Tag Archives: Spain versus Poland

Driving around Poland (slowly)

As part of the preparations for our summer holiday this year I’ve been booking a tour of the Alhambra in Granada, Spain. We’ll be staying in Marbella and to get an idea of travel times I used ViaMichelin (very handy tool by the way) to find out how long we should allow to get to the places we intend to visit in our rental car. Yes, I am a small anorak with things like this, but I find it pays dividends later.

As the data for the Spanish trips came up I was zaszokowany extremus at the shortness of the drive times and the amount of the journey I would be spending on a motorway. Living in Poland, especially in Warsaw, for any real time just knocks thoughts of short journeys and motorway driving out of your head. Drive times that would be unthinkable when I lived in the UK (five hours or more will get you way up into Scotland or way down to the end of Cornwall from London) just become commonplace here. The good news is that I think I’m about ready to live in Texas. The bad news is…..well it’s all bad news really.

Here’s the raw data:

Marbella to

GRANADA – 183km, 1hr 58 (1hr 38 on motorway)
SEVILLA – 256km, 2hr 41 (2hr 26 on motorway)
CORDOBA – 215km, 2hr 19 (2hr 04 on motorway)
GIBRALTAR – 77km, 0hr 59 (0hr 39 on motorway)
CADIZ – 197km, 2hr 11 (1hr 49 on motorway)

Before anyone comments – I know Cadiz is a waste of time but the lure of breathing in the same air as Nelson is just too much to resist!

Warsaw to

KRAKÓW – 297km, 4hr 37 (9 minutes on motorway)
WROCŁAW – 345km, 4hr 57 (7 minutes on motorway)
GDANSK – 346km, 4hr 52 (15 minutes on motorway)
TORUŃ – 228km, 3hr 23 (15 minutes on motorway)
ZAMOŚĆ – 252km, 4hr 00 (5 minutes on motorway)

London to

PLYMOUTH – 348km, 3hr 49 (1hr 54 on motorway)
NEWCASTLE – 456km, 4hr 43 (3hr 50 on motorway)
GLASGOW – 651km, 6hr 34 (6hr 10 on motorway)

It’s worth bearing in mind as well the following;

  • The London times are from the City of London. It takes a whole lot more time just to get out of London than it does Warsaw.
  • Marbella is a one-boat little fishing village, not the capital of the country.
  • “Motorway”, in relation to any of those Polish journeys, is nothing like “motorway” when applied to the UK or Spain. Mind you, with a maximum of 15 minutes of it it is hardly worth worrying about that!
  • Although I was trying to get some good comparisons, I couldn’t find anywhere less than 250km from Warsaw that was worth visiting!
  • When they say 4hr 52 between Warsaw and Gdansk, they are talking about driving in the middle of the night on a day when trucks have been banned from driving on Polish roads.

As you might expect, this situation is not going to improve any time soon, or at all if you live in the capital city, Warsaw. “All roads lead to Rome” is a phrase never to have reached these shores plains, here it is best to say “All roads lead to Łodz” as the map below of the future (ho ho) motorway system explains. Note heavy use of the word “should”, as in “might not be”. Even when I’m dead and they’ve finally finished the road network, the hard working people of Warsaw will have to drive to Łodz before they worry about getting anywhere else. Wonderful.

Perhaps a little translation:

HIGHWAY – something not quite as good as a proper motorway.
EXPRESSWAY – two lanes if you’re lucky, traffic lights everywhere, people herding cows from one side to the other, ruts the size of Kilimanjaro, cardboard cut-out pretend police cars every 50km.

Goes without saying that all of the above will be made with that special Polish tarmac that “ruts up real nice” and needs heavy maintenance every 6 months.

That, ladies and gentlefolk, is the sad truth of the matter. Getting around this country in a car – SUCKS!

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