The Rally Part 2: Poland

Mostly written on or around July 21st, 2012, the night before crossing into Russia


Poland: steeples, spires and smokestacks.

Also, roadworks. SO MANY ROADWORKS. For hundreds of kilometres.

The next morning, we left early (as is our wont these days) and headed to Radom, where are the parents of a friend of ours in Wellington. Anka and Marek (sp??) were incredible hosts, plying us with as much food and alcohol (some homemade!) as we could handle. They were also incredibly sweet – they knew more English than we knew Polish, and with the use of a dictionary and much hand-waving, we managed to talk happily for hours.

They also took us to see an _incredible_ church (Poland is very, very Roman Catholic) about 15 minutes nearby (going to which we saw the end of a nasty accident, showing exactly what happen when Polish driving madness meets wet roads). In an area called Bardzice, it’s many (like, 4) hundreds of years old, built out of wood, and housed in ancient forest. Not only is there the church itself, but there are multiple shrines scattered in the woods right around it. The place was – and this is an atheist saying it – numinous. Incredibly moving and beautiful.

(note from Nov 2012: It’s not on the list of Wooden churches in Southern Poland, which is interesting…Have they forgotten about it?)

An incredible 350-400 year old wooden Church in Bardzice, Poland - shown to us by our wonderful new Polish friends Anna and Marek.

After a good sleep in and a second scrub – after 4.5 days of not washing, I was mostly OK but Dane had become…manly – we left to continue our journey north. But not before Anna had laden us down with enough sandwiches to last us two days, and a whole grocery bag of fruit. She also ensured we remembered to take the vodka gifted to us by Marek the night before, and some Polish desserts for Dane. We were certainly sad to leave (the second time we had not wanted to leave somewhere wonderful we had been staying).

Ah, yes! I almost forgot! We also left quietly. The day before, when we had arrived, I had asked Dane to try and sort a welder-type for the muffler. Half an hour later, some phonecalls, a relative from next door being called over to translate, and a number of men peering under the car, we had a date with a mechanic. He lives across the road, and was going to charge us a song to simply fit a new muffler and tailpipe. First thing in the morning :) We’d like, here, to mention again the incredible hospitality of our hosts (who insisted on covering the bill as their contribution to the Rally), and to say that we will definitely be contributing to our charities in their honour.

Quiet Jimny is wonderful. Now that she wasn’t making a godawful noise, I started hating her a lot less, although cries of ‘Jimny wobble’ will continue to haunt our trip, I think :P

Poland’s wonderful, generally. We drove through Krakow and Warsaw (and got stuck in their traffic), marvelled at the buildings and the incredible mixture of new and slightly-less-new, with occasional extraordinary old churches and whatnot. And the visual clutter, ye gods the vual clutter. There are signs every couple of meters, often accompanied by speed cameras (very, VERY often) and 70km/hr signs on roads which should be at least 100. Then again, some of the roads are great, and some – and we’re talking main intercountry highways here – are, well, not. Not at all. Much ‘Jimny bounce’ was shouted, heh.

Still, we love Poland, and intend to go back sometime to see it properly.

Things we noticed, apart from the visual clutter – tonnes of housing going up which, in conjunction with all the roadworks, confirms what we’d heard: that Poland is doing very well.

Also, every 5km or so there would be a hotel of some description, often with a petrol station attached. Or there would be an amusement park. Or, and this had us giggling: bars at petrol stations appear to be a popular thing to build. Bars.


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