25 July 2006: I opened my eyes around 7. Outside I was hearing continuously the splashing of water hitting the roof. I just didn’t want to believe that it was raining. Dark clouds were covering the whole sky, while it was raining for good. My emotions were almost the same: darkish and dreary!! The rainfall was a good excuse for me, in order not to leave, since I would really like to see the guys again and do an outing together. I was really amazed and impressed about the guys attitude towards me, a thing that I got to realize rather late, once time had already passed. My alternative thoughts would be to stay one more day in Alytus, where I could meet again the couple Suzis and Nida before leaving Lithuania for good. Finally, after calm thoughts I decided to leave Lithuania, putting a course to Lodz, a destination around 100 kilometers outside Warsaw.
From Vilnius I drove to the highway that was leading for Kaunas, according to the instructions Shakas gave me. Somewhere in the middle I changed my course and followed the road to Alytus and Marijampole. From Marijampole I crossed an almost straight line of 35 kilometers up to the borders with Poland. Crossing the borders, I followed only the road signs, not my maps and my GPS. The course was Suwalki > Augustow > Grajewo > Kolno > Warsaw. After 600 or so kilometers of driving, tremendous amounts of sweating and tiredness, I was a few kilometers outside Warsaw. I couldn’t understand why or how, but this time that I had followed the road signs instead of my maps, the road condition seemed a lot better than the one I used to drive up to Lithuania. Road asphalt in most parts was in a very good condition. The only drawback was that there were plenty of towns en route. Again, I was able to maintain a stable high driving speed during my way back. Once again, one thing that really amazed me was the attitude of the drivers, where everytime they saw me through their mirrors, they gave me a lot of space to bypass them – even though most people say that Polish people are not good drivers! I was actually seeing exactly the opposite!- So, one more urban legend for Poland and the drivers was brought down …
I reached the city of Lodz around 6 in the afternoon. After 15 minutes I managed to locate the IBIS hotel where I had seen from my map. I was frustrated enough, when I was informed from the reception that there was not even a single room available for me. “Now what?” I asked myself. That was the time that another great idea struck me. I noticed that at the national road, there were plenty of motels and pensions, right next to the road, in relatively cheap prices. Since the national road was very close to me, I tied my cordura jacket on the back, along with my luggage, wore only my helmet and gloves and started to find the motels and pensions. Indeed, after a while I managed to find the national road. I didn’t really like the first motel I saw, the second one was better but on the other side of the road, so I had to make a reversion, the third one was descent, the fourth … oops! End of the road! Without even noticing it, I was already on the highway (international road) and there was no exit to follow in order to go back. “Success again!!” I though! “A crazy Greek guy, with helmet and gloves, luggage up to the top and a t-shirt that due to the wind had become like a woman’s bosom shirt, driving through the highways of Poland! Things can’t get worst!” I mumbled.
A few kilometers further down, I found a gas station. I got myself a very tasty hotdog to keep me up for a while. Actually, considering my hunger that time, anything that I could find to eat would be tasty enough for me. Around 15 kilometers after the gas station, there was a crossroad with a small road sign for a village and beneath it there was another sign with an advertisement for a hotel. “Here’s my chance” I figured and turned right.15 kilometers later, I found the hotel. Its name was “Hotel Santin” and the price for one-bed room was 230 zlotys plus 40 zlotys for a private parking area, breakfast included, of course. Without even thinking it, I agreed. I did a very relaxing shower and went out to the city where I was, its name was Belchatow. I had the impression that I was at an expensive big village of Poland. Expensive houses, well maintained and decorated squares, expensive shops etc. After a while, I discovered that that town didn’t actually have anything to offer, except a nice beer house. So I sat down and enjoyed a fresh beer, while I was studying my logbook.
I returned to my hotel to have a lunch. I didn’t want to risk sleeping without eating, since I didn’t know the exact timetable of the local restaurants. Cost of the dinner was at 56 zlotys. When I returned home, I calculated the next day’s traveling program, where it would be Katowice > Ostrava > Brno > Vienna.