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Curious what backpackers do in Poland? Discover travel destinations all over the world of travelers writing a travel blog on FindPenguins.
  • Day22

    Gdansk to Krakow - A Day at the Cattle Market

    Well this morning started with a 3am wake up call curtesy of the women in the bed next me at my hostel. For the love of god I could not understand why she had insisted on leaving her bags in the common room the night before and then gone out clubbing. It was at 3am that she decided to relocate her luggage to the dorm; bang, thud, wallop, 15 minutes later and 7 bags were strewn across the room, and she was standing practically naked in the middle of a mixed dorm after waking everyone. After the noise subsided, I drifted back off to sleep to be woken again an hour later, this time another women was leaving, and had decided to only pack her stuff ready to go at 4am. What is wrong with people?!?

    By the time my alarm was due to go off at 8.30, I had already been staring at the ceiling for over an hour, hopelessly waiting for one last snooze before an 8hr train from Gdansk to Krakow via Warsaw.... Yes I know.

    Well too add to my morning from hell, I managed to burn yesterday whilst indulging myself on the beach. I would not mind so much but the amount of sun tan lotion I used would have drowned a small army of children!
    The two tender spots, the top of my feet/ankle crease point, and the front of my armpit/arm/collar. So, lathered up with mountains of aloe vera my socks have been turned into squishy heaven for my feet. However, there was no easy solution to my inner arm, the burn is exactly where my bra strap should sit. Brave call made, I decided to travel bra-less. Now for most people this wouldn't be scary at all, but for someone who is on the larger size, carrying round 40DD boobs, its not something you would usually do! But when needs must...

    Arrival at the train station saw me about half an hour early for my departure. Knowing my platform, I decided to get comfy on the platform as my rucksack had slowly been digging into the lovely burn on my shoulder. As the platform filled I realise this is no small train, there are at least 700 people stood waiting to board the train... my train.

    In the flurry of making sure I was on the train before the doors locked (I learnt very quickly trains in Poland do not wait long), I jumped on what I thought to be my designated carriage. I very slowly and painfully pushed my way through to my seat, where I found a lovely German gentleman who kindly informed me this was carriage 16, not 14 :( By this time it was too late to jump back off and then back on at 14, so I started my fight through the throngs of people without a seat allocation. I was already hot, flustered, and starting to feel the burn again, but I can honestly say that 200 metre journey has been the hardest of my trip so far. Without going into too much detail, polish trains have a combination of standard carriages (like virgin in the UK but smaller in width), and 6 people compartments connected to a long corridor no wider than a shoulder width. This is where the problem started, for all those who had been sold tickets, even though the train was full, had lined this corridor along with all of their holiday luggage. Trying to get my stout body through was hard enough, but with a rucksack too!

    It doesn't stop there either, it's definitely one of those days.

    I finally got to my seat after fighting through the 'bike shed' on the train, and low and behold someone was sat in my seat. Now custom says if you politely inform the person you have this seat booked, said person will move. Can you see where this is going?
    Immediately the language barrier became obvious, but I was prepared for that, after showing her my ticket details she still declined to move. By this point I was holding up at least 6 people in either direction and with no sign of getting anywhere fast. I will admit, on-top of my stress, heat exhaustion, pain, and tiredness from on off sleep all night, I finally snapped. With a raised voice and a deathly look on my face I pretty much shouted at this women to move. For someone who didn't understand english, she moved pretty fast! I'm not proud of how I handled it, but I reached breaking point.

    Managed to get as far as Warsaw problem free after that.
    Then it started again... I wont bore you with all of the details, but it involved a guy eating peanuts (I have a deadly allergy), being told I wasn't allowed to change seats, and a group of men arguing in Polish when I wanted to open the window.

    With only 20 minutes of my train from hell left, we pulled into a place called Miechow, and an announcement was made in Polish. Within seconds people were flooding off the train so I tried to find out what was going on. Ten minutes later and after trying to speak with at least 20 people, a Russian kindly told me that the electricity supply had gone down and they were estimating an hour wait for things to be sorted!

