrance

The next two days were spent celebrating and once again seeing some more local attractions including Stadnina Koni, an Arabian horse farm only 30 Klms from Biala.  These horses are magnificent and the auctions held in mid August draw buyers from all over the world. 

Barbara and Krys – feeding time

We topped off the day with a coffee at Zaborek a really special place in the countryside next door to the horse stud. 

Barbara and Krys selecting afternoon tea
Interesting architecture at Zaborek Coffee House

This was followed by a thank you dinner for Barbara and Piotr and after many many vodkas and Black Russians, came home and laughed and talked until the wee hours (with the help of Mr Google, who has been our translator over the last few weeks).

Sadly we left on Monday morning, but we will be back again in the next few months,

Monday 22nd May – Bialowieza Bison Forest, Poland

With the help of Piotr and Barbara and their local knowledge, we set off on Monday morning and headed for Bialowieza Forest.   This forest is one of Poland’s most special primeval forests and has some of the largest and most beautiful trees in Europe. 

On Monday afternoon, we were lucky enough to be able to take a 4 hour tour with an English Speaking Guide, Jerome from Portugal leading the way and a Dutch couple.   It is very difficult to get on to a tour on the same day and sometimes you have to wait a couple of days before you can book one.  Very wise to book this on line before you come.  Normally the tour accommodates 12 in the group but as we agreed to share the total costs between just the four of us, we headed off as scheduled at 2pm. 

The forest extends from Poland to Belarus with the majority of the forest in Belarus.  We were so close to Belarus that my Iphone beeped a message which said “Welcome to Belarus”.

We were lucky enough to go through some very restricted parts of the forest.  Just an amazing place, so beautiful, so quiet, so green and lots of singing birds.  Mosquitos were rampant but with the help of our mossie cream we were left relatively untouched.

Unfortunately the photos do not do the place justice

 We discovered a field of “bear garlic”or “wild garlic” – really pretty white flowers.   This herb is used locally in salads and cooking.  We tasted by eating the whole plant, stalk and flowers which tasted a little like horseradish with garlic.  We will definitely look at growing this when we get home.

Bear garlic growing wild

There are about 3500 different species of mushrooms growing wild and our guide told us they can all be eaten – except about 3470 species can only be eaten once!!!

Tired after a really special and long day, we stayed in the Forest’s car park for the night with another couple who were waiting for a phone call the next day confirming if they could get on a tour.

At dusk, we went for a walk around the lake where fishermen were trying to catch fish and then watched people head off on twilight tours with night binoculars.

This area is “Polish Bison” country and many of the tours include 4-6 day safaris to try to find them.  Sadly we didn’t see any on our tour but we have seen many man made statues of these everywhere in this area.

About 140,000 people visited this Park last year whereas over 2,5000,000 people visited Auschwitz – so what does that say about us???

Tuesday 23rd May – Suwalki, Poland

Woke up after a great night’s sleep only to find that when my feet hit the ground Ouch!  We did walk for 4 hours plus the walk around the lake yesterday didn’t we?  We might take it a little easier today.

Quite a long drive to Suwalki today and found a great camp site called Eurocamping Osir.  Highly recommended close to town and a great camp spot.  Cost was only 40zl which is around $14.  Beautiful everything.  Level large grassed spots with hedges between each spot, each with water and power (at extra cost if you want it).    The amenities block are just beautifully new and clean.  Security lights everywhere and high fences surround the camping area.  Gates are locked at 10pm.  Wi-fi is excellent.

Eurocamping Osir with Stadium in the background

We set off to explore the town (by foot) and found a bikeway starting at the front gates which went for miles and miles – around a beautiful man made lake and right through town.   There is also a fantastic Aqua park here but for us a little too cold yet to consider.

Suwalki Town Hall

Forget to mention that in the last 5-6 days – Spring has sprung- and we are now wearing those most missed shorts and short sleeve shirts we have brought with us.   Still cool at night though.

Hope the weather holds tomorrow as we are planning a long bike ride in the morning before we head off.



