Bad Freienwalde - Frankfurt an der Oder / Slubice

100 km

19 June 2023

It’s Monday and the shops are now open in Poland, and in Germany, as I head south along the River Oder backwards and forwards across the river and the border.  Being able to pop in to a small Aldi or Lidl as I travel along is such a boon to the weary and thirsty traveller, and I don’t need to plan too far ahead.  Unlike when I was crossing the USA last year and services were so sparse and distant from one another.  Or when in Germany and Poland on a Sunday !

So, I have turned south from the Baltic Coast inland, following the River Oder, and will continue along it for a few days until I cut inland to Dresden so that I can join the Elbe River on south to Prague.  I am staying on the German side of the Oder because the tracks and cycling infrastructure on that side are more developed and so make for easier, safer and more pleasant cycling.  One of the wonders of cycling in Germany is that one can be pretty confident that there will be a separate and safe cycle route alongside the majority of roads, most certainly on a busy road.  At crossroads and roundabouts where the path crosses a road, vehicles stop for you to cross.  Rather than having some deficient runt in a souped up clapped out car speeding in front of you and woe betide if you think that you might have a right of way.  As happens in Birmingham. Cycling infrastructure, cycling culture and respect is abysmal in the UK.  I’d even say dangerous, which is why for the most part, other than commuting around where I live, I tend not to go cycle touring in the UK.  That and the generally unpredictable weather.

Slubice is on the Polish side of the Oder, opposite Frankfurt an der Oder, so a quick flit across the bridge brought me to the Villa Casino hotel where I stayed last year and is a nice, comfortable hotel with secure bike storage and a good restaurant.  And inexpensive.  So, all boxes ticked.

I think I have mentioned before how monochrome is Poland.  There are no Syrians, Arabs, Indian sub-continent/ South Asian  immigrants there.  Somehow, the Poles are able to move them on, don’t let them in, and generally are not welcoming to them.  However, cross the river to Frankfurt an der Oder and immediately there is a very noticeable immigrant presence.  Generally, these are young men, those able to make the journey on foot and boat from where they have come, predominantly from Syria and other Middle Eastern troubled places.  They are usually sharply dressed in Primark / JD Sports type clothes, well coiffed beards and hair and smothered in very pungent Arab aftershave.  These are some of the over a million refugees that Germany took in some years ago under Mutti Merkel.  I don’t have a sense that they have moved on that much, still living in dormitories and government barracks, and hanging about in groups speaking Arabic, with little sign of integration with the Germans.  Look in to the eyes of the Germans when a group of these Arab lads is around, and you sense a look of unease, even resentment.  On the bridge both German and Polish police vans are in evidence, and I suspect that the Poles are very reluctant to let them cross over in to their territory to buy their cheap cigarettes and booze.  Or to stay.

Accommodation:  Night of 19th June - Hotel Villa Casino, Slubice

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