IV Szczecin - Gryfino [31 km]
From Szczecin, we cycle on bicycle paths through Kołbaskowo, for a moment exactly along the Polish-German border. Just before the border, you can see the ruins of the church in Pargowo. After only three kilometers in Germany, we enter the border bridge on the Western Oder, which we can see earlier from the observation tower. Then we cycle through the Lower Oder Valley Landscape Park directly to Gryfino.
The town's name comes from the House of Griffin - a dynasty of princes ruling in Western Pomerania from 12th to the 17th century. The griffin was the coat of arms of the family from 1214. However, the closest and largest seat of the Pomeranian Dukes is in Szczecin. Gryfino had a superb gothic old town, unfortunately mostly destroyed during WWII. Luckily, there are some interesting sights preserved. The Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Bańska Gate and fragments of defensive walls that survived the war are not to be skipped. The city is located in the heart of the Lower Oder Valley bird paradise. The floodplains, swamps, meadows and peat bogs stretching over several dozen kilometers form a mosaic of habitats, especially friendly to water and marsh birds, which occur here in enormous concentrations. Up to 9,000 cranes gather at the autumn rally! There are, among others, 14 species from the Polish Red Book.
Another natural attraction at Gryfino is the Crooked Forest, a place of worldwide fame. It owes its name and popularity to the specifically shaped pine trees. Germans planted the forest around 1934 and only in the 1970s was its uniqueness discovered. Today, only 105 of 400 initially curved pines remain. Interestingly, no one really knows why the forest is crooked. You can find the most fantastic explanations, such as the interference of an extraterrestrial civilization, or the influence of water veins on plants. Most likely, however, the trees were simply cut, bent and tied, securing the top shoot to the ground. Even more important and also unanswered question is: why crook the forest? There are several competing hypotheses here as well. Perhaps it was about obtaining curved wood from which to make boat shells or barrels? Maybe it was supposed to be an attraction for patients of a nearby (now abandoned) sanatorium? The old trees are slowly dying, so the foresters decided to plant a new, equally crooked forest. It's also an experiment that will hopefully give an answer to the question, "why is the forest crooked"?
Gryfino turns into a nationwide capital of travelers every winter. The “Włóczykij” travel festival, which lasts about a week, has been attracting more or less famous travelers, reporters, writers, filmmakers and musicians, and most of all people passionate about discovering the world.