05/05/2017 Zakopane, Poland

Friday 5th May, Zakopane, Poland

Woke up to a foggy morning with very little visibility so decided to stay until it lifted a little.  Sadly we left Kraków – such a beautiful city and so much to see. We only saw a little but what we saw will stay with us forever.

Coming in to Zakopane

Heading south, the countryside and the houses took on more of an alpine look.  After only a half hour or so we turned a corner and there in front of us were the Tatras Mountains still covered with heaps of snow.  Skiing has been a passion of ours and our kids have grown up with the same love of snow and skiing.  The sight of the snow really was special and we look forward to the time when we can spend some time in the snow before heading back to Oz.

We stocked up with supplies and found our next camp spot.  Camping Ustup, about 4kms from the main ski village in Zakopane.  Though a little more expensive than other places we have stayed at in Poland, it has the best and newest shower and bathroom facilities.  Ideally located right next to a river, pizza restaurant, supermarket and service station, and for fast food junkies MacDonalds is right next door.  The bus stop to go uptown to the village is just across the road and costs about $1.00.  We have been told that transport is free if you are over 65.  Haven’t taken advantage of that yet !!!

Bit late to head to the village today, so decided to take a long walk instead.  The walk was just delightful.  So many beautiful ski lodges along the way.  We were told that it was only a couple of weeks ago that the snow was around 2 ft deep here in this village.

Saturday 6th May, Zakopane, Poland

A bit of sunshine today, so decided to hand wash some clothes and take advantage of the clothes lines provided here – rare to find these anywhere.  After we had hung out the clothes the manager advised us that we could have used the washing machine in his house – expect there would be a cost but would have taken advantage of this if we had known.

Packed all the winter woolies in the backpack and headed for the bus stop.  We had just missed a bus and it was another 45 minutes to the next one – ugh!!   Just as we were considering our options – along came a horse and carriage.  We had seen these the day before on our walk, so we hailed the driver.  He didn’t speak English but when we asked him what the cost was to take us up the 4kms to the village he showed us a 50 Zt note (about $17AUD).  Given that it was only 6 Zt for the two of us by bus – I said “no”.  He then pulled out a 20 Zt note – yep that was better so we climbed in and played Tommy tourist”.  It was just so cool riding in the horse and buggy – really enjoyed the whole ride.  Still can’t believe he reduced his price to less than half.

Our horse and cart taxi ride in to Zakopane Village

He dropped us in the centre of the village and pointed in the direction we should go.  Through Fashion Lane we went and at the end it opened onto Krupowki Street.  This street boasts as being one of the most famous streets in Poland.   A tourist Mecca of restaurants and shops that stretch for 1200 metres.  Lots of winter clothing sales were on with some going at up to 80% off.    Needed some winter clothes so found a bargain or two.

Krupowki Street Zakopane – a really great mall

At the end of this street we found the markets.  Hundreds of stalls going in every direction.  Lots of souvenirs, shoes, clothes etc and of course food stalls.  We looked in amazement at all the food items we have never seen before and cannot even fathom a guess as to what they are.

Next we headed to the northern part of the street where the cable cars go to the top of Kasprowy Wierch Peak – at 1987 metres.   Not very expensive to take a return trip up in the cable car around 27 Zt ($9) but less for over 65’s.  We were just about to book our tickets when we heard the thunder.  We looked up the mountain and the sky was black and the rain was on its way.

A quick sprint back to the main square where we took cover in a restaurant and spent the next hour or so watching people getting absolutely drenched.  Time to head home and maybe, weather depending, come back tomorrow to venture up the mountain.

Bus trip back was not as exciting as the horse and buggy but a lot drier I think.

Arrived home and found that the manager had taken my clothes off the line – you little beauty- what a mighty mighty man. 


05/01/2017 Auschwitz & Wieliczka

Monday 1st May – Auschwitz & Wieliczka – Poland

Woke up to a glorious sun filled day – not a single cloud in the sky.  We parked directly opposite the gates to Auschwitz.   Decided on a really early start because we were sure that given it was a long weekend it would be packed.  Arrived at the ticket office at 7:30 am and joined the long queue.  The gates opened at 7.30 and already there were a dozen coaches parked and people piling in from every direction.

