My route is generally following the European long-distance trail E3 and as you can see on this map this trail goes all the way from the Atlantic Ocean to the Black Sea. Like all E-trails the E3 uses an existing trail network and is usually not marked as E3. But trail marking in the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia is generally great and on most signposts the trail is also named as E3. Parallel to the E3 runs Eisenach - Budapest, or short EB. Both old routes were created long before the Schengen treaty and therefore they do big detours for official border crossings. Because nowadays as a pedestrian you can cross freely between Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia most hikers do shortcuts like the one through the Giant Mountains - and the only German trail guidebook recommends that as well. But when official trail and shortcut came together again in Poland I ended up in one of the worst bushwhacks of the entire walk. The route descends along a long ski slope that now in summer was completely overgrown with long grass. And because it had been raining I was soaking wet after the first hundred metres. I did not help that visibility was less than 50 metres due to heavy fog and there were no marking because you cannot mark anything in a meadow ... Suffering from hay fever was a problem, too ...
The spa town of Walbrzych was my next strategical rest stop. For some cents you can take the waters in a beautiful turn-of-the-century pavillion - and it does not taste too bad either! Again I was very lucky with my hotel and restaurant. Prices in Poland are still much lower than in Germany but the quality is definitely up to Western standards. Walbrzych has an extensive and cheap bus system which made sightseeing easy. I had good timing because a traditional folk dance group was performing at the huge castle of Waldenburg.
But not all was good in Walbrzych: I had chosen that town as a rest stop because there is a Decathlon, a sport store chain. According to their online shop they stock gas canisters - but when I went there not a single one was left! I was even told that no Polish Decathlon is stocking screw-top gas canisters any more - a big blow for my resupply strategy. Luckily they recommended another store and with the help of Walbrzych's bus system I eventually procured my much needed gas canister before proceeding to the next mountain range: the Owl Mountains. The biggest tourist hot spot there is this view tower built by the Germans in the 19th century - where I ate a really bad gulash soup from a portable restaurant. As the entire area once belonged to Germany there were a lot of traces left and I spent a long time in old cemeteries studying tombstones and churches. Most impressive monument was Fort Srebrna Gora (Festung Silberberg), a massive fortress built by Prussian king Frederick II that was never conquered when besieged. On the E3 I walked around the entire complex.
My personal highlight was a different one: Weather was fantastic which means very hot - and I was looking forward to every possibility to wash up. One evening, just half an hour before I wanted to set up camp anyways, I came across this fantastic spring. No one was around anymore that late at night so I just stripped down and stepped underneath this natural shower. I washed myself, my clothes - and had plenty of tasty water that night! Life was good that evening!