Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Things I hate on polish camping sites

This text was posted on the polish version of this blog on August 29th.

Since I remember, almost every holiday I spent with my parents consisted of a camping journey. Because of that, I visited many campsites, both in Poland and abroad, in Germany, Denmark, Austria, Czech Republic and Slovakia. Polish campgrounds, compared to the ones I saw abroad, don't look well. And since I visited this year another five polish campsites, I want to pour here all my feelings about them.

This is the full and complete list of all the things and occasions I dislike about polish campsites.

First and the most important thing is the filth and mess one can find on almost every polish campsite. Or maybe only on those I visited? I didn't test every single site in Poland, so I might be wrong...

It is well known that if you want to take a shower in any bathroom in hotel, you should wear something on your feet (otherwise you risk getting mycosis). There is nothing more gross than a toilet floor covered with water. Or some other liquid, since you can't tell the color of this liquid because of the dirt on the floor. You never know where you put your boot or foot...

Honest, I understand it's difficult to wash a floor or wall that wasn't painted in 10 years (at least). I only expect that spending a lot of money on a campsite will relieve me from the necessity of having my own chemical toilet and shower...

Secondly, I hate all the weird stories about showers. I don't mean the filth, but stuff like:

  • shower that you have to pay for, using a coin (7 PLN / $2.44 / €1,71 for 5 minutes, or 5 PLN for 7 minutes -- I can't recall) (campsite in Masurian Lake District),
  • shower that you have to pay for to the owner of the site -- 10 PLN /$3,49 / €2,44, you need to finish when the owner asks you to -- by the way, she said she needs to charge for showers because the site itself is very cheap! (Vistula Spit),
  • showers that are open only within specific hours (like 7 AM - 10:20 AM and 6 PM - 10:20 PM) (Table Mountains),
  • showers open 24 hrs a day, but with hot water available only within specific hours (Karkonosze),
  • insufficient numer of hooks to hang your clothes (two sets of clothes) and a towel, two hooks is not enough, especially in very tight space, and you end with all your clothes wet,
  • no room to put your shampoo bottle,
  • cheap faucets and shower nozzles -- not to mention the inability to controll the water temperature and flow.
The third most annoying thing is very expensive electricity you can get on polish campsites. I hate expensive stuff, but the prices for connecting your camper to the grid are outrageous. I used the electricity on all the three sites I visited during this trip, paying 10 PLN for a day. For this amount of money one can buy 20 kWh of electricity on free market -- enough to supply to a 1 000 Watt heater for 20 hours.

I won't buy electricity on my next camping trips, it's a waste of money. This time I left my solar panels at home, but even without them, I should have sufficient power from the gel batteries. I would only have to run my fridge on gas, which is even less expensive. :)

I also hate the difficulties with connecting any camper to the grid. And I don't mean that I had to buy a long wire and a special connector that allowed me to plug to the standard socket with the plug I have installed on my camper.

I only mean that every time (2/3 campsites) I want to connect the electricity I need to ask someone to open the locker with sockets. Same thing when I want to leave and need to disconnect. I have to wait until that someone is available, those people just don't get that they work to make it easier for us, not the opposite!

Often there's simply not enough sockets for the campers to plug into. Nowadays people like to carry their laptops along to their camping trips, and the campsites built 20 or more years ago are simply not prepared for that demand. Once on a campsite in Bieszczady, we paid for electricity, but couldn't use it...

The fifth thing that annoys me: poor shape of the grass on the sites. We visited during the second part of our summer holiday three campsites, but only one had nice green grass that was not destroyed -- probably because it was rather abandoned. Nobody likes the look and the smell of yellow grass that started to rot after being covered by a tent for two weeks, right?

6th thing -- I hate searching for the campsites. At home, on the internet, and en-route, from the front seat of my camper. Polish campsites don't have their websites very often, so it's almost impossible to find information and location of those sites on the internet. Search results are full of crappy sites -- when searching for "kempingi Poznań" you'll get a lot of web catalogues that have a category named "campsites in Poznań", but don't have any entries in those categories... One can get a bit more information from the PFCC -- Polish Federation of Camping and Caravaning, but it's website is old and the database needs to be updated. During last trip we visited four campsites that were recommended by PFCC: one of those sites was completely closed, all of the remaining 3 sites had some flaws.

When I find an interesting campsite on the web, I must also find it in real world. That's not easy, since the owners don't post GPS coordinates or routes to their sites on their web pages.

Seventh thing that does annoy me is the idea of not keeping books of all the money that is paid for the campsite. During all my camping trips only on three times I received an invoice (including "climate fee" -- that goes directly to the municipality) without asking. When I asked for the invoice this year (in Karkonosze, at the site with variable hot water temperature), I caused some chaos. I found out the girl I spoke to didn't know how to fill the invoice, the seal that was supposed to be stamped on the invoice was also broken. By the way, the invoice I got had number 19/2009 -- does it mean it was the 19th invoice prepared during this year? Was the campsite visited only by 18 families?

Maybe some of you don't need such documents, but I prefer that all campsite's owners would earn their money officially and legally. I believe that someone who doesn't pay his taxes is more likely to con his customers.

I also can't stand a large part of the people that visit the campsites. I understand we all are there to regenerate ourselves, but obviously we all have different ideas how this regeneration should look like. On the campsites I am less than ever tolerant to:
  • loud music, not only from 10PM to 6AM,
  • smell of cigarette smoke.
If not for the hot showers and slightly more safe environment than simple parking lot, I wouldn't need campsites at all!

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