Krys at the entry gate – “Arbeit Macht Frei”

We had tried to purchase tickets the evening before but were told we could only buy them on the day of visitation – so much for trying to avoid queues.

I would have thought Auschwitz could have handled ticket sales and crowd control better, given they have been running this Museum for around 65 years but they have no idea on this and the signage is appalling – still we are visitors to this country so just have to take it as it is.

Auschwitz queue at 07:45

We had been to Dachau near Munich Germany on a previous visit to Europe and thought we knew what to expect – wrong – again we walked around in silence from block to block and again were utterly shocked at the stories and vivid pictures displayed here.  Can really understand why my parents, my Dad in particular, having been in a Nazi prison work labour camp, would not talk about those years.

We only lasted a couple of hours before we both decided we just didn’t want to see anymore.  Didn’t take any pictures whilst inside – just didn’t have the heart and wanted to show a little respect.

Packed up Ziggy and headed for Wieliczka near Kraków only 90 minutes away.

Found a great spot only 100 metres from the entrance to the Wieliczka Salt Mine.  Again a spot with mixed parking so by the time we arrived late afternoon, there were very few spots left but we managed to just squeeze Ziggy in.

We went to the ticket office to buy tickets for the next day but once again were told we could only buy tickets on the day of visitation.

Looking down the stairwell to where we are going underground – about 10 stairs to each flight

The tour through this amazing place which is one of Poland’s National Monuments (and a UNESCO listed site) takes three hours to complete and goes down, down, down with around 400 steps to the bottom.   A bit like a spiral staircase to begin with and then about two thirds of the way down it opens up to numerous miner’s passages and caves where statues are formed out of rock salt.

Part of what is holding it all up – hundreds of metres underground

Four massive cathedrals with magnificent statues have been carved out of the rock salt and at special times of the year (Easter and Xmas) they hold mass down there.  You can even hire the main cathedral for your wedding – around AUD$2000.

One of the Cathedrals hundreds of metres underground

Gratefully the way up is much easier via lift.  Definitely put this on your list to see.  They provide an English speaking guide and cost is around $AUD30.  When we returned to Ziggy it was going on dusk and we found the car park empty- all alone again with the whole place to ourselves.

Tuesday 2nd May – Kraków, Poland

Didn’t want to stay in the Wieliczka Salt Mine carapark another night and found another place closer to Kraków that sounded much safer and secure.   Caravanning Elcamp Is a motorhome dealership and service centre (closed today because of May Day holiday) with a high fence and fully locked security gates.  There is a security guard here who is absolutely delightful – doesn’t speak English but again with sign language and a little help from Mr Google he was able to give us enough information about bus timetables.  Buses leave directly from across the road every 20 minutes. 

We hailed the bus and showed him our piece of paper with Kraków Old Town written (in Polish of course) on it.  He nodded and then later told us when to get off as we needed to link up with a tram from there to the centre of Old Town. 

We couldn’t believe what we were seeing.   We were stunned as we stood in the square.  Words couldn’t describe it.  A fairytale square lined with beautiful old churches, buildings and towers.  Restaurant after restaurant set along the boundary, each with colourful flower boxes acting as borders and huge colourful umbrellas.  Heaters under the umbrellas to keep you warm.  Hundreds and hundreds of people enjoying a holiday day in the square which is 200 metres by 200 metres.

A very small part of Krakow Old Town Square

Entertainers in colourful costumes were trying to lure you into shops or to take guided tours of the square.  Beautiful horses adorned with plumes and braids and wearing colourful outfits of gold and silver took tourists around the square in fairytale white carriages.

There was so much more to see even in the streets outside the square that we decided we would come back in the morning.  We sat in one of the many restaurants in the square to enjoy a late lunch/early dinner and just watch the crowds go by.   Really looking forward to tomorrow as Kraków has so many things to see.

Took a taxi home as it was beginning to rain and then settled in for a quiet but safe night.  Three motor homes had come in while we were away so for a change we have some most welcome company tonight.

