Yes – I know – the moment you have all been waiting for: another Roberto story! This time however the guy is for sure not called Roberto, but rather just Robert or Iwan or Tomek… So while I was riding somewhere on a road amongst Polish fields, close to the Baltic sea I overtook a short, round older guy on an ebike. Nothing special except for the fact that he wasn’t slow, but as it was my last 15 km of the day I was faster (hehe). However – the road ended and we continued to ride through the forest. Me pushing hard and him following me with his electro support – always right on my back wheel. Then I stoped at a small intersection – just to make sure I am still going the right way – when he pointed to the right and told me to go there. So I did, but quickly noticed that I should have continued straight on. To my surprise I found out that Robert (I will call him that for now) spoke German. I had some difficulties understanding him though and asked him if he was “from here” – “NOOO – I am from Germany”. Ah. Ok. Which part? Close to Dortmund. Interesting (why was it so difficult to understand him?). Robert told me the road I wanted to take was bad (lots of holes), but still he turned around with me and continued along the same way as I did – now of course riding ahead:-)) All the time he continued to talk, but since we were riding (still quite fast for me) I hardly caught a word. Anyway – this much I got: Robert was born in Poland, but left about 50 years ago (not sure how correct that number is), he will turn 68 this year, rides 30km with his ebike every day, has problems with some joints, that’s why he doesn’t ski anymore, etc, etc, and he started coming here a few years ago (that’s why he knows the cycle paths so well) and of course he did buy a little wooden house, because it was “so cheap”. He left me with the warning to always take good care of my bike, becaus he had two ebikes stolen last year, basically as to say they steal everything here… While I continued my way without Robert I couldn’t stop but think that if he would live in “Favoriten” (the part of Vienna I lived in for the past four years) he would vote “blue” (=color of a political party in Austria). Brrrrr.
So. Enough of Robert. Last time I left you with saying I would go and watch a beautiful sunset on the beach. And of course I didn’t. I ended up being invited to Beer, self-pickes Cucumbers (Salzgurken), Polish saussage (with “real” meat) and Presswurscht (don’t ask me to translate that) – by my second German-Polish encounter. Another retired men in his mid 60s who was happy to share his life-story (having left the Polish commune in 1983, fleeing to Germany, finding a job, etc…) with me. It was very interesting – and even if of course very subjective (but as we know history always is) – my first “excursion” into Polish history. Oh – and at the end of course I also had to taste some Schlehdornschnaps. Heidiweidi.
Well the Baltic Sea coast ist truly beautiful, endless white sandy beaches and clear water. However – the weather in the past days could have not been described as the same. I had sooo many downpoors, stormy nights, stormy rides, endless rainy rides and nights, that even I didn’t care for the weather much anymore. But it seems to be getting better. One good thing about the rain was certainly that the sandy paths became a bit easier to ride, while at the same time the grassy ones became muddy and sometimes impossible to go on. Making me do a detour of around 60km one day (after my bike had been stuck in the mud up all the way to the brake pads – don’t ask me how I manged to pull it out), all riding through the rain. On such days I end up always treating myself to something special – in that case it was a dinner out, going for my first fish Pierogi and good Polish beer. Yammi.
Talking about food – I also do have a favorite place along all the places I have been in Poland so far: AniAni (coffee and friends) in Utka. Three young ladies who make fantastic cakes and the best Cappuccino in Poland (and I am serious). You sort of have to like (or ignore) the candy-pink of the place, but I actually made it my home one rainy afternoon:-)
This small coffee place was a real gem though. What you mostly find on all these touristy sea places, I have seen, is fast food (I started to think that Gyros is Polish) including waffels in all forms and soft-ice-cream (I wasn’t aware that that didn’t get banned from this planet in the last century already) and all sorts of plastic entertainment, “play-machines” that like money, etc… I somehow imagine that the Adriatic coast must have been like that in the 80s.
Interesting enough: everything did get a bit stylisher and more expensive the closer I came to Gdansk. Yesterday I rode along the half-island of Hel (haha – no, no second “L”) a kitesurfers’ paradise and then took the ferry to Gdynia and am now staying at wonderful hosts in Gdansk. I will soon head out to see the city and figure out how to continue from here. A Russain visa would be easier to get here than in Vienna, but would still take me a week, there are definitely no boats to Lithuania, which would have been my first choice. Also yesterday I learned about a great cycling path along the Masuren Lake district and I think that this is what I will head for. I will keep you posted.
And finally a last highlight: the dunes near Leba. It was a bit of a “caravan” going up on that dune, but it was truly very beautiful (and very windy).