Flashing Pole dilemma sorted – both our main-beam headlights were out (we know not why the warning didn’t show on dashboard). All makes sense now, they aren’t just super friendly just warning us we were heading for a fine. Bulbs changed and not a flasher since 😦 .
We are still sticking to fairly minor roads, mainly because we tend to see a bit more of the country that way. Mile after mile of straight single carriageway, mile after mile of forests and mile after mile of people trying to kill us playing chicken! They overtake no matter what so its just a case of pulling over as far to the right as possible, forget double white lines – means nothing here. It’s not just the Polish who drive like nutters, cars from Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Lithuania and United Arab Emirates are all in on the game of terrify the oncoming “passenger on the wrong side” motorhome.
Polish roads – amazing when no traffic aiming at us
Outside the towns the roads are lined with timber houses, many so old they look like they are held up with just good will. The majority though are well kept in large plots with beautiful gardens. Postcard views at most turns, maybe our routes but we have seen very few ugly municipal apartment blocks here even on the edges of the larger towns. In the towns and villages there is a mix of older timber homes and the much grander, newer three or four storey homes.
Timber houses at every turn
As we drove into Kazimierz Dolny it looked our kind of place; alongside a river, prerequisite town square, castle, couple of major churches etc (why do we get told Poland is ‘new’ as everything was bombed? not where we go it isn’t). Kazimierz is also famous for artists, at least 50 galleries and shops selling everything from paintings and pottery to stained glass and sculptures – prices to make your eyes water though even if they are in Zloty. In the main square several gypsy women trying their hands at badgering people to have their fortunes read with a pack of old playing cards, when I explained we only spoke English one just shrugged and said it didn’t matter – no idea how that was going to work then?
Kazimierz Dolny – town square
As always a town square clinched it for us, we decided to stay for a few days so time to check out the campsite. Could have been the 2 km long high wire adventure assault course around the top of the site or the 20’ish school kids arriving who were about to use the assault course – it wasn’t for us. As we drove out of town I noticed a motorhome stopover sign, brakes slammed on and about turn. With a lot of gestures and no common language we were booked into the front garden of the familia Grzegorz! As good as it gets for us – even the outdoor ablutions area where you could wash whilst you watch the traffic passing by.
Wash and watch
Perfect camping courtesy of Grzegorz front garden
Brilliant cycle paths along the river – some with signs pointing as far as Warsaw, a bit out of our comfort zone. We then took bikes into a historic town, why is a mystery to us even now, it was near impossible to go anywhere without lugging them up steps or the sides of hills. The Three Crosses, dedicated to the memory of plague victims, are on a hill above the town and looked to offer amazing views. We clambered up the hillside steps as far as we could with the bikes, then left them for the final sprint. As I arrived I saw the ticket office! All that way and either pay up of miss out, cheeky sods should have a sign at the bottom. I paid quick before Iain caught up as I knew on principle he wouldn’t want to pay and I was seeing the bloody crosses after all the effort.
Worth the money for the views
Then we attempted the castle, being clever we didn’t take the bikes up the steps, we went right to the top of the hill behind the castle on the road, to find the castle closed that day! The most loved fact about this place has to be it was founded by ‘King Wladyslaw the Elbow-high’, has there been a better named monarch? The village is recognised as one of the most beautiful in the country and is a very popular tourist destination for the Polish; very easy to see why as there are historic buildings a plenty, cafes, bars and plenty of river cruise boats which appear to carry more alcohol than your average supermarket for a very merry experience.
The ‘closed’ castle
We came across some very authentic looking Polish folk all looking very jolly and approachable. We cycled over and realised they were Dutch! A coach load full who told us they had come to dance in the town square, we went along and watch for a while – tourists loved it, the locals just looked a bit stunned. All this took place whilst local dignitaries arrived in fire engines and flash cars dressed in their finest with gold braid galore and large wreaths of flowers– we thought it was all part of the cultural exchange – but no they were there for a funeral, all very bizarre with the two events taking place at the same time in the square.
Dutch Captain Birdseye or what???
Friday was May 1st – celebrated with a National holiday in Poland – we had no idea until it pinged with the miles of traffic heading towards the river. Three hours later we arrived at a little town where we thought there was a campsite, there was but it has shut down! The next site we knew of was a good couple of hours away, but we decided to continue. Waste of time though as when we arrived there wasn’t a campsite anywhere in sight. Iain popped into a hotel and they told him the site hasn’t been there for 10 years. They gave us another address – and that is how we came to be camped at what must be the most authentic Soviet era campsite / hotel complex we have come across to date.
Lots of steel buildings, tons of concrete, a massive lake dug out next door for swimming and of course a concrete diving tower. The facilities were last updated and possibly cleaned when the Soviets ruled the land, but on the upside we have electric, free wifi, and a view of the water for less than £6 a night – we can cope with the dirt! On the car-park is a shop which looked a bit dubious, but inside was the best delicatessen we have seen since France – incredible salads, meats and breads – we bought a ton or so for less than £4 – that’s us sorted for the bank holiday weekend 🙂 .
Iain on the high board – na he didn’t!
Hotel / Campsite Jard – the best