    We're on the move again. It was nice to get off the stuffy train and walk around for a bit though. Let my hostel know I will be checking in late, all I want to do is sleep. I have decided that I will get an Uber once I arrive at Krakow Glowny as the hostel is 2 miles away from the station. I think after today the last thing I need is to be walking round lost in the city when it's threatening a storm.

    Today has just been one unbelievable thing after another, you just couldn't make this stuff up. I will be glad to move on to Budapest on Sunday.

    Moral of today, stick to the bus!!!
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  • Day2

    Schwerfällig setzt sich der Riesenflieger mit 800 Leuten in Bewegung und kommt kaum in Gang. Zum Glück ist die Startbahn lang und irgendwann wird er doch noch schnell und hebt tatsächlich ab. Über Darmstadt, Würzburg, Prag und Breslau geht es nach Osten. Dann fliegt er einen großen Bogen bis hoch nach Warschau - durch Weißrussland, um die Ukraine. Sicher ist sicher.

    Das Flug-Informationssystem zeigt meistens Chinesisch - Tribut an die lärmenden Massen.

    Als Aperitif gibt es einen exzellenten Weißwein und gegen Mitternacht ein Abendessen von mäßiger Qualität. Jedes China-Restaurant würde sich für dieses Schweinefleisch süß-sauer schämen. Die Lufthansa muss sparen, um ihre Piloten zu bezahlen. Wir hatten uns vorher mit Brot und Tomaten über Wasser gehalten.

    Danach die übliche Folternacht auf Langstreckenflügen. Irgendwann tut einem alles weh und geschlafen hat man eher weniger.

    Endlich nähern wir uns der thailändisch/malayischen Küste. Ein lehmbrauner Fluss wälzt sich zum Meer, darüber türmen sich Gewitterwolken - es ist Nachmittag.

    Um 16:00 Ortszeit landen wir sicher im sonnigen Singapur, 31° - genauso warm wie zuhause.

    Der Flughafen ist Luxus pur. Dicke Teppiche statt des allgegenwärtigen Granits, Sessel mit Fußmassage und tropische Pflanzen-Inseln überall. Einreise in ein paar Minuten und der Fahrer erwartet uns schon. Und unser selbst aufgegebenes Gepäck war schon da, als wir am Band ankamen. So perfekt, wie Deutschland angeblich ist, es aber bei weitem nicht schafft. Singapur schafft es.
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  • Day362

    Greets from Krakow!

    A 24 hour break from cycling felt like a long time but did us good as we laid down 88km on a pretty easy ride to Krakow.

    Having mastered the art of smuggling lunch out of the hotel's breakfast buffet, we were well sustained to get through the little villages back into the next chapter of city life.

    One highlight of the day was seeing a Stork in its nest with FOUR chicks! A huge bird and his whole family just chiling up a telegraph pole in a tiny village. Fabulous.

    Villages seem to have very quirky churches, monuments, tiny shops selling best-before-a-long-time-ago vegetables and a total absence of local produce. Where does Poland get all of its veg from and where does the meat come from?

    Who needs meat anyway when a vegan burger bar is calling your name! We decided to make a dinner stop in Krakow in the interests of time and being able to see some of the city. The burgers were SO good we had to give other items on the menu a try too, just to make sure the delicious first round wasn't just by chance. 😀

    Krakow is just buzzing with people. Somehow wherever we go our bikes attract some attention and curious people ask where we are going, where we've been and if the bikes are heavy. At a cash machine stop we chatted to a german couple who mentioned they are in a camper van. We said our goodbyes and a few hours later we discover they are 5 meters away from us on the same campsite 😀 small world of crossing paths with random strangers. :)
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  • Day366

    A huge thunderstorm last night cooled the air down and made for some good conditions to get today's 100km+ done in good time. We've decided to leave the gps planned route which uses "cycle tracks" and freestyle the route along the minor "B-roads".

    Our deciding point of the day was the car ferry. If it was there ..great. if not it meant a 30 or 50km re route to find a bridge, and possibly an overnighter in Warsaw. The 10.30 ferry didn't happen so I wasn't convinced the 11am schedule would be met either, but out of the blue 2 super-friendly guys popped out of the cabin and welcomed us on board, saying thank you and goodbye when we paid them..(***OK that last bit was a lie, but the most important part was that the ferry came ;))

    Today's special prizes for bad behaviour go to:-
    - The guy who was writing a sms whilst riding his moped
    -The delightful bariatric gentleman who decided to stop his car and urinate against a house....on a street with numerous other discrete locations!
    -The bird that defecated on me this morning the moment I took the bike outside!

