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About my visit to Poland in a van

25 Dec 2006 /  #1
My friend runs an express delivery service in Leeds. Quite often he has to go abroad to places like France, Belgium, Germany, Italy, and so on. Most times I accompany him, which is great because I am a pensioner and could never afford to go to other countries.

One day he called me to ask if I would like to go to Poland. Would I??!!! And off we went in his van. We travelled from Yorkshire to Dover where we caught a ferry to Dunkirk in France. From there he drove through Belgium and Germany to Berlin where we turned North to Stettin, then East into Poland. Our destination was a city whose name I do not know how to pronounce, Bydgoscz (we spoke of it as "By Gosh) I have to say we had a horrendous road journey to this city. The highway was quite narrow and in many places there was no white line at the edge of the road. There were speed traps everywhere, policemen pointing speed guns at us (at least we hoped they were speed guns!)

Because my friend is contracted to be at his destination by a certain time he cannot afford to stop very much and so he just carried on without sleep, just a quick comfort stop here and there. Eventually we came to "By Gosh" and realised we hadn't a clue how to get to the factory where he was delivering goods. The time of evening was around 10.30.

We stopped at the first gas station we saw, and he went in to ask directions. We had not one word of Polish between us, but he took his delivery sheet with him and pointed to the address. The people in the station spoke no English but luckily managed to convey that the place we needed was about a mile round the corner! That was a stroke of luck. Thank God it wasn't the other side of the city, because when he returned to the van we discovered the lights had failed! We had no alternative but to drive without lights, much to the disgust of local motorists.......

After we reached the factory and unloaded, my friend sent a text message to his partner in Leeds and he in turn informed the international Automobile Association, of which he was luckily a member. Two hours later a man drove up (he had no English either) and fixed the lights. We were on our way home, still without sleep and food. We stopped at on of the many roadside restaurants/cafes to order a meal. Imagine our horror to discover that Euros were not acceptable! We hadn't realised that zlotys were still in use, and so we went hungry.............

We stopped in a carpark for an hour or so to catch some sleep, then set off again. This time we had chosen a different route home, travelling down to Poznan then heading West towards Berlin. This route was much better. It was daylight which helped a lot and we discovered there were roadside places which exchanged money. So we changed some Euros and went into a cafe and had the biggest meal you ever saw!

By the time we got back to France we were exhausted and decided to spend the night there. Only to find that we couldn't get a hotel in the Dunkirk/Calais area as there were no vacancies! Another uncomfortable night spent in the van......

But despite the setbacks I loved the trip. It was the first time I had been further East than Berlin and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Hey, we might do it again sometime..........
Wroclaw 44 | 5,385  
25 Dec 2006 /  #2
Glad you enjoyed the trip. Stay longer next time. :)

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