92 – Poland

I’m writing this in the tent in the rain on a campsite on the German side of the Czech border. Another wasted morning, prey to the seemingly incessent rain and grey skies over Germany. And when it rains in the morning, it seems to rain at lunchtime and then all afternoon. A depressing story of a spring that ended in April and a summer that hasn’t arrived.

If I sound full of self-pity, it’s because I probably am. Janyis is playing Patience at the side of me, but I don’t have the patience.

And what can I say about Poland? We can’t say we weren’t warned. Every time I mentioned cycling there, I got new stories of potholes, heavy traffic, cyclists being forced off the road by speeding cars, vodka fuelled drivers taking their motor out for a spin (sometimes literally). How much of it was true, I can’t say, but after 120 miles of pedalling in the west of the country, we’d had enough. The potholes were pretty much everywhere, truck drivers give you the same amount of respect they might offer up to a hedgehog or rabbit and on top of it all, it rained.

On our first day, we pedalled 85 miles before reaching the town of Boleslawiec which is where the map said there was a campsite. When we reached the site, the sign outside said it was there, but the people inside said it wasn’t. By this point I was pretty sowed off and they eventually agreed to let us stay in a field.

The following day, the choices were clear – we turn right and head further into Poland in the hope that the weather improved, the roads improve, the drivers sort themselves out and the campsites exist. Or, we turn left and ride into a headwind 25 miles back into Germany. Later that evening watching a news report on the floods in Krakow (the direction we’d have gone in Poland), I knew we’d done the right thing. Sitting in the kitchen of a German campsite, just showered, full belly and warm, this is where it’s at if you want cradle comfy camping and respect as a cyclist.

So, that was Poland. Every few miles on the road we saw crosses by the side of the road, presumably for car accident victims. We saw rural villages with large empty buildings and we saw forests and potholes. The people, where we encountered them, were warm and friendly, but in the cars they drove with complete indifference. Now, none of this is to say that Poland is no good for cycle touring in all areas and the Eurovelo routes pass through it. I’ve heard that the south of the country is quieter and far more beautiful, but I couldn’t recommend the west of the country to any cyclist.

So, now we’re heading to the Czech mountains in the north of the country and on towards Prague. The reports I’ve heard from the Germans say the Czech Republic is easier on the cyclist, so we’ll see how it goes.

Thanks for dropping by and I’ll catch up again soon.

Chris


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