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Cycle Tour Iron Curtain Tour, part 2, Klaipeda-Gdynia

Dag/day 5: Kaliningrad-Wyspa Sobieszewska

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Elevation profile Cycle Tour Iron Curtain Tour, part 2, Klaipeda-Gdynia

Added on 18 May 2019

on 25 Jun 2019

Cycle route metrics

ridden

Total distance in km

66

Cumulative elevation gain in m

210

Avg. slope uphill in %

0,32

Cumulative elevation loss in m

290

GPS track data

Information about rights to the gps-track data

Rights owner

Ottocolor

Rights characteristic / license

cc0: Public Domain no Rights reserved

Link to the description of the license

creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/

GPX file uploaded

by Ottocolor on 19 May 2019

Track points in total

457

Track points per km (avg)

7

Start/endpoint

Start location

Kaliningrad, Kaliningrad, RU (80 m NHN)

End location

Gdańsk, Pomeranian Voivodeship, PL (-1 m NHN)

ridden on

10 May 2019

Weather

Sunny and warm weather. Light southerly winds. No resistance from the wind whatsoever. Perfect cycling weather apart from a few drops of rain in Braniewo.

Temperature curve on 10 May 2019 10:0011:0012:0013:0014:0015:0016:0017:0018:0019:0020:0010°15°20°25°13° - 23.1°

Accommodation

Kemping nr. 69 ʺOrlinekʺ
Lazurowa 5
PL-80-680 Gdańsk

Remarks

Two stretches of the stage are not cycled. First a train ride from Kaliningrad to Mamonovo and then a boat trip across the Wisla lagoon from Frombork to Krynica Morska on the Wisla spit.

