The Ford Mondeo wagon is a nice car. It's got sat/nav, air conditioning (a rare treat in this country), a nice stereo with iPod dock, and cruise control. This will be a nice break in public transit for a couple of days as we journey eastward for a detour to the Czech Republic for a few days.
I just wish I'd checked with the Hertz agent at the counter on how to put it into reverse...
I'm in a narrow lane, with a tight turn, trying to exit the garage in a station wagon that's just a tad too long to make it in one pass. The manual shifter says reverse is way to the left and up. Every time I try that, I end up in first gear and edge a bit closer to the wall.
Pretty soon, there will be no more room to edge.
I figure there must be a button or something to press but I can't find it. I can't find a manual, either, in this dark car in a darker garage. Finally, I see a small ring at the bottom of the shifter...lift that...and I'm in reverse.
Whew! that was a close one. Now, I just have to do this for five more floors in this cramped, little parking garage until I have to make a blind exit onto a busy, Berlin street.
I manage somehow and find my way back to Lindemann's Hotel on Postdamerstrasse...our home in Berlin...where the manager kindly let me park out back to pack our bags, wheelchair, and Tim into the car.
Before we leave, we notice that it would only be about fifty miles out of our way and only add about 45 minutes to our drive to take a detour through a corner of Poland. We hadn't planned on going there but we can add a checkmark to our list (we add a new place to our list if we do something significant there such as eating a meal...changing planes at an airport doesn't count).
Once out of Berlin, I see my favorite German road sign...a circle with five diagonal lines through it...that says there is no longer any speed limit. Yes, we're on one of the country's famous autobahns with little traffic.
The cruise control is set to 160kph (100mph) and, in no time, we've crossed the Polish border on a very smooth, well paved, high speed highway (Note: be sure to watch the video, above, to experience this).
Then we crossed the Polish border...
Suddenly, the smooth pavement turned into a cracked and potholed disaster. Speed limit was dropped to the equivalent of 45mph, and even that may have been too high. It felt like the tires on our car suddenly became square.
After about 40 miles of this stuff, my wife found a side road that would lead south about 20 miles to the highway we'd need to take back towards Dresden, where we'd turn off towards Prague.
This road's much nicer. Just a two-lane country road, it winds through some very nice scenery. My wife tells me the map shows a village up ahead. The village turns out to be Dabrowa Boleslawiecka.
The village has an interesting history. Before World War II, it was part of Germany. After the war, it became part of Poland and the German population was expelled so that Poles could move in. Despite the ugliness of the war, it's a picture perfect European village in the rolling, green, tree covered hills.
It's time for lunch. There's a restaurant in the center of town but parking there looks iffy as does the wheelchair access. We saw a little 24 hour, truck stop diner at the edge of town so we turn back to go have a quick bite there. There's plenty of parking and wheelchair access at the Zajasd Lesny.
We quickly realize we're not on the tourist trail anymore when the server does not speak more than two words of English and we speak even less Polish. Somehow, we manage to get our point across and, luckily, the restaurant has had the foresight to print one menu in English. Pointing will help at this point.
Tim orders a plate of cheese and potato pirogies, I get a plate of the meat variety. The plan is for each of us to eat half of the other's meal so we can have both. Letty goes with the pig knuckle and some red beet tea.
The guys get their pirogies and they're heavenly. Steamy little puffs of dough with such tasty fillings.
The star of the show, though, is Letty's pig knuckle. It's a softball sized mound of pork that is tender enough to slice with a fork.
Happily, she agrees to share some with us. The savory broth that covers this dish up adds to the joy our stomachs are feeling after this meal. This will turn out to be one of the most memorable meals from this trip...here, at a little roadside 24 hour diner, far off the main highway in a corner of Poland.
Before we venture back into Deutschland, Letty wants to visit one more town appearing on the Polish map, this time Boleslawiec. Expecting just another pretty Polish village, this is clearly a bigger town with old Communist factories and smokestacks dotting the landscape.
Some of those factories specialize in ceramics, a tradition in this town going back several hundred years, making this a hotbed for the product. My wife immediately wants out.
Tim and I pass the time in the parking lot while she shops for some plates to take home, picking up a nice little haul for only around twenty bucks.
Done with our side trip, we get back on a much smoother highway for the trip back across the border and on to tonight's destination, Prague in the Czech Republic.
Stay tuned for that adventure.
Copyright 2016 - All Rights Reserved
Photos by Letty Musick
Copyright 2016 - All Rights Reserved