Saturday, 1 May 2021

Poland: Poznan to Olsztyn

 After Poznan I finally left the Camino and continued on hiking trails. This route had been a suggestion of accomplished Polish long-distance hiker Agnieska aka Zebra. Her goal is to hike all Polish long-distance trails - and therefore she and another Polish hiker friend joined me for the next section. Michal aka Shakespeare did not know who I was but immediately recognised me when I met him in the parking lot of the train station were Zebra was to arrive soon. There are not too many ultralight hikers around in Poland ... Before embarking we had a quick lunch consisting of all leftovers from Michal's kitchen. We then followed the blazes - and immediately ended in a bushwhack because the trail has not been maintained for decades ...

Although the landscape was still pretty flat and monotonous hiking was a lot better now because there was very littel pavement and mostly trail, even boardwalks around lakes! Plus we were mainly in forests. With two native speakers it was no problem to ask for water at houses because there were no good natural water sources. With lots of practice even I learnt the question "Can I please have some tap water" in Polish. We bought more food in a small supermarket and had a real hiker trash meeting in the parking lot. I almost felt like back in the US! 

Although Zebra and Shakespeare were constantly doing some stretching exercises we still made good progress. I was fantastic to have some thruhiker company and enjoyed these 2,5 days hiking with them tremendously. But they wanted to complete this specific hiking trail which continued to Pila whereas I was heading northeast towards Bydgoszcz. After I tearful goodbye we went our separate ways. 
I had to cross the very agricultural plains of river Netze where it was even hard to find a place to pee because there was no bush or tree. After one night camping on my own I was to have more company. Beata, a Polish pilgrim had invited me into her home for a night. Her invitation came right in time because I needed some stuff sent to me from Germany and I could use her address. On a Spanish Camino she had made friends with some Germans who follow me on social media. When they realised that my route passed almost directly at her home they asked her to invite me in. What a small world! I spent a wonderful evening with Beata and her husband who both speak excellent German and learnt a lot about Poland!

I spent a rest day in Bromberg (Bydgoszcz) because there was so much to see. As it was Easter I wanted to attend a mass. Due to Corona restrictions number of worshippers was restricted and people were even standing outside. When I found a church that still let me in I realized too late that is was locked during service! I had to listen to endless readings from the bible until I eventually realised there was an emergency exit where I could sneak out ...
When I left on my own I finally had to practice my new language skills and ask for water at a house. I mumbled my sentence - and the guy answered in perfect English: "What the heck are you doing here in the middle of nowhere?" He gave me not only water, but fruit and chocolate on top!

Next in a series of former German towns was beautifully restored Chelmno (Kulm) where the town hall looks like out of a picture book. The next day I followed the River Wisla (Weichsel) always on top of the dyke. I really scenic section but day time max temperature was only 4 degrees in early April and I was freezing my butt off ... 
Because my camping gear was not fit for these temperatures I booked myself into another "worker room" in Graudenz (Grudiaz) and did the next section as a day trip by bus. I had falsely assumed that the bus would leave from the bus station. First of all it was not exactly a bus but a transporter and secondly it left from a nondescript bus stop in front of a supermarket. Luckily I had scouted out everything the day before. When I left Graudenz for good on day two the "bus" driver greeted me already and knew where I was going. There were only two passengers in the bus ... 

I used the same trick in Ilawa (Eylau) where I could also hike a section as a day trip by train. I had now entered Mazuria with its many lakes. But winter temperatures in April did not lead me into temptation to swim ...
Both Ilawa and Ostroda had been mostly destroyed in World War II so there was not much to see there. But I was now on the European long-distance trail E11 - there were even signposts with the E11 sign! 
Along this stretch I also saw several "half"-kayaks housing stations of the cross. When I examined this weird combination a bit closer I realised that they were located along the route Pope John Paul II had taken a boat trip in his younger age ...
The weather had been somehow sunny for a couple of days but as soon as I reached Olsztyn the temperatures dropped extremely within hours. I could wear only a shirt at lunch, had to put on a jacket at 2 pm and gloves at 5 pm ... But luckily I was due to have a rest day in town now!

2 comments:

Unknown said...

Christine, du inspiriert mich hier! Lese Laufen Essen Schlafen und wünsche mir sehr, sowas auch zu erleben! Genieße es und Lauf bitte ein paar Schritte für mich mit! Marlene

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