Live the adventures of Dan Walker's travels through reading his travel journal. The travel journals are listed below in descending order of date. To search the travel journals, use the keyword search at the bottom of the page.
|Saturday, August 11, 2007 10:51:54|
Rolls Around the World 2007: 13 - Uithoorn, Holland to Warsaw, Poland
Wednesday, August 8, 2007
Miles for the day 321 (517 km) Miles to date 4,572 (7,358km)
We went over our proposed route with Wim & Leni first thing in the morning, but they both agreed that there was a better, faster and less congested way to go - however it was more complicated to get to the expressway. Wim postponed his tennis game to have us follow his car through a maze of country roads until we arrived at the entrance to the A1 highway to Germany.
We made it through the rest of the day with no errors in navigation, stopping only once for gas and a surprisingly good lunch at an autobahn service area. This is the second closest we came to running out of gas - we put 70.7 litres into the 81.8 litre tank. Service areas are up to 80 km apart on this stretch of road. Gas prices in Europe have been fairly consistent at around $2.08 per litre, with a slight drop in price in Germany.
Traffic was heavy, with hundreds of trailer trucks, and several constricted construction zones. Dozens of giant electricity generating windmills sprawl across the countryside in all directions.
We spotted a truckers hotel near Magdeburg, Germany, at about 3:30 in the afternoon, so pulled in - it was only the second hotel we saw all day. The parking area was loaded with dozens of trailer trucks, but the hotel was perfect, with good food and internet facilities.
Thursday, August 9, 2007
Miles for the day 421 (687 km) Miles to date 4,993 (8,035km)
Early today we passed a major crash between a trailer truck and a tank truck, fortunate for us in the oncoming lanes. The cab of the trailer truck was totally destroyed. Three lanes of traffic were stopped for miles back.
We made good time to the Polish border in cloud and drizzle. Here the divided highway narrowed to two lane road. Traffic moved through the border fairly well, but we were held up while several border guards admired the car and asked questions about it!
After a couple of hours of crawling along behind trucks through each little village, a brand new expressway started in the middle of nowhere. There were three toll booths, each of which charged $US4.00, but it was worth it to get back to our cruising speed of just under 70 mph (113 kph). This luxury lasted for about 180 km (112 miles), when we were directed back onto side roads. We got lost once, found the Warsaw road again and stopped at a little guest house with a restaurant/bar. The Uslugi Hotelarskie was great. We had a good dinner, drinks, a large room and breakfast for less than half of what we were paying for room alone.
Friday, August 10, 2007
Miles for the day 62(100 km) Miles to date 5,055 (8,135km)
Fortunately we were within 100 miles (160 km) of Warsaw, as heavy traffic and frequent villages with stop lights kept the average speed to below 50 kph (30 mph). Torrential downpours filled the ruts pressed into the road by endless lines of trailer trucks, so each oncoming truck threw up a wave that enveloped the car, eliminating visibility until the windshield wipers could catch up again.
Once in Warsaw, a city of two million people, we had a shot at finding the Sheraton Hotel from the on-line directions, but it proved hopeless. We finally paid a taxi to lead us to the hotel, where the car was tucked away in the underground parking garage.
We signed on for a small group tour of the city in a 12 seat bus, which left the hotel two hours after our mid-day arrival. The first stop was the lovely 8 hectare Lazienki Royal Park, once the summer residence of Polish kings. The park was almost totally destroyed during the Second World War, however one wing of the palace remained, although it was gutted when the retreating Nazi's set fire to it in 1944 to burn documents. It has been restored, but almost everything is a copy, including the priceless oil paintings which were either burned or stolen. Another torrential downpour hit while we were in the building, but it let up before we left.
There is not much of the original city of Warsaw left. War destroyed about 25% of the city, then in 1943 the Jews in the ghetto rebelled, and the Germans flattened the area. (Before the war the population of Warsaw was 37% Jewish, after the war almost zero). In 1944 there was a general uprising by the "Home Army", an underground organization, lasting 63 days before the Germans were able to regain control. In retribution 85% of the city was destroyed, including the royal palace and the ancient heart of the city. We were walking in this area, which has been restored with copies of the original buildings, when the next heavy rain hit. After taking refuge in a church for a while, the guide said we had to brave the 5 minute run or 10 minute walk to the bus so the tour could end on time. Apparently they don't pay overtime!
We decided against going. I asked the guide to leave the sweater I'd left on the bus at our hotel, then Marilynn and I dashed across the street to a small bar and pirogue restaurant where we took our liquids internally instead of getting wet externally.
When the rain let up, we had dinner at a pleasant restaurant Marilynn had spotted, overlooking the rebuilt palace. They had a good menu featuring game meat. We strolled through the old city, which has been beautifully reproduced, stopping for another drink to listen to a good jazz saxophonist before getting a taxi back to the hotel, neither of us feeling any pain.
Saturday, August 11, 2007
We braved the streets of Warsaw with a map the hotel provided to find a gas station where we could get the car washed. With the map we navigated about 3 km from the hotel to the service station without incident. Once there the car wash proved to be one with whirling brushes, so we asked about a hand wash. Initially it they said "not possible", but eventually came around and agreed to let us use the power wash unit at no charge. Two of the service station attendants came over with buckets of soapy water and did a thorough wash job, leaving only the drying it to us. Gas prices in Poland have improved to around $1.70 per litre.
We have now been in enough hotels so that when we leave the room we turn the wrong way, or give the wrong room number to the waiter and getting the "Aha, caught you trying to charge your beer to someone else's room" look, or worst of all, trying to distinguish the toilet from the bidet or waste basket in the night, and then trying to remember what kind of flusher it has and where it is located!
The afternoon was spent catching up, with Marilynn editing loads of photos. It poured rain, so we were pleased our newly washed chariot is safely in the underground garage. We'll get an early start in the morning, to leave a country where we cannot pronounce city and street names and enter a series of countries where we will not be able to read the signs at all! This should not be a problem, as starting tomorrow at the Belarus border we will have guides with us for the rest of the trip.