Szklarska Poreba Travel Blog

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It was only on the (bumpy) bus from Wroclaw to Sobotka I felt my journey had truly begun. I felt a bit nervous about it for the first time after leaving home, and it felt good. Not that I hadn`t had a good time before, but this was the first new place I would visit. This was where vacation ended, and travel begun.

This is my first time in Poland when I feel my Polish is actually adequate for getting around. I compare this trip to when I first came here 4 years ago, and realize it`s not just the language thing, it`s also that I`ve done a lot of growing up since then.

Every dark cloud has a silver lining. A few seconds after I got of the bus from Jelenia Gora to Szklarska Poreba, it started raining heavily. It had rained all night and most of the morning, so I wasn`t surprised, just slightly annoyed. Couldn`t it at least have stayed dry until I had put up my tent? According to the map I`d bought in Jelenia Gora, the nearest campsite should be like a 5 minute walk from the bus station. As I crossed the bridge, I saw a sign saying it was 50 m away, and then a bit further a sign that seemed to be pointing into someone`s back yard. Nothing in that back yard indicated it was used as a campsite though. No reception office, no tents, no caravens, not even much grass to camp on. All I saw was a shed with an encient car, and a dog (tied up, luckily) barking at me. I stood there for about 5 minutes, expecting the dog to work as a doorbell (not seeing the real thing) if this was a place where they wanted to do business, but noone came out. Maybe the sign had not been pointing into that yard after all, but beyond it? I walked around the block twice, looking for anything that looked like a campsite, then returned to the bus station where at least there was some shelter, smoked a cigarette and considered my options. I had by then seen many hotels and signs for private rooms. Should I just try some of those and ask how much it cost? There were plenty of other campsites but the rain seemed to be getting more vicious by the minute, so that didn`t seem very attractive to me anymore. Rough Guide said the tourist office could arrange a room at a decent price, so I decided to try that first. All they told me however, was that I should try pension X for cheap rooms, and that it was that way. Walking that way, I saw a sign for a pension/internet cafe with free internet access for guests. I didn`t immediately see the other pension, so I decided to try the internet one. A single room turned out to cost 50 zloty (about 11 Euro) a night, which was more reasonable than I had expected. Now a single apparantly means that I get to sleep in the living room and the main bedroom remains locked, but considering that includes my own bathroom, fridge, water cooker and balcony (great for drying laundry, I`ve been doing a load in the sink - which has a plug! - every evening so now I have lost of clean clothes again), as well as a microwave and TV I haven`t used, and let`s not forget about the unlimited free internet access, I`m not complaining. I`m glad it rained and that campsite must be located in another dimension. It hasn`t rained since, by the way.

I`m not sure which are most annoying, hordes of loud elderly Germans not even attempting to utter a single Polish word (they act like they own the place. oh wait they used to didn`t they) , or hordes of loud Polish school children blocking my way. I guess the school children might at least grow up some day.

The ancient pagan remains on the top and slopes of Mt. Sleza near the village of Sobotka weren`t really worth the trip, but staying in a mountain-hut like hostel, being forced to speak Polsih (and succeeding!), having a nice walk and just generally being in the middle of nowhere were. All right, 30 km outside of Wroclaw isn`t exactly the middle of nowhere, but if hostel brochures can call Leipzig the wild east, I can pretend Sobotka is the middle of nowhere. And really I did have to walk uphill with my big heavy backpack for half an hour to get to the hostel.

Was the waterfall at the end of my walk today really more impressive than the one at the beginning of it, for which I had to pay 4 zloty (that`s on top of the 3-day entrance ticket for the entire national park which cost me 8 zloty) and wear a helmet to see it, after having fended off a bunch of souvenir sellers? I guess I`ll have to wait for the pictures to know for sure, but I think so.

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Szklarska Poreba
photo by: jegs76