    Annoyingly we also had a second dog incident today. Two terrier dogs came out of a driveway barking, growling and chasing after us on the bikes. Peter was to the right and I was to the left furthest from them. Shouting seemed to help and thankfully we were able to out-ride them. If we had been on an uphill stretch or if it had been a younger child on a bike, the outcome may well have been different. I now have a depository of stones inside my front bag in case something similar happens again.

    Today was a good day though.. we've finished in good spirits, cooked a nice indian meal and filled up on chocolate treats. It looks like we may make ot through Poland afterall... !
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  • Day257

    Had breakfast with Marienka this morning and packed a lunch for the trip to Poland. Couldn't decide whether to go to Kraków or Katowice. Zdenko took me to the train and at the last minute I decided on Katowice. The train was quick with only one hiccup where the rail line couldn't be switched and so we waited for half an hour. Arrived at 15:30 and quickly found a hostel, dropped my bags and started touring the town. There are a lot of young people here and very fashionable. Beautiful fashion! The streets are super clean and the countryside coming in had absolutely no litter. There was a light show in town these evening and the police stayed back from the crowd. People are so well behaved here and polite. Have not seen any homeless people or Roma's here at all. Stunning so far. Only staying one night and off to Kraków tomorrow.Read more

  • Day360

    The storm swept over our wild-camp and meant that most people outside in the park/pub went home, leaving us in peace for the rest of the night. The humidity was high so we were feeling particularly filthy in the morning, despite the wet-wipe-wash the night before. Our 2.5-day no shower hair was the source of great amusement in the morning though :D

    A local guy walking his dog stopped to chat as we were drying our things, he then returned a short while later in his car armed with cheese croissants and doughnuts for us. What a hero!! We were truly touched by this second act of kindness shown to us by locals.☺

    The next challenge of the day was getting water. An unplanned wildcamp had left us with less than 500ml and by 8.30am we were already sweating just standing to pack the tent. Getting water was easier said than done in a undeveloped town with no supermarket with a card machine. Once we'd found our oasis and topped up on water and wafers we set out for an "easy" day to Poland.

    We've unwittingly redefined easy over the last days and ended up doing 85km (I had 50km in mind!). The ride into Poland was pretty sesmless, no signage, just that we were greeted by a friendly cyclist saying "Dzien dobry!".

    Polish cycle tracks have been a mix of small roads shared with farm traffic and totally horrible pot-holed bumpy roads, topped with loose gravel for extra fun factor. As we're spending A LOT of time in Poland we're really hoping they get better!

    Let's see!
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  • Day261

    Early morning start today after having a great breakfast at the hostel. Headed out in the sunshine by 8:30 am to beat the Korean tourists in the park. Not being biased here but there are hoards of them here with their selfie sticks and I can't get a photo in edgewise. Today I did! Started with the tomb of the unknown soldier which is guarded by two soldiers and a burning flame. Behind it is the beautiful park with a huge fountain and statues of Greek gods. I was off then to the modern part of the city to look around. Made my way back to the Chopin museum and then stopped off for a coffee crema at Tschibo. I walked for 4 hours and then went back to my room to rest my feet. After my test I was on the search for the long stairway and the underground tunnels. I found the stairway but not the tunnels. I asked a waiter for directions and he told me to wait for him after work and he would show me. The guys here are certainly not shy to ask a girl out. I had to ditch him (not my type) nicely. I found the mermaid in the old square which is a symbol of Warsaw and is said to be the protector of Poland (once rescued by a fisherman). I had an early dinner at the restaurant next door and it was fabulous. Soft and airy potatoe dumpings with forest mushroom and garlic sauce and a beer ($13.39 CAD). Warsaw: home of Madam Curie, Chopin, Lech Walensa, and many famous movie stars and playwrights. Never there was so much history here.Read more

  • Day368

    Just as we thought it couldn't get worse, today threw up a whole extra new level of fun to deal with.

