Bicycle trip from Rzeszów to Baltic coast, Pl, … chapter 4, 8th August 2014 –always travel with your passport (even if you don’t plan to leave Shengen zone)

Leaving friendly hosts in Wereszczyn wasn’t easy task – great morning coffee, green views outside window panes made me lazy, so I had to find hidden layer of energy and finally said goodbye.

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I started the route hosts recommended me and it was really good choice, once again I had opportunity to ride through Poleski National Park and admire its nature. Later, among forests from time to time appeared forgotten cemeteries.

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Finally for the first time in my travel I got to eastern Polish border – with Ukraine on the Bug river. Just before it I reached view tower in Wola Uhruska, climbed it and watched how green is my countr.y

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I was heading north. And at once I was sooo pity I hadn’t taken passport with me. There occurred a weekend event between Poland and Ukraine – pontoon bridge between our countries which enabled easy access to neighbours.

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Normally, crossing Pl-Ua or Ua-Pl border is not such an easy thing to do, sometimes you have to wait a few hours in long queue as e.g. I had to in 2011 heading to Ukrainian Crimea. Now, there was opportunity to cross the border without waiting, some 30 km away from the nearest regular border crossing and what’s more, behind Bug river awaited huge lakes (e.g. Switez lake) I many times admired … on a map. They were so close, yet always so far away. Now I was only about an hour of pedalling to see them live. But I hadn’t taken damn passport with me because I hadn’t planed to leave Shengen zone, fu…neral of my dream… I made my mind to take my passport leaving my town, always! And I rode further north instead of east passing many Ukrainians (with passports) selling on the side of sandy road cheap cigarettes, alcohol and sweets. This day destination for me was Okuninka, a village by Białe (White) and a few others lakes. It is the place my family used to go for summer holiday quite often in 80-ies. And it is an example that sometimes it’s better to let your good memories live in your head than trying to check how it looks now. Some 30 years ago we camped wild on the beach of nearby Święte (Saint) Lake and from there we were going every morning through meadows 2 km to the “centre” of village to the only grocery shop for fresh bread or rolls and some cottage cheese. Sometimes you had to wait in line half an hour to buy these things for breakfast. It was typical, quiet Polish village, far from noisy cities. Nowadays it became so popular that during weekend about 20.000 people gets there, many of them with huge stocks of alcohol, the noise of disco everyone has to hear till 4 a.m. Main street looks like a one in Cracow or Zakopane, there are (too) many shops, restaurants and etc.

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When I got there I only swam in Białe (I just had to do it)

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and rode as fast as possible to another lake – Glinki, hidden in the forest, which resemble the most as it was long time ago.

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I slept there one night in tent and I had rather bad night waking quite often due to music, shouts and screams floating to me across the water of lake from Okuninka’s disco.

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Bicycle trip from Rzeszów to Baltic coast, Pl, … chapter 3, 7th August 2014 – there is nothing like country life

Wereszczyn – I haven’t heard of this village until I opened computer at 3 a.m. the day of my trip start 2 days ago. In CS forum I had announced that I would ride from S to N more or less along eastern border of Poland, inviting CS members to join, meet or host me. Artur from Wereszczyn was the only one who offered to accommodate me. I checked location on map and was quite glad, because thanks to him I would be able to catch a glimpse at Piaseczno lake near Łęczna, the one I liked so much some 30 (!) years ago. As a Pole teenager in 80-ies I couldn’t dreram of visiting south of Europe, so I had imagined that crystal clear lake is my “Adriatic”…

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So, Piaseczno lake and later Wereszczyn were goals of the day.

Rafał, my Chełm host appeared early morning, we talked briefly for a while and soon I set off as another hot day begun. It wasn’t long trip and about 11 a.m. I found little nice grass beach with only an angler in his boat floating near. I swam in quite warm and beautifully clean lake. It felt wonderful.

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Radler on the beach tasted great. Afetr a wonderful few hours of lazy doing nothing except of swimming and sunbathing I moved further along red bicycle route which led me directly to Wereszczyn and my new awesome hosts – Artur, his wife and son. I was impressed by warm greeting as well as by beauty of their home – modern and simultanously rustic looking. Their son have climbing wall in his room – what a great idea!

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Home which they have been building mostly by themselves for 8 yers and now they are selling (if you’re interested send me message and I’ll inform them :). They are people who want to squeeze all the best out of their life, people who don’t agree with boredom. In 2 days from our meeting they were flying to remote Guatemala juts because they by chance had found very cheap tickets some months ago. It was opportunity they couldn’t let pass by. Deep respect! I had great time in Wereszczno filled with discussions about all kinds of travels, child bringing, work and many more less or more important issues. We drank delicious coffee from frenchpress (before, I had no idea what it is), cider (I hope there will be my another post about Russian embargo-fighting-cider-drinking issue) and ate sausages roasted over bonfire. They even invited me for a little bird-watching bicycle tour as they live almost in Poleski Ntional Park – a paradise for bird-watchers (herons, cranes etc.).

