Poland thinks it is funny to begin building roads to then only a little later stop again. Seriously, a few meters of road and it ends. Not into a dirt road, a field or anything that could specify as a road, it just stops. There is no logical reason for these roads, all they do is confuse and consume time. But then you are in luck and you find a road going all the way to your destination, yet you find out that it’s made by someone who chose a wrong profession. Potholes, cracks and bumps everywhere and I am not even exaggerating. There is even the occassional tree growing in the middle of a path. These are the kind of roads we had to cycle on most of the times. I must say though, that Poland is better in letting you know when it actually is illegal for bikers and safer than Czesko, still having a good portion of danger nonetheless. As we had gone into a valley, giving us a view of the astonishing mountains, the first days were fairly enjoyable. We also found that the Polish people – most of them that is – can be extremely kind, generous and hospitable, something we already found with our first Polish hosts.
This proved, besides the already tons of food stuffed in our mouths, when we left Adam & Irena’s house without a clue of the whereabouts of my multifunctional “scarf thingy”. The neighbours, who had passed by that morning, pulled us over to hand me one of theirs. On this one, a map was used as a print. With my comrad being a geek in maps, I had a feeling I would find mine again, meaning he could use the spare one. Such a coincidence then, when the morning after I found it again, in my lap. This was in Klodzko (Sorry, my phone is incapable of making special symbols, just imagine a line through the ‘l’) after spending the night in the garden. The family was confusing and I was not sure if they wanted us there or not, therefor I fixed my bike a bit further. I had gotten my second flat tire after these horrible roads had done their work on my bicycle. Luckily, I managed to fix it, this time really on my own.
Before going on the road again, we went to little Europe, where I for once could feel like a giant. Here were many famous structures and buildings, mainly Polish, situated. As they had only started building in 2015, I am impressed by the quantity and quality of it all.
Then getting back to making distances an(other) accident had happened. Great.. Especially since we had to continue on this one-strip, busy road without a special area for cyclists. After a few hours of silence, where one was always facing a back and nape, we entered a village; Niemcza, hoping to find a place.
Let me tell you in advance, we did not. The town existed mostly out of a few big mansions, a handful of decent houses and for the rest, everything was ruinous, abandoned, or seemingly and overrun by nature, including a train station and rails. Residences seemed to be occupied by barking dogs and if it were not for the bunch of people we spotted on the street giving us a vague look, we’d have thought this town empty. Despite the weird vibe it gave us, we ringed plenty of houses. Nobody answered. Even when we clearly heard someone inside, the door remained untouched. It was not until at the edge of the village, where a doorbell actually had functions.
This couple did not want us for the night however, which is obviously more than fair. Yet, before they send us on our way again, a meal and tea had been offered. But then, once it was all consumed, we left the place behind to move on to the next village. I later found out, that in the second World War, Niemcza was used as a concentration camp.
Our luck was tried in Wilków this time, where before entering, going over a main road, the previous hosts passed by. The first house was a succes and as soon as our tents were up, we sat down inside for a second meal and more tea.
Celebrities on the road
When we woke up, the house was empty, therefore our journey was to continue without saying goodbye. A stray dog had made his way to us as I had just finished packing and we seriously were considering taking this dog with us. Even made some space. But then the ‘owners’ came. They are not his real owners, yet they give them food every once in a while. Sadly, we had to take off without the dog thus. The day had been a great day for cycling; the weather was pleasant, the road was decent (which is now a good thing), and most important of all, the moods were good. This was thanks to the supporting honk of Mario and Luigi – I am telling you, it were them!
In Wroclaw, finding a place was not easy, a lot of people were not keen on the idea of strangers in the yard. One guy, friendly, even told us he was worried that we might decapitate him in the night. Well, I was not planning to do so… On the edge of giving up, the owner of one of the fanciest houses looked at us like we are mad, but shrugged it off and waved us to the back. They let us know that all theirs was ours and after a week of no shower – no wonder people were distant – we finally were able to wash away all the nastiness under the hot, streaming water. God, what had I missed it!
Later in the evening, the son of same age showed up from school and chatted with us for about an hour. He was amazed by us and showed great interest. Before he went up to study his math he showed us some impressive card tricks. Really, I focused, Maarten too, both paying attention as hard as possible trying to catch him make a mistake, yet time after time he proved to be the better of us. Even when I was certain he did not have my card in his hand, but amongst the three on the table, my card ended up being switched somehow. Mindfucked I made my way to the tent, for a good nights rest, which was needed for the next day of cycling in Poland, as it sure as hell wasn’t going to be without bumps and potholes.
*16th of April – 18th of April*