24.01.2017 - 24.01.2017 1 °C
If you want to have an idea how it feels to be on the road during probably the most challenging bit of the trip ... check that youtube link!
I must have had an unusual good moment when I decided not to go for the original crazy idea to do Sopot to Latvia in one go, which was calculated by the GPS as +11 Hours..
As it happens, the odd 450Km from Sopot to Marijampol took me 7 Hours.
Whilst German border to Sopot were referred to as "provincial roads", today there were a lot of "village roads".
Guess I should be happy that there was no fresh snow as I sincerely do not know how the car and me would have coped....
Unfortunately I do not have a sample photo of the worst bits. Most of the time there were simply no shoulders to stop and take a reference picture!
But there is hope!
As far as 10y back Poland said that a highway from Trimiasto to Warsaw was a priority and they are now working at it.... (left bit).
with nice results - notice the 125Km speed, pity it was only 10Km long or so.
Another "progress" ahead of everything else. Note the sign on the right!
Next to the local roads, my biggest challenge today was my otherwise trusted GPS! I suspect it to connect to Russian sattelites - possible after what Putin is already doing in USA with Trump.
Sorry it is so blurry but you can see it sends me on the white line from Poland to Lithuania closer to the coast. Believe me, straight into Kaliningrad, or USSR. Would have been quite an experience to show up at the border without visum and being turned back with a few AK47.
(Kaliningrad was taken by the Russians in 1945 with the help of Allies as per Potsdam Conference. It used to be called Koningsberg and was in Prussia. Kalingrad is an ice free port in the Baltic and it will stay forever Russian now. They need the strategic access to the Baltic and Northern routes. As much as they took Crimea to control the Black Sea and the Bosphorus. It is 15,100Sq Km, or half the size of Belgium).
Lucky I felt uneasy from the start and checked at some petrol station the correct road as per Google maps. Had to detour to the East and force the GPS. Halfway on the road the traitor GPS found the right route. No more risk of of being captured by some Iwans!.
Eventually made it to the Lithuanian border. Sign reminded me again that Russia is only some 20Km away (at least the Kaliningrad enclave).
On the subject of GPS, it really had a bad day. At the time of crossing the border between Poland and Lithuania (in fact with Schengen there is no need to stop any more, same as Belgium to Netherlands) it steered me 100m off the main road into a side parking and back onto the road. When joining the road, there was a mobile Lithuanian border patrol team. He must have thought this strange that a foreign car makes a side move, so I had the pleasure of handing all papers and some explanation. At the end it was OK but you know there is always a small worry that something may be not fully in order. Adding the Babylonian language handicap, it would have been nice to have missed the whole experience. I hope the GPS behaves again from tomorrow...
I nearly forgot. For a good part, the trip took me through the Polish - Masurian region. Economically a bit behind, sparsely populated but for that reason very nice views. Either large plains or large woodland area. Most particular and famous are the 2000 lakes. A great summer destination if you like nature, fishing and walking.
At first I was not so aware of the lakes as they are not necessarily next to the road. But early in the trip I noticed in some villages - repair shops for motor boats. Looked funny having mostly watched fields and forest up to that time, but the famous penny dropped eventually.....
So tonight a rest at Marijampole - some 50Km into Lithuania. Was already dark when I got here so double luck to leave the road "early".
No clue what is the claim to fame of this place. Checking Wikipedia; light industry, regional capital - but only abt. 48.000 people. It looks to me that it is simply at the crossing of three countries = it has apparently the largest secondhand car market of Europe, you figure it out.
A last particular thing. Just past the Lithuanian border, never seen as many large petrol stations in 1 Km. At least 10, and same brands doubling up! Well, became very clear as on the 50Km on Lithuanian roads, trucks were one behind the other. So like Livingston (nearly) found the source of the Nile, I have found the source of East European trucks.
So that was my day - driving, driving and yes, driving.
Looks like a job tomorrow to check the colour of the car under the dirt......