Driving in Poland: Trucks, Trees and Tractors.

This is part two of a tale about driving from the UK to Estonia. If you missed parts one and two, and want to start from the beginning, it can be found by clicking this link: Road Trip From the UK to Estonia.

Day Two: We leave Berlin bright and early, we are heading for the border of Poland. That doesn’t take too long and pretty soon we are in Poland.

Poland: Trucks, Tractors and Trees.

This route through Poland is the main pass through route for road freight to the rest of Poland, Belarus, Kaliningrad, Ukraine and the Baltics. As you can imagine, it gets very busy and is trucks, trucks and more trucks.

The EU paid for a new motorway that is now several hundred miles long.

It is a pay road, and you now pay five times along its length, which varies between 14 and 37 Zloty at each point.

Bringing damaged cars up to Poland and Lithuania from other parts of Europe is still big business.

You see scenes like this every few minutes. And the empty transporters coming back on the other side of the carriageway to collect more. It has always been this way. Almost every used car in this part of the world arrived as a damaged one from western Europe.

When driving through the towns and villages, there are these religious thingies in front of many of the fields of crops.

I can only assume they are hoping god will bless the crop? I dunno. Some are little crosses with a few flowers. Some are more extravagant affairs like this. Some are huge monstrosities with floodlights and Madonnas – looking more like graves than shrines. This is a Catholic thing, not an Orthodox thing.

Starting in East Germany, and right through Poland, there is a lot of graffiti.

Its under every motorway bridge, on garages, public areas – everywhere.

Some are intricate cartoons, some is very artistic, and I half wonder if some of it might have been paid for to brighten up the dull concrete.

The usual roadside sellers can still be found.

Don’t ask me how this got here………..

It made me chuckle so I put it here.

It took around 12 hours for me to get where I was heading for the night: The Kamiza Hotel. The hotel is nice, it is very, very cheap, and as one might expect, service is almost non existent. Well, this is Eastern Europe. They haven’t grasped service yet.

Tomorrow is still about three hours driving in Poland before the border of Lithuania; the entrance to the former Soviet Union.

A Drive to Estonia – Part Two.

This is part two of a tale about driving from the UK to Estonia. If you missed part one, and want to start from the beginning, it can be found by clicking this link: Road Trip From the UK to Estonia.

We pick up the tale in Belgium, just after a scheduled stop at the famous Tobacco Road.

So off we go through Belgium towards Holland.

Through the corner of Holland and then we hit Germany. You can see the blue sign on the right that is the German border.

Germany is where road travellers from all across Europe start to be seen.

The driving standard from Germans is generally very good. The roads are good and I love the no speed limits on many of the autobahns.

Of course, not everyone driving there meets the German standard. I stopped off for a coffee, and on may way out of the service station, a truck made me do an emergency stop as he totally disregarded my right of way. And my horn.

The further east you get, size of vehicle dictates right of way more so than road markings.

As he pulled ahead, I looked to see where this truck was from, betting myself it was an FSU truck. No German driver would have done that. Sure enough, it was a Russian truck.

As I passed him, predictably, he was on his mobile phone.

Progress through Germany is quite quick. It can be an interesting place to drive through.

Germany is an odd place in many ways (as I will explain on the way back), but the road system is pretty good if you can avoid the horrendous traffic jams that can happen.

Berlin, where I am heading today, has a ring road that is notorious for rush hour traffic jams. The object of this day is to get to the edge of Berlin avoiding the rush hour car park.

So far so good, and eighteen hours after leaving Manchester, I arrive at my first stop for the night. The Fire Station Hotel in Brandenburg. They have a site here: Feuerwehrhotel.

A very long first day; eighteen hours is a lot of driving. But that’s the longest day behind me.

Road Trip From the UK to Estonia and Back.

I recently had some business to do in Estonia. Flying there wasn’t really an option as I had some bulky stuff to transport. Additionally, I wanted to buy something there that is commonplace there but overpriced in the UK: A sauna.

So, I decided to drive there from Manchester to Tallinn.

I have done this drive many times since 1998, and much has changed in this time. On this journey, I decided to take my eight year old lad with me and plan to grab a few pics along the way.

This is the route.

The vehicle of choice is a 1998 Mercedes Sprinter van with 155000 miles on the clock.

My first choice this trip was taking the less miles route through Scandinavia. However, the Newcastle – Scandinavia ferries seem to all be cancelled.

I wanted to take my lad over the Øresund Bridge, and in doing so, getting to Estonia takes only 400m miles driving and two boats. I spent two days Googling and researching. The only other boat that offers anything is the one from Northern Germany to Riga. But that is €785 and takes 26 hours. By road takes 24 hours and costs half that including hotel.

After some research, it seemed that by the longer road route, it was cheaper and saves time.

The van does 90mph at a push (and that is a push). That is 145 kph. Many limits are 90 kph. Yup, I expect to meet the cops………….

OK, now back home, so I can gather my thoughts a little.

Left Wednesday night about midnight. Its about five hours with no traffic, over the Pennines and down the M1 from the North, around London, and off towards the white cliffs of Dover to Folkstone where the Channel Tunnel is.

We hit Folkstone about 5.30 am and I started imbibing coffee there as I knew I had a much longer day to come.

Around 7am French time, we emerged in Calais (France) and headed north for Adinkerke in Belgium.

Why Adinkerke? Why, thats where Tobacco Road is.

I’ll quote from Wiki to explain what Tobacco Road is for those who don’t know:

Belgium has lower taxes on tobacco than France or the UK; as Adinkerke is the closest Belgian town accessible to the French ferry ports, it attracts many French smokers and British booze cruisers every day to make the trip across the border to buy cheaper tobacco. Adinkerke has the unusual claim to fame of having the greatest number of tobacconists per capita of any area in Europe.

Many shops opened around the clock, which provided the advantage of offering other shops and fuel services that would not normally be found in a town of such a small size. While this may have proved beneficial to travellers, local people were inconvenienced by the constant traffic, so the local Mayor has recently ordered the tobacco stores to close during the night.

Due to the smuggling associated with reduced tobacco duty, it is not uncommon for the E40 to be closed at night at junction 1 and French and Belgian police question drivers and passengers of vehicles on the N34 road over the motorway. Many of the tobacco shops have closed now due to declining trade as a result of the imposition of quantitative limits on tobacco purchases being brought into France and Britain from Belgium, regular tobacco shoppers travelling to and from Britain have had their purchases seized by UK customs and been warned about future travel to purchase excise goods.

Duly refreshed by eggs, bacon and coffee, availing myself of a tankful of cheap Belgian diesel, and buying some bargain cartons of smokes, it was time to hit the road again heading through Belgium and Holland with the navigation programmed for Brandenburg on the outskirts of Berlin in East Germany.

International Driving Permit: Tutorial

Police officers are not trained in Law or International Law! They operate under police procedure and have been given the power of ‘discretion.’ Many officers have no knowledge and have never even seen an IDP. Some may even tell you that an IDP is not valid. Never argue the subject of validity, as police officers hate to appear ignorant. If anything, simply state that the IDP was purchased in the ‘country of issue’, and to the best of your knowledge and belief it is perfectly lawful. Tell the officer that (if need be), you will save your arguments for the judge (if a citation is to be issued.)

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