The traveller’s autumn

Two days after autumn equinox; twelve hours between sunrise and sunset; fourteen hours of daylight, and dwindling. Temperatures around fifteen Celsius. The season has arrived with on time showers — though it’s sunny today. Location: Kostrzyn, a town on the east shore of the Oder river, border with Germany. Behind me, Gorzów Wielkopolski with its antisocial dwellers; ahead, the monotonous German perfection. But I must confess that, for the first time, what with the Lithuanian devil on wheeels and the Polish heart of darkness, I feel relieved and happy coming out of the Eastern Block into more civilized Europe. Continue reading “The traveller’s autumn”

Gorzów Wielkopolski: Heart of darkness

It is said that, when the Polish came to Landsberg for repopulating the town, they found the empty dwellings as had been left by the germans when hastily evacuated them: furniture, belongings, pantries and even –in some homes– the meal in the plates at the table; as if a ghost town whose dwellers had suddenly vanished. Thousands of Germans had had to flee in a hurry at the approaching Soviet troops.

Gorzów Wielkopolski, antes Landsberg
Gorzów Wielkopolski, formerly Landsberg

Indeed, at the end of WWII the jointed governments of USA, URSS and UK, self-righteously redrawing the European borders in the Potsdam Conference, decided to generously gift Poland with a strip of German territory from which its inhabitants had been kicked out. In this strip of land was, among others, the town of Landsberg. The Polish renamed it as Gorzów Wielkopolski. Continue reading “Gorzów Wielkopolski: Heart of darkness”

Upon the trodden track

Here and there, through the layer of clouds, a few sun beams shine on the land, cheering up the countryside. Behind me, noise of passing cars and lorries. I’ve pulled to the shoulder for a moment, right after leaving behind Vilnius’ outskirts, and take the day’s first notes. I’m heading Marjampole for merging into the E5, one of the most important highways in our Union, neck of land between–so to say–continental Europe, on one hand, and the Baltic & Scandinavia on the other; the only route–and bottleneck–linking those two halves of our common space. At both sides of the isthmus, there lies the no-go zone, hostile and barbarian land: Russia-Kaliningrad to the west and Belarus to the east. Continue reading “Upon the trodden track”

Vilnius, Jerusalem of the North

I wake up with the optimistic idea that today must be better than yesterday, simply because it can’t get any worse: my adventure with the Devil on wheels has meant a minimum below which I don’t think I’ll fall, at least for the rest of this trip — which can’t be very far, by the way: I’m at the gates of Poland, and I guess in about two weeks I’ll get back home.
In order to guarantee myself a good rest and defeat my pathetic anxiety condition, last night I took a good dose of heavy duty stupefying pills; and it was long past noon by the time I woke up today… and only because the cleaning lady was banging my door. Since it was a bit too late for hitting the road, and besides it’s a rainy day, I chose to stay until tomorrow and play the tourist today.

La casa de las placas, un rincón en el casco antiguo de Vilnius
The house of plates, a nice corner in old town Vilnius

This time I don’t feel like looking for alternative places or the unbeaten track, so I just take the recommended route in the tourist city map. But, before starting, I get into a patisserie and indulge my senses into a honey-sweetened, ginger brewed tea (a regional speciality I enjoy better and better every time) plus a tasty vol-au-vent. Continue reading “Vilnius, Jerusalem of the North”

Nightmare in Lithuania

(Second part of The Devil on wheels)
Fear hinders our ability for thinking, analyzing, and acting cunningly. When I realize the lorry driver wants to chase me to death, my only reaction is to speed up and escape; run away on a straight line — as if a hen ahead of a fox. Only that, were it not for fear, I’d realize that I can tease and even mock my pursuer, precisely because my vehicle is faster and quicker than his, plus I’m in no hurry to get to any particular place.
But I’m scared and just speed up. Now driving 120 km/h, a somewhat dangerous speed for normal Lithuanian by-roads; yet not enough for getting rid of the lorry, which is close on my heels, some two hundred meters behind. I would’ve never guessed one of those machines could go this fast. Perhaps — alike the truck in The Duel — this has also a tuned Diesel engine; and alike The Duel, I’m being pushed to make some rash overtakings. Continue reading “Nightmare in Lithuania”