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, the former Port of Berlin wearing its industry proudly on the skyline.
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.
Our task this morning, 217km to Bydgoszcz
Sorry, we have a thing about tree-lined roads.
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 first feared.
Characteristically east European, air and road temperature.
Wielgoszcz: an entirely typical (northern) Polish village from what we saw, neat and tidy. Note the elaborate church steeple.
Shabby chic in Miroslawiec, one of the few towns around here not on, or near, a lake or lakes.
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. Formerly Schneidermuhl in German Prussia. Both names derived from wood cutting.
Disheartening, but only 77km now to Bydgoszcz
We all spent 40 minutes stuck behind a little black Toyota
No drive in eastern Europe is complete without a box girder bridge. This one notably crosses the Vistula, Poland’s longest river, at Grudziadz.
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.
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, 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).
Hotel Zamek looming over Ryn, tempting.
After Olsztyn the roads were virtually empty. Then the sun came out.
Bakalarzewo: just 20km from border town Suwalki, itself just 25km from Lithuania.