Category Archives: Poland

Poland Part 3!

In this blog post, I’ll wrap up my tour of Poland. After Warsaw, I proceeded north to the port city of Gdansk. Gdansk is famous for having started the Solidarity movement with Lech Walesa at the helm. I highly recommend taking a half day and visiting the Gdansk Solidarity Center. A very well done exhibit that helps tell the story of Poland’s break from Communism.

Gdansk

The Gdansk Solidarity Center with the Fallen Shipyard Workers Monument in the Foreground.

 

Following a couple of days absorbing the sights of Gdansk, I headed eastword with a quick stop at Malbork Castle, a very serene location normally but the day I went was an annual festival that was a bit too commercial for me. I did this find this pleasing scene off from the crowds though.

Malbork Castle

A tower reflecting in the pond at Malbork Castle.

From there, it was on to a historical location called the Wolf’s Lair. This was Hitler’s Headquarters for almost 3 years during the war with Russia on the Eastern Front. Really an amazing place with concrete walls 8 meters (26 feet) thick for protection from possible bombing raids. Walking the paths and seeing the buildings where so much history was made was interesting. The Germans did demolish as much as they could when they left and now nature is taking over and reclaiming this place.

Wolf's Lair

Bunker 13, the personal quarters of Hitler, had 8 meter thick concrete ceilings.

After all the cities and historical visits, it was time to catch some nature. I headed off to an area called Masurian Lakes, a beautiful part of Poland in the northeast with rolling hills and beautiful lakes. It was really some nice driving and looking at the bucolic landscapes and pretty flower fields.

Masurian Lakes

A peaceful morning dockside at one of the Masurian Lakes

Yellow Daisies

A field of yellow Daisies with bees a buzzing!

 

As you drive around Poland, one animal that you see plenty of is the Stork. Poland has 25% of the world’s storks and you see them nesting in almost every village. They stick around in Poland until August at which time they all head down to Africa! Nothing wrong with going where the sun is!

Storks Nesting

Storks nesting on an abandoned building in the Masurian Lakes region

A huge nest built by a stork in the countryside of Poland

A huge nest built by a stork in the countryside of Poland.

 

I wrapped up my visit to Poland by visiting the mountains in southern Poland near the town of Zakopane. These mountains have gorgeous hiking trails and border the country of Poland and Slovakia. It’s highly recommended that you wear sturdy soled hiking boots and the trails were very rocky and caused for some sore feet.

Zakopane

Hiking in the beautiful mountains of Zakopane, on the border of Poland and Slovakia

 

Nearing the top of my hike after 4 hours (hiking from my campground) I was within 100 meters of the cross. However it was here that there was a traffic jam requiring a one hour wait to get to the top. Most of the people took a cable car up and did a one hour hike and were not really in shape to make this last section. I didn’t really feel like waiting around so continued on.

Mt Giewont

The cross on top of Mt Giewont is a very popular destination for Polish visitors.

 

In the final blog post of the Poland Tour, I work my way home with an unexpected stopover in Austria. Please come on back and enjoy the next update! Thanks!

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Poland Part 2!

I began the tour by picking up my father in Brussels and we proceeded to catch the 3rd leg of the Tour De France, ending in Huy, Belgium. It was a desire of his to catch the Tour De France and always a thrill for me to see the color and excitement.

 

Tour De France

Tour De France, 2015

After this quick stop, we passed through Czech Republic with an overnight stop in Pilsen to visit the Pilsener Urquell beer factory and then on to a couple of days in one of my favorite cities, Prague.

Prague

A panorama shot of Prague, Czech Republic

 

We then spent a nice weekend in the Czech countryside before finally getting to Poland and our first stop in Krakow. Krakow was an absolutely charming city and a great first stop with it’s beautiful castle located next to the Vistula river.

Wawel Castle, Krakow

The Wawel Castle located in Krakow, Poland.

In addition to the castle, there were two highly recommended stops, one very interesting and the other very somber. The first was the Wieliczka Salt Mine, located just outside Krakow.  A truly unbelievable place with underground caves and tunnels and the most amazing underground chapel I’ve ever seen! Everything was carved out of salt to include the wall carvings and chandeliers!

Wieliczka Salt Mine

The salt chapel in the Wieliczka Salt Mine

The next day was much more somber with a visit to Auschwitz Concentration Camp. It was an overcast day which only added to the despondent feeling experienced throughout the tour. It was just really sad to these this testament to the evil that people are capable of. Very depressing but also a place that anyone visiting Krakow should make an effort to see.

Auschwitz

A fence in Auschwitz Concentration camp reads Danger! High voltage Will cause death

Following the week in Krakow, we proceeded North to Warsaw where I dropped my father and friends off at the airport and continued to tour Poland. Warsaw was a very nice city with a lot of interesting sites but nothing as spectacular as the Palace of Culture and Science, a gift from the USSR to the Polish people (not that they really wanted it!). They even have nicknamed it “The Elephant in the Lacy Underwear”! I do have to say it is well worth taking the elevator to the top floor and catching the 360 panorama of Warsaw!

Palace of Culture and Science

The Palace of Culture and Science located in Warsaw, Poland.

That about wraps the first portion of the trip. In the next blog post, I’ll head up north to Gdansk and then go hit some nature in the lakes, forests and mountains! Stay tuned!

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Polska Paradise!

Well it has been several months since my last post from Australia and New Zealand! During that time, I went back to the USA (for 1.5 months) to see my parents and ship my final personal belongings over here to France. Then I worked on renovating my house here in France for 2 months making some nice improvements such as a new concrete floor in my cellar and totally renovating my living room/office. A lot of hard work but very happy with the results!

So, as soon as that was done, I was off again. This time, destination Poland! I traveled via Belgium, through Germany and Czech Republic and then finally Poland. After Poland I returned through Austria, then Italy and back home. Total time on the road was approximately 6 weeks and I traveled 7500km (4660 miles), living mostly in the VW but with a couple of weekend stops in hostels for special events. The route I took is below with the yellow pins showing the overnights, sometimes for several days (please click image for larger viewing).

 

polski trip-c42.jpg

Overall I have to say a great trip, mainly because I was not sure how I would enjoy Poland (basically due to lack of knowledge of this country) and I have to say I was very happily surprised throughout! It was a country of lakes, farmland, mountains, seashore, and beautiful cities. The people were very friendly (and nice looking :-), the food and drink very tasty and inexpensive, and the atmosphere relaxed. I highly recommend a trip for yourself to discover this place, you won’t regret it. Within the next couple of days, I will be posting a few pictures (in two posts) highlighting my favorite stops along the way. I’ll be back soon, Happy Trails! Laurent

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