Driving Across Poland

A one-day, all-day dash across northern Poland, from Szczecin on the German border in the west, to Suwalki on the Lithuanian border in the east.

It might not be many people’s idea of a great holiday destination, yet, but with its countless lakes, forests, rolling countryside, mediaeval old towns and proximity to the Baltic Sea, northern Poland has a lot going for it.

Szczecin – Pila – Bydgoszcz – Grudziadz – Olsztyn – Suwalki, 412 miles (663km).

Day three of Race around the Baltic.

.

Saying goodbye to Szczecin (Stettin), the former Port of Berlin wearing its industry proudly on the skyline.

Saying goodbye to Szczecin, the former Port of Berlin wearing its industry proudly on the skyline.

Lovely, smooth fresh tarmac dual carriageway all too soon giving way to...

S10 eastbound: lovely, smooth fresh tarmac but it only lasts for ten miles. Poland has spent $60bn on its roads since 2007 but there is still much more to do.

Here's what we have to do this morning, 217km to Bydgoszcz

Our task this morning, 217km to Bydgoszcz

Tree lined roads, always a good sign.

Promising.

Sorry, we have a thing about tree-lined roads.

Sorry, we have a thing about tree-lined roads.

Every town and even tiny village has a speed camera, sometimes planted up with flowers.

Every town and tiny village has a speed camera, sometimes planted up with flowers. Interestingly, the speed limit in built up areas increases from 50kmh to 60kmh between 23:00 and 05:00.

Logging trucks and lots of them. Not as slow as you might think.

Logging trucks and lots of them. Not as slow as first feared.

Characteristically eastern European, air and road temperature.

Characteristically east European, air and road temperature.

Wielgoszcz: an entirely typical (northern) Polish village from what we saw, neat and well kept. Note the elaborate church.

Wielgoszcz: an entirely typical (northern) Polish village from what we saw, neat and tidy. Note the elaborate church steeple.

Shabby chic in Miroslawiec

Shabby chic in Miroslawiec, one of the few towns around here not on, or near, a lake or lakes.

Lakes, and lots of them. Because the landscape is, at best, gently rolling there aren't the epic lake-filled vistas you get in Switzerland, for instance, but there are hundreds of lakes around here (thousands in the east).

Because the landscape is gently rolling there aren’t the epic lake-filled vistas you get in Switzerland, for instance – this is the best we could do – but there are hundreds of lakes in the west and thousands in the east.

Pila celebrating its 500th anniversary.

Pila celebrating its 500th anniversary. Formerly Schneidermuhl in German Prussia. Both names derived from wood cutting.

Disheartening

Disheartening, but only 77km now to Bydgoszcz

We all spent 40 minutes stuck behind a little black Toyota

We all spent 40 minutes stuck behind a little black Toyota

No drive in eastern Europe is complete without a box girder bridge

No drive in eastern Europe is complete without a box girder bridge. This one notably crosses the Vistula, Poland’s longest river, at Grudziadz.

Bydgoszcz: an interesting mix. Will be lovely when its finished.

Grudziadz, interesting mix. The towns slow us down but, though they were extensively damaged in WW2, the historic centres survived, or have been restored. The mediaeval centre of Torun, 40km south, also on the Vistula, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

This is a main road, S16 Grudziadz-Ostroda, but as bad as the surface gets all day. No potholes at all.

Main road, S16 Grudziadz-Ostroda, but as bad as the surface gets all day. No potholes anywhere, but note the fresh stone chip on the windscreen. We get another before the day is out.

Stop means stop. Every single truck, vana nd car - even in this queue we're in - stops to check if a train is coming, and so do we.

Stop means stop. Every single truck, van and car – even in this queue – stops to check if a train is coming, so we do too.

Olsztyn, pop. 175k, right in the middle of the Masurian Lake District in north east Poland with 15 lakes in the city boundary. Of more interest for us right at this moment is that, as you can see, it’s within striking distance – 50 miles – of the Russian enclave, Kaliningrad (formerly Konigsberg).

Olsztyn, pop. 175k, right in the middle of the Masurian Lake District in north east Poland with 15 lakes in the city boundary. Of more interest for us right at this moment is that, as you can see, it’s within striking distance – 50 miles – of the Russian enclave, Kaliningrad (formerly Konigsberg).

Ryn: Hotel Zamek., tempting.

Hotel Zamek looming over Ryn, tempting.

The sun's out and it looks like we're going to make it.

After Olsztyn the roads were virtually empty. Then the sun came out.

Bakalarzewo: just 20 miles from Suwalki, the big border town, itself just 25km from the Lithuanian border.

Bakalarzewo: just 20km from border town Suwalki, itself just 25km from Lithuania.

.

Have Your Say

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s