Poland

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Old Sep 16th 2018, 9:47 am
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Default Poland

Strange that there are no threads about Poland. There must be some from these Offshore Islands who are now in Polska ! Surely ? I cannot imagine that Migration is only one way from Poland to the UK.


My experiences there were all in the 1960s when the world was a different place. I do remember my visits to Warsaw. Lublin. Krakow, Silesia and Bieszczady.


One of the more exotic places I visited was the area around Klodzko in Silesia. German territory until 1945 when the Potstdam Agreement handed all this ethnically German territory to "Polska Ludowa". Ethnic Cleansing ? The term had not been coined at the time this happened.

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Old Sep 28th 2018, 5:17 am
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Originally Posted by scot47 View Post
My experiences there were all in the 1960s when the world was a different place.
Mine too, Scot. (I didn't realise you were so old.) Well done! My travelling companion and I crossed into Poland from the USSR on the main highway (at Brest-Litovsk, would it have been?), and stayed at Youth Hostels in Warsaw and Krakow, and visited Auschwitz, and drove off through East Germany and East Berlin on the way back to England. This was in 1965, in my crash-gearbox Beetle bought in Hamburg. The traveling companion was a girl I'd given a lift to the previous October in Greece, heading east, and she just sort of stuck around, off and on. For the next fifty-three years, so far, as it happens.

How did you come to be in Poland, and how did you get around? Details, please. (We might as well exchange notes; nobody else is interested in the topic!)

My son's most recent girlfriend was Polish. She was super-impressed that I could remember not only the name of the Polish currency, but even how to pronounce it!
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Old Sep 28th 2018, 10:53 pm
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Gordon, there are others interested, please keep the tales coming! Eastern Europe is fascinating and back then, with the Iron Curtain and all, it must have been doubly so.
Now that you and Scot have established that you both have bus passes I'll enviously admit to spending '65 getting to know my crib while you were road-tripping in your Beetle !
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Old Sep 29th 2018, 12:54 am
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Yes, Eastern Europe was fascinating back then, Tooboo - and bus-pass or not, I well remember some of the details of our travels. Here is a sample incident from a note of mine written some years later. We were aged 25 & 24 at the time. I'm not going to re-write those notes, so if the BE moddies take exception to the extract and snip it out, too bad. You'll just have to do without.

There we were, rolling along the highway from Finland to Leningrad in the middle of a virgin forest with not the slightest sign of human habitation. Just the two of us in my Beetle, not another car on the road, and very pleased with ourselves for having put one over on the border guards. Yee-hah! So it was a bit of a shock to suddenly see a man in uniform standing in the middle of the road a hundred yards ahead, one hand up to stop us and the other holding a rifle in case the hand failed.
At the border, the guards had wanted to confiscate eight or ten apples we’d bought with the last of our Finnish money; but we said we’d eat them there and then, and began to do so. Two serfs were instructed to search the car for any other contraband. On the back shelf they found a copy of Time Magazine someone had given us back at the hostel. Surreptitiously, with fearful glances towards the boss in the office, they studied every page in silent wonderment, this unspeakably evil symbol of Western decadence. They lost track of time until a roar from the office had them scrambling guiltily out of the car. We were waved hastily through, and entered the Soviet Union with the uneaten apples beside us.
How typical of the bloody KGB, now, to send a man with a gun to catch us with our smuggled goodies, two miles away from the safety of The West. What a rude welcome for a pair of innocent tourists! But actually, the man with the gun just wanted to check that we were who we were supposed to be.
So we got to keep the apples – and, incidentally, the Soviet currency notes hidden at the bottom of a tin of English tea.
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Old Sep 29th 2018, 6:13 pm
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Good times!
I did a vaguely similar road trip (no border guards though) through W Germany and France to visit the WW1 battlefields, with 3 buddies, in a pale blue Beetle. It was 1983. We all giggled maniacally as the poor Beetle, gas pedal flat to the floor and doing 120km/h (downhill) on the autobahn, was continually pummeled by the slipstream of Porsches and BMWs rushing by at MUCH higher speeds. Trucks too!

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Old Sep 29th 2018, 7:42 pm
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Tooboo - At least with four on board you had a reasonable weight to keep you on the road! When I drove from Hamburg to Berlin in '65, there was only me inside, and I damn near got blown off the road every time a truck passed me. And trying to figure out how the crash-gearbox worked meant I sometimes slowed almost to a halt. On the autobahn. Yikes! You can imagine...

Has anybody reading this thread ever driven with a crash-gearbox? Every time you went down a gear, you had to go into neutral, then raise the revs to a speed appropriate to the speed of the car in the lower gear, then slip the gear-stick into the appropriate slot. If you didn't raise the revs high enough, you stood the risk of grinding to a halt with the bloody gearbox on the road beneath. Dear God. I died a thousand deaths before I got the hang of it on that drive to Berlin.