Wednesday 3rd May – Kraków, Poland

Today is Commemoration Day.  All Polish flags are flying and from the web we discover that all attractions are closed today.  We decided to catch up on some Web home work and then set off for a big walk.  Had read on the blog sites there was a great bar/restaurant called Czarci Grill nearby so tried to find it. 

A couple of hours later we came back with no Czarci Grill in sight.  We headed past our camping spot and in the opposite direction and only a hundred or so metres we found it.  The building looked like the witches house in Hansel & Gretel – a small wooden cottage with a doorway that only a dwarf could fit through.  It was past lunchtime so decided to treat ourselves to a lunch/dinner so ventured inside. 

All I can say is wow, wow!!!!  Inside it was just as impressive with a log fire burning, low ceilings, dim lights and the smell of delicious food cooking.   They have a parrot inside in a huge cage and it wolf whistles the girls when they come in and sings and talks all day – even makes sounds like coughing and a phone ringing.  We spent a couple of hours there and after the best family size pizza we have had in yonks and three beers (cost less than $20) we headed home with a doggy bag of leftovers for breakfast next morning.

Czarci Grill

Thursday 4th May – Kraków Poland

It rained quite heavily all night but woke up to an overcast day (no rain) so headed into Old Town by bus and then tram.   There was nowhere near the number of people in Old Town as Tuesday so the atmosphere was not as great.  We booked our tickets for the Kraków Underground and then headed up the hill to Wawel Castle.  The Underground can be booked in advance and usually requires booking several days in advance but we were lucky to get a cancellation on the day we were there.

The Krakow Underground (Rynek Underground) is not a rail network but is an underground museum covering 4000square metres with interactive displays of the history of Krakow dating back to the 14th century. So the square is really 200 metres by 200 metres above ground plus the 4000 square metres underground.

Wawel Castle

Wawel Castle is an unbelievable castle set around its own huge square.  Tall cathedral spires, turrets and domes of gold were only a part of the structures within the castle walls.    From inside the walls, there were spectacular views of Kraków and the river it stands on.

Wawel Castle

Just as we were leaving the castle, the rain came bucketing down.  We took shelter in a little old pub and after a few vodka shots (vodka, raspberry juice and Tabasco) braved the rain and headed back to Old Town square for a 2 o’clock booking to see Kraków Underground. 

Once again rain has been following us unfortunately

Really interesting tour showing that under Old Town Square, they discovered in 2006 an old city that was built underground.  They carefully excavated the whole square and turned it into a tourist attraction keeping the original walls and sculptures of the old city in tact.

Photo of underground excavations around 2006

We took a taxi home and then had another delightful dinner at Czaci Grill.


04/28/2017 Checiny, Poland

Friday – 28 April , Checiny, Poland

Sadly we left family and friends in Biala Podlaska.  We were sent on our way with a bag of Polish goodies including home made Polish sausage and honey from Uncle Mirek (he currently has a couple of hundred bee hives on his farm), Pierogi (Polish dumplings) fresh farm eggs and lots of other delicious items – too many to mention.

Krys’ niece Barbara, Barbara’s daughter Kornelia and Barbara’s  Mother-In-Law,  Jadwiga – the best cooks in Poland

Thank you Barbara once again for spoiling us.  We will be back in a couple of weeks to pick up my Polish PESEL or ID card.  This is now the last step before I can apply for my passport. It truly has been an unbelievable exercise. 

A bee hive inspection – Kornelia, Uncle Mirek, Krys in protective gear and Mireks son, Marek
Kornelia and Krys on Grandma Jadwiga’s Farm

We left Biala Podlaska on a wet, cold overcast day.  It is hard to believe we have had so many days where the temperature has not reached double figures.  There have been a couple of days during our stay where we have had sun, wind, ice and snow all in the one day.  We sadly look at our summer clothes in Ziggy and wonder if we will ever get to wear them.

