If you have been reading our past blogs you will see that we tend not to do a lot of planning. We do have a rough idea of where we are heading and what we want to see and do, but a lot of times we plan our next day or couple of days the night before. As you will read below our trip to the Open Air Museum was changed, our day in Lublin was unexpected, and our stopping spot for the next couple of nights were changed, our campsite in Przemysl had closed, as so it goes. This is the beauty of traveling in a motorhome, all we have is with us and we always have a place to sleep for the night, a place to cook and eat, a place to wash and we don’t have to look for a toilet.
Sometimes we read about a place or we are told by other travellers of a good place and we adjust our plans accordingly.
After lunch we set off having been in the campsite at Warka for two days. The next place we wanted to visit was an Open Air Museum on the outskirts of Radom. Our plan were to stay nearby overnight and visit in the morning but we decided to go to the Museum and find out some information first. We arrived at 2.30 and was told that the place would be open until 5.00. The website had said that it closed at 3.00, with plenty of time we decided to go then and have a look around. Our plans are flexible and that is the beauty of having a house on wheels.
For the next few hours we explored the Museum which was very well done with traditional buildings brought from all over Poland and reconstructed to form small villages. Inside many of the buildings furniture of the period and household items were set up to look as if the houses were lived in. There was also a large sheds which housed old farm machinery and equipment. We enjoyed it but the only drawback was we weren’t given any map to follow and all the signs were in Polish, obviously they don’t get many foreign tourists visiting. After finding out we couldn’t stay the night in the carpark and not really wanting to back track to another carpark that was overlooked by high rise apartment we decided to travel onwards and lookout for a likely place to spend the night.
We pulled off the road into a large carpark servicing a large restaurant set back a bit off the main road so after checking out if it was ok to park the night we decided to have a meal, which was more like a banquet then stayed in there carpark overnight. The people were very friendly, spoke English, had an English menu and the food was excellent. We ordered the platter for 2 which could have fed 4, we paid 75 zloty’s [16 euro’s or $26.00 Australian] which included a good tip and also we had a quiet place to park overnight.
Never trust what you read in the Lonely Planet. They had given the city of Lublin a bit of a “bum rap”, i.e. they weren’t very complimentary about the place and we almost didn’t visit. We were very glad we did and as our expectations were very low we were really surprized how interesting and lively the place was.
A large car park was right on the edge of the old town and we were greeted by two friendly attendants who seemed interested in chatting to us ignoring the line up behind us building up. For only 6 zloty’s we could park there for the whole day. It was a Saturday and the place was alive with activities. In the park they had activities ranging from tightrope walking between trees, a BMX track, climbing wall, skim board pool, graffiti wall and parcour training apparatus. Just outside the old castle there were BMX ramps and jumps and what seemed like a completion going on, and inside the walls of the old castle there was a skateboard ramps and stunt areas.
The old town was also buzzing with people everywhere. In the local churches we saw weddings taking place and bridal parties were out getting photos taken at various locations. In one of the small squares we had a small lunch at a Jewish restaurant before exploring more of the town. Later in the afternoon we visited the old chapel in the castle. The Holy Trinity Chapel is decorated with splendid Russian-Byzantine frescos and it was awarded a European Heritage Label. We could see clouds building up and looking threatening, and while we were exploring the chapel and other exhibits the sky opened up and it poured down. By the time we went back outside again the rain had passed and the sun was back out, we had timed it just right.
After a pleasant day in Lublin we headed out of town stopping to do some shopping, as on Sunday all the shops are closed. On the outskirts of town we passed the Majdanek Concentration Camp, this was just off the main road. You tend to think that they put these places in isolated areas out of sight but this place was on the edge of town for all to see. The Nazi’s killed more than 80 thousand people there during the war, it was a final stop for almost all, where they perfected their final solution on Jews, Poles and Russians. As we did not plan to visit Lublin, we also had not planned for a place to stay that night. We did find a nice quiet place behind a service station and restaurant and set up for the night. But alas a large truck parked next to us, this would not have been a problem but as luck would have it was a refrigerated one that would every 20 minutes or so have the engine start up to keep the goods cold. At 10.30 pm we set off down the road and found another parking area, this was a secure parking spot as there was a guard on duty all night. That was very reassuring except that in the morning at 7.00am the guard came knocking on the doors of all the vehicles and asking for the payment. It was only 10 zloty [$3.30 Australian] very cheap for a night’s stay but it was a little early to come around for the collection.
