(23) We’re going the wrong way!
Forgot to add the stats to the last post!
Total miles in Germany: 476 miles/765 kms
Total miles to date: 3,160 miles/5,084 kms
Altitude gain in Germany: 1,984 metres
Total altitude gain to date: 38,665 metres
Wednesday 22nd August
As we drifted off to sleep we were woken by the sound of a few rain drops on the tent. Tim climbed out of his bag and closed up the doorway. As the night went on the rain increased and the sound of thunder could be heard. Before long we found ourselves lying in a field surrounded by an almighty thunder and lightning storm. Tim grabbed Sharon and used her to protect him from the lightning strikes but they seemed to miss us. He doesn’t think Sharon is that conductive.
We woke to a better day but as always we had to dry the tent inside and out before we could head on. After packing everything away including our fresh fruit we continued north (north you hear us say) yes it did feel strange, as we had about 22 days to get from Berlin to Krakow to meet Sharon’s Mum, Sister and family who were coming out on holiday (hurray can’t wait!! 🙂 This gave us about 12 days spare. With the combination of days off in Berlin and heading north our legs felt like all the energy had been drained and our motivation removed. Although we were looking forward to the extra time in Poland, as we had no plan or aims for the next 2 weeks we felt tired and lost. What we needed was a local to show us a route.
With a lot of Germans heading north to the Baltic sea (also known as the East sea) and many Polish people heading north to the same coastline we also headed to the coast. Looking at the map we made our way to Szczecin to have breakfast. We found a shop and picked a suitable place on a roundabout to light the stove and watch the day go by whilst drinking tea. We were sure there were a few cars that went round the roundabout more than once with looks of amazement as they passed. After a bit of navigating around intersections we rode on and couldn’t believe our luck when we found a cycle path leading us out of the city. Unfortunately after a while it ended.
Tim hadn’t noticed the path had ended…
As the the day went on we enjoyed riding on the quieter roads. There wasn’t much traffic except for the odd tractor.
Tim sharing the road with farm traffic
Later that day we arrived in a small village of Dusin to get water for our tea. We met a nice man who didn’t speak much English but was more than happy to fill our water bag up to the brim which when full weighs 10 kg. He then said ‘one momento’ and disappeared. He returned a minute later with a litre bottle of fizzy water. With Sharon delighted with all this fresh water strapped to Tim’s bike (no wonder his tyres keep wearing out) we headed back into the village where Tim had spotted a bench with a roof. We wondered if we could pitch the tent behind it without being seen. Tim went to the next house to ask if it was ok and he translated her answer into a yes with his amazing ability to turn any question into the answer that he wanted to hear. So with the bench secured as the night’s camp spot we went about cooking tea whilst noticing the ever growing population of mosquitos. After we finished tea Sharon went to the tent to wash and with the expletives coming from the inside Tim could tell the little mites had found their way in.
With everything packed away and Sharon buried in her sleeping bag Tim climbed in to wash and to see what all the commotion was. Normally only a few make it in but for each one we squashed they were then replaced by 10. With a fast wash that should be entered into the record books and for the first time water sprayed everywhere from us and not the tent we went to bed in our little yellow pod.
Thursday 23rd August
With a lot of the mozzies gone we got up and packed our things away and pulled the tent around into the sun to dry while we had breakfast. Once everything was packed we looked forward to our first day at the beach. We rode on and managed to take the wrong road too far south prolonging the time before we reached the sea.
An old barn near the coast
Cycling along Sharon got chatting to 2 very excitable young girls on bikes who were lovely and continued to wave goodbye to us for the 200 metres that their road was parallel to ours. We finally arrived at a resort and headed down a sandy path to the beach. We could see a narrow strip about 15 metres wide that was in-between high sand dunes and the sea. As we arrived on the sand we couldn’t believe what we saw. If we had brought a football with us there wouldn’t have been room to put it down let alone play.
The packed beach goers enjoying the sunshine
We rode along the coast to find a quiet spot to have lunch. This proved quite a challenge as the road was lined with back to back souvenir shops, stalls, amusement arcades and thousands of tourists enjoying the hot weather mixed in with loud music. Quite a culture shock for us having spent weeks cycling through quite countryside. Maybe we’re getting old….We finally found a nice cycle/footpath to ride along looking down on the beach.
