|The pier at Międzyzdroje|
Slept pretty well despite the noise. It was bright daylight very early, well before 6am. Outside the Baltic Sea looked calm and fresh. I could not see a shoreline opposite, just a curving coast along our side but somehow it felt (and is) more like a gigantic lake than an open sea. At breakfast there was herring. A large but cosy breakfast room, exactly the sort of thing you would expect at a smart, without being “chic”, seaside place.
Our Rough Guide describes various marked trails as options for walks. We were much in need of some movement and exercise, feeling fat and overweight, and after consulting the board by the pier/square, we decided to follow the red trail.
We set off along the coast, heading east, and along the promenade/street which at first went through town, past more shops and hotels and apartments. Already there were plenty of people out strolling. Then we reached the forest and entered a lovely fresh green forest which stretched across the tall firm dunes to the east of town. The path climbed up as the dunes got steeper. To our left we had a nice view of the Baltic Sea through the trees, the beach below us. I saw earlier that the beach was already getting quite busy with families and day-trippers. Inside the forest it was pleasant, cool but not so cool as to keep the fleeces on, shady and with birds twittering. I’m glad we have recaptured the “magic” of our world trip – it has been a bit of an odd “inbetween” month really. The path went up and up and slowly bent away from the coast, and downhill after a while. We reached the main road which we had to follow for a short distance before reaching the bison reserve.
It became clear that we had been following the wrong trail, or somewhere missed a turning to stay on the red trail, but it didn’t matter and instead we continued to follow this trail into the forest and do zubrow, “to the bisons”. Not sure what I had expected, a hide or a large enclosure? We found a little zoo of sorts, consisting of wooden enclosures among the trees. We paid 5 zloty each and saw the bisons, sitting around, as well as some deer, eagles and long-snouted boars. The panels were all in Polish and lost on us but I did manage to understand that there are bison in the larger forest too, the Wolinski National Park.
We walked into town through the forest and headed for one of the cafés on a small triangular plaza between blocks of apartments/holiday flats, and had some lunch – herring again! It somehow felt very Mediterranean. Lots of plastic buckets and spades, an accordion player in the background. With our two words of Polish combined with German and English we got along quite well, for now. There are road works in the town and you could really feel that the whole place has been transformed. We both wondered what it would have been like “before”, without the bars and shops and cafés. We returned to the seafront. It was well into the afternoon by now and we were feeling rather snoozy and Ness had dodgy guts, so we made a beeline back to the hotel where we had some down time and a kip, much needed.
It was almost 7pm by the time we perked up again and went out. First we went for a drink on the terrace of the hotel, two small beers while watched the Poles at their “paseo”. The same relaxed atmosphere, just a bit quieter today. There was a choir festival or something and the choir people were around town. After the drinks we crossed the green square in front of the hotel and I had a kebab for dinner while Ness abstained. After that snack we wandered down onto the beach and plonked on the beach a short walked away from the small pier. Off to the right (east) of the pier they were setting up a big campfire and people were gathering on the beach.
We picked a little spot to the left of the pier and watched the sun set and the sky turning a glorious spectrum of colours, from deep red over the horizon through to turquoise and blue, with the edges of the clouds being lit up by the sun as it set. A lovely scene, with the waters of the Baltic lapping gently, and the sky and sun giving us a great show. We waited until the sun had set and then wandered back to the pier and strolled up and down, bumping into the girls selling flowers again and I bought Ness a rose, as intended yesterday. After a drink or two at one of the bars on the pier we returned to the hotel. It was noticeably quieter tonight, except for the choir-singers who had gathered on the beach by the large camp fire and were singing snatches of songs, including “Kalinka”, a little uncoordinated perhaps but there seemed to be a good jovial atmosphere.