Ahaha good luck trying to pronounce the names of the places on this blog post.
Chilling in Krakow
First thing first: went on the all important celebratory pub crawl.
All I can think is how much the locals must hate the tourists. This hostel does a pub crawl every night. And I went on it three nights in a row, and it was huge every night.
Aside from the pub crawls, I did a bit of sight seeing and eating.
Of course I also went to Auschwitz because it’s something everyone should see. It was very very emotionally heavy going. It all looked very tranquil with all the trees planted and grass going, it was hard to believe a couple of million people were murdered here. That is until you see the thousands of shoes piled up in one of the displays, or the nail marks on the walls of the gas chambers.
After the emotional roller coaster of Auschwitz, I initially decided I wasn’t going to go on the pub crawl because I was leaving the next day… It didn’t take much from my Irish room mates to convince me to come out anyway. So! The next day I left a little hungover at about 7:30am.
Krakow to Zarzyce Wielkie
Total distance: 35km. Total time. 2.5hrs.
It was a pretty dreary day for riding. Overcast with wind and drizzle.
Navigating out of cities always sucks, so as soon as I had cleared the city and was on some pretty back roads, I plonked my butt down at a bus stop for a bit of lunch. I was then spotted by a polish bloke who asked me something in Polish but I said I only spoke English. He nodded, smiled, and went on his way. Five minutes later a young Polish girl came out of the same house and asked me in English if I was ok and if I would like some tea or coffee. How the hell could I say no? I got more than just tea, I got cake, slice and some home made honey from her grandmother.
The young girl was called Patrycja and she had been living in England for the last few years. She also offered me a place to stay for the night. Keep in mind this was at about 11:30am, and usually I don’t finish my day until about 5pm. However, I had already used the bathroom… Soooo I had pretty much already said yes. Also it was crappy weather and I enjoyed making a new friend that afternoon rather than spending 7 hours riding through the rain. Patrycja I don’t know how to thank you for your hospitality but I had a lovely evening and I really appreciated it. Please let me know if you’re ever in Sydney!
Zarzyce Wielkie to Zubrzyca Górna
Total distance: 57km. Total time: 6.5hrs. Total climb: 1000m
All I can say is thank god I stayed at Patrycjas place. Originally I had planned to do 90km in one day, and about a 1000m climb, but staying overnight made this day more manageable. Anyway, the weather was lovely and the ride towards the Slovaki border was very beautiful.
It was a little bit hilly at first, then I had a really big climb to do, about 400m up to a height of 1100m. It killed me and because of the trees, the view from the top was nothing spectacular. I felt a bit ripped off after busting my ass off. Anywho, came flying down the mountain on the other ride which is always fun, and made it to the campsite. Which by the way, I was camping at about 800m elevation so it was a very cold night.
Total distance: 89km. Total time: 8.5hrs. Total climb: 1010m.
By the way, when I say “total climb” I mean how much I had to climb over the day. I don’t mean 1010m straight up.
I don’t know what time I started. All I know is I was crossing the border into Slovakia today. And the ride was beautiful! Unfortunately I was riding on the main road a bit, but then I got my own bike glorious bike path for a while.
Crossed the border about lunch time.
And soon after I began the 600m climb over the mountains. Long story short, it was a death climb. Lots of steep sections that were long and curvy. My legs were burning and I was swearing like a sailor. But then BAM I hit the plateau and got to cruise downhill a little, right past this beautiful mountain range.
Then it was more climbing… Then BAM, right at the very tippy top of the pass, I got the view I felt I deserved.
The weather looked to be settling in so I smashed it downhill (new record of 65km an hour) and made it to camp completely exhausted.
Total distance: 81km. Total time: 7.5hrs. Total climb: 900m.
My day started with a steep, long climb out of town. I had come to accept this would be my fate while riding through slovakia: hills, mountains, and lots of them.
I passed through a few pretty little towns that day.
And then here’s just pretty pictures of my ride.
Here’s my grumpy ass face when I realised I had to go further uphill to get to the camp ground for the night. I didn’t care how beautiful Slovakia was at this point. I had passed from the “these mountains are hard work but worth it”, to “fuck this shit” by about 6pm. I was too tired to admire the beauty.
Anywho, it was a nice spot to camp, even if there was a crazy lady who was hanging around claiming to be a pilgrim. Everyone at camp thought she was homeless, and subsequently she was chased off the campsite by the camp owner.
Total distance: 66km. Total time: 7hrs. Total climb: 1300m.
And I was off at about 7:30am. I didn’t get eaten by a bear so that was good. I had been warned by some Slovak backpackers in Krakow that bears were a thing I had to watch out for. So hence I haven’t been sleeping in the forest while in Slovakia.
Unfortunately today I spent more time on the highway than I would have liked. It was a little nerve rattling but I had no other choice. I also did something a bit naughty. There was roadworks for about a 5km section which meant the way I wanted to go was completely blocked and the detour meant I had to climb another 200m up and extend the ride by about 10km… Stuff that. It was a Saturday which meant not as many workers, and what were they going to do? Chase me down? I was not in the mood for more climbing so I made my speedy way through the construction site (it was all downhill thank god) much to the disapproval of the workers. Oops.
The ride through the forrest more than made up for the highway and construction site shenanigans. Even if I was climbing for about 10km straight (and I mean some seriously hard climbing). But it was so tranquil and quiet and I was spoilt when I reached the top, and it was a nice cruise ride down the other side.
Now I’m in a beautiful little tourist town that’s basically been built on the side of the mountain. They had no space in the hostel so I’m camped in the backyard. Which is a-ok with me. I’ve decided to spend two nights for a few reasons. I’m exhausted; my legs were burning today and hills which I would usually smash out were absolute hell to ride so I really need to recover a bit. I’m also a bit sick, and I know if I don’t manage that, it will only get worse (extensive partying in Krakow is probably to blame). Finally, when riding into Banská, it looked like such a gorgeous old town that I just have to stay and explore. I honestly had no idea what was here. I picked it because it was the next place on the map within rideable distance that had a hostel.