We arrived at Chelm early on Sunday morning [31/5/2015] and found an easy park. The place was very quiet and we headed to the towns one and only tourist attraction, the underground chalk mines. The people of the town would mine under their houses for chalk, this proved to be a problem as at times street would collapse and so the practice was abandoned in the early 1900’s. A tourist route was made and now a guide takes you through the tunnels explaining the history and showing you the various displays in the mine. One of the highlights is the mine ghost, who puts on a show at the beginning of the tour. I think it scared a couple of the children who were with us. Alas we were told this was the only part of the tour that we could not take photos, so we don’t have any spooky pictures. The guide spoke good English and would explain things to us when he had finish talking to the Polish guests.
After the mine tour we wandered through the town for a while and then headed off to Zamosc
As we drive through the less travelled areas of Poland we have only seen a handful of other motor homes, today we only saw one Dutch motorhome who gave us a wave as we passed each other, they were probably thinking the same thing we were, “we are not alone”. We arrived at Zamosc mid-afternoon had lunch and then napped for a couple of hours, Jenny did not sleep well the night before. We had parked in a large car park that was really quiet considering how close it was to town. It was not the one we had first intended to go to but when we saw how busy and close to the main road it was we were glad we picked the second option. As we sat napping and reading we could hear people walking past, stopping and saying Australia in Polish, it’s a bit obvious where we are from by the stickers and kangaroo sign on the motorhome. We didn’t venture out into town as we decided to have a quiet afternoon and night. Zamosc will have to wait until the next day.
After being well rested we ventured out early and we were in the old town before 9.00pm. The tourist information office was easy to find and we plotted a route and set off exploring for a couple of hours. The tour sent us out of the old part to a Rotunda which was part of the old defence of the town and was now a memorial, as during World War 2 it was used as a transit camp and execution place by the Nazi’s. Over 8000 people were executed there and outside there are cemeteries of some of the people killed during that time.
Back to the centre of town after the sobering visit to the Rotunda we enjoyed an iced coffee and a piece of cake before we walked back to the “Bunyip” and headed off to the town of Przemysl where two of our sources said there was a campground.
Plans changed again.
It was about 4.30pm when we drove through Przemysl to where we though the campsite was located. But alas when we arrived we had found out that the site was a campsite no longer and it was now a tyre shop. As we didn’t need any more tyres we had no alternative but to continue on and find a place to spend the night. About 40 kms into our drive we saw a Parking sign saying 3kms ahead and when we turned in to investigate found a pleasant spot in a national park, next to a forest and with a bar café nearby. I asked the owner if spending the night was ok and told her that we would be back and have some dinner there tonight. She spoke no English and I spoke no Polish but we got along fine and we spent the night in this quiet spot after having some Bigos ( traditional stew with sausage, bacon, cabbage and sauerkraut) and beer for dinner, for only 25 zloty [6 euros or $9.00 Australian]. Our misfortune in having the campsite closed turned out to be a pleasant evening.
Tylawa – small and friendly campsite.
On Tuesday morning we did some shopping at a Lidl on the way and arrived at the campsite around midday, and it was open and other people were there, a great relief because of the disappointment with the previous campsite. A group of polish people in three 4×4 vehicles were camped there and helped interpret with the campsite owner who spoke no English. The campsite is just a piece of the farmers land that has been fenced off with a small building where there are toilets, showers and a small amenities room. There are some shelters and a couple of fire pits for campers to cook and sit around. We stayed there for a couple of days catching up on washing and just relaxing in the quiet surroundings.
On the last night we were invited to join the Polish 4 x 4 people for coffee and cake. Ewout had been given a t-shirt that they had made for their trip. It has a map of Romania on it, a picture of the range rover and the words Poland- Romania 2015. We gave all the men Aussie hats and the two women a Koala each. Most of them spoke really good English and we spent an enjoyable evening chatting until late. We took some photos with the whole group and Tomasz will email us a photo as he had a tripod and a good camera. When we get it we will put it up on the blog.
Tomasz is a wildlife photographer, to see some amazing photo’s click on this link and go to his gallery. www.tomeksczansny.pl
This was our third trip to Poland and we felt comfortable straight away. There seemed to be more new cars and building work going on, signs that the economy is improving. The roads except for a few backroad bone crunchers are relatively good and the traffic was very sane. Many people spoke English to us, ordering at McDonalds, buying diesel, in supermarkets and most shops. A few times we encountered a language barrier but it was soon broken down after a friendly smile and some hand signals. We mainly took the roads less travelled and we only saw a handful of motorhomes and caravans on these roads. Because we took the route off the normal tourist trail we also had to improvise where we stopped for the night. At no time did we feel unsafe in Poland. The only problem we encountered was that we never really had a decent iced coffee, when we asked for one they served a drink resembling a thick coffee milk shake, delicious by not really thirst quenching. We enjoyed our travels through Poland and would highly recommend it.
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