A deserted canal,a castle and Gdynia,Poland

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July 13th 2013
Published: July 20th 2013
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The rain of yesterday had sorted of cleared but the sky was still overcast and the temperature remained cool leaving no other option but to stay in longs and sneakers.

We took a look at the lagoon as we left to drive south towards two attractions today hoping that at least one would work for us before we drove north to our next stay for 2 nights in Gdynia,north of Gdansk(formerly known in East Prussian days as Danzig).Had we had more time we might have taken a walk to explore the area a bit more but we wanted to get on in case we found we had enough time to do both the things on our list today.

First in our sights was the Elblag canal about 40 minutes down the road in a rural location.The GPS picked up where we needed to be and we arrived only to find the canal,at that point anyway,overgrown to some degree and the unique inclined plane, that effectively hauled a canal boat up to the next level of water rather than using a lock system usually found on canals,was in pieces on the side of the stretch of land it hauled the boat up.

The system of 5 inclined planes was constructed in 1844 and works by having the canal boat float onto a carriage which is then winched on rails over land.A very ingenious idea and it has been suggested as being one of the wonders of the world.

As we weren't exactly sure where the others were in the 80km stretch of the canal we decided to push onto the second attraction for the day,Malbork castle in the town of Malbork just 20 odd kilometres away.

The rain which had been off and on during the morning stopped as we arrived at the car park with a mind to buy a couple of hours parking,look over the castle and be on our way to Gdynia.

However the young woman in the car park ticket office was adamant that we would be 4 hours in the castle and she was quite definite that we would need all that time.Obviously she didn't know anything about being a 'speed tourist'.We don't hang around taking in too much information as you never remember it all anyway.The longest we have been in a museum or the like was at the Louvre in Paris and The Winter Palace,St Petersburg when we did manage to spend the best part of a day in each and we doubted that even the fine looking Malbork castle would be able to measure up.

Isn't it interesting how McDonalds restaurants are always where the people are even though they do look a bit out of place with a medieval castle nearby.However we welcomed the opportunity to get a bit of iron on board and a dose of chip fat that we had been missing now for a few weeks.

With full stomachs we headed for the castle which certainly is a commanding sight and it is little wonder that it is recognised as having the largest surface area of any castle in the world and is also the largest brick building in Europe.The castle was substantially rebuilt after being virtually destroyed in WW2 and the work that had gone into it to make it look like old was a fantastic job well done.

However it still wasn't going to stop the 'speed tourists' and we did the tour in just over 2 1/2 hours.OK we didn't take the audio tour that makes you stop at all of the points of interest the audio is going to talk about because as we said there is such a thing as too much information and you can never remember it all anyway.

We did however follow the audio tour numbers which were outside each exhibit and we could make out what most of them were all about and related to in terms of the history of the castle which goes back to 1406.The castle was built in the times of the Teutonic knights and over the years has been the home to Polish Kings.It has been in German and then Polish territories over the years such has been the way this western area of Poland has been occupied and ruled over the years.

With the sky overcast and providing little natural light to the inside and little in the way of electric light inside the castle rooms too there were not many good photo opportunities of the interior which was a pity as there were some beautiful hanging carpets etc that would have made good photos.

One of the challenges for the independent 'speed tourist' is to complete the route you want to when there are attendants on doorways and woe betide you if you are not following the right direction they want you too.We soon got used to that and just made sure we were coming from the same direction as the many Polish language tour groups were coming from.

At the end of the tour of the castle we found ourselves in a room attached to an outer wall with some amazing old farm 'machinery'and although neither of us are farming people we couldn't help but be impressed by the gigantic wheels and cogs etc in a grain mill from the mid 1800's and so well preserved.

It wasn't the same young woman on the car park gate when we got back to the car so we didn't have the cheek to ask for a refund for the unused car park fee as we were leaving before the 4 hours were up.

We headed back to the R1 crossing the Wisla River which we have seen in so many places during our time in Poland.The river exits the country into the Baltic through a delta area near Gdansk.

The state of the roads in places never ceases to amaze us and for a 2 kilometre stretch we bumped our way of a purpose laid cobbled road keeping our speed down to below 50kph to try and avoid shaking the car to pieces while the locals sped over at 70 or 80kph!

The road further on became a double lane highway and took us past Gdansk and onto Gdynia which is the main seaport for Poland hence the large number of distribution centres we passed on the by pass road.

Our accommodation was in a new purpose built guest house in an outer suburb with a kitchen we can use to prepare our meals.

Tomorrow we plan a visit to Poland's favourite beach holiday spot and then onto Gdansk to soak up some history of the Solidarity movement and its leader Lech Walesa and then onto the old town sights.

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20th July 2013

Bricks and cobbles
After visiting Malbork Castle do you have the feeling you are over red brick as a building material. As for the cobbled highway - oh boy does the car shake - only in Poland would you find such a road. We remember it well. We wondered if the road was designed by the Russians as a punishment for some Polish indiscretion and built using slave labour. Perhaps it is a form of slimming device after too much MacDonalds food.
22nd July 2013

Yes,we are hoping that buildings from now on are not red brick and we think that we should be in line for some variety. The cobbled road we think was a sick joke as a 'tourist attraction'

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