Until today everywhere we have been on this trip had some element of familiarity. We knew either at least a little of the language or some people or both. This was the day we would cross into the unknown and need to manage a new language and currency in unfamiliar locations. On top of that, at more than 500 km, it was to be one of our longest driving days.
Hotel breakfast opened at 7:00 am and we were there soon after, so soon that things were still being laid out. After a quick breakfast we grabbed our gear and headed for the car. Majella stayed with the car while I walked back to the hotel to return the parking notice, collect my €50 deposit, and settle the account. I was back and Majella was driving us out of town before 8:00 am. The weather was fine with a few clouds visible and low haze but the forecast for Warsaw was rain so we expected to see some change across the 500 km journey.
Traffic coming into Berlin was heavy but there was far less going out. Near Fürstenwalde, a little short of the Polish border, we got off the autobahn and filled up with fuel. We were not sure what to expect in Poland and thought it best to use the euros on my travel card while we could.
Crossing the border was a non-event. There were signs to slow traffic for the crossing and there was a post that could have been checking vehicles but we simply followed the line of traffic through the frontier and into Poland. I had thought to check the web for speed limits and other driving information as we approached the border and the large sign there confirmed that the autostrada speed limit was 140 kph. We had selected the fastest route with tolls on the GPS and it was not long before we came to the first of four toll booths. Two were take a ticket and pay at the end and two were pay to enter for a total of 90 zloty (about $30 AUD). The roads are newly built and in very good condition so the 140 kph seemed reasonable though driving at that speed we were still frequently passed by drivers obviously going much faster.
Soon after we crossed the border I noticed a sign for one of the service points advertising currency exchange so we stopped and exchanged some British pounds I was still carrying for zloty. That allowed us to pay tolls though I think they would have accepted euros for those. After about 2 hours on the road we stopped again at Poznan from where a parent of one of Majella’s school friends had come, hoping to find coffee but failed in that quest though we did find a market and wandered about there for a bit.
I drove out of Poznan and we stopped for coffee at the next service point. From there I drove for the next couple of hours until it was time for lunch. The best we could do for that was at a Burger King in a service point. Majella has vowed never to repeat that experience. She drove on from there and we arrived in central Warsaw at about 3:30 pm. Along the way the weather had done its best to match the forecast. That started with a few drops of rain but as we arrived in Warsaw it was raining steadily, though lightly.
I had booked the apartment through Booking.com and had received a few messages from our host about meeting to pick up the key and where to park since that is impossible in the street. We found a parking space in one of the streets she had suggested and walked to the street where the apartment was. That required umbrellas and warm clothing to deal with the wind chill.
We found the apartment building on Ullica Krakowskie Przedmieście, adjacent to the old town. Our host had arranged to meet us between 5:00 pm and 6:00 pm and it was barely 4:00 pm so we had hot chocolate and coffee in a nearby cafe and then walked back to the car to sort our gear. That used a little time and we spent the rest until 5:00 pm exploring the area. There are several restaurants within 50 m or so and a couple of supermarkets also nearby. The location is ideal for us.
At 5:00 pm we rang the bell for the apartment. Iwona let us in, showed us around, and left. Our apartment is in an old building but has been expertly renovated and has everything that we need, including a washing machine. There is a view to the street and when the window is open we can hear music from the cafes or buskers and the sounds of passersby.
After Iwona had left we scurried back to the car and drove to a parking space in a closer street that she had suggested and we had checked on our earlier walks. Provided I feed the meter before 8:30 am tomorrow we are set for parking.
Dinner was at Gośiniec Polskie Pierogi, just a few doors along the street. Majella had succumbed to the charms of the guy distributing advertising leaflets outside it when we passed by earlier. She was determined to try Polish dumplings, pierogi, in any case so it was a good fit. She had pierogi filled with spinach and garlic while mine were filled with pork, red beans and corn. The menu suggested soup as an accompaniment so Majella ordered a cup of the beetroot soup. She was going to have a mojito and I would have liked a beer but, despite those being shown on a well illustrated menu, the server advised us that they were not serving alcohol. We had to make do with the soup for drinks. Pierogi come in batches of 9. I managed to finish mine but Majella brought 4 home for tomorrow.
After dinner we walked to the supermarket to buy breakfast supplies, the beer I had missed, and some wine. We are settled now and hoping that the weather tomorrow might be better for sightseeing.