Travel report

The sumptuous breakfast in the beautiful restaurant was just able to liven me up and to address the challenge it was to take the morning train to Mamonovo at the Polish border. There was only one morning train and it was way too far to cycle to Frombork if I would make the single ferry departure a day there. The alternative was a long tiresome route with some climbs to Elblag and from there the train to Gdańsk. The latter I did not want at all, so it motivated me to make the train. So I concentrated my efforts to get enough food and coffee inboard, pack all my junk together, get the bike locked out of the basement, hang the luggage on it and ride off to the Southern Railway Station. The air was warm from the morning, and I sweated heavily during my labour. I am NOT good at hurrying, and it was anything but cozy. But I remembered to praise myself for being able to do what was necessary after the previous evening's events. The day of Victory wasn't to be followed by a day of defeat for me! So I trod a fast pace on the fortunately empty river promenade, then across the anniversary bridge and down a still road with many bumps. At the railway station I managed the security checkpoint without any trouble. Although the uniformed inspector was a very thorough chap and even wanted to see the contents of my small saddlebag. Other passengers complained about his zeal. Suddenly hell caught me, and I said out in loud, beautiful Russian, that we should all be happy that this employee did everything he could to shield us all from terrorists. The reaction did not fail. I'm good at Russian, but be taken for a Russian I can't, so there were a lot of embarrassed faces among the previously unhappy travelers. They just had been lectured by a Westerner. I felt a bit exposed, while I was reloading my luggage, because that kind of behaviour can also annoy people with big muscles and small brains, but nothing happened. Shortly afterwards, I hauled all my panniers off the bike again in order to wheel it up a rail at the side of the stairs onto the platform and of course hang them back on again up there. Now sweat was pouring off me. The train stood at the platform and would depart in five minutes. This close it wasn't to be missed. Needless to say, the luggage had to be taken off at the door of the carriage again. Unfortunately, there was nothing about bicycles outside the train, so when I had hoisted the bike up along with the luggage, I had problems finding a space in the crowded carriage. For the first time, I experienced some unfriendliness in Russia over my big load, but a couple of sympathetic citizens eventually showed mercy on me and let me park the bike reasonably well. I was close to lifting my voice the second time that day, but fortunately it was not necessary. It would probably have been completely out of place. Well, I tried to back the luggage and put it and my little one so that it all filled as little as possible so people could see I didn't just think I could fill it all. At the first stop, many people grew up so that it was stuffed like in Tokyo's metro during rush hour. People shrugged muddy at my giant reading and bike. But gradually the people rose again at the many bus stops, and shortly before the end station in Mamonovo there was completely empty in the whole cart. Well, the contrasts in Russia I have written about before. The station in Mamonovo was special. Say the least. The train held out on the bare track without any platform. Modern chatter, but not easy to do without a bike. Furthermore, there was very little space between the car door and a high wire fence. So it required almost acrobatic skills before the bike and luggage lay down on the rocks at the track. A few Russians showed me the way to the city, because it wasn't right to see. An old man said I should just go over the tracks. He had been doing this for twenty years, and no one had ever blamed it. As said so done, but not without breaking my front fender as I had to lift the heavy bike over a high rail. Luckily, no train ran. It seemed like this was the end of the world. I was reminded of a German bugger from the 70s: "There is one more thing to do". Now, I know, the singer meant Mamonovo. When the last track had passed, I unscrewed the remains of the front shield and found a trash can for it. "You're the weakest link. Goodbye," I thought, thinking of the quiz with giant woman Trine Gregorius as a hard but fair host. Now it was about finding the main road to Poland, but it was not that easy. My GPS behaved strangely, and it must have looked like I was full (yet), but on a very narrow and hopeful path where I could only pull the bike, I found the way. Mamonovo I wanted to see as little as possible. Once it was called Heiligenbeil and was in the middle of East Prussia, but now it was border town. Russia's westernmost city may have to be except for a few houses out on the Wisla headland. Finally out on the asphalt road I did well, but I could well have saved that. Because at the first border boom there was absnothing at all. For most of an hour, I stood at the forefront of a long queue and gazed at two border officers, a man and a woman who occasionally opened the boom for cars that came against me, that is, entry into Russia. The other road was apparently temporarily closed. A few cars in the queue lost patience and turned around. There is a border crossing more off the main road between Kaliningrad and Gdańsk. This was just a local transition. As a cyclist I did not have the opportunity, but figured they would soon open. After all, I had plenty of time for my ferry in Frombork to sail. And then I was finally waved forward. Of course, the cars overtook me, but at the next checkpoint I drove past them again. Without any embarrassment. I first met them on the Polish side after I had bought water in a completely empty duty-free shop in no-man's land. A Polish woman shouted loudly in Russian, however I did. I had overlooked a very indistinct stop line in the asphalt. I apologized many times in English and immediately retreated behind the line. Now she was kindness herself and immediately waved me back. However, she strongly admonished me to never drive without having been allowed to do so. I apologized again my clumsy behavior many times, and now she was almost nauseatingly friendly. Sometimes it is absolutely best to lie down and not for the future. Now I was "home" in the EU again, and thank you for that. Russia, goodbye and thanks for this time. See you. Sjtjastlivo! Good luck! It can only move forward, your old shed. The road to Braniewo was wide and the cars get, so now I could finally get through. Until I saw a Lidl on the outskirts of the city. Now it had to be foraged for lunch and dinner, and it was there. And then there were greased mats on a bench in a park. It dripped a little from the gray sky, but I didn't. Afterwards it went up and down a little towards Frombork. I greeted quite a few oncoming cyclists. Lovely! It is so great to meet other cyclists, especially those who smile at one, especially when it is women who do it. I think it rarely does the latter. Either because they do not dare, or because they are tortured without any sense of suffering. Well, Frombork approached, and I cycled past the campsite where my boys had camped on their way to Gdańsk for several stages while I only had today and tomorrow before the ship to Sweden departed. They had enjoyed half a day in Frombork visiting the magnificent cathedral, where the famous astronomer Nikolaus Kopernikus had conducted his groundbreaking research on the sun as the center of the solar system, the so-called heliocentric world view. Where the Almighty Catholic Church still prescribed the geocentric, that is, with the Earth in the middle. Unfortunately, I did not have time, and rolled past the church, observatory and lookout tower down to the harbor, where there was indeed a tour boat. She was just called Anita instead of Monika, as I knew she was called last year, when it was me who had organized my sons' cycling holiday. In addition, they had said she was leaving before that time, so I was skeptical and asked a Polish family for an excursion. Now the linguistic challenges were back, but the man now spoke a reasonable English. He went over to another boat with a sign with a telephone number and immediately called the number to hear about the ferry connection to Krynica Morska. Very friendly, but the boat looked as if it had been in the harbor since the days of Copernicus, and he didn't get any answer either. On the upper side of the fish restaurant on the other side of the harbor, they said rather sour that I was just waiting for Anita to leave. However, when the Polish family appeared, they got customers and were happy. Now I knew then, Anita left, just not when. Cool. Then I rolled over and took the luggage off. Then I was ready. And just looking up at the impressive buildings at the church hill. The sun shone again warm and there was no wind. Lovely. Shortly after, life came to life in Anita and a little while later, young people began to appear on the quay. They were on an excursion and had taken the boat from Krynica Morska this morning. So when we were all safe on board Anita, she left, even though there were ten minutes of scheduled departure time. Then it was clear why Monika had done the same thing the year before. When all chickens are back in the basket, it is departure. Then people who use the boat as a one-way ferry have to give way. Now I was especially glad I had skipped Copernicus.

