viaTOLL

Polish roads were notoriously poor. Except for the two main motorways, one going west to east and the other north to south, there were very few trunk roads, in spite of Poland having received £billions from the EU, initially to improve roads in time for Poland hosting the World Cup in 2012. We were told that bribery and corruption meant a lot of this investment ended up in people’s pockets rather than used to build motorways.

The road surfaces, even on the motorways, were often sub standard making the ride bumpy and noisy. There were potholes and uneven patches and repatches as well as long ruts created by heavy lorries in hot weather – which made for interesting steering. We saw some lorries running along the hard shoulder to achieve a smoother ride.

On this visit to Poland we realised for the first time that all vehicles over 3.5 tons had to pay road charges through viaTOLL, the Polish system for collecting tolls from HGVs. After two days of searching we eventually found a viaTOLL office hidden away in a DAF truck dealership where we were able to purchase two electronic boxes (one for truck and one for camper) for £20 each (refundable). We then could preload our account with toll money. Thereafter, our mileage was recorded as we travelled on the main roads, our box giving a single beep every 10 minutes or so as we passed a sensor. When our balance ran low, the box gave a double beep reminding us to top up our balance. This was easily accomplished on line later in the day.

We drove east almost to the Belarus border (we were the blue dot) to visit the DanWood factory where they build prefabricated houses. We got a warm welcome and were shown around their modern premises and saw several examples of show rooms. We were very impressed. They even gave us lunch in their staff canteen. On the way back it was getting late and we were a long way from any camp site so we parked up for the night in a lorry park outside a café; someone came round and collected ZL10 for our overnight stay (£2).

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