Monday, June 05, 2006

Saturday June 3rd - We can't pronounce anything

We're in Swinoujscie, which if I bothered to type it correctly would have lots of accents hanging off it, and if I tried to pronounce it I doubt I'd do very well.

We left Szczecin yesterday, heading in the general direction of coastwards. We decided not to try and make it in a day, and to try stopping at Goleniow. We went through some really beautiful foresty areas on the way to Goleniow - Germany has some nice foresty bits, but Poland even moreso. It's a bit scary on the big roads, but absolutely lovely once you get onto the quiet lanes. We stopped off for a picnic in the middle of nowhere, on what looked like a very freshly-made picnic bench.

Unfortunately, Goleniow didn't want us - there were only two hotels and both were full, probably related to whatever festival type thing was going on in Szczecin. Since there were no campsites around, we carried on to Loznica, which was marked on the map as having a hotel.

Loznica turned out to be a quiet, pretty little village which looked very much like the kind of place that doesn't have a hotel, and the locals seemed to agree with our assessment. We were still nowhere near any campsites, they're all on the coast. We were all for camping rough in a bit of forest except that we didn't have enough water with us, and only bread and cheese for dinner, we hadn't seen any shops for miles and had no idea where the nearest one would be.

What Loznica did have was a train station, with trains going up to the coast. So, knowing nothing of the Polish train system, we thought we'd give it a go. Cheers to the stationmaster for holding up one end of a rather difficult conversation in German, during which we learned which towns we could get trains to, times, prices, platforms, etc, and that it's OK to take our Fahrrads with us, they get tickets too. In Germany we would hope that the person we're speaking to might know a bit of English, but here in Poland, the alternative is so strange to us that we'll happily settle for a bit of German! The train station itself was fantastically old fashioned and full of lots of clunking machines with big levers and dials, which the stationmaster was busily operating during our conversation.

The train pulled up about 45 minutes later and we were faced with a problem that seems common on a lot of European trains - low platforms and high trains. In this respect (and not many more) the UK trains are quite good - there's typically less than a foot in height between the train and platform and it's easy to get bikes on and off. On the Polish train, we were faced with hoisting our fully-laden bikes about 3-4 feet up into crowded carriages. Fun, fun, fun. Fortunately our fellow passengers were a good deal more helpful and accommodating than your average grumpy UK traveller, people moved to make space for us and several helping hands reached down to pull our bikes into the crowded vestibules.

The main part of Swinoujscie is on an island, so after the train journey there was a short ferry trip. We headed up to the hotel area, but before we got there we were distracted by the "Relax" campsite - no, we still didn't use the tent, but rented a bungalow for 66zl per night. There are seesaws just outside, so we're pretty much sorted. We had a peaceful night's sleep last night and it's fairly quiet here apart from the occasional bursts of disturbingly cheesy pop music.

Oh - and check out Rachael and Pete's blog, they're blogging their honeymoon adventures in Central America. Which seems to involve lots of flying through cloud forests, eating ice cream and getting peed on by monkeys.

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