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Rights characteristic / license

by-sa: CREATIVE COMMONS Attribution-ShareAlike

Link to the description of the license

creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/

taken over / edited on

21 Jun 2019

taken over / edited by

Ottocolor

Venter på ʺAnitaʺs afgang på kajen i Frombork/Waiting for ʺAnitaʺ to depart on the Frombork quay
Venter på ʺAnitaʺs afgang på kajen i Frombork/Waiting for ʺAnitaʺ to depart on the Frombork quay
Og her krydser vi sammen Wisla-fjorden/And here weʹre together crossing the Vistula lagoon
Og her krydser vi sammen Wisla-fjorden/And here weʹre together crossing the Vistula lagoon
Vidunderlig stille vej på Wisla-landtangen/Wonderful quiet road on the Vistula spit.
Vidunderlig stille vej på Wisla-landtangen/Wonderful quiet road on the Vistula spit.
Maltøl (ʺkvasʺ) og mysli med mælk på havnen i Katy Rybackie/Malt beer and muesli with milk on a quay
Maltøl (ʺkvasʺ) og mysli med mælk på havnen i Katy Rybackie/Malt beer and muesli with milk on a quay
Porten ind til koncentrationslejren Stutthof/The gate into the concentration camp of Stutthof
Porten ind til koncentrationslejren Stutthof/The gate into the concentration camp of Stutthof
60.000 mennesker blev pint ihjel bag ʺDødsportenʺ/60;000 people were killed behind the ʺdeath gateʺ
60.000 mennesker blev pint ihjel bag ʺDødsportenʺ/60;000 people were killed behind the ʺdeath gateʺ

The weather was really nice and it was great to sit on the deck and listen to the youngsters' laughter and singing songs. The sunshine was a bit hazy, and the Frombork Cathedral quickly disappeared in the haze. The crossing lasted for two hours, so there was time to let the soul dangle as I call doing nothing. In the middle of it all, I thought a cup of coffee would be nice, so I slid down the stairs to the tuckshop woman down there. Luckily I had zlotys in my pocket because even the ferry trip I had only been able to pay cash. I sent Natalia a friendly thought. After all, she had shown me the way to the advanced exchange office where one could change money to both rubles and zlotys. Spasibo, Natalia. On my way up on deck again with my coffee in a plastic cup, a small accident happened. I spilled coffee on my left hand. It was instant coffee from a kettle, so it was close to boiling hot. And in the toilet, there was only (very) hot water, no cold, so I bought a bottle of cold water, which I slowly let run over the hand up on the deck while gently slurping coffee with the other. None of the young people took notice of me and thank you for that. They sang energetically in English and jabbered in Polish. They made a very sympathetic impession on me. And totally inside their own world. Shortly before arriving in Krynica Morska there was a sail regatta on the Wisla lagoon. The ferry had to evade a few quity speedy sailboats, even though there was almost no wind. Good sailors then! On the quay it was lively as many parents greeted their children back, who had been a trip in Frombork. I could feel the rush hour on the road, but it quickly petered out. I trod well in the pedals, even though I had time. I just enjoyed to roll through the beautiful forest, so Kahlberg, now Krynica Morska ("Sea Well"), got no attention from my side. Other than that I found that the houses were beautiful, often newly built, and the old ones were well-kept. Ah, the European Union has nevertheless given the Poles some prosperity. Just a pity that they do not seem to appreciate it much as they in large numbers vote for politicians who disregard common European values such as the division of power. It is really sad that during the PiS party's (that's its name, really!) leadership during the reign of the Kaczynski twins and Prime Minister Beata Szydlo ("The Awl"), Poland has become so nationalist and narrow-minded. I thought about that while trodding to the west. I wanted to reach a campsite 18 km before Gdańsk, within the city limits, so I had as much time as possible to have a look at the city tomorrow. Where the Wisla spit ended, near the small harbor town of Katy Rybackie ("The Fishermen's Cabins"), I bonked. I had gone too hard, and suddenly the "petrol" was finished. Fortunately, I found a small supermarket where I even found my beloved "kvas", malt beer. I sweat a lot and spoiled my sunglasses in my hands when I lost them in the store. Typical with miserable motor skills when you are physically down. Well, I also bought a liter of ice-cold milk and steered the bike down to the harbor, where I experienced a real refreshment by way of muesli with milk, kvas in abundant quantities and biscuits, fruit and cake. It was very quiet down here at the harbour, while I sat chewing on the quay and looking out over the water with a rush bed right in front of me. The evening light was absolutely enchanting and I decided to ride slower now. I would easily make my goal on the Sobieszewska island. A ferry across a canal dug into the Wisla delta as its artificial mouth would take me there, and I didn't need to rush. That's why I soon stopped soon again, just after the village of Sztutowo. It was called Stutthof in German time, and in World War II there was a notorious concentration camp here, which today is a museum and memorial. My sons had visited the museum a year ago and had told me about their experiences and sent pictures. I tried to imagine the horrors of the past with that in mind and by reading on the boards at the road. The museum was closed now, and I had had no time for a visit, but I had a look through the "Death Gate". More than 60,000 people, most oppositional Poles and Jews, had been murdered here, not through poisonous gas, but through all kinds of torture, hard work, and poor nutrition besides humiliation and degradation on the part of the SS. Among other things it was the prisoners' task to test shoes for a nearby shoe factory, so the wear could be documented by the prisoners walking round and round on a specially constructed "shoe test track". Man has really weird ideas indeed. I also looked into the garden of the SS Commander's villa in front of the camp. It said on a board he had been a nice family person. While death and misery ruled in the backyard on his command. Scary! Outside at the main road a narrow gauge track ran. A board described how prisoners were taken from the railway station in Tiegenhof (Nowy Dwor Gdański) to Stutthof in cattle carriages and unloaded right where I stood now. On such a beautiful spring evening with birds singing in the trees this kind of horror is hard to imagine, and it is after all 70 years ago. But yet. It must never happen again!

