Kostrzyn to Poznan Day 14 May 12th Kostrzyn Nad Odra to Miedzyrzecz

Day 14 May 12th Kostrzyn Nad Odra to Miedzyrzecz


We left the hotel and headed off down the main road looking forward to our first ride in Poland. The road was on a dyke and on both sides as far as the eye could see were marshes - lakes in the river flood plane.


The road was quite busy but no alternative route exists for the first 10km. At this point we were disappointed because the turn off on the planned route was just a grassy track.


We decided to go on rather than risk the track across the marsh. This was a good move because much to our surprise at the next turnoff the Radweg 1 cycle route was signed. We were pleased to be on minor roads.

The first large village we came to in Poland was Osno Lubuskie. Compared to East Germany it was clearly much less prosperous. But compared to the Soviet era it was changed beyond recognition. The shops had stock and there are many cars now. The horses seem to be completely gone. I was disappointed to see a group of loafers in the village square. An indication perhaps that there is a high level of unemployment.


We cycled on minor roads to Sulecin, our first town. It consisted mainly of four to five storey concrete tenement buildings put up in the Soviet era for the workers. It seemed a rather depressing place to us but was bustling with lots of people around who seemed happy enough.


Rather oddly, in a town square we came across a fountain with several almost pornographic female figures playing in the water. It would certainly not have been acceptable to the Weymouth rathouse. It was also not an appropriate sculpture to put before two cyclists who have been away from the pleasures of home for a good while.


By lunchtime the day had brightened up nicely and for the first time this trip I did not need a fleece. By now we were off the cycle route and we decided to do a short diversion north on minor roads.


The minor road was lovely to start with, undulating through fields and woods. Unfortunately it degenerated into cobbles for about 10kms. Unlike some cobbled streets we had no alternative but to ride on them as there was no smooth area at the side.


It was half way along the cobbles that John got his sixth puncture of the trip and his third while I was with him. Unfortunately this area is plagued with biting flies. We changed the tube and were pleased to be bumping along again, going fast enough that the flies could not catch us.


We made the Duet Hotel at around six o'clock after an excellent ride on mainly undulating roads. The hotel was in a sports complex adjacent to concrete workers' tenement buildings. The hospitality was fine as was the room. The bar was busy most of the time with locals coming in to eat, drink and chat. It may well date from the Soviet era but if so had had a make over. I felt more at home here at a place used by locals than I would have done in a traditional hotel in the town centre.


Days 15 and 16 May 13th and 14th Miedzyrzecz to Poznan


Sometimes on a long journey one has to make transit rides to get from one place to another. This was just such a day though not without its interest and an opportunity to get insights into the contrasts within Poland.


This was a long ride and we could not do the distance on cobbles or dirt roads. On the computer maps it is difficult to judge which minor roads are tarmaced. We had to do a longish detour south to be sure and this further increased the distance.


We left Miedzyrzecz and were soon on a lightly trafficked smooth road through pine woods. After we had been cycling for about an hour there was an ominous crack from my back wheel. I had broken a spoke and surprisingly it was on the none drive side of the back wheel.


Tyre off and I was able to thread the new spoke through without removing the block. This was an unexpected bonus when changing a rear wheel spoke. I managed to true the wheel ok and we were back on the road having lost only about half an hour.


We were soon cycling into Zbaszynek and John spotted a cycle shop. He has been worried about one of his tyres for some days and took the opportunity to buy and fit a new one. He was also able to borrow a track pump. We think having hard tyres may have given him a couple of extra kms an hour.


From Zbaszynek we were onto the E302, a main road. It was not that busy to start with but got progressively worse. The Poles seem to drive much as we did in the UK in the 1960s. They still have a love affair with cars. Unfortunately most Poles are driving the overpowered vehicles which Germany inflicted upon us in the 1990s, whereas in 1960s UK we had underpowered and unreliable cars from the 1950s. I would expect the road crash rate here to be very high.


We sped on with occasional stops and trying to ignore the traffic. The towns we passed through were busy but with few large stores. The ordinary shops look pretty down at heel by our standards.


We passed through Opalencia and pulled off the road into a clearing in the forest for a break. We noticed a young woman wearing very high stiletto heals and lots of red. At first we thought she was soliciting passing traffic. It was also possible that her clients came here by appointment. She approached one car which came in but she did not go with him. The next driver she left with. It was sad to think that she was reduced to this but even sadder if she had been trafficked from another country.


Soon after the little town of Buk the traffic became so heavy it was not only unpleasant but felt dangerous. We diverted north and had a good road surface for a little, until it crossed a motorway. After this we were on a dirt road and once we found tarmac again careful navigation was needed to ensure we did not lose it.


I do find it odd that the Polish are investing in more motorways when there are many villages which are only connected to towns by dirt or cobbled roads. I suppose it is no worse than us building the Weymouth "relief road" when we can't afford to maintain the roads we have properly. Even so I would have thought a modern rail system in Poland should be a first priority.


We emerged onto main roads again near to Poznan Airport. From here into town was truly awful and very dangerous. There was little alternative but to go on into the centre where the hostel is located.


After a welcome rest we went out for a very nice meal in a Pizza/Spaghetti house which was really bustling. What a change this has been since the Soviets left. The streets in central Poznan were full of night life and vitality. I sure some of it was not very nice but at least better than the sheer drudgery of the Soviet era.


We decided to declare Friday a day off. In the original plan we were going to spend the morning in Poznan and move on a little way in the afternoon. We are now going to do two longer days.


First job in the morning was to true my wheel and make sure it was ok. Then we had to move rooms in the hostel and finally do the washing. I also had a very nice Skype call to Anne.


In the afternoon John and I explored Poznan on foot. The old town is very beautiful, rather like, but much larger than, some of the German towns we had visited. We visited a museum in the rathouse which again showed how appalling the Soviet era was. The evening was again spent eating in a restaurant and planning our routes.