Hilary had a bit of bad news today. Sunday morning, we lay in bed reading, Hilary scattering and shuffling the Saturday paper Guardian supplements, me on my Samsung Galaxy, looking at the Guardian mobile site. I saw there was a design show in Milan and an article about the top 10 chairs (established middle class the bbc called me). Hilary’s cousin lived in Milan and was a chair designer and she often wonders what kind of life he’s living so I drew her attention to it. None of the chairs were done by him, he’s not that famous a chair designer I thought, but she said to google and see if he was involved in the show. But upon searching we discovered he had died, only two weeks previously, of pneumonia in a Milanese hospital. He’d left behind an Italian wife and two sons with very Italian sounding names we learnt from his Guardian obituary, from which we also learnt he was actually relatively famous in European design circles. Hilary obviously a bit upset.
Got back from Poland a couple of weeks ago and have only now managed to put together the rest of this little video journal, enjoy! Best to start at the bottom.
Day Eight – 2012 European Coastal Path Trip
Międzyzdroje to Swinoujscie
The final day. About 10 miles to the border city of Swinoujscie, through thick woods (where I got lost again) and along the beach and finally along a rail line. Very hot day, hottest so far I think and the last few miles through the town, across the river on the free local ferry and then a half mile cycle path walk right behind the beach to the border, which is well marked and had lots of cyclists and walkers stopping to take photos. Journeys end. I felt a great sense of achievement in having finally done all of the E9 in Poland. Next year Germany!!
In fact, next hour Germany as the German rail system crosses the border and has one station in Swinoujscie from which trains leave and cross the border back into Germany immediately. Four hours to Berlin and on my way home.
Day Seven – 2012 European Coastal Path Trip
Wolinski national park
This morning I hired a bike (rather a crap bike) and cycled to the national park. There is a wide path from the entrance in the south of the town that goes 1km to the “ reserve” which is 5 zloty (£1) to enter. Finally saw the Bison, like large cows but 50% bigger, they looked a bit sad. Sadder even was the aviary with the caged white tailed eagles . The only animal to look even a bit content was the Wild boar, a strange sort of ur-pig you saw coming over to the viewing stand rapidly whenever a human appeared, and rootling around in the mud in a constant search for food.
Leaving the reserve I set off further into the forest a) to see if I could see any free wildlife (the guidebook insisted they were there) and b) to get to the beautiful lakes on the eastern edge and work my way back to the coast.
Eventually I worked my bike to the coast and found the local “viewpoint” half way along the National Park coastline, which marked the highest point on the Polish Baltic Coast, but at only 100 feet wasn’t very high. I could see the white cliffs of the approaching German coast to the north east, where I would be walking on my next trip.
Back along the main road into Międzyzdroje in the late afternoon. Watched the Italy v Germany semi-final in the same place as the previous night, only bar in town with Italians rather than Germans. Quite enjoyable watching Balotelli take the German Team apart.
Day Six – 2012 European Coastal Path Trip
Niechorze to Dziwnow , bus to Międzyzdroje
First big pack walking day. With full pack set off from Niechorze along the coast. Well trodden and popular coastal path with some small cliffs. Travelled through several reasonably well known (in Poland) holiday towns. The season still hasn’t started yet, but they are getting ready (lots of building work) and starting to get busy, particularly with German tourists this far west. Saw the oldest structure on the Polish coast, the wall of a church at Rewal, but all the towns were promoting each other, so it had been signposted all the way back to Kolobrzeg. Saw an E9 sign as well, only the second one in Poland, the other back in Władysławowo. Arrived in Dziwnow about 5pm very tired after 13 miles with a full pack, finally on the edge of the Wolinski national park, where the bison are.
Got a bus through the park to Międzyzdroje, which is a really geared up holiday town, with a pier and a park dedicated to Chopin, and found a lovely hotel on the front to stay in. Found a really nice Italian restaurant to watch the Spain v Portugal game.
Noticed I’d used up my data allowance on my Play sim. Back to the hotel, bit of a sleepless night because of rib tissue inflammation, only hurts when I’m lying down
Day Five – 2012 European Coastal Path Trip
Kolobrzeg to Niechorze – non walking day (sort of)
There is a military base after Mrzezyno so next morning I thought to skip along the coast to Niechorze and pick up the trail from there. more difficult to get to than it seemed. Got a bus inland to Trzebiatów where I was told I could get a bus back to the coast. I missed the first bus due to relying on word of drunk polish youth, but got offered a lift from the bus stop by two builders, stuck in traffic alongside me. They took me and one other young man to the outskirts of Niechorze (where he was visiting his gf) but we had a km walk into town.
I found the laternia and the model lighthouse museum and then found a room for 20 zloty (£4) for the night in a Dom Turystyczny (“tourist house”) I think is a bit lot like hostel accommodation, except weirdly it had silk sheets and your own bathroom. Spent the evening exploring the town which was surprisingly long, went to the museum and again had Italian.
