August 98, 30 days
more about Poland (Wroclaw, Mazuria, Zakopane, Swinuiscze) visit
also my Poland
of travel: A
wholly independent travel
I moved: always by train
I slept: in cheap hostel/hotels, in Warszaw even in a hostel
in a ferry
Baking or freezing?: perfect temperature to spend
there are no dangers here!
I liked: an "easy to travel in" vast country, with so different areas
(the lakes in the north east, the baltic coast, the mountains in the south) and with a lot
of nice highlights
I disliked: I expected more from Warszaw
far I have travelled just only through the western Europe; but what
there's eastward?". So I decided to buy an inter rail ticket
and leaving from Milan headed north-east. An inter rail ticket is
a special ticket that lets you travel throughout Europe by train
for one month without any limit on the number of the travels; for
sure it's the best way to do a real (and cheap) travel in the old
Frankly I had no idea about how far I could have got in one month, but I was very
attracted by the small unknown countries called the Baltic Republics, and I would have
done everything to get there.
Slovakia I entered Poland stopping in the cute town of Krakow. This
nice small town made me begin feeling the different and interesting
atmosphere of the East, less intense in Budapest.
The quietness of the people playing violins, violas and flutes
in the streets are my best Krakowian memory, along with the visit
in the salt caves. It was freezing but worthwhile going down through
the tunnels and suddenly coming out in huge halls dug in depth to
get the salt. The last day in Krakow I got impressed by the sad
but proper visit to Oswiecim (Auschwitz), a town two hours far from
Krakow whose fame doesn't need explanation.
A bunch of hours by train there's Warsaw that with its soviet
modern mixed style didn't charm me that much, but it was funny sleeping
on a floating hostel, I mean a quite rusty boat moored on the Vistula
bank. Anyway it was cheap and not too swinging.
The real part of the travel came when I reached the Lithuanian border in Suwalky,
eight hours from the polish capital: the desert train slowed down till at walking pace
when passed through a barbed wired gate opened by some armed soldiers.
the Baltic Repubblic]
From Klaipeda in Lithuania I counted to reach Gdansk by boat, but with big upset (I
had been cursing for two days) I found out that there was no boat connection with Poland.
It took two days by train to reach Gdansk passing by Warsaw, but there was no other
alternative unless I passed through the Kalinigrad region.
After one of the tirest train travel of all my life being crowded
for 6 hours among drunk smelling polish guys I finally got to the
picturesque Gdansk. I remember with pleasure this town with his
typical colourful spire roofs, where I spent a bunch of nice days
including a boat trip to the harbour, in particular till the point
from where the first bullet of the Second World War was shot, where
a huge sign stating "Never more" was placed.
Even more nicer was the day trip to sand dunes on the Baltic cost near Leba; I
recommend you, unless you have visited Klaipeda in Lithuania that is similar but its dunes
are definitely bigger. Leba is a very well known place among the Polish and you'll see a
lot of families spending the week end there, in fact its dunes are inside a National park
where there are several trails and a lake.
From Gdansk I travelled to Prague,
our last leg where I spent some days. With the real east still
in my eyes frankly I didn't get so impressed by the Czech capital,
whose beauty is unquestioned, but I missed the humble quiet eastern
atmosphere that I felt and charmed me in the Baltic republics; somehow
it helped me to get aware I was coming back home.