At the border between Serbia and Hungary and also Hungary-Slovakia, we observed: slightly more prosperous again. We also noticed it in the shops, prices rose (in Slovakia) to almost Dutch levels. And besides that, Oscar already wrote once before, less contact/reaction on our tandem (often the first topic of conversation). The latter went so far as that when we fell while descending on a farm track in Slovakia and had to recover from that for a while – disinfecting Oscar’s scratches and repairing the front bag – and thus blocking the entire path with parts of our equipment, the people passing by did nod “goodday”, but did not inquire if everything was OK. Not that we needed anything, but still.
Suddenly we had had enough and pedalled across the border to Poland that same day. We entered the Polish part of the Tatra mountains via Muszyna. Beautifully green, a bit Alpinelike. We were keen to go to a pole namiotowe (Polish version of a farm campsite) there to have a few days’ rest/celbrate Oscar’s birthday.
What a good move. We were the only guests. The owner, garden gnome type with big grey beard, I estimate about 70 years old, lived in a camper himself, spoke only Polish and was busy all day mowing grass, pruning trees etc. But not on Sunday. Sunday is rest day and you go to church in clean sweatpants. In the afternoon, you share a drink bare chested with your family on a camping chair in front of your motorhome.
We enjoyed two sunny days in this beautiful spot, reading books and making minor repairs to our equipment.
Sunday evening we decided we had been lazy long enough around, Monday morning we moved on.
We noticed that there are more tourists in this part of Poland. There is plenty of walking and cycling. That fits with the leaflets we got from our camping gnome – maps full of highlights, cold and hot springs, trails in between and stories of ski trips-. Despite this, no one speaks a word outside Polish. However, people in shops often like to use lots of words or gestures or, if necessary, google translate to make sure we understand each other. But on the street, even here, it sometimes seems like a sport to look past each other. Could (the threat of) a repressive regime be at the expense of spontaneity, are people shy because they don’t speak language or don’t fancy tourists?
Fortunately, traffic is quite obliging ėn we find many more small roads than in recent weeks – great! Along the road we both traditional wooden and extremely modern (nouveau riche) houses.
Everywhere, on squares but also very often in gardens, we see man-sized statues of saints. And even more often: people striking one (or three) cross(es) as they pass there. Catholicism plays a big role. Already several times on a weekday evening, we saw children in clothe associate with a first communion, at mum’s hand, on their way to church – dress rehearsal? And there are also many new modern churches with a typical tower and/or some kind of petals as façade panels (they seem almost out of a catalogue). Sometimes they are right next to an old church that is also in good condition. Clearly money is being spent on them.
Meanwhile, we have decided to cycle towards Cracow and from there to Gdansk (700-800km so that will take some time).
Near Czchow we see another pole namiotowe on the map. We did have to climb an extra 150m for that, part of which was 20% 😅 but it was another success. Just not quite alone, but almost and again an obviously lovingly managed campsite with tipi, fire pit, party barn etc.
Tuesday we intended to camp in the wild again for the first time after our Hungarian adventure, in a forest where it’s even legal (first let’s rebuild some confidence), but in the morning we all saw posters of dogs with bared teeth (rabies?!) and around lunch it also got quite chilly, so we ended up in a hotel. In a castle, the other end of our accommodation spectrum, but again, beautiful.
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