Tim on a quieter path along the coast
After a while the road moved away from the sea and we headed inland for a bit. We stopped in the pretty town of Trzebiatow to find a nice spot to cook tea. We stopped at a large church to have a look in which was stunning inside and out.
Inside the church at Trzebiatow
We then rode to the square to cook dinner. Sharon went off to find water. So far in Poland every public toilet charges 2 zloty (about 45 pence) to use. Of-course not wanting to spent a penny (!) Sharon hoped she could use this one for free. Unfortunately as she entered the toilet block there were 2 ladies hidden around the corner pleased to see a customer. With no communal language or zloty’s Sharon managed to look very thirsty and persuaded the ladies to let her fill the water bag. Unfortunately the door to the loo was looked…
The square where we had our dinner
With the darkness creeping in we washed up and headed out of town to find a spot. We rode past a new house build and spotted a builder outside. We asked if we could camp around the back to which he gladly said yes. We found a spot on some hard ground that was quite dusty so we hoped it wouldn’t rain in the night as we would have been in a real mess in the morning.
Friday 24th August
At 6.45am we were woken by the builders starting work. We thought it was a good spot to camp but with the early wake up call and ten builders taking it in turns to pop their head out of the roof window as we dried the tent and packed everything away it wasn’t the most relaxing start. To add to this we found it hard to not get covered in mud and Tim had nasty tooth ache. We rode on feeling flat towards the next beach resort of Mrzezyno. We arrived very early and sat on the end of a planked gangway leading onto the beach. It was a lovely time of day as we watched the life guards prepare for the rush and the odd runner making the most of the empty beach.
Tim wetting his feet in the Baltic sea
We made a brew and headed back to the road to be met by wave after wave of wind brake and bucket clad holiday makers rushing to the beach for the prime spot but we reckon we got the best bit.
Cycling for 3 months was clearly taking its toll on Sharon…
We got on the road, this time heading north east along the Baltic coast riding on quiet cycle paths and arrived in Kolobrzeg. We didn’t like it much as it was another busy town and with light rain we had lunch and quickly rode on to join route 11.
This road turned out to be horrible with drivers travelling at around 70 mph on a single lane carriage way and only missing us by about half a metre.To cheer ourselves up we called in at a ‘tank sale’ which we rode past.
Perhaps this is what happened to all those Norwegian cyclists that got lost on their cycle paths??
Back on the road, the rule of thumb when driving past a cyclist seems to be to hover around the 70 mph mark keep in a straight line, indicate out keeping in a straight line, pass as close as possible remembering to keep in a straight line and to complete this manoeuvre, indicate in remembering to keep in a straight line. If on a bend wait until you can’t see round the corner and pass at the narrowest point and blame the cyclist for being there.
On the road we passed a Polish couple pushing their bike who had a puncture, we stopped and asked if they needed anything. They had no repair kit or pump so Tim set about trying to fix the puncture which proved more tricky then he first thought. It was a pinch puncture or snake bite, which is two small holes caused by the tyre being too flat and pinching against each other. With the holes being just a bit too far apart for one patch and too close for two, Tim went through about eight patches before it finally worked. Sharon got chatting to the couple who were lovely and helped Sharon figure out a route to see the best of Poland while heading south to Krakow. We said our goodbyes and swiftly rode off before their tyre went down again!
We turned down a quiet road to get away from the ever increasing bad drivers. We rode on to a church and had a break outside. We both felt exhausted and Tim’s tooth was feeling worse. We also realised we had turned left too soon. We rode back to the nightmare road and continued on to the correct turn off .
Spotting loads of kids outside a youth club we decided to get water. We were immediately surrounded by them all. Sharon went inside with the water bag and lots of giggling girls. Tim stayed with the bikes and got chatting to one of the staff. As Sharon arrived back Tim had managed to show them on a map where we had ridden from and were riding to. This was responded by a round of applause which felt strange but nice.
The children at the Youth club
We rode on waving goodbye to everyone and heading for a narrow strip of land separated on one side by the sea and the other by a large lake thinking it would be a quiet spot to camp.
As we got closer, we arrived in what was to be resort after resort of bars, souvenir shops, arcades and loud music. With the night drawing in and still not having eaten we rode out of the busiest part of town and found a basic campsite that didn’t have much more to offer then our normal free camp spots. Annoyed we would have to pay for something so basic we gave in and pitched the tent and got the tea on the go. We got chatting to four German guys who were cycling for a week in Poland and whilst we ate our tea they came over and gave us a beer each which was just what we needed. Clearing up we went to bed feeling fed up and totally exhausted.
