The holiday month of August was in full swing, Polish holidaymakers were heading to the beaches to enjoy the hot summer and we were on our way to the Baltic coast. It became much more difficult to find accommodation and close to the coastal towns, it was impossible to walk at the beach, as it was far too crowded.
Since we started hiking in Poland, we were following local trails which are part of the E9. On days 102 to 108 of our hike, they were taking us in a zig-zag between the beaches and the countryside, so the sights were very different those days:
After the three-day break, we started our hike in Mrzezino. Soon we were walking along the coast again; with an excellent view of the calm waters of the Bay of Puck and the long-stretched peninsula Hel in the background. We arrived in Puck, a cute town with a colorful beach life and a pretty market square. Later we found out that the German name of Puck is “Putzig”, which means cute.
From Puck, we continued to the Baltic beaches on day 103. This was a day of great encounters and our introduction to the Polish beach towns in summer time, but let’s take one step at a time.
After a few kilometers, we had to cross a busy road to get to the cycle path on the other side. While we were still waiting for the right moment to cross, a cyclist stopped to wait for us. We had a nice chat with Mateusz, who was on his way to work, but wanted to get to know this crazy hiking couple.
We all went our way and when we were passing through a small village and taking pictures of the church, a gentleman called us from inside his garden. We soon agreed that our common language was German and Mr. Józef asked us inside for a glass of juice and an incredible history lesson. Showing foto albums and many documents, he took us on a journey to his life under German, Russian and Polish rule; as a soldier in different places in Europe and Africa during WWII; until the life of his children and grandchildren in a democratic Poland.
Back to the present, we continued our hike and shortly afterwards met a nice couple on bicycles on their way to Hel (this pun is too good to be missed).
A bit later, in the crowded beach resort of Władysławowo, we found real hell: Masses in the streets, people almost fighting for a spot at the beach – and we with our big backpacks trying to make our way through.
When we had finally managed to cross the town, we had our first encounter with a Polish hiker. Mark was walking along Poland’s coastline from the other side and gave us some great tips about what was lying ahead of us.
In the evening, we arrived at the just slightly calmer beach town Jastrzębia Góra, where we found a spot at a camping site.
The E9 led us away from the beach again on day 104 and we were walking through forests and alongside fields once more. We arrived in the idyllic town of Krokowa and as it was our 6 years anniversary, we decided to celebrate in great style and asked for a room in the castle! The receptionist didn’t flinch when she saw two backpackers entering the lobby of her noble hotel and offered us the last available room. We quickly calculated how many camping nights were needed to balance the budget again and decided to go for it.
Here some impressions from Castle Krokowa:
The next day, we reached the beginning of Szlak Nadmorski, a coastal trail marked in red and white, which would take us back to the seaside and over 378 km all the way to the border with Germany!
We enjoyed the well-marked trail close to the coast and through quiet forests. The calm was only interrupted when we had to walk through busy beach towns with an impressive number of stalls selling waffles and ice cream, fast food, smoked fish, beach articles and all kinds of clothing. In the evening, we could choose between pizza (budget choice) or fried fish (sold by weight, so we never knew how much the bill would be – usually higher than expected) with surówka, a tasty mix of cabbage salads.
Needless to say that we slept the next two nights in our tent in more or less charming camping sites.
On day 107, as on many hiking days at the Polish seaside, we started with a sweet (Moiken) and savoury (José) bread bought from a small white hut, in which the salesperson tried to fight dozens of wasps flying around the sugary cakes. Our destination was Łeba and we were already looking forward to a rest day the following Saturday, day 108. We arrived in the afternoon of a fabulous summer day and knocked at the door of nearly every pokoje (room rental) in Łeba, without any success. We decided to first sit down for lunch, then send our magic weapon José to look for a place. He discovered a tiny holiday house in the backyard of a building at the main road. The landlord did not speak a word of English, but managed to explain that we could use the shower in another guest’s apartment at a fixed hour of the day. Later we discovered that the whole country traveled to the beach that weekend, as it was a national holiday and the weather was exceptionally good.
We used our rest day to relax, walk around in the town, treat our bellies and marvel at the crowds filling the streets and the harbour area. Soon we would have some perfect peace and quiet again…