Wednesday, July 20, 2011

On the Road

Day 6- Lame road trip

What a day. We traveled about 150 miles from Warsaw to Czestochowa and it took forever. Abbot Yid ordered a GPS with the car but it never got there, so I got to be the only navigator. Yay?

Getting out of Warsaw was a little tricky. We accidentally made a wrong turn and went across the Vistula river into Praga. That took a while to get out of. On the plus side, we didn't think we'd get a chance to see Praga, so, there's that.

Driving in Poland is challenging for a few reasons. There is relatively little signage except at intersections, and the bigger avenues can go on for quite a while until you find out what street you're on. For some strange reason, the intersecting street signs are often facing away from you when you approach them in a car, which means you can drive for several blocks until you finally figure out you're going the wrong way.

The same thing happened once we got onto the highway-- it turns out in the first town after Warsaw there are two highways, both going South but rapidly diverging into an upside-down V. Guess which one we took? After I figured that out, we had to get off the highway in a small town and figure out how to cut over via a smaller road-- which we initially went the wrong way on, as well. All of this was very stressful because I had given a rough guess of when we would get into town to our apartment rental guy and I was having trouble reaching him, and I was worried if we were too late he wouldn't be there.

Once we were finally on the right highway, the real fun began. Did you know Poland is undergoing major highway renovation? Which looks like it's going to take a freaking decade to finish? Causing large stretches of their highways to be condensed to a single lane? Interestingly enough, though the guidebooks caution you not to speed lest you be stopped by police (and note that "ignorance is no excuse"), we probably saw over 100 people speeding on the road (including gigantic semi-trucks) and not a single police officer. Abbot Yid was probably going 10-20 km over the speed limit, and almost every 5 minutes someone would be tailgating us trying to pass.

Ah yes, Polish drivers love to change lanes while speeding down their not-very-good highway (in some parts it was literally a dirt-and-gravel road) which they somehow think is the Autobahn. I have no idea where all these folks are going, but they've got things to do, apparently.

Things picked up after Piotrkow Trybunalski- different highway, better roads, 2 whole lanes, still crazy drivers, though. We finally got into town, and then we were lost some more, so I had to go into a Polish 7-11 for help. To the gangly Polish kid with the death metal hair and the passable English, many thanks.

Time to drive according to Google Maps: 3.5 hours.
Actual time from apartment to apartment: about 6 hours.

Lame, Google. Very lame.

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