Saturday 25th August
We got up early after both having a really good night’s sleep. With water running down the inside of the tent and no rain it took a while to dry everything. We were getting fed up with the amount of condensation on such a regular basis. We took it easy and had breakfast before heading on. We decided to get our heads down and ride to the next town of Dabki to pick up supplies for the next few days.
The farmers were busy in the good weather
Having a quick snack we rode for another hour and arrived in the small village of Postomino. It wasn’t much of a place but they did have a nice church and sold really nice bread. We were going to have an iced bun but looking at the amount of wasps trying to extract as much sugar as they could, we decided not to. Finding a nice spot on the other side of the village to have lunch we ate our bread and Sharon dried some clothes on the fence.
Riding on we rode through Uska a large town but didn’t feel like stopping so continued to Objazda, a small quiet village with a small shop and a church. We stopped at the church which was locked and decided to ride back to the shop and buy a couple beers. We joined a local man and the shop owner who was a lovely lady and drank our beer outside whilst learning Polish. She even brought out a plate of bread and meat for us. We enjoyed our time with them, despite not being able to speak each other’s languages.
We rode off to find a camp spot and spotted a farmer ploughing. Sharon went off to ask if we could camp in his field and using the method of not really understanding each other but coming to the conclusion that it was fine to camp, we went to pitch our tent. Sharon wasn’t sure if he was pointing at the next field or the camp site just down the road….We pitched the tent in a great spot under clear blue but darkening skies as night was approaching and we cooked tea.
Tim enjoying pork and vegetable curry
We found an ever increasing number of mosquitos and needing to wash we came up with a plan. Sharon would go first happy to be the guinea pig to this new method of mosquito free washing. Filling our water bowl with warm water Sharon would wash whilst Tim would walk around her waving a jacket trying to keep the little blighters at bay. From the distance this must have looked like some sort of strange ritual but it got the job done. With Tim’s turn next Sharon would do the same but would on occasions hit Tim on the backside saying she slipped with a grin on her face. Feeling refreshed we went to bed feeling revitalised still giggling about what we must have looked like.
Our camp spot for the night
During a deep sleep we were woken again by the sound of thunder and a few rain drops hitting the tent. Tim got up and closed the door which was open in an attempt to keep the tent dry. We went back to sleep only to be woken by heavy rain and flashes of lightning followed by almighty cracks of thunder. We both lay there trying to sleep. Tim was aware of water dripping on his face and as he turned on the head torch he found water streaming down the inside of the inner tent soaking us and all our things. He jumped up to check the zips in the door to find the porch was filled with water spray and everything was getting wet. Tim quickly covered all the most important things with rain jackets and tried wiping down as much as he could. We could not believe it. This was a Hilleberg Nallo 2 and at over £700 was meant to be one of the best. We had reported this problem to Hilleberg but they mantained this to be normal. It was almost laughable/cryable with every possession that wasn’t in a dry bag getting wet along with 500 mosquitos knocking on the door this was turning into a bit of a nightmare.
With the rain easing we tried to sleep as much as we could in damp sleeping bags and were dreading the fact it could be wet for a few days and we might not get the chance to dry anything.
Sunday 26th August
We woke in the morning feeling fed up but with the sun on the tent we managed to get at least some of our things dry. Tim’s tooth was feeling loads better and we think it was probably an ulcer. We rode on to a pretty village and had a look at the church.
There were loads of cats around to Sharon’s delight who had alot of pleasure chatting and stroking each of them. We brought some bread and rode on to find a lunch spot so we pulled into a field and popped the kettle on. This was the perfect opportunity to dry all our wet things and with a large wood pile behind where we sat we spread everything that was wet out.
It was quite a sight as it looked like we had been in the middle of a tornado
With all our things dry and bellies full we packed up our things to the amusment of the tractor drivers coming in and out with trailer loads of potatoes. As we rode on to Lebork we noticed the clouds were rolling in and we could hear the faint sound of thunder. We pushed on for the 15 miles and were unsure if we would beat the storm. Riding as fast as we could we topped speeds of 15mph and with the wind sort of whistling around our ears and now surrounded on three sides by dark black angry clouds, we descended into the town pushing the sound barrier to 16 mph – we just made it in time.
