Tour "Around The Baltic Sea" report - Report 2; Poland from 7/7/06 (Miedzyzdroje) to 14/7/06 (Gdansk).
Robert Laing (Szkocki Bob)
Apologies to everyone for lateness of this Report 2 from BC2006. Upon coming to the land of bigos, pierogi and gofry many more Polish people joined the group. It also means partying with much beer and vodka. Need I say more why there is no time to write reports?
Weather continued brilliant sunshine, blue skies and only rain was first night in Poland.
When starting out from Miedzyzdroje the group numbered 50. At last some culture. At Trzebiatow we visited reputed highest, or at least one of the highest, church towers in Europe. Long views from the top even if countryside rather flat. This part of Baltic coast has very busy seaside resorts and consequently the roads are very busy with lots of traffic. Scenery of this part of route mostly consists of scantily clad people wearing very short shorts. And that is only the men! The women seem to wear even shorter shorts.
Off-road conditions have been a mix of all sorts of surface including cobble-stones, gravel, concrete blocks with at just the right distance apart to rattle your teeth and other parts of the body 60 times a minute. Some sections through forest were delightful with sometimes only wide enough to ride single-file. But we also cycled along an airfield where we were able to cycle eight abreast. One common complaint has been the amount of track with sand, sand, and even more sand. Baltic cyclists think sand belongs on the giant sand dunes at Leba and not on cycle tracks!
On the first Sunday in Poland several of us watched to World Cup Final on a large outdoor screen. We arrived so late there was no time to change clothes so we watched the match while still wearing our cycling gear. Unfortunately drinking full strength Warka (7 – 8%) for 3 hours meant that we did not feel the mosquitoes bite but suffered the next day. And for several more days afterwards.
At Kluki the whole group visited a country museum showing what a Polish village was like in former times. Rather like the Welsh Folk Museum in Cardiff with lots of old buildings featuring various old household and farming implements. While at Leba most people took the opportunity to visit the shifting sands 20 – 30 metres high in Slowinski National Park. Very impressive.
After Leba we left the Baltic coast for a couple of days to take an inland route to Gdansk via the Kartuzy area. Nice change of scenery with lakes and rolling hills but nothing very steep. Whilst in the area several people took the opportunity to attend a performance of a Kashubian wedding reception which involved some ritual with bread and salt but no vodka toasts.
Gdansk was for me a big surprise. My expectation was of an industrial ship-building city with lots of docks, cranes, etc, but perhaps rather ordinary. I was most pleasantly surprised therefore to find Stare Miasto (Old Town), with lots of picturesque old buildings, magnificent churches and wide pedestrian area with lots of tourists, restaurants and bars including two Irish bars and one Scottish – all visited!