With our internet problems well and truly sorted out, we are really enjoying being able to do research for our trip.  We have our internet dongle now so the only challenge will be to get a SIM card in each country we visit as in our haste to leave the UK we missed out on getting the “3 Multi Country Sim Card” which would have covered us for around 20 countries.  We can only re-iterate to everyone embarking on a trip like ours – make sure you get a dongle and Sim Card BEFORE you leave the UK.

We stocked up on fresh supplies and of course the mandatory wine for me and beer for Rob at Lidl and drove on to a town called Checiny.  We struck an unbelievable amount of new roadworks and moved at a snails pace for nearly an hour.  Finally we arrived around 6pm.  What a find. 

Checiny has provided a fantastic area just below the entrance to the Royal Castle.  Whilst our area is shared by cars and buses as well, we have views from our windows of the castle up on the hill and the green valley below.  Tomorrow we are looking forward to exploring further.  After a well deserved beer for the driver and a cold white wine for the passenger and a sumptuous dinner of Pierogi and other Polish goodies we hit the hay.

Saturday – 29 April – Checiny, Poland

We headed up the hill to explore the Royal Castle.  First real exercise we have had for a couple of weeks.  The castle was constructed in 13th and 14th century.  Re-construction of the castle was done in 2013-2015.  It only costs around $4.00 AUD entry fee.  It is a tourist attraction now but is really worth visiting.  During the day they have displays of Polish folk dancing and knights jousting – spent an hour or so exploring and then headed down to the village. 

Polish Folk Dancing – Checiny Royal Castle
Checiny Royal Castle

It is the May long weekend here so many people have a five day holiday here – bit like Easter back home.  The village square is a buzz of activity so we are expecting today is the start of lots of festivities.  We bought some fresh bread rolls and headed back to Ziggy to make some lunch and rest and read before we hit the village later in the afternoon.

There is a new restaurant right on the boundary of the parking area called Poziom Smaku – it looks really interesting.  They put out deck chairs in the sunshine and provided a singer/guitarist (I forgot to mention today we had a little sunshine).  The restaurant guests sat basking in the sunshine while being entertained – some fell asleep in the deck chairs.

Later we ventured down to the village square which was now was set up with a stage and seating.  People were dressed in traditional Polish folk costumes.  We watched several displays of folk dancing, Knights jousting again, canon and Muscat fire, followed by a visit from the official party and then modern music.  Time to head back up the hill now.  We hear canon fire from the castle as we head up the hill – think that might be the finale for the night.

We met up with the restaurant owner Marcin as he was closing the restaurant for the night.  Though Polish, his second home is Scotland, having worked and lived there for 6 years.  He spoke excellent English and after a very short but interesting conversation, Marcin invited us to join him for breakfast on Sunday morning.

Sunday 30th April Checiny, Poland

Woke up this morning to beautiful blue skies so put on hiking shoes and headed for a long walk up the mountain before breakfast. 

Marcin’s Restaurant – Poziom Smaku with Ziggy in her overnight spot

Spotted a deer crossing the track only a few metres from us.  First one we had seen so we were pretty excited.  We headed back down to meet with Marcin for breakfast. 

What a wonderful person- just one of the many wonderful Polish people we have met over the last few weeks.  His restaurant provides only fresh local produce and everything is made freshly from scratch starting with the local fresh eggs, Polish sausages, herbs grown on the his land right beside where Ziggy is parked, apple and pear juice, home made jams etc etc etc.  You can buy home made everything.  The menu is extensive and everything no more than around 16zl – just over $5.00 for the best food ever.

During breakfast Marcin said he would show us some places to visit in the local area. We thought he meant on a map but no he took us out in his car and showed us the places we should visit during the day.  It was going to be one of his busiest days of the year (May day public holiday) yet he took the time to show us around.  A must do for all visitors to Poland – come to Checiny and stay here and have a meal or two with Marcin – Marcin’s restaurant is www.poziomsmaku.pl

Marcin is a real entrepreneur as apart from the restaurant he also has a business that makes fantastic plates for restaurants out of slate and oak – that business is www.kookserve.com and he exports them worldwide.