We stopped for shelter at a supermarket and took cover just as the heavens opened. Tim went inside to buy chocolate to celebrate that his tooth was feeling better. Riding on we decided to do another 10 miles before stopping to fill the water bag – by this time we were both feeling shattered. We tried to find a suitable camp spot but it proved to be difficult. After about half an hour we came to some woodland and took a side track and after about 500 metres we arrived at a clearing that was perfect.
We lay in the sun and let the strain of the day melt and enjoy some peace. With time getting on we got tea on the go. Tim spotted clouds building in the south so decided to put the tent up under the protection of some trees. Not too sensible when there’s a lightning storm coming but at least our tent would be less wet.
We made bets on how long it would take for the storm to reach us. If Tim won Sharon would have to wash Tim’s pants and if Sharon won, Tim said Sharon would have to wash his pants. Tim won – he predicated it within 5 minutes.
We packed up and had a wash before heading to bed, Tim had a rain rinse after his wash pleased in the fact he would now have clean pants. We both tried to sleep through the thunder and lightning praying for the tent to stay dry.
The incoming storm
Monday 27th August
As of the night before, rain started to come in the tent – being under the trees it managed to stay mostly on the inner tent and only getting us partly wet. We had stored most of things in dry bags so the results weren’t quite as traumatic as it could have been. We woke to a cooler damp day but had managed to sleep well. It was such a great spot we decided to have a lie in and lounged around in the tent with the odd shower happening giving us a good reason to stay in bed. We chatted about home and the things we missed – family, friends, village life and cadburys chocolate. We eventually decided to get up and did our best to dry everything.
Feeling a bit better after a good sleep and a restful morning, we made good progress and rode to the town of Sierakowice. We had been craving for a cheese omlette and so looked for a supermarket. We spent ages wondering around town asking people. No-one spoke English and we had yet to learn the word for supermarket. Eventually we found a small shop and got eggs, cheese and a couple of iced buns. We rode out of town looking for a good spot and found a farmer’s field. The omlette was delicious with loads of cheese but it did make us feel quite sick riding on a full stomach!
In the town of Kartuzy, Sharon went into a Lidl’s store and a couple approached Tim. They asked him where he had come from in Polish. Tim tried explaining and he thought they offered him a bed for the night but not being able to understand, they left with Tim not knowing if he had missed out on a perfect oppotunity.
With the light fading we rode out of town and stopped in the first wood we came to. As soon as we stopped we were mobbed by hundreds of mosquitos. We rode on swiftly and climbed a short hill and tried a different wood. With hardly any mosquitos and a nice flat spot it was perfect. We pitched the tent and allowed it to dry with a warm breeze. We got ready for bed and with it so dark by now we had a bowl of cereals and hoped it wouldn’t rain as we couldn’t manage with another night of water.
Our camp spot in the woods
We woke in the night not by rain this time but by what we thought were rodents. We looked outside and all around but nothing could be seen. We climbed back in and the noise continued, we drifted off to sleep with Sharon waking up periodically thinking there was someone outside.
Tuesday 28th August
In the morning we started to pack up only to find a family of beetles had made their home in the porch and we could hear them moving around. Yet again we couldn’t beleive how noisey they were. We sat and had breakfast with blue skies over head and rays of light streaming through the trees – it was going to be a nice day.
We woke up to beautiful sunshine
We got going with undulating roads it was nice to enjoy the descents after the short climbs. We brought an ice cream and made lunch on a small patch of grass outside the church in the village of Godziszewo. With the sun shining we rode on along quiet and pretty country lanes. We arrived at the town Tczew and then had to join the busy E75 south. We were worried about the traffic but were relieved to find a nice wide hard shoulder and could relax most of the way to Malbork where we were stopping for a rest day. For about 3 kms the road was cobbled and we hoped it wouldn’t be like this all the way.
Cobbled road on the way to Malbork
We stopped along the way and brought some fruit off a stall on the side of the road which tasted delicious and gave us a good break from the cobbles.
Arriving in Malbork we looked for the campsite labelled on our map and found it to be right next to a castle we were trying to find on the way into town “result” It was a very pretty campsite with a nice lake, hot showers, power and free wi-fi with a nice covered bench to sit at – it had everything apart from a washing machine and all for £6 a night!
We settled in quickly, skyped home and had an amazing shower as the last one was in Berlin…
After 3 months of cycling it wasn’t just us that needed a break
Next installment coming soon…..