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Travels in Poland Summer 2016 PDF Printable Version E-mail

Travels in Poland Summer 2016

Margaret Williamson
July 2016

(continued from Travels in Germany Summer 2016)

In the summer of 1990, following the fall of the Berlin Wall, we cycled from England to Tromso in Norway. From Hamburg we headed east, through Berlin's Brandenburg Gate into the previously forbidden DDR and on to the Polish border at Frankfurt an der Oder, from where we rode through the woods and fields of a very undeveloped Poland to Gdansk for a ferry to Helsinki.
In this summer of 2016, we again travelled from Frankfurt/Oder to Gdansk, this time by motorhome on a series of newly finished motorways. We didn't recognise anything on the way, except the inscrutability of the Polish language.   
Crossing the border into Poland is certainly much easier today (thank the EU), as the German A12 motorway simply crosses the River Oder to become the Polish A2. A sign 'Warsaw 500 km' is a reminder of the size of this country. The new toll-motorways are good, with service stations along the way. The system of taking a ticket and paying on exit means that some earlier junctions have closed, as we discovered when trying to access the first campsite. The anticipated exit near Lagow (shown on our newly purchased Polish road atlas, as well as the SatNav) did not exist, meaning a long detour doubling back from the next exit. We'll know next time or not bother, as a TIR Park would have been a good alternative to King Willem's non-palatial and overpriced site. Tolls are small, and some motorways remain free (except for vehicles over 3.5 tons, when matters are complicated by the GoBox system).
Our next stop was delightful, on a tiny campsite with new toilets/showers and no other campers, near the River Wisla at Swiecie. It lies next to an imposing red-brick castle, built around 1250 when this land belonged to Prussia in the era of Teutonic Knights and Crusaders. Long neglected, Swiecie Castle was re-opened to the public in 2002 after its great hall and the one remaining tower were made safe. Or so we hoped, as we paid 5 zloty (about 1) each to enter and climb the spiral staircase (some 200 steps) to photograph the landscape from the top of the tower. Nothing like this was maintained or open to view in the Soviet days.

Click: MagBazPictures of Swiecie Camping

Click: MagBazPictures of Swiecie Castle

The third contrast was the onward voyage across the Baltic. In 1990 our ferry from the shipyard at Gdansk (still celebrating Lech Walesa and Solidarity) took 3 days to reach Helsinki. There was only bread and sausage on sale at every meal and we'd found little chance of stocking up on food for the voyage! Today we took a Stena Line ferry from Gdynia (port 15 miles north of Gdansk), leaving at 11 am and arriving in Karlskrona in Sweden at 8.30 pm. The catering was a self-service 'breakfast buffet' as soon as we boarded, followed by a 'lunch buffet' from 5.30-7 pm: all we could eat, with juices and coffee, and (amazingly) all included in the ticket price! No need to raid the lockers we'd filled at Lidl, opposite the campsite in Sopot!

One thing had not changed armed Immigration Control officers were checking passports very carefully at Gdynia, though now the target profile is different.
Campsites in Poland
Camping De Kroon, Pozrzadlo, Nr Lagow 20 inc 6 amps elec and showers. Free WiFi at reception only. Dutch-run (by Willem de Kroon from his bar). A few Dutch guests.
Camping Zamek, Swiecie - 11 inc 10 amps elec and showers. No internet. Small quiet site next to Swiecie Castle (worth a visit).
Camping Metropolis, Sopot 69 PLN (c 17) inc 10 amps elec, showers, free WiFi. Large busy site, convenient Gdansk and Gdynia ferries. Excellent restaurant at camp entrance.

(continued at Travels in Sweden & Norway Summer 2016)