We packed up Ziggy and headed to the University of Geological Science.  We tried the front door – locked but within seconds we were greeted by the security guard who told us to come back another day as the Uni was closed.  Marcin told us the view was to die for so we headed up a very steep hill at the rear of the Uni to the top and wow- he was right.  We walked along the ridge line and the view was spectacular.

Two other places highly recommended to visit whilst here are the Vivid Historical Town and the Regional centre for Science and technology.  Both places were excellent and totally packed because of the May Day holiday weekend.

After a wonderful day touring and sightseeing we headed toward Auschwitz.



04/18/2017 Biala Podlaska & Surrounding Villages

Tuesday 18th April – Tuesday 25th April – Biala Podlaska, Poland and surrounding villages

Tuesday was our last day with Piotr as he was leaving Wednesday for around ten days.  Piotr drives a coach and is currently taking a group of Russian tourists throughout Europe.

We headed off for some more sightseeing. 

Below are some of the many places in the local area that we visited over the next week or so.  There has been little time to write notes for each day as each day is packed with so much.  Will try to provide information on some of the sites visited below.

Shrine of the Podlaskie Uniates in Kostomloty:  a Church with a valuable and beautiful iconostasis and relics of the blessed Uniate Marty’s from Pratulin.  The parish in Kostomloty (south of Terespol, close to the River Bug) was founded in 1631.



Greek Orthodox Church – Kostomloty, Poland

St Anne’s Basilica – Kodena truly beautiful church with a lot of history and really worth a visit.  Its setting is on acres of beautiful manicured lawns and gardens with small chapels scattered throughout.

St Anne’s Basilica – Koden
St Anne’s Basilica – Koden

The Lublin Open Air Village Museum was established in 1970.  Set in 60 acres of picturesque land it is one of the largest open air museums in Poland.  The area is composed of several parts reflecting geographical units of Lublin region.  The museum preserves the historic images of villages, manors and provincial towns with their regional characteristic features of buildings and settlement layouts.

Lublin Old Town:  – again another beautiful old town which was levelled to the ground during World War II and reconstructed to its original glory.  Whilst Warsaw Old Town was very special, Lublin Old Town has been our favourite to date. 

Barbara, Kornelia & Krys – Old Lublin Town
Old Lublin Town street scene
Old Lublin Town

We were in awe as we walked down each street.  They have plaques on almost all the buildings with each telling a story about what happened there during the war.  We have always been interested in history but nothing can describe how awful it would have been for my parents and their families during those horrible years.  My father never spoke about those times and now I certainly can understand why.

Krys weaving g a rug at Roskosz

Roskosz – Biala Podlaska –  a Government initiative involving educational activities including a bakery, wood making, masonry, weaving, sewing and metal work.

Set in what was a beautiful old farm dating back to the 17th century.  The site now has a hotel, restaurant and function centre, the funds from which support the Roskosz initiative.

Rob with a rock cutter at Roskosz

The main objective of The Roskosz initiative was the search for causes of low physical activity among children and young people and overcoming the tendency of excessive use of screen media and the Internet.   Groups of young people 14-18 years age come here and are encouraged to not only learn to enjoy sporting activities outside but also to learn skills from yesteryear.

The area to the east of here is very close to the border with Belarus.

We saw so much of the beautiful countryside.  Farms are everywhere as the soil is so rich.  We can understand why throughout history, Poland has been fought for and taken over by so many countries.

Progress with my Polish Passport is proceeding.  Wheels turn very slowly here. 

My Polish Citizenship has been confirmed in writing now but to proceed to being granted a Passport I need to register my birth certificate and marriage certificate again as two other government departments have not accepted what has already been submitted to get my citizenship. 

So it has been time consuming trips once again doing the rounds of the government offices, official NAATI translators and Notary Offices.

It would have been impossible to get this far without my family here helping me.  They have been so patient and we thank them very much. 

Hope by the end of this week to have these documents registered and a Polish ID card which should allow both of us unlimited time in the Schengen Area.  Time will tell. 

Our lack of speaking Polish would have been a real barrier.

Some of the street signs make driving a little challenging
Sign in a Polish Government office – this one in Russian – makes it even harder to get things done