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Gdansk and Malbork

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Liquor Store posing as a service station

The first time we filled up with diesel in Poland was at a “service station” on the outskirts of a small town. We pulled in and filled up and when I went inside to pay the whole place was filled with grog. In the centre of the shop was a small pallet of beer, on the shelves behind the counter was the hard liquor and all the walls were covered with bottles of various shapes and sizes all containing alcohol. Even the fridge which was devoid of any milk or soft drink was full of assorted beer. The selling of diesel and petrol seemed to be a front for a liquor store. Very, strange for a country with a zero tolerance to drink driving.

The road to Gdansk – bumpy and lumpy

We left the campsite midmorning and headed along the country road towards Gdansk. We have two indicators that tell us when the road is bumpy, one is a cow bell from Switzerland which hangs on the sun visor. When this rings as it hits the windscreen we know the road is very bumpy. The other indicator is our back step, it has a buzzer which lets us know that it is down. The reason for this is so we don’t drive off with the step sticking out. When this buzzer sounds we know that the road is REALLY bumpy. The stretch of road from the campsite to the main road had both indicators sounding most of the way. A few things were rearranged in the camper and had to be sorted when we stopped. Luckily most of the roads in Poland are very good and there is plenty of roadwork’s going on to improve them.

Gdansk, Out first view of the old town, we were impressed.

Gdansk, Out first view of the old town, we were impressed.

The main street in the old town.

The main street in the old town.

Main stress looking back to the entry gates

Main stress looking back to the entry gates

Don't mess with this little guy, look at the head under his foot.

Don’t mess with this little guy, look at the head under his foot.

The market place in Gdansk, it reminded us of the one in Budapest.

The market place in Gdansk, it reminded us of the one in Budapest.

Gdansk

We had little expectations of what to expect of Gdansk, we knew it was a port town and the place where Solidarity started. Luckily we were pleasantly surprized by the place.
We arrived at lunch time and found the parking spot where we would stay while we visited the city. It is the carpark for the music academy and is a secure parking area with a security guard on duty, completely fenced off with a boom gate. Where we parked was a grassed area alongside other motorhomes who also stayed the night. The other advantage was that it was only a short walk to the centre of town, at a cost of 12 euros a night so we were happy.

Inside the Solidarity  Museum.

Inside the Solidarity Museum.

The vehicles the military used in the Marshall Law period

The vehicles the military used in the Marshall Law period

The entrance to the Museum. The building looked like rusty steel.

The entrance to the Museum. The building looked like rusty steel.

It started raining in the afternoon.Umbrella's out.

It started raining in the afternoon.Umbrella’s out.

Very old narrow street. The next day in the sunshine it was packed with people.

Very old narrow street. The next day in the sunshine it was packed with people.

Sometimes you just have to look up. Here is the lizard king over a shop.

Sometimes you just have to look up. Here is the lizard king over a shop.

A small gateway in to the old town.

A small gateway in to the old town.

Friends, Harold and Dianne had been to Gdansk a few days before and Jenny was in contact via Facebook. Their recommendations were to go visit the Solidarity Museum, take a ride on the Tram ferry and eat at the Neptune Bar in the main street. We thought if it didn’t work out we could always blame them, it did work out and we are grateful for their advice. The first afternoon we spent exploring the streets of the town and eventually making our way to the Solidarity Museum. The museum was a bit hard to find but once there we spent a few hours wandering through the various halls and taking in the exhibition. I won’t go into all the politics of the museum look it up if you are interested, but I will say that it was an impressive building and the exhibition was well done.

The port of Gdansk taken from the taxi ferry.

The port of Gdansk taken from the taxi ferry.

Ewout on the taxi boat.

Ewout on the taxi boat.

Ewout patting the lion. Luckily he was very friendly.

Ewout patting the lion. Luckily he was very friendly.

Pierogi for lunch. Traditional Polish food.

Pierogi for lunch. Traditional Polish food.

