The Hunt Cycling is a full service bike-shop, independent journal and collective consisting of three cycling enthusiasts based in Halle Saale. We try to explore, document and share our experiences in the field of cycling and beyond. Besides drinking shandy, lots of riding and intellectual discusses about bike parts and stuff, we enjoy riding with friends and running our showroom and bike-shop located in the center of Halle.
— While the rest of us enjoyed cycling from Gdańsk trough Russia and the Curonian Spit up to Lithuania, Boris and Michel decided to take a “small abbreviation” instead of cycling all the way through Russia. Their idea was to cycle along the polish part of the Oblast Kaliningrad border through the region of the Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship up to Ventspils, and to rejoin with us in Lithuania after planned five days of cycling. This is their tour report. Enjoy! —
In order to shorten the long distance to 200km, we decided to take the train westwards from Danzig to Korsze. We started early to make a few more kilometers that day. With a rough direction and the border triangle in sight, we set off and tried to avoid heavy traffic. Since we only knew polands coastline, it was exciting for us to explore the midlands of the country.
The first place of interest along the russian / polish boarder was the Wolfsschanze or Wolf’s Lair located in Gierło near the slighty larger city Kętrzyn. We quickly realized that these military bunkers were not what we’ve been looking for. Just a few kilometers before reaching the Wolf’s Lair, we passed masses of peoples and cars. The roads where literally covered by cars and getting through was almost impossible and quite a pain in the ass. Shortly after we finally arrived, an armored vehicle with children on top drove by and started shooting pointing into the forest next to us. This was a strange scene. From a historical point of view a rather disconcertious situation wich left us with a bad taste. We then decided to did not stop and we continued on the road towards our next stop, the city of Lötzen.
Located between Wolf’s Lair and Lötzen lies the beautiful Masurian Lake Dristrict. Unfortunately, the only road between the large and small Mauersee is located between a highway 592. We would have liked a quieter street but we wanted to make some kilometers before the sun went down. After we had passed the small city of Lötzen, we were looking for a suitable place to set up the tents. The funny thing was, many campgrounds were signposted with signs but ironically we could not find one campground at all. After increasing confusion we asked some locals in a holiday resort at the Gołdopiwo lake, and we were told that all holiday facilities and tent sites in the region basically are privat and belong to polish companies. Finally, after lots of searching, finding no place to stay and talking to the locals they just told us, we should just stay „over there“ besides a boat rental area. Couldn’t be easier.
The next morning we headed north. After a few kilometers of dirt road, we came across a 3 to 4 meter wide, straight-lined cycle path with the finest gravel which was quite untypical for this region. We drove for a while still wondering to have found such a good cycle track until some signs pointed out that we have hit the GreenVelo cycle track – the largest and best equipped cycling route in Poland consisting of 2000km of specially planned routes who leads you through the five eastern provinces. The stretch of track we were driving on the GreenVelo was especially interesting because it was built on the foundation of a disused railroad. On a well-built official cycle route like the GreenVelo the kilometers just melted down.
At the end of the day we found a wonderful empty public campsite next to a beautiful lake. We only saw a polish couple camping out. Later that evening our decision turned out to be huge mistake, because the campground not only attracted cyclists and young couples, but also the young people from the villages around, which apparently celebrated a merry-go-lucky. Reminder to ourselves: Avoid idyllic, public and polish campgrounds on weekends! After a short night with only 3-4 hours of sleep and a small breakfast we left the campsite and made our way towards Żytkiejmy, closer to the Russian / Polish border. Our route went past the Stanczyki Viaduct and further along the no longer existing track of the previous day. From there we tried to follow the old rail route and left the bike path.
Since there is no official road over the boarder from Poland to Lithuania and we have not found any information about how to cross the border, we decided to make our own experience. We simply followed a small trail which became a very impassable and muddy path. We always kept in mind that the Russian border might be just a few meters away and we wanted to avoid crossing the boarder to russia illegally. Once arrived in Lithuania, the route turned into beautiful sandy forest paths. We rode a few kilometers and decided to have a extended lunch break and a refreshing bath in the Wystiter Lake. After a few beers and snacks, we got quite lazy and decided to rent a double bed at the nearby camp. We wanted to start early the next morning and the goal for the next day was also fixed: The Memel.
The next morning our route continued towards Kybartai. It was a very hot day and we made a small break in almost every village to refill our water supplies. Around noon we stopped at an small corner shop and had a nice conversation with a Lithuanian couple who invited to coffee, freshly baked cakes and pickled cucumbers. A very welcome break. Our next route led us from Kudirkos Naumiestis to Aakiai. We tried to cycle directly to Jurbarkas. For a long time we rode on heavily extended gravel roads, which had kind of a wavy surface through large agricultural machines. Riding this gravel road was quite unpleasant because we could only ride at a certain speed over all the humps because the bikes immediately started to resonate. We also wanted to escape a thunderstorm following us all day from the South-West. After we finally arrived at the Memel, passing the very first bridge, the storm just set in. It was raining cats and dogs.
What we had imagined as the most exciting stage was probably our most deceptive stage. On the fifth day of the tour we were continuously following the Memel. The river was not even visible most of the time. We still had a long way to go, so we decided to take the shortest way to the Curonian Spit. This meant busy roads and heavy traffic with 40 degrees Celsius. We had not been in contact with our friends for several days so we planned to wait for their arrival right across the Russian border. Apart from a small detour to the Memel near Bitenai in the district of Taurage, Lithuania, including lunch break we rode our bikes most of the day. We reached the village of Rusne around 6 pm and after a short internet research we found a campsite in Vente. It took us longer than expected but fortunately the front desk was still open and we could pay not only the camping fees but also the ferry across the Haff. Fun fact: The campsite has its own small harbor.
The next morning we quickly found ourselves eating breakfast on the ferry. Immediately after arriving in Nida, we again tried to contact the other group, but we still had no luck. All the mobiles still were switched off. After hours of waiting we started making plans cycling north. Suddenly the phone rang, and we were very happy to talk to our friends mainly because we did not knew anything and were worried about how they were doing. We hopped on our bikes, quickly rode back to the Russian border pulled out some shandy’s and waited for our friends to arrive. Three hours later they finally crossed the border leaving russia behind looking forward to cycle the rest of the route through Lithuania and Latvia.
This was the second stage of our third trip along the Baltic Sea. It took us quite some time to write the text and putting all the photos together and we hope you enjoyed it. And please stay tuned for the final stage to Latvia we putting together. — Feel free to check out the route separated in days we put together in Google Maps for Day 01, Day 02, Day 03, Day 04, and Day 05 or check out the complete route of the tour Michel put together. Everyone who plans to visit Poland by bicycle looking for cycling routes should check out the official GreenVelo Website and Pusele Camping, Michels and Boris’ personal recommendation. Don’t forget to check out the first part of our 2016 Trip along the Baltic Sea and give Boris a follow on his Instagram.