Day 37, Near Augustow to near Olecko, PL

An adult stork with its chick

Another windy, rainy, day where I ended up where I didn't expect to be today and had a good time - mostly - getting here. I'm at a new, and quite nice, bar-hotel on lake near the small town of Olecko in the lake region of northern Poland. While riding here from Sulwaki, only 35 km, I met four bicycle tourists (!), two from Germany and two from Poland. Obviously, this is a popular route for bicycle tourists.

It was only five km to Augustow from the place where I stopped
It was another 5 km, in Augustow, to the place where I would have stopped if it hadn't rained

I rode into Augustow about ten AM heading for the place I stayed the last time I was here. It is on 8, but at the north end of town, so I took the bypass around Augustow. Traffic, mostly large trucks, was heavy, but I was familiar with the road in Augustow and had no trouble getting where I wanted to go. I walked into the restaurant and asked for breakfast. The waiter asked me for my room number and, when I told him I had stayed there before but wasn't staying there now, he produced the English menu for their standard breakfast. I selected what I wanted and, for 15 zloty, had a great breakfast. I ate outside so I could watch my bike and enjoy the nice weather.

After breakfast, I did some sight(re)seeing in Augustow, a really pretty town, and looked for an internet place that I used two years ago. I didn't find it but I realized, as I rode north out of Augustow, that I had been quite near to it and probably could have found it if I had asked someone about it. Having internet access this morning wasn't a high priority. My (re)sightseeing was more about nostalgia.

Near the northern end of Augustow on highway 8.

Highway 8 was very busy with heavy truck traffic in both directions. I have since learned - from one of the Polish tourists that I met this afternoon - that it is part of The Truck Route between Berlin and Moscow. Like highway 8 for the last 10 miles coming into Augustow from the south, it had good shoulders. The shoulders are not great all the way to Sulwaki, but outside of towns - and the towns all have bike paths along 8 - they are always rideable.

About ten km north of Augustow
Note the trucks and the pavement

About half way to Sulwaki, I got caught in a rain storm. There was blue sky ahead and to the sides, but a dark cloud spread overhead and it started raining lightly. I wisely, headed into a bus shelter to put the rain cover on my Townie pannier. I waited a few minutes to see what would happen and then, stupidly, decided the rain was dying out. I put on my wind vest and headed down the road. A few minutes later the rain got much harder, so I stopped in the shelter of a tree and put on my rain gear. Then it got really hard and I rode back to the bus shelter. I waited there, with heavy rain coming in waves, until the rain really did die down and the big trucks were no longer throwing waves of water a dozen feet from the road. Then I rode on in light rain. A mile or so later, I was riding in sunshine on dry road.

Looking out, past my bike, in the rain
You can't tell it in this image, but the sky was blue behind the house across the street

When I got to Sulwaki, I wasn't impressed except by the lack of truck traffic since the big trucks didn't go into the town. I rode around town a bit and discover a pedestrian mall where I had lunch. People watching was good and it was raining lightly again and cool and windy, so I decided I'd see if I could find a room. There were two hotels in the central area. Both of them offered me 'apartments' for over $100 for the night. I was not impressed, and choose to ride out of town, up a long hill, in the rain, heading right into the, now strong, west wind.

A steep hill on the way to Olecko
This was five km or so before I met the German Tourists

The next 10 km wasn't fun, but the rain never got heavy and the wind died down some. After 20 km, the rain had ended and the riding, even with the wind, was quite nice. That is the area where I met, and visited with, the German tourists. A few km later I met the Polish tourists. One of the Poles had very good English, so I asked him about places to stay and he said they spent last night in Gizycko at a youth hostel. It was 60 km to Gizycko and about 4 PM - I hadn't been hurrying and the wind had slowed me down - but I figured I could make Gizycko if I couldn't find anything sooner.

Not long after I left the Poles, I saw a sign for a bar-hotel. A km or so later, where the road (653) runs along the top of the big lake east of Olecko, I stopped at the bar-hotel. It is new, quite nice, and the large room with a nice bathroom. It costs me 50 zlotys with breakfast! I figure I saved nearly $100 by riding off into the rain and wind instead of staying in one of those hotels in Sulwaki. Stopping here also works well with the riding distance to the remaining places I plan to stop at on my way to Gdansk.

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