In this street they had many different downpipes. This is of a beetle, others were elephants, owls etc.

In this street they had many different downpipes. This is of a beetle, others were elephants, owls etc.

Before heading back for the night we decided to try out the Neptune Bar, a strange name for a place that doesn’t serve alcohol. We arrived at 7.20 and the sign on the door said it closed at 7, despite this they ushered us in and were happy to serve us and we ate our meal as the staff we getting ready to close up. As we were the last customers for the day I think they loaded up the plate as it seemed like a bigger than normal serve. The food was traditional Polish fare and was cheap and filling.

The next day the weather was fine and sunny so we took the tram ferry to the port of Gdansk, on the boat we sat next to Dutch people who had many relatives who live in Adelaide and who they had visited several times. The rest of the day was spent taking in the views of the town in-dispersed with coffee and cake for morning tea and some pierogi [polish dumplings] for lunch. Gdansk was a charming town and worth the visit.

Malbork

In the afternoon we headed off towards Olsztyn but looking at our map we saw the place Malbork circled and a note saying “castle”. Leo one of our German friends had told us that there was a castle there built by the Crusaders. We are definitely suckers when it comes to castles and we headed for Malbork arriving there mid-afternoon. A campground was situated just across the river from the castle and we parked up, then after dinner took a walk to the town and looked at the castle from the outside.

The Malbork castle taken from across the bridge.

The Malbork castle taken from across the bridge.

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Inside one of the courtyards.

Inside one of the courtyards.

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This was taken through glass and inside. Tasting out the new camera. I think it worked out well!

This was taken through glass and inside. Tasting out the new camera. I think it worked out well!

Malbork Castle

The castle is big, really big, you could say massive or enormous, I hope you get the picture!!
It is the biggest brick castle in the world and only a small part of it is open to the public, even so it took us three and a half hours to follow the guided tour to 38 different places. Being castle aficionados [we’ve seen a few] we were duly impressed and rated it as one of the best we have seen. The photos will tell a better picture then I can describe. Back at the campsite we rested up, then filled the water tank, emptied the toilet, put out the rubbish, folded and stored the solar panel, and then head off on the road again. “On the road again” not that Willie Nelson song again ahhh!!!

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Castle kitchen.

Castle kitchen.

A picture of the castle after World War 2 , since then it had been restored.

A picture of the castle after World War 2 , since then it had been restored.

Ewout at the beginning of the audio tour.

Ewout at the beginning of the audio tour.

Some of the rooms were furnished.

Some of the rooms were furnished.

This is where you wash your hand before going into the dining room.

This is where you wash your hand before going into the dining room.

Our overnight stop was in the town of Ostroda where we found a quiet carpark next to a hotel situated on the lake. The next morning we headed to Olsztyn, this is the town where our German friends the Motzki’s come from. The town centre had a small castle and we spent a few hours walking through the old town and having the customary coffee and cake. I must add that we only buy one piece and share it.

The town of Olsztyn. Nice sunny day to be out sightseeing.

The town of Olsztyn. Nice sunny day to be out sightseeing.

Biggest record player I have seen. Note the wheely bin nearby.

Biggest record player I have seen. Note the wheely bin nearby.

The castle at Olsztyn. Small compared to the one at Malbork.

The castle at Olsztyn. Small compared to the one at Malbork.

Our next destination was a couple of hundred kilometres away and we decided that being Sunday we would leisurely cruise the back roads. Our travels took us through Grunwald only a small place but where a significant battle took place over 600 years ago which holds some importance in the history of Poland. 70.000 people tried to hack each other to death trying to wrestle for the right of ownership. There are a few monuments, a small museum and plenty of stalls selling souvenirs. It was not very busy and we had some lunch, went for a walk up to the monument and drove until we found a place to spend the night, off the road in a town called Brodnica.

The Monument at Grunwald. This is where the battle took place.

The Monument at Grunwald. This is where the battle took place.

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