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Rights characteristic / license

by-sa: CREATIVE COMMONS Attribution-ShareAlike

Link to the description of the license

creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/

taken over / edited on

25 Jun 2019

taken over / edited by

Ottocolor

Wisla-mundingen krydses på en færge/The Vistula mouth is crossed by way of a ferry
Wisla-mundingen krydses på en færge/The Vistula mouth is crossed by way of a ferry
Indkørsel til Camping nr. 69 på Sobieszewska-øen/Entrance to Camping no. 69 on Sobieszewska island
Indkørsel til Camping nr. 69 på Sobieszewska-øen/Entrance to Camping no. 69 on Sobieszewska island
Ydmyg aftensmad i det nedslidte campingkøkken/Humble supper in the run-down camping kitchen
Ydmyg aftensmad i det nedslidte campingkøkken/Humble supper in the run-down camping kitchen

I went fast to the west, but the cars began to annoy me a lot. They were not many, but went at very high speed, and the road was quite narrow. So in a couple of villages, I cycled through them instead of staying out on the main road. One place I bought beer for dinner at the campsite. I judged that the store was probably not open yet, and was proven right. But I should have bought bread for breakfast too. Soon I reached Wisla's mouth. A couple of cars and bicycles met me. Great, that meant that the ferry had just arrived, and a few seconds later, it laid off again with me on board. Last year it had blown so much that it had been out of service and Alexander and Simon had to cycle a large detour on heavily trafficked roads into Gdańsk. The river is vastly wide, one of Europe's great waterways in the style of the Rhine, the Elbe and the Oder. And this was a few kilometers from its mouth into the Baltic Sea. On the other river bank I was set ashore on a large island in the old river delta, Wyspa Sobieszewska, which belongs to Gdańsk city. And it was immediately evident that it is a rich city. Both houses and the road were in perfect condition. They built a broad cycle path of red tiles, which, however, had not been completed everywhere. A lovely welcome to the city, although it was not felt out here. Nature reigned in a large dune forest with sparse cottages and several campsites. Mine seemed completely abandoned, but the gate was open like the sanitary room and the camping kitchen. Well, good I had shopped for food then, as the restaurant was closed too. Again, I was unable to contact the camping warden by telephone. That had to wait. But there were also no other campers besides a few empty caravans on the periphery. A little girl was swinging in the playground. So much for life. A somewhat lonely camping life, but I enjoyed the peace and quiet. Again it was an open pine forest, I pitched my tent in, and again they had swept most of the cones away. After a much needed bath I cooked myself an even more needed evening meal in the primitive but large camping kitchen, pasta screws with meat sauce, washed down with excellent Polish beer. There was also a huge guild hall attached to the kitchen. As I stuffed myself to my heart's desire, it began to rain quite heavily on the tin roof above me. It came as a big surprise after the perfect and quiet sunny day. But fortunately I had closed the tent up on the hill top so I let it rain. Before I hiked over to my tent, it had turned completely dark in the woods, and it only dripped from the tree tops. Now it was time to snuggle and sleep the righteous sleep.

Information about copyright

Rights characteristic / license

by-sa: CREATIVE COMMONS Attribution-ShareAlike

Link to the description of the license

creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/

taken over / edited on

25 Jun 2019

taken over / edited by

Ottocolor