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Germany to Poland Tour 2000

The Dutch trip was a good preamble to our main cycle tour this year which took us 700 miles from Hamburg to Poland. This was an interesting trip as we hadn't been to any post Eastern block countries before. Even ten years after reunification there is still a big difference between East and West Germany and it wasn't long before we encountered our first Trabant and cobbled roads. Oh those cobbles! - what a bottom numbing and teeth rattling experience.

Due to the slow progress on the East German roads it took 2 weeks rather than our planned week to cross in to Poland. Poland turned out to be an interesting experience. It is a vast beautiful country which has unfortunately suffered from 2 world wars and 40 years of communism.


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BBQ with 'Lubuszanie 73 Klub Turrystki Kolarskie'

There is so much unspoilt beautiful and varied countryside which has a wealth of flora and fauna. At one point we stopped along a road near the Wolinski National Park to look at a pair of Red Kites, only to see Sea Eagles, Rough Legged Buzzards and a dozen raptors in a one mile stretch. In the Park we saw the European Bison and Wild Boar in a reserve enclosure, we understand that if you go to the east of Poland near to the Russian border you can see them roaming wild. We had heard that Polish people were renowned for there friendliness and hospitality and this was born out with our stay on the Polish farm with Anna and Poitr and with our encounter with the ' Lubuszanie 73 Klub Turystyki Kolarskie'. This 'encounter' occurred on our way to Swiebbodzin.

We had stopped to check our map when we were surrounded by around 20 cyclists in club colours, asking us if we needed help. One of the group spoke a little English which was lucky. It transpired that we were headed the same way so they asked us to join them. On the way they invited us to have lunch with them and we said 'yes' thinking we would stop at a cafe but this was not what they'd got planned. We reached a town and two of the guys went shopping and then we headed off down some back roads and ended up at some allotments where one of the club had a plot of land with a little chalet and a huge brick BBQ so we spent the rest of the afternoon with them eating BBQ'd sausages and supping beer and were even made honorary members of the club which was lovely.

Our other lingual experience was on our stay on a Polish eco-tourism farm, (we had only meant to stay one night but it was such a peaceful and lovely spot we stayed for a week) Anna & Piotr owned a 55 acres organic farm which they opened up for camping in the summer.

Cobbled roads !!!

Canoeing on the river Drawno

There were a family from Holland and and a family from Belgium staying at the farm and in the evenings Anna and Piotr organised barbecues around the campfire. The multilingual conversations were amazing with English, Dutch, Flemish, and German being spoken with some amazing translations of the jokes even resorting to sign language at one point. Anna and Piotr again showed wonderful Polish hospitality organising various activities such as Canoeing on the river Drawno, horse riding in the Dravinski National Park and even a pleasure flight in a small Polish Plane.

"How do you steer these things
and where are the brakes?"

To continue our multilingual theme, whilst staying a Lagow we were told about this amazing bunker system that had been built by the Germans to keep the Russians out. Apparently it took the Germans 3 years to build it and the Russians 3 Days to breach it! On our way to the bunkers we meet up with two other cycle tourers Fei from East Germany and Wladek her Ukrainian boy friend, who were also on there way to visit the bunkers. Luckily for us Wladek lived in Poland and spoke Polish so was able to translate our Polish guides spiel for us. However at one point Wladek got so involved in his translating that we nearly got left behind and lost in this maze of bunkers 7 metres underground with only a couple of dim torches and a temperature of just above 1°C - scary!

Frank, Fei & Wladek at the bunkers

Frank shopping at Tesco's in Poznan

Poland has so many contrasts, Polish Towns have many small kiosk type shops and not many large stores however on cycling through Pozan we spotted a sign for a 'Tesco Hyperstore' we were intrigued and our curiosity got the better of us and after a 4 Km detour we came across the biggest Hyperstore we have ever been in, it was mammoth easily bigger than anything in the UK!.

All in all it was a brilliant trip and Poland was a facinating place to visit.

The Stary Rynek market square in Poznan

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