The three words a German cyclist I met in the center of Finland said came back to me when I spent a few days in Poland. ‘Wie ein Traum.’ He loved the country, the landscape, the people and for us ‘westerners’ the prices. Before meeting him I was already very curious about the country, after speaking to him my curiosity was only aroused. And now that I am in Poland I have experienced that he didn’t say a word too much. Cycling through the Polish country is indeed like a dream.
One of my best hosts I had in Bialystok. Intending to stay one night, I quickly decided it became two, because I felt so at home there. Jakub and Karoline thaught me a lot about the city, but most of all about Poland, its history, its people, its virtues and its problems. Since I was really fed up with big cities after Vilnius, I decided to skip Warschau. Jakub agreed with me and adviced me on my route that would take me more northernly – to the city of Elbing/Elblag. That would be more pretty to cycle than the vicinity of Warschau and so great is the city neither. That decision was the right one in my opinion, the road to Elbing was most beautiful. Good roads (good cycle paths in the cities and bigger towns), just a few gravel roads, nice weather, friendly smiling people, an occasionally smalltalk.
Those smalltalks and friendliness of the Poles is like a warm bath. I get a lot of smiles, people try to make me something clear when I ask something. No surly faces like in Lithuania. When their German and English is as bad as my Polish, we try the universal language of hands and feet. A woman wished bon appetit (at least I thought she did) and another one pointed motherly at her bottom to say that I shouldn’t sit on the cold ground. A mushroom-seeking lady tried to show me which to take and which not to take. That was a bit unclear, I didn’t wanted to take the wrong ones and end up like McCandless, so I let them be. Those small encounters are very welcome for the lonely traveller.
But I encountered for the very first time on this trip four cyclists who didn’t make any connection. Not by smiling, not by waving, to say nothing of talking. When I asked one where they were from, he shrugged his shoulders and looked the other way. My conclusion was that they were definitely not Polish, because Poles are far too friendly for that kind of (almost rude) behaviour.
The hymn of praise isn’t finished yet. Wild camping is as easy as finding a cross alongside the road. I had the pleasure of some very nice places. But I took my refuge at a camping as well, since on Friday the weather wasn’t that great anymore and I wasn’t 100% fit, to be honest. A warm shower and a rest was very welcome. The next day a ‘less lesser road’ (if you know what I mean) took me on under windless clouds over hills and alongside fields of grain and grass between trees and sleepy villages to just before Elbing. In the middle of nowhere I found a perfect campingspot again.
I had another great host again as well, in Subkowy. We grilled, we drank beer and vodka, had very nice conversations and a lovely evening. You can imagine that the black coffee this morning was quite welcome. Not only did I leave with a little heavier head, but also with heavier panniers, since they’re now full of apples from their garden, homegrown tobacco and homemade wine!
Although it might not all sound that spectacular, I have had some terrific days in the saddle. Now after Elbing the road takes me to the border with Germany. Too bad I can’t skip that country and cycle a bit longer in Poland, since I really love this country and I’ve been in Germany before.