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Via Stettin in Poland to Zermützel

Home -> City trips -> Berlin -> Travelogue Berlin -> 09 September 2002

Monday 09 September, via Stettin in Poland to Zermützel

After an extensive breakfast we leave Berlin. Or we try, because Teije thinks he knows a shortcut out of town and so it takes us much longer than we expected to arrive on the eastern ring road of Berlin... According to the travel guides this ring road is more than 200 km. long. We take a side road (of course) which leads in the direction of Poland.
Border crossing at Kostrzyn Border crossing at KostrzynAt Kostrzyn we pass the border with Poland, at last a real border where we have to wait for some time and show our passports. But Teije just drives by the first (German) border without noticing the lady sitting in a customs office... He didn't see her, he says. The Polish frontier guards have to laugh.
Szczecin (Stettin) Szczecin (Stettin)Then we have a long drive on narrow roads through the interior of Poland, and through many small villages. Tonight we have an appointment with friends who live in former East Germany, in the village Zermtzel, about 80 km. north of Berlin, so we don't have much time.
We drive north to visit the town Szczecin (Stettin in German and easier to pronounce). For Elisabeth Poland is the 17th country she visits (or is it the 16th?), Teije was here already a few times. But he hasn't visited Poland after the fall of the Iron Curtain and he notices that Poland also has changed immensely; it is more modern and full of live.
But the Poles have always been full of live and had a strong sense of individuality, even when the communists ruled. Maybe that helped bringing the old system down, too.
And capitalism has found its way here, too: 5 seconds after we have parked the car a car keeper wants some money: 2 Zloty (€ 0,50) for 1 hour.
Szczecin (Stettin)But we don't have any Zloty's and the watchman doesn't accept euro's. So we set out for an exchange office where we have to change a minimum of € 20. We get 80 Zloty's (20 years ago we would have gotten hundreds or maybe even thousands for € 20 on the black market) and now we have to go into town to spend all that money. In the first bar, where we can sit outside, we pay € 1,50 for a large can of coffee and a large pint of beer.
Szczecin (Stettin)In the end we buy some plants on the market (among others an expensive palm tree (€ 8) for Elisabeth's palm collection) and some souvenirs. We also have a snack in a Polish kind of fastfood restaurant and then we still have money left. We walk twice through the centre of the town, looking for opportunities to spend our money. It is quite a nice town.
When we are finally out of money we try to find our way back towards Germany. But after half an hour we are sure we shouldn't follow the road signs, but our own sense of direction. Within half an hour we arrive at the Polish-German border and again Teije passes the first customs office. But this time he is shouted back: we have to drive back and show our passports. And Teije keeps telling him: how could I know there would be somebody hiding in this small office...
It is around 8 when we arrive in Zermtzel to meet our friends who we haven't seen for more than 2 years. They have baked our favourite cake, but more about that tomorrow. Now we are tired and we are glad to sit outside on the porch with some good friends and enjoy the warmth of the evening.


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