What do you know about Poland ? To tell you the truth we didn’t know anything. Nothing. Nill. We know a few people who have been to the big cities of the west and of course Cracow but that’s it. Furthermore, We had lots of … what’s the word … prejudices … not, but maybe stereotypes which are, of course, not true.
So, what did we find in Poland ? The answer is simple; a great place for cycling, amazing people and an overall astounding country. Seriously ? Yes, absolutely !
First of all, the country is beautiful. We cycled for about 3 weeks there and we experienced a bit of everything; a great lakes area, strawberry scented hills, historic cities, plains, pine forests covered mountains and also different cultures; for over 100 years Poland had been divided between Russia, Austria and Prussia so, for example, in the east there are lots of (beautiful blue) Orthodox churches.
Secondly, we found it super easy to ride there. Funnily, many Poles where surprised to hear this since they don’t exactly admire their nation’s driving skills but we honestly found drivers, and especially truck drivers, to be very well behaved, patient and respectful towards us. We told ourselves that this is due to the fact that in a large number of villages almost everyone goes about their daily routine on their bike; kids to school (the end of school bell is often followed by a stampede of young cyclist eagerly fleeing the educational premises), men and women alike to the shops, post offices etc.
Another factor which helped us to enjoy our time in Poland is the fact that the roads are many and mostly in good conditions.
The country is huge and agriculture plays a huge part in its economy and we spent most of our time observing crops and wildlife. From the north-east near Lithuania to the southern border with Slovakia we had the chance to see an enormous difference in types of plant grown and even to observe different stages of wheat; at the beginning it was small and a deep green and by the time we had ventured to the bottom of the country it was a beautiful toasted golden color which would magically contrast with the green hills in the background under the sun.
We also saw thousands of storks. Literally thousands. Every other electric post or street light there would be a nest with at least one fully grown specimen looking over three young ones patiently awaiting for their next feed. As the days went by we could see them becoming bigger and stronger until one day we saw a large number of them taking some kind of training flight together. And now, having recently passed the border between Slovakia and Hungary, the nests are empty …
Something which hit us about Poland right from the beginning, and sorry if this might seem trivial and if we’re about to spend a paragraph talking about this, is their culture of smoked food. Let us explain; we have the feeling they smoke a lot more different aliments than most other countries and they do it a lot better. During a pause in a small village near Bialystok, we saw an elderly woman selling smoked meat and cheese by the roadside and using a small smoking hut she was doing the business right there and then. The smell was amazing and I made the mistake of not purchasing anything from her little stall. Ever since we let that opportunity slip I made it a personal mission to try different smoked foodstuff (fish, meat, cold cuts, cheese) and never regretted, to this day, my decision.
A post about Poland would not be complete without a long paragraph about its people but, sadly, we have gone on for way too long so we’ve decided to call it a day and we will soon write another entry only about all the amazing Poles we had the pleasure to meet along the way. Here’s the link. We just feel that it would not be doing any of them justice if we did it any other way so, until next time, do zobaczenia !
We also have an amazing YouTube channel with lots of different videos (in lots of different styles) from the road; 421adventure on YouTube
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