Zagan, Poland 2016 ๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡ฑ

Travelled : 87 kilometres from Cottbus, Germany to Zagan, Poland.  Then 87 kilometres back to Cottbus, Germany

Visited : The Stalag Luft 3 POW Camp and Museum โ‚ฌ3 a double. ย Zagan, Poland. N51.59703 ย E15.29184

Stayed : Municipal Stellplatz Cuttbus โ‚ฌ12  N51.74623 E14.35349

One of the reasons for our stay in Cottbus was the opportunity to slip over the invisable border into Poland and visit Zagan. ย You would not know of Zagan by name and either did I. ย However couple of years ago I read a fellow traveller’s (OurTour) blog which included a visit to the Stalag Luft 3 museum in Zagan, Poland. ย It became a bit of a bucket list thing and we could not pass without a visit.

As I have probably stated many times in my ramblings, we only plan a few days ahead at best.  On Sunday morning I finally checked the details of the museum in Zagan and found its closed on Monday.  So we decide to drive into Poland today and drive back to Cottbus in the late afternoon.  The stellplatz here is excellent and we can finished our visit Monday.

We quickly have breakfast, pack up and hit the road.  It’s an easy drive to the autobahn and we hardly see another vehicle.

The old border crossing, we are now in Poland.  Always a milestone for travellers like ourselves.  Can I draw your attention to the road surface !!!

As soon as we crossed the frontier into Poland the road changed in the most dramatic fashion.  Whilst it remained a dual carriageway, it was without doubt the worst piece of road I have ever had the misfortune to drive.  Almost 40 kilometres of old cobble stones with a thin layer of bitumin.  We had done some bad roads in Turkey last year, but nothing as bad or as long as this.  In fear of shaking the Hymer to pieces we had no choice but to drive along at around 60 kph or less and hope for the best.  We would have taken the first exit and headed back for Germany, but looking across the verge the west bound freeway was a magnificent new road.

In the museum carpark, the Hymer having a rest after getting a good shaking.
I know what your thinking, another concentration camp, but Luft 111 POW Camp is much more than that. It is the story behind one of my favourite movies, ‘The Great Escape’.
Luft 111 POW was for allied officers, mostly from the various airforces battling the Germans. A mass escape through a tunnel enabled 76 POWs to escape. All but three where re-captured within a few days. 50 of those re-captured were executed by the Gestopo, on Hitler’s specific order. Three of those executed were Australian.  One of three not recaptured, was also an Australian.
The museum itself is basic and quite small, but it starts with an introductory video and there are several cases of artefacts mostly with some personal touch.
Outside is much more interesting, there is a mock up of a POW hut, watch towers and lots of ruins in the surrounding woodlands.
There is even a replica tunnel and wooden railway. You can climb down and skid yourself along if you are game.
The tunnel used for the escape, code named Harry. The tunnel was obviously destroyed, but it’s length and direction are indicated by this gravel pathway.
It’s only a few kilometres into Zagan and Pam’s excited because the carnival is in town.  There are Joe Dirt lookalikes everywhere.
Along with the carnival there is a street market running for several blocks.  It makes for an interesting day as the food is very different to what we have seen in other countries.
From what we can find out, there is only one touristy thing to do.  Climb the Old Church Tower, โ‚ฌ2 a double.  Only 250 steps but it did provide a great view of the surrounding area.
An older part of Zagan from the tower. After making our way down, we drove down near the river, had a late lunch and a bit of a rest before heading back to the safety of Germany.

Wrapping up our day in Poland.  Language appears to be a bit of an issue, we didn’t find anyone who could speak even a little English all day.  On the other hand getting into museums and touristy things appear to be inexpensive by west-European standards.  Fuel and alcohol are cheaper as well, but after filling with diesel and LPG and buying a few cans of Polish beer it was good to scurry back to our lovely stellplatz in Germany, turn on the air-conditioner and relax.

Michael and Pam

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