V0617 - Report (Gołdap - Mikołajki - Gołdap)
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways. For as
the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways,
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Friday, August the 18th.
It was early evening when Sergey came to my place in his car carrying
his already packed things into a bicycle rucksack which we call Torsten.
This name was given to it a long time ago when it looked like a man called
Torsten. My things were not packed yet but there was not much to pack. Our
tandem was already at my place. We had some supper before leaving the place.
The tandem was attached to the top of the car. Since the tandem is a bit
longer than a usual bicycle, some tricks invented by Sergey were used.
We went to Alexey's place to pick him and his bicycle up. It was also
attached on top of the car. After that we had a 3-hour car ride to the
frontier crossing point 'Gusiev - Gołdap'. In order to reach the point as
early as possible, Sergey almost overheated the car's engine. The weather
was great until we left the car in a parking lot. It has immediately started
raining. Sergey and I put on our waterproof suits. Sergey had a green one
and I had an old orange one which looked quite funny. However it's better
in a suit than without it.
The Russian side of the crossing point was fine. Our frontier guards were
very friendly with us knowing that we were tourists. Usually there are a lot
of people on bicycles going to Russia from Poland just to buy cigarettes, gas
and alcohol. It's much cheaper in Russia. Then they sell it in Poland and make
money this way. The problems began when we stepped on the Polish side of the
border. First of all we were not allowed to overtake cars which were in
a queue. We usually do it and car drivers don't mind. They understand that
waiting in a car differs from waiting with a bicycle under rain. Polish
frontier guards didn't even allow us to stand under a roof of the check point.
As a result we became wet waiting for our turn. We could get under the roof
only after the cigarette-guys went there. A very funny thing happened while
one of the Polish frontier guards was checking cars and bicycles so that they
have lights and warning signals. Alexey didn't have the signal. They said:
"If you don't have a sound signal, then you go back to Russia". Isn't it
funny to cancel the trip because of the damned sound signal which is never
even used in such kind of trips? "No, we are Russians", - we thought. We asked
Polish cigarette-guys for a simple bicycle bell and installed it on Alexey's
bike. The frontier guard was surprised and wanted to know where we took the
bell from. We explained that we had a lot of bicycle repair stuff in our packs
and the bell was among it. He was still surprised, probably he thought:
"Damn Russians. They always have the way to get out of a problem". In order
to visit Poland one needs at least 500 zlotys (Polish currency) or its
equivalent. Sergey had 200$ and each one of us had around 100 zlotys. We
used a similar trick. When we were asked to show the money we simply took
Sergey's bucks and showed them. It worked perfectly.
Saturday, August the 19th.
After all the bureaucracy we could finally start our long-awaited trip
through the night. We gave the bell back to Polish cigarette-guys. They have
been waiting for so long while we were crossing the border but the value of
the simple bicycle bell meant a lot to them. It was raining for the whole
night. We had to wear our waterproof suits. The first stop was in
Banie Mazurskie. There we had a snack. Sergey had a vigorous mix of hot tea
and XTC. He says that it helps him ride.
We continued our ride to Giżycko
skipping one planned stop. Nothing could be seen in the night. The only source
of light that we had was two lights installed on the tandem and the bicycle.
There was a nice payphone in Giżycko. It allowed sending SMSs and even
e-mails. We had something to eat and continued our ride.