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The improbably massive baroque church at the tiny village of Święta Lipka, with its weird and wonderful organ inside
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Storks nesting on top of the lamp posts, a common sight across this part of Poland (for how much longer?)

Not surprisingly, I woke with a rather fuzzy head, but felt much better after a shower and a Polish breakfast (cucumber, tomato, cheese, etc.) We left Mikołajki with the plan to visit Wilczy Szaniec (the Wolf’s Lair, Wolfsschanze), Hitler’s military headquarters, a huge complex of bunkers from which the German eastward advance was planned. This lay just a little to the north from here, and we had then planned to carry on into Lithuania today. Well, that was the plan at any rate… The scenery on the way to Kętrzyn was more of the same, the gentle green rural Polish countryside.

At Kętrzyn we tried to find tourist info and in making a hurried u-turn in a side street I misjudged the height of the kerb and ended up tearing out the entire mud-flap on Eddie’s right front tyre. I was angry with myself for the stupid mistake. Nothing for it but to get it fixed now, as we still had a long journey ahead of us, and I was all the angrier with myself for costing us unnecessary time and money. We found tourist info, parked (without hitting anything else!) and got directions to the Wolf’s Lair – not for today now – and asked about a local Volkswagen garage. Unsuccessfully, but thanks to the booklet in the car we dug up a contact number for Volkswagen and soon had the address of our nearest Volkswagen garage, in Olsztyn, about 80km from here.

Ness took over driving – we both agreed that I was having a bit of a dippy day – and we got to the garage at Olsztyn at about midday. Olsztyn itself looked like a very ordinary town from what we saw. Fortunately the garage was able to quickly, easily and relatively cheaply (€200) carry out the repairs, and I was just grateful that we still in the area of “western” European influence, with all the infrastructure and service centres at hand. We took seats in the waiting area, read and dozed, and after a little over an hour we were on our way again. We had altered our plans now to spend the night at Kętrzyn instead. On the way out of Olsztyn we couldn’t resist driving into the Drive-in McDonald’s, to grab a quick bite for on the go, and again my dippiness caused us to drive on without having received our full order, my quarter-pounder was missing (they said to park and they’d bring it over but that just wasn’t getting through to me!)

About an hour later we were back in Kętrzyn, ready to start again. We decided to leave Wolf’s Lair until tomorrow. As we were getting close to Kętrzyn I spotted a bit in our Rough Guide about a place called Święta Lipka and we made a brief detour, which proved to be very worthwhile. We pottered along a tiny country road through the fields and forests, and then we suddenly emerged into the tiny village of Święta Lipka, with a massive baroque church on our left. It was an impressive sight, and totally unexpected for such a small and out of the way village. Quite a few German motor-homes here. We have seen quite a few of these now.

The church itself was a fantastic example of high baroque, with its twin towers, richly decorated – best see the pics. In front of the very ornate gate workmen were working away on the new cobbled/paved street, laying a fish-scale pattern. We went and found a café, a smart restaurant at the top of the square, along the road, and had a drink on the small patio, a perfect spot from which to admire the church. Then we went and had a look inside, perfectly timed as the organ was just playing. The church felt smaller on the inside, probably due to the rich and lavish decorations. Inside there was a congregation, and a other tourists. The organ, along the front (or rear?) wall, i.e. “above” the entrance, at the non-altar side, was another baroque example. Lots of moving parts, saints and angels that moved around, bowed, etc. The effect they intended was probably one of wonder and beauty, but it just made think of “kermis” (fayre?) and I had trouble suppressing my laughter. Still, it was pretty impressive and beautiful in its own way. After the organ, the congregation sang several hymns, with full voices, singing loudly and confidently, a lovely sound filling the small church.

Next we drove on and covered the short distance to Kętrzyn through the Polish fields, with more stork nests here and there. We twice passed (due to stops) a group of five cycling women, the second one from the front displaying a fine pair as she was bent over her steering wheel. At Kętrzyn we drove around to find the hotel/inn by the castle gate, recommended in our Rough Guide. It was a little find, a charming restaurant/café, right next to an old brick medieval gate/building, with a pleasant shady trees patio in front, and a good value room upstairs. Just what we were after. We had a couple of beers on the patio while our room was being prepared, dumped our stuff and later came back down to have dinner on the patio. Worked out quite nicely in the end.

Sorry Eddie!