Posts Tagged ‘Poland’

Border crossing into Ukraine

22nd June 2010 by Helen

Tuesday 15th June

After a day off from travelling yesterday, we headed once again towards Ukraine today.  Much to our surprise, when we arrived at about 6.30 pm we found the border still open and sailed through from Poland into no-man’s land.  All in all it then took us two hours and five different sets of checks of passports and car documents to get through passport control and into Ukraine.  Oh, and a $10 bribe for not having a green card (we didn’t need one).  The conversation went a little like this:

Official: Green card?

Paul: I don’t have one.  I didn’t know we needed one.  Here’s my insurance.

Official: Green card?

Paul: I don’t have one.  Do I need one to drive in Ukraine?

Official: shouts for Roberta

Roberta: after talking to official in Russian: It’s like this, you need a green card with Ukraine mentioned in to drive in Ukraine.  You don’t have one so you can’t drive in Ukraine.

Paul:  Where do I get one?

Official: (through Roberta): You have to go back to England and buy one there

Paul: That’s a two week drive.  Can I buy one here?

Roberta speaks to official then says: it’s like this, you have now to make an offer on how much you can pay.

Paul: you mean I can buy one here?

Roberta shrugs shoulders and says: You say how much.

Paul: Aahhhhhh.  I understand. How do we do the deal?

Roberta takes passport from official and says: You could slip it in here.

Paul thinks to himself he has between $10 and $100 dollar bills in his back pocket, reaching in he slid a note from the pack and slipped it into his passport.  To his relief he noticed it was a $10 bill!!

The official simply slipped it beneath the table, stamped Paul’s documents and bade us on our way.

Seemples, as the meerkat might say.

We drove off into Ukraine to be stopped by a police patrol car.  Pretending not to understand his request for money we were waived on again.

By now we are into early evening with no hope of finding a campsite so we drove as far as we could into Ukraine and with the light fading try and keep an eye out for somewhere to park up for the night.  Taking a short drive down a side turning we notice several rather colourful and attractive signs along the side of the road.  Thinking these rather pretty and noticing the Orthodox cross symbol on most of them we think they may relate to some religious festival or other.  Turning round and driving back again we notice that they actually have pictures of tanks on them and maybe they are markers for the boundary of some army tank training ground!  No parking here then!  After a couple more odd turns we pull in to a disused petrol forecourt and park in the opposite corner to another car we think is in the same situation (having noticed several other cars doing the same tour of the countryside seemingly looking for somewhere to kip for the night).  Dozing off in the cab we can hear giggles and such like in the distance and realise it’s coming from the other car.  Not wanting to investigate too closely we never did find out if it was a private party of some kind (drugs, alcohol, whatever) or a courting couple, but after about an hour they drove off anyway and we were left in peace.

Visiting Auschwitz

15th June 2010 by Helen
Crystal, Jiri & Yukon

Crystal, Jiri & Yukon

First thing, before we went to the Auschwitz-Birkenau museum and camp we chatted with a couple who have been travelling for three years, working with schools mainly around Eastern Europe encouranging greater understanding of other cultures.  Jaris is from the Czech Republic and Crystal is Canadian (www.crossingborders.eu.com).  They gave us some tips about the tour and we set off. 

It was extremely hot and it was easy to imagine that in this sort of weather the conditions in the camp would have been intolerable.  Even with some quite graphic images in the pre-tour video and seeing the bunks where prisoners slept four or five to a bunk it is hard to imagine the enormity of what went on here.  For me (Helen) the most telling part of ther tour was the evidence of the number of prisoners who were selected to work because they were fit and healthy and yet who died from the effects of disease, starvation and hard labour within just a few months of their arrival.  It seems that would have been death by slow torture, making the mass gas chambers seem almost humane by comparison.

Tonight we moved on and found ourselves sleeping in another lorry park!!

Us in the lorry park

Us in the lorry park

Poland Day 2

12th June 2010 by Helen

Productive morning at Artur’s this morning with Paul working on the car and getting our shower and water filtration system working properly.  Helen managed some re-organising of the on-board office and to get some washing done.  Headed off towards Auschwitz with Paul still driving. Hideously hot and humid and loads of mozzies.  Think we might have been scammed today, time will tell.  Eventually found Auschwitz and looked for somewhere to park nearby.  After wasting an hour or so in this latter pursuit we found someone who told us there is camping at the museum!!  Therefore writing this in a car park with the roof tent up surrounded by camper vans.