My second trip to Poland this year, Poznan, was my next eastern European destination. I had already researched nature reserves within the Weilkopolski region. The closest was only about 15 minutes walk, even less when I found a short cut, Rusalka lake is a wonderful peaceful area at least when I was there, and I read a soap opera is filmed there occasionally. The lake is surrounded by tall trees, with the lake being 367,000 square metres, built in the 1940’s as a result of the damming of the Bogdanka River.
Immediately entering the wooded area I saw nuthatch and greater spotted woodpeckers, great, blue and long tailed tit, treecreeper, blackbird, song thrush and nightingale. The corvids were plentiful with hooded crow, jackdaw, magpie, rook and jays. There were a few red squirrels, always nice to see. The lake was quiet with only mallards and black headed gulls. I was a bit late putting on my insect repellent spray and was bitten on my forehead, part of the course for me.
I settled in my hotel just a short distance from the airport, which does have its advantages. I discovered very soon the main road where I was staying, was on the flight path approaching the airport. The planes were so close I thought I saw the pilot waving at me.
The next day after a stroll round Lake Rusalka, I ventured to Lake Malta, which is just the most delightful place that offers so much for everyone, there is an adventure playground, artificial ski slope, outdoor and indoor ten pin bowling. There is water sports, canoeing, a small tourist railway. The list is endless. The reason I was there, of course, was for none of that and it was pleasant to walk round the lake, with mallards, coots, moorhens, great crested grebe and cormorants spotted. The large wooded area, I spotted the usual woodland birds, and some marsh tits, the highlight.
The next day, Monday morning, I did not have the best of starts, and I am yet to fully get to grips with the Polish bus ticketing system. I found a kiosk and wanted to ask for some tickets. The hatch was about the size of a postage stamp and fit for people of about 3 foot tall. The Polish woman was 2 days short of her 90th birthday, with no teeth and wearing clothes passed down from her great grandmother. She didn’t speak any English and in the pouring rain I asked for the bus tickets. I did my hardest using the best sign language I could, like pointing at the bus I had just missed. I am not sure how but she gave me three 15 minute tickets, that allows you to travel for 15 minutes. As it was the rush hour, 15 minutes doesn’t get you very far. My morning was getting worse as my intention was to travel to the train station, I had got on the wrong bus. I alighted after a few stops, now further away from the train station than before.
I eventually made it to the train station for my destination at Weilkopolski National park about 15 km south of Poznan. After the first stop a class of six year olds, with teacher, filled the carriage. Poland’s answer to Dennis the menace sat next to me. The teacher, exasperated no doubt, was “ssshhhhhhing” him every 30 seconds. The park is about 78 sq km with a town called Puszczykowo in the centre, with the Warta river running through. I strolled through a small part of the park, passing the odd cyclist, jogger and snake.
Amongst the usual woodland birds, I saw middle spotted woodpecker, and crested tits in the tall pine trees. There were many martins and swallows migrating high up. I made my way back to the train station and having found the ticket office it had all the shutters down. I must have to pay on the train, I thought. No one approached me on the train, and arriving in Poznan Glowny I was preparing my defence for being ticketless, walking along the platform with the many passengers towards the station concourse. There was no Inspector and I was relieved.
|Middle spotted woodpecker|
I had an evening flight on my last day and my hotel kindly allowed me to leave my luggage to pick up later, to save having to carry it around. I went to my favourite haunt at Lake Rusalka. Two students were surprised when I told them I was a tourist. “Not many tourists come here”. She said. She seemed pleased when I told them the purpose of my visit. She told me what birds she had just seen and I gave the English name for them.
Later I went to the Botanical gardens. I have never seen so many jays. Fieldfares were a sign that autumn was here, lots of woodpeckers too. I spent the afternoon in Poznan and casually made my way to the hotel to collect my luggage. I still had one 15 minute bus ticket that Great Aunt Anastasia had sold me the other day. I validated my ticket and as I sat down, a Polishman starting talking to me. I told him where I was from and in broken English he asked me whether I had a ticket. Thinking he was a ticket Inspector, as he had a blue shirt, a bag and looked official I showed him.
“No”, he said, “another ticket”
My reaction was maybe the ticket wouldn’t get me to the airport in 15 minutes and I would have to purchase another. I searched in my pockets looking for some loose change. Captain Czeslaw looked at me and said, “no, want buy ticket “. He wasn’t an Inspector after all. He left after a few stops, without having bought a ticket from anyone else. I am not the only one it seems.
My drama was not yet over, as I was searched and my bags emptied at customs. Memories of Lublin again, but this time no smiles.
My lesson from this break was, learn to speak Polish.