By arrangement, a friend from London (actually, from the boat from Oz) met up with me in Berlin to keep me company on the way back. In those days, there were passport checks at every border in Western Europe, although the officials were happy to wave us through without a stamp. But just for the hell of it we took back roads and insisted on getting our passports stamped at every border-crossing, sometimes going back and forth between countries three or four times in a day, with the result that we arrived back in England with our passports half-filled with rubber stamps. Today, we'd be arrested as drug-runners, wouldn't we? Ahhh, simpler times!
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Old Sep 29th 2018, 7:46 pm
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Sorry, Scot: it's a long way off-topic, isn't it? Not much about Poland. Well, serves you right for mentioning Potsdam!
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Old Sep 30th 2018, 2:48 am
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I got yanked off a nighttime train on the way to Poland at the Czech border in the early 80’s. This was during martial law there. They had me unload my backpack and display all contents on the floor. Then lots of questioning in the station guard house. All this because I had a copy of Time magazine on the seat with the cover showing a map of Poland with possible Soviet invasion routes.The border guards didn’t like that at all.

I later met my spouse in Poland on this same adventure. We’re now thinking of returning there for retirement. Oh how things have changed. I also wish there was a separate topic thread about Poland.
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Old Sep 30th 2018, 3:58 pm
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I git interested doing European History in High School. The Partititions of Poland. Then wanted to go and see the place. So I went. And that started five decades of travel in three continents.
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Old Sep 30th 2018, 5:43 pm
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Originally Posted by Richard8655 View Post
I got yanked off a nighttime train on the way to Poland at the Czech border in the early 80’s. This was during martial law there. They had me unload my backpack and display all contents on the floor. Then lots of questioning in the station guard house. All this because I had a copy of Time magazine on the seat with the cover showing a map of Poland with possible Soviet invasion routes.The border guards didn’t like that at all.

Well, that's something to tell your grandchildren about. If they're interested... In 1965 I tried to bluff our way out of Czechoslovakia and into East Germany without a visa, but one of the border guards spoke English and was more than a match for me. Our CZ visas expired at midnight and I had to drive hard to get to the Austrian border in time. Racing along towards a Western border, late at night, was not the most prudent thing to do, back then. We were pulled up by young soldiers with machine-guns and dogs, and the car was very thoroughly searched for hidden bodies. All negotiations were in fluent Czech - at least on their part... They weren't worried about anything we might have had in our baggage, though. I guess you had plain bad luck with the cover of Time!
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Old Sep 30th 2018, 6:02 pm
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Originally Posted by Gordon Barlow View Post
Well, that's something to tell your grandchildren about. If they're interested... In 1965 I tried to bluff our way out of Czechoslovakia and into East Germany without a visa, but one of the border guards spoke English and was more than a match for me. Our CZ visas expired at midnight and I had to drive hard to get to the Austrian border in time. Racing along towards a Western border, late at night, was not the most prudent thing to do, back then. We were pulled up by young soldiers with machine-guns and dogs, and the car was very thoroughly searched for hidden bodies. All negotiations were in fluent Czech - at least on their part... They weren't worried about anything we might have had in our baggage, though. I guess you had plain bad luck with the cover of Time!
I’d say that must have been quite a heart-pounding adventure. Much more so than mine. Young soldiers with machine guns questioning you must have been a nerve-racking experience for sure.

I think the Czech border guards were especially tough as the Prague regime was especially orthodox Pro-Soviet. I saw political slogans on public placards and signs there that didn’t exist in Poland. But it could be quite an adventure to travel throughout the Iron Curtain countries during those times. Something definitely to share with family and friends as an “interesting” experience and memory.
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Old Sep 30th 2018, 6:51 pm
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Now of course no one at school learns anything about European History. Or learns Modern Languages. We have lost something positive.
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Old Sep 30th 2018, 11:30 pm
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Originally Posted by scot47 View Post
Now of course no one at school learns anything about European History. Or learns Modern Languages. We have lost something positive.
Yes, I guess... But people are travelling more than they used to do. Certainly in my time there weren't as many. Is it true that Modern Languages are given a miss these days? I don't know. I wandered around for the best part of a year in almost all European countries plus some in the Middle East, with schoolboy French and some pidgin German and a dictionary with 800 words of each of 26 European languages + Arabic, and usually got whatever it was that I wanted. My experience was something less than total cultural immersion, granted, but it was enough to change my entire perspective on life, the universe and everything. Others did much the same then, and surely do now too. As for European history, I learned a few basic facts at school, but it didn't help me much when I was on the road.
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Old Oct 2nd 2018, 6:27 pm
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Originally Posted by scot47 View Post
Now of course no one at school learns anything about European History. Or learns Modern Languages. We have lost something positive.
Probabaly much of this has to do with technology, unfortunately. The younger generation is much more glued and attached to personal media such as TVs, computers, tablets, mobile phones, music players, etc. The experience of first-hand travel has been much diminished in favor of what’s easily accessed and viewed on a screen from the sofa.
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Old Oct 6th 2018, 11:40 am
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And when they travel they take selfies. The me-obsessed generation.
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