Trip Start Jun 08, 2006
87Trip End Ongoing
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Up early to catch boat on Elblag-Ostroda canal, built to transport timber until the railways came a few years later. It links lots of lakes but there is a 100m height difference so it uses an unusual system where the boat floats over a cradle which gets hydrolically hoisted up an incline railway out of the water with the boat on. Thought I was the only English speaker on there until I spotted a Berghous top so went and spoke to them and it turned out they were an advanced party director and assistant for Palins Eastern Europe and he was coming through in 2 weeks. They were working all the camera angles out on tow path and canal and I was asking questions about the series and to their Polish film directors daughter translator. Did the 5 inclines, caught the train back to Elblag, did my washing in a kind of twin tub then out for a drink in old town under construction. Sat outside in the cold with fleece and coat on, felt sorry for the waitress in hardly anything - think I overstayed my welcome.
Wednesday 23 August
Up at 10 went for a run via tourist info who said they could help me, showered then back to TI who directed me to an Internet cafe 2k away. Walked and spent an hour arranging my trip to Kaliningrad, back into Poland and down to Wroclaw. Walked back to cathedral, got some food from ladybird and then to station to buy ticket. No English spoken so had funny situation where I had to go back and forth between windows until a customer helped. Bags broke on shopping so back to get some more looking like plastic bag man. Back to chalet, ate and to bed...wow another dry day.
Thursday 24 August
Up showered walked to train station, ate on platform and got on Russian built 2 carriage train - very plush. Polish border check was normal with this dodgy looking character asking to look in my bag - maybe the stench put him off getting everything out - ah tourist. Russian compartment attendant handed out immigration forms. On the Russian side we went through a fence across railway and then sat at station where Russian border control took everyones passports and immigration card, which Id guessed how to fill out as it was in Russian, off the train. I had missed my passport number off so had to fill in in front of stern looking woman. After an hour we got our passports back and continued the boring forested journey into Kaliningrad. Went to recommended accommodation, old drivers rooms in station building but full - no English very difficult. They gave me the name of a hotel which I amazingly found without a map. Managed to get a dorm room for €8 but no locker so the bag went in the cellar. No cash to pay so went to cash point next to hotel but was broken...like the country. Went back to cellar and got some Dollars to change. Paid for 3 nights with help from Muskovite guest who spoke a little English. Phoned up Balma tours but confusing over the phone so told them Id come to the office. joined me for the 3k walk across town which knackered him, especially as Baltma tours had moved so he helped my by asking in the old office now a hairdressers where they'd moved to. Arranged expensive tour to militarised zone home of the Russian Baltic fleet. Walked the now 4k to a brew pub which was full, so had a couple at the bar and then available seats. Spent a frustrating night talking to Muskovite whose English was poor, but the beer was good and strong. Although he was married he contacted a local girl and we caught a taxi to her place in a grim concrete block next to other grim concrete blocks. She was very pleasant and he brought me 4 bottles of beer and we walked back to hotel through bad area. I was slightly sloshed and was wondering what was going to happen next as he was in my dorm. He got the key and sent me to my room with the beer while he went off with the girl. I put beer in room fridge, drank 1 then fell asleep.