Day Four – 2012 European Coastal Path Trip
Legs felt better today so I set off in the overcast morning to Mrzezyno. Comfortable forest walking for the most part. Occasionally I lost the path through the woods and was forced back to beach walking. When the really big storm came in I thought I might be blown out to sea, so got back into the woods as soon as I could. Lots of little holiday resorts, with about 2 to 3 km forest between each one. Kept walking through heavy showers, very well water-proofed and reached Mrzezyno about 3pm just before the return bus arrived.
Football day off so wandered around Kolobrzeg looking for an internet cafe all evening.
Day Three – 2012 European Coastal Path Trip
Koszalin, Kolobrzeg, Danish Football
Up early, sumptuous breakfast room, spattering of diners, mostly German, then off to the railway station to get a train to Kolobrzeg, similar sized city, but actually on the coast, 30 miles north west. Of course it’s Sunday so there is no train till 4pm!! Got to the bus station just in time to catch the coach from Warsaw terminating in Kolobrzeg.
Kolobrzeg was described as soviet style concrete high rise in the guidebooks, but although there were more high-rise than I’d seen anywhere else, they were quite colourful, looked well maintained and lots of people out and about. Of course it helps that the sun was out. Found a hotel and booked for another 2 nights, and then set off west along the coast to see if I could get to the laternia at Morska Gaski.
Long busy cycle path all the way out of town along the coast, lots of big modern hotels (one in which the Danish football team stayed during 2012) and a long walk by the lagoon with plenty of wild life. My legs were feeling a bit strained, so 4 miles out of town when the path veered south at a disused airfield I turned around and retraced my steps.
It started to rain on the way back, by the time I was back in Kolobrzeg it was pouring. Watched the England game with a group of Canadian Polish ex-pats on holiday while eating schabowy.
Up early , another colourful breakfast, paid 200 xloty for the two night and set off to walk to Dabki, in the right direction (west).
About a mile out of town I discovered there was another military base across the path. Quick reassessment of the days route and I grabbed a taxi to go down the busy road to Darlwowo and arrived at the bus station just in time to catch the bus to Koszalin at 11. An hours ride to what is quite a large city about 12 km inland, decided to base myself here for one night at the posh (and as far as I could tell, only) Hotel Gromada.
Still wanted to walk, so left my gear at the hotel and got a minibus back to the coast at the thriving holiday resort of Gmina Mielno. Very warm and sunny I headed off west again to the lighthouse at Sarbinowo about 7 miles away. Walked some of the way on the crowded beach, no one in the sea though.
When I reached Sarbinowo realised the lighthouse was another 2.5 miles. There are buses back to Koszalin from Sarbinowo, but I didn’t want to make another 5km round trip to the laternia, so that’s the first one I’ve missed, wasn’t on the itinerary for tomorrow either.
Watched the game at an Italian restaurant back in the city, outside under an umbrella in the pouring rain, just me and the staff
Walked from Darwoloko to Jaraslawiec (where I finished in 2010), eastwards, with the coast on my left, which was a new experience. Approx 12 miles of forest path, much of it paved for military vehicles. Weather was warm but close, saw the sun occassionally. Drizzling by the time I arrived in Jaraslawiec.
Like a previous trip the biting insects were out in force, my exposed legs were the perfect meal, it looked horrible. Blood smears and black bruises all over my calfs. Oh well.
Missed the bus by a minute back to Darwoloko ( I was walking without a pack to ease my way in), ended up getting a taxi driven by another mad man at over 100 miles an hour, took only a quarter of hour.
Watched the football at the same bar as the previous night.
Left Bristol early in the damp mist, arrived Gdansk Lech Walesa airport 45 minutes early due to a tail wind apparently. Waited one hour for the one hour bus ride to Gydnia. Grey shipyard town but I found a phone shop where I got a data sim for €5, 1 GB should last me the fortnight. Very overcast, got train to Slawno, about 2 hours and then shared mad taxi (the bus was full) to Darlowo. Walked the 3 km along the river bank to the holiday resort of Darwoloko, arrived about 5 local time.
Staying at pension Bljit (must check spelling) which I booked on the Net before I left, hosted by the very friendly Peter and his mother. 20 quid a night. Took a look around, I’d found myself in a fairly typical mid sized polish holiday town. Went down to the beach, all very busy. Watched the football and then off to bed. Jastarnia tomorrow.
I’ve done some daily videos (rough edits) which I’ll post but hope to improve when I get back. Not bad for video editing on your phone though. Whether I’ll be able to upload any before Berlin though, I don’t know.
I did the second section of my Thames walk a couple of weekends ago, one of the hot ones. Train to Swindon and then the bus to Cricklade again and then set off east this time along what was recognisably a river. Some other walkers (couples) I swiftly overtook. This is the first sight of the Thames.
First bridge of the day and I think the first bridge I’ve used across the Thames
First Swans I’ve seen
Very enticing looking pub at Castle Eaton, didn’t open for an hour.
The dog thought these haywains were some sort of hostile animal and wouldn’t stop barking at them