The Land of a Thousand Lakes

Trip Start Jan 10, 2005
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Poland  ,
Monday, August 22, 2005

After two nights in Olsztyn we took a train to Mikolajki (Meek-oh-why-key), a small town on the Great Mazurian Lakes and the summer capital of Mazury. We stayed in the nicest place yet, next door to the pension we had booked. We arrived at our pension and couldn't figure out how to get in, and the babcia (grandmother) next door motioned us over to her place where her son offered us a better deal. Our room was a newly renovated room on the third floor with a private bathroom and big skylights. The babcia, who didn't speak any English but was the sweetest woman, sat outside the pension every afternoon in her little chair. We had lots of little animated conversations in Polish, and she was really good at putting lots of gestures into her speech so we could figure out what she was saying (for example, demonstrating the difference between paddling a canoe and a kayak). Somehow even when you can't understand someone you can still laugh at their jokes.

The next day, excited to be on the water, we rented a kayak for the afternoon. Our guidebook described Mikolajki as a popular destination for watersports enthusiasts, but I think we can safely say that means sailboaters. We've never seen so many sailboats on one lake. Very picturesque, but it made kayaking a little difficult. There wasn't much wind, so they weren't really going anywhere, they just formed a bit of an obstacle course for us.

Our intention was to float around on the water, take some pictures and relax, but somehow we ended up 3 hours away from home and exhausted. We had a hellish time getting across the big lakes in the waves created by larger boats, and we discovered later that we'd paddled almost 25 km in total. A lot for a day when we were supposed to relax. We decided after that that this should be our vacation. So we spent most of the rest of the week relaxing on the beach, which was a five minute walk from our pension. It was a pretty small beach where the sunbathers were packed in like sardines and the little children ran around naked.

Near Mikolajki is Lake Luknajno, a UNESCO world biosphere reserve for wild swans. We thought we'd be able to get a little closer to the lake, but unfortunately the only places to see the lake from were observation towers, and the lake was a lot bigger than we'd expected with large areas of reeds around the shore. Of course when we were there the swans were all on the other side of the lake, so our pictures just have many small white dots.
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