    I was sick. Couldn't eat breakfast. Hanging on to every last second of sleep before check out when we had to decide to move on or stay another night. I tried eating a bread roll and hoped for the best out on the bike, even if it meant cutting down miles just to get a little further.

    Our route choice was between a fairly hairy major road with lorries thundering down or terrible-condition minor roads; zigzagging in the same direction, with less traffic. We opted for the latter, hoping for a less stressful ride and found ourselves in sand once disbelief that there were 2 roads both so extremely different. Pretty unsuitable for bikes in their own delightful way! At the start of this trip never did I imagine that we'd be pushing bikes through sand for 6km through European countryside.

    When we finally approached the end of the first sand road we tentatively got back on the bikes in a low gear to try and move on slightly faster. Just like when you move up a level on Super Mario, the next villain pops up. Today it was "Pepper Dog" who fancied his chances with a piece of juicy vegetarian leg. Lessons learned from previous days. = we were village-proofed and ready. No way could we out-pedal the rabies-on-legs on a sand road so we had to deploy the pepper spray on him. Boom.
    Peter 1 - Dog 0.

    When our route was then blocked by a huge building site we had run out of Mario mushrooms and Power Flowers, seriously questioning why the sand between our toes was monsanto-sprayed Polish farm track sand and not Koh Samui beach sand as the choice of our long summer trip. No amount of chocolate wafers was going to remedy the dark cloud that was hanging over us at that point.

    Half an hour of google and phone calls confirmed hilariously that we had no option to take a train further north without going back down south, re-tracing our previous day's route.. taxi companies also just don't reply to email in English or Polish.

    Without our "get out of gaol free" card, we had to carry on with today's route to Lomska.

    We moved away from the small roads after needing about 2 hours to do 10km and said our prayers on the larger road instead.

    Lithuanian number plates. Caravans. Motorhomes. Motorhomes with BIKES. Heading North!! All things we've not seen at all in Poland so far (unbelievable,no?!). People camping..travelling ...Leisure.

    We arrived in Lomska. No concrete. Gyms. Men in shirts. Dogs being walked. More caravans. An INTERNATIONAL restaurant. A delightful child who spoke English showing us to our apartment. What was this place and where had they hidden Poland?

    We are happier travellers tonight. With 2 days of Poland to go, here's hoping for some easy riding to finish. We're so close!
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You might also know this place by the following names:

Republic of Poland, Polen, Poland, Pole, ፖላንድ, Polonia, Polaland, بولندا, ܦܘܠܢܕ, Polşa, Польшча, Полша, Poloɲi, পোল্যান্ড, པོ་ལནྜ།, Poljska, Polònia, Polsko, Pòlskô, Пол҄ьска, Польша, Gwlad Pwyl, Polonya, Poland nutome, Πολωνία, Polio, Poola, اتریش, Poloñ, Puola, Pólland, Pologne, Polonie, Poalen, An Pholainn, A Phòlainn, Polóña, પોલેંડ, Yn Pholynn, Polan, פולין, पोलैंड, Pólska, Lengyelország, Լեհաստան, Polandia, ポーランド共和国, polskas, პოლონეთი, Polandi, Poleni, ប៉ូលូញ, ಪೋಲ್ಯಾಂಡ್, 폴란드, پۆڵەندا, Poloni, ໂປແລນ, Lenkija, Mpoloni, Polija, Pôlôna, Полска, പോളണ്ട്, पोलंड, Polonja, ပိုလန်, Poran, Pulonnia, Pholandi, पोल्याण्ड, Polongne, Polonha, Pol'šu, ପୋଲାଣ୍ଡ, Польшæ, Polska, پولنډ, Polónia, Pulunya, Pologna, Polonye, Полония, Pulonia, Pölôni, පෝලන්තය, Poľsko, Booland, Пољска, போலந்து, పోలాండ్, Лаҳистон, โปแลนด์, لەھىستان, Польща, پولینڈ, Polsha, Ba Lan, Pooln, Polän, פוילן, Orílẹ́ède Polandi, 波兰, i-Poland

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