After 3 days with our feet up enjoying the sunshine and our own little Polish patch we were fully refreshed and ready to roll. We packed up Vin and set off but first a quick stop at the town garage to fuel up. Diesel at £0.81 per litre and LPG at £0.37, it is the cheapest fuel in a long time. Whey hey, happy bunnies with cheap fuel!
Soon we hit the countryside with rolling fields and farmers busy ploughing their land. Tractors tootling along with fully loaded and very unsteady hay bales. Swerving every so often to avoid the roadside ditches, which just increased the tilt on the load. Beyond the farmland the country lanes were extremely pleasant with tree lined avenues and fetching views.
Where are we…well we are in the North East corner of Poland, which is a myriad of lakes, rivers, canals and dense forests. The great Mazurian lakes are the largest in Poland and a popular holiday spot in summer. However, the countryside remains unspoiled, very clean and no litter. As we bumbled along the lanes we searched high and low for a nice wild camping spot on the side of a lake..any lake but nope. The lakeside were either over grown with reeds or occupied by someones back garden.
We drove on to lakeside resort of Gizycko only to find swarms of people lining the streets, alleys, train tracks and car parks. Despite our best efforts to squeeze in a spot at the camping facilities at the marina, it just wasn’t meant to be.
Vin joined the long line of cars heading out of the town. Stop, start as we waited to cross the single lane bridge over the river. Then as we approached we noticed a height restriction. Oh dear, poor Vin is a good half a metre taller than permitted and no matter what magic wand we wave Vin will not shrink. We took a quick right and stopped to check out the GPS. We needed to find another bridge to cross the water but no matter what our GPS wanted to slice Vins roof off. We had no choice but to ignore and head a bit further out of town.
Eventually a normal bridge with a perfect camping spot for lunch. We did a quick right turn and parked up alongside the river and under the bridge. It was superb. We watched people cruise by in their luxury boats, makeshift rafts, tiny rowing boats, canoes etc. It was lovely to see everyone enjoying the summer sun and making the most of their floating liner.
Our Bumble Verdict: Gizycko, lively resort teaming with Polish enjoying the the sun and a cruise or two on the lake and many canals. Limited motorhome parking.
Mid afternoon and the traffic queues calmed down, so we took the opportunity to move to our final stop for the day, Gierloz. We drove deep in the Mazurian forest to the sheltered entrance of Hitlers 1940’s head quarters. At the barriered entrance, we asked the chap if we could stay overnight. To which he said “no problem just park to the right”. We paid £3 pp plus £4 for the car park and tootled under the barrier. Immediately right of the car park, a wooded section with random electricity and fresh water points. Excellent, full camping services and being the only camper on site we had the pick of the bunch. We parked up, locked up, got the dudes all fired up and went in search of Tom Cruise.
A small well trodden dirt path leads the way through the forest. Once inside a myriad of paths leads you to a complex bunker network that include Hitler (No 13) and Goering personal bunker as well as communication blocks, garages, train station, barracks and casino. Under the command of the Nazis, 56,000 Polish men worked in gruelling conditions to complete the 27 acre complex. The ‘above’ ground reinforced concrete bunker complex known as Wolfs Lair was in commission from 1940 to 1945. A very different set up and feel to Hitlers bunker in Obersalzberg.
This site known for it failed murder plot. On 20 July 1944, the German army officer Stauffenberg attempted to assassinate Adolf Hitler at Hitler’s personal command bunker. Stauffenberg walked in to the bunker and left a full loaded briefcase under the table but not long after Stauffenberg departed another officer moved the briefcase to the other side of the room. It exploded, killed 4 officers but Hitler escaped with only a few scratches. The details of which are explored in the film Valkyrie starring Tom Cruise.
The lair was never discovered but the bunkers were blown up in 1945 by the withdrawing Germans, so they could not fall in to enemy hands. The remains have not been touched since, so you get to walk around the moss covered bunker ruins in their natural blown up state. Furthermore due to the sheer size of the concrete mass, the shell of the bunkers are reasonably intact just split in two from when they were blown up. Craig measured one wall to be at least 25ft wide and by the time we’d walked around he lost count on how many millions of tons of concrete were potentially used to build this site.
We spent a good few hours inside the woods wondering around the bunkers and talking about the plot, the unsuccessful assassination and what life was potentially like. Then for round 2! We did not realise but the site was split over two sections. We walked over the road and carried on mooching through a load more bunkers, barracks and buildings but no matter how hard we tried we never found the main star, Tom Cruise. Mac n Tosh loved the long walk in the woods too.
Towards the rear of the complex and hidden under the trees a small hotel. From outside it looks rather dingy and drab and even more drab once inside. We wandered to the stark reception to be greeted by a young Polish lad, who spoke excellent English. We ordered 2 beers and sat on the black pvc sofa to watch a bit of Polish TV.
In between chuckling at the adverts we chatted to Yan the receptionist. Apparently the hotel is full tonight but you would never know, not a soul around. At £25 for a room for 2 it really is a great place for an overall experience. No 5 star luxuries but plenty character and an unusual experiences. After a few more beers the decor improved dramatically and we ended up having a fab night in the Wolfs Lair Hotel.
Our Bumble Verdict: Wolfs Lair, we really enjoyed the complex. Its basically one big forest and if you follow the path you get to see bunkers and hidden complexes. Nothing fancy about it but fascinating.
Our sleepy spot: Wolfs Lair, small camping section in the woods with free electric, water, toilets and showers. Excellent spot.
Paid Camping GPS position N054.079385, E021.495291
Route: Suwalki to Gierloz