An early summer cycling trip along Poland's Baltic Coast, then down the Rivers Oder and Elbe to Prague.
I flew to Gdansk the day before and set off mid morning today from my airport hotel after having unpacked and put together my bike and baggage for the journey. My first stop was Sasino just inland from the Baltic coast - the Polish Riviera they call it here ! - and a night’s stay at a simple agro tourist place, and a wonderful meal at a restaurant just down the road from where I am staying. See Food below !
My second day along the Baltic coast was interrupted mid-morning by a very large thunderstorm that stopped me in my tracks or well over an hour. I had to come inland a few miles from the coast to avoid some very sandy tracks that the routing wanted to take me down. I’ve discovered not to trust the hatched line on the map to mean that the route is cyclable.
My kind hostess at the Darlowo B&B sent me off with a hearty breakfast, which included frankfurter sausages which I avoided because they would only repeat on me throughout the day. Same with kippers. I was able to make a few sandwiches for the journey which always taste far better than they look later in the day when I stop for a lunch break.
A half morning’s ride along the Baltic coast, and then I was heading south towards Szczecin to join the Oder river which I will be following south from now on. Szczecin is at the bottom of a large bay into which the Oder runs, and so I was zigzagging a bit across county to get in to position so that I can follow the Oder.
Today's riding was just what I like. Once I had worked my way out of Szczecin, I was quickly across the border in to Germany and following the left / German side of the Oder along nice bike paths along the flood defences. The Oder is a wide flood plain river, to look at not very impressive initially, but all that green growth between the two banks is shallow water. Some parts of it have been canalised for transport. I’ll follow the Oder for the next few days as it forms the border between Germany and Poland, which then follows the Neisse.
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 Netto 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 !
I love steak tartar, which is very popular in Poland. Nearly every restaurant does it. Usually it is fine. Occasionally it can cause problems. Last night’s offering at Slubice was fine, but in the course of the night it causes problems with my stomach. It would be advisable on today’s ride to keep upwind of me.
I headed inland west in to Germany from the Oder in the direction of Dresden. Following the Oder further south it becomes very windy and complicated, so I will cross over to the Elbe (Labe when it passes in to the Czech Republic) and go on from Dresden to Prague. Going across country from one river to the other means hills, which I’ve not been used to as I’ve been following the river so far. So, today’s ride was a little harder than I expected, but at least for the most part I was on decent German roads with bike paths.
I’m heading today down the Elbe / Labe in to the Czech Republic and then on to Prague. The river will take me all the way as it meanders along. Dresden is very monumental, not just in buildings but also in lay out, and I found myself pretty quickly riding down a Mall like way through a huge park, Grosser Garten, on the way to the river. The opposite bank very quickly is in the Czech Republic, and by lunchtime my side of the river had also passed in to the Czech Republic.
A shortish ride today in to Prague, still following the Elbe / Labe. I’m staying in an AirB&B just up from the main station but in a nice area, and just beyond it gets even nicer. I like AirB&B for lodging because usually it’s self check in and I can get the bike in to the place without any bother or pleading.
At the end of day of cycling there are a few things that are essential - a shower, a decent bed, some beer, and FOOD.... ! Here are some of the recent meals I've had on my travels through Poland, Germany and in Prague. Generally, the food has been good, with one or two exceptions, and one unfortunate incident with some steak tartare !
I am hoping in late September / early October to go to northern Spain and cycle the majority of the Camino route to Compostella, and then head down the coast to Portugal and take in most of the Portugues Atlantic coast through Porto and Lisbon, ending up eventually in Faro for some sun and relaxation. It's all in the planning and I hope it comes off.
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