We left San Gimignano at eight Wednesday evening and drove without a serious stop until we got home yesterday evening. The journey was circa 1,800 km and took 23 hrs, of which 19 were driving and the rest trying to drink enough coffee to stay awake and eating eggs for breakfast somewhere halfway up Germany. It is strange, because of the surreal nature of such a trip that you have vague recollections of things that happened, like in a dream. The petrol station in Innsbruck at 03:30 where there was the tattoo-guy, the drunk woman and the equally drunk other guy (who might have just finished his shift?) that kept finding presents to give to Zosia, a biro, a kids games book…. Did that really happen?
In total we’ve driven 4,650 km since we left home and I shouldn’t really go on about it AGAIN but I will – Polish roads are a disgrace! The entire trip through Austria, Czech, Italy and Germany we have enjoyed driving on good roads. There have been trucks of course but they were not in our way, for the most part. There was traffic, but it didn’t hold us up for long. There were poor road surfaces but only on 2% of the roads and nowhere near as bad as here in Poland. There were roadworks, but when you have 6 lanes or more to play with they do not hold you up for long. With the natural exception of small local roads through Tuscan countryside and such-like, we’ve been able to drive everywhere at between 100 and 180 km/h depending on how we felt, road conditions have not dictated our speed or ease of travel.
Route was roughly – San Gimignano, Florence, Milan, Verona, Brenner/Innsbruck, Munich, Nuremberg, Leipzig, Berlin, Poznan, Warsaw.
The last part of our journey home was from Berlin to Warsaw. Frankly, we should have committed mass suicide and died in Frankfurt Oder. The pathetic excuse for a highway that lies somewhere between those points is what the Italians would call an “SS”, local speedway used for getting to the shops and back, NOT an international highway to get from one city to another. Two lanes? Who builds a new highway with only two lanes in each direction, other than the Poles of course? 50% of it with one lane closed for roadworks, the other 50% with trucks overtaking each other. And they had the bloody cheek to charge us tolls for it, three times 11PLN. When are they going to realise how third-world Poland looks in this regard? Berlin to Warsaw should take half the time it took us.
It is easy to become desensitised to the conditions on Polish roads but a trip like this really opens your eyes. I propose the entire Polish government be taken on a driving holiday around nearby Europe, including other ex-Communist places such as Czech, just so they can’t use that as an excuse.
If anyone is thinking of a similar drive by advice is to go via Vienna and Cieszyn, not via Berlin. Everything was pointing to the Berlin route being best – sat-nav, Google maps, many people we talked to but that journey from Berlin to Warsaw is as bad if not worse than coming all the way up Poland from Cieszyn so why bother driving all the way up Germany only to face that crap on the last leg!
Anyway, we’re back and it is very good to be back home and back in Poland (despite road comments!). The lush, unspoilt, Polish countryside is a joy to behold after so long away, as are the sensible Polish prices for food, drink and groceries. :)
A photo gallery and some further posts will follow when I have time, possibly starting this weekend.