We had enough Zlotys (Polish dollars) left to stay one more night in Poland. While riding towards the German Border I reflected on Poland’s comparison to the rest of Europe and I am very happy for Poland. What Poland accomplished since 1991, after liberation from the Soviet System, is amazing. Poland did not have a big brother like East Germany had West Germany. Poland had to do it all alone. Yes, with the help of the EU, but the EU only gave a proportional amount of money to Poland. Congratulations, Poland! You did well and you did it mostly yourself and you can be proud of your accomplishments. Sometimes I felt a twinge of loss when I rode through the former German provinces. When I went to school I was taught that these areas ARE German and that we will get them back, someday. Amazing how stuff like that sticks in your head when you are taught nonsense like this. What did I know, I was a kid going to school in Germany and the teacher is right, right? Hopefully people will learn, like I learned, that borders are only an indication of Government, not a line to be fought over. The history of Europe, no matter what country, is full of fights for ownership, beliefs and power struggles. I hope that Poland can keep her land and can keep her borders open so that all can come and appreciate her beauty.
We still saw a lot of Soviet System leftovers. We saw old Soviet made apartment buildings, falling down in disrepair. I noticed pipelines above the ground running alongside the roads and gasoline stations with the tanks above ground next to the pumps, rusty and not maintained. We saw farms that still use machinery from 50 years ago. Cargo is sometimes still hauled by horse drawn wagons and coal is delivered this way. Roads are patched to make them passable and while most are paved and super smooth, there are some that are still cobble stones. Poland is a mix of Soviet and Western Politics. It is walking away from the Soviet System, embracing Western ideals especially in the larger towns while small villages are still struggling with the Soviet heritage.
We decided to stay the last night in Kostrzyn, Poland, east of Berlin and then cross over to Germany the next day. Well, we rode around and tried to find a hotel in Kostrzyn. Wow, this town is exactly what I described above. All the hotels we saw where below par. Yes, there is a newer one right at the border but then we might as well cross into Germany. We tried to find any accommodations but all we saw were Siberia Style shops selling I don’t know what. The people grew up with this look and don’t know better, but for me this was the worst town I experienced in Poland.
So we decided to cross just to the next German town and find a hotel there. Good thinking, Hans, but… there is no hotel in the next town in Germany. It is getting late and we are riding south towards Frankfurt on the Oder when I spot Hotel on the side of the road. I stop and ask if they have rooms and the guy tells me, yes, come and ask the lady inside. Well, we parked the bikes, smiling inside to find this hotel with a restaurant attached only to find out that nothing is available, all taken.
Off we go further south along route B 112 and see a sign for Zimmer with an arrow. We have not used this yet, a room in somebody’s home. It turned out to be perfect. Safe place to park our bikes in their yard, within walking distance to a restaurant in an idyllic spot right on the river Elbe. Quiet at night and with a big bed. No footboards so I can really stretch out. Now who would have thought that the town of Lebus had a place like this? This town, by the way was mentioned in papers dating back to the year 1100. We are talking history. You would not believe this town. Nothing happened here, yet people live a life of contentment, an old man was walking his dog like he does every night, I suppose. Such a contrast to the way I live. They are totally content and we? We just visited.