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This day ended with 83 km on the counter and was filled with pure happiness of country life pros.

Bicycle trip from Rzeszów to Baltic coast, Pl, i.e. refreshing old memories + wonderful people CS/WS met along my way Chapter 2 6th August 2014 – there is always something interesting to find

I got up, ate scrambled eggs with Jacek, made farewell and set off to Chełm. The second stage seemed to be much shorter than the previous one, so I wasn’t in hurry, rode slowly to Zamość’s market place in old town to cherish the view. It did deserved to be on Unesco World Heritage list –a unique example of a Renaissance town in Central Europe, consistently designed and built in accordance with the Italian theories of the ideal town”.

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So I sat on a bench and phoned my family to say I’m OK and ready to start from this beautiful place a new day in saddle. I left Zamość, left main road and headed more or less north. The landscape was 100% agricultural and have to admit I liked it less than my own region and area south of Zamość I passed through the day before. I noticed there were fields, fields and fields with almost no forests, so I was afraid it was going to be the most boring day of my journey. But sometimes the fields were really nice.

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Before I reached little town of Wojsławice I was surprised 4 times by strange surface of a road made from bricks. As nice lady from village shop told me it was surface built before WWII, so it was in really good condition, although not very bicycle rider buttocks friendly.

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In Wojsławice very close to each other are Catholic church, Orthodox church and synagogue, which shows how people of different religions could live here in peace before the war. The Orthodox church’s belfry has unique shape and is really old  – just see what has left of its bricks.

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Close to Chełm began the field of flax and nice mix of fields colours.

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Chełm is famous for its chalk mine in the centre of old town. I haven’t visited it this time as I did it some 10 years ago and I’m going to come there once again with my family to admire it together.

My Chełm couchsurfing host Rafał phoned me as I was 15 km before town that he wouldn’t be able to accompany me but he organized everything so that I felt very welcome – the key at neighbour and full fridge (with clear invitation to use all I want). So, I went alone to old town, made a short walk, ate delicious and quite cheap ice-cream, bought some sweets for Rafał’s kids and returned to his flat to rest after 98 km rode that day.

Bicycle trip from Rzeszów to Baltic coast, Pl, i.e. refreshing old memories + wonderful people CS/WS met along my way

Chapter 1

5th August 2014 – don’t slight your own region not taking any map of it

It was to be one of the longest stage of my travel – about 150 km so I set an alarm clock for 5 a.m. But as always when it regards me, when the journey is quite close I’ve got problems with good regular sleeping so I woke up at …3 a.m. Unfortunately despite quite good weather forecast day started with rain so I had to postpone start. I didn’t want to set off from my town wet. So, I waited till about 6 a.m. and at last my adventure began. That very day profi cycling Tour de Pologne was to be hosted in my town at evening…

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I haven’t taken any electronic devices used by modern travelers as GPS, smartphones, tablets, etc, just had with me some old fashioned (?) paper maps and old mobile without internet. I haven’t taken a map of my region as I thought I knew it well enough by heart to get to neighbouring Lubelskie voivodship. It turned out to me my mistake which made my I stage almost 50 km longer… I twice missed turning left so I rode more towards south-east than north-east. The sky was totally grey, no sunshine, so I was not aware of it. It happened in almost completely not inhabited area as I chose riding through local roads with as less car traffic as possible, so there was no one to ask for a proper way.

I prepared sort of breakfast in beautiful surroundings of Brzóza Królewska over a stream about 50 km from my town Rzeszów, it’s a place I quite often had visited as a child and later was there a few times with my kids.

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When at last I got to main road and checked a map of Lubelskie (this one I luckily had) it turned out I was much more on south than expected. I did my best to reach Zamość and my first warmshowers.org host before dusk. I succeeded but was exhausted. I used my wife as communication centre calling her to check on google.maps how should I get to street I was looking for. It (or rather Beata) worked so well, that we repeated it quite regularly next days. It turned out I broke my record of 1 day bicycle trip: 197 km – it was kind of shock that I’m able to make such a distance in 1 day. My hosts Jacek and his wife welcome me very friendly, I took shower and after 1 beer and 2 coffees I felt refreshed and quite proud of myself. We talked sipping beer/coffee about this and that and eventually I came to the very deserved deep sleep.

to be continued