1,779km down: 4,446km to go.
Warsaw is the 1/2 way mark (in kilometres) for those finishing the ride in Venice, and the 1/4 way mark for those going all the way to Lisbon.
Today we rode to Warsaw. I rode the first 37k independently, then we were going to met at 12pm as a group and have a guide to take us into Warsaw in a convoy.
The sandy road out of camp was not as bad as it could have been, as the damp air during the night made it easier to ride on. The first 10k was a forest road again. I saw the third horse drawn cart for farm machinery, all so far in Poland. We were taking our time as we had three and a half hours to ride 37k. If the camp had not had as many ferocious and hungry bugs we may have stayed around there longer. As it was, they were still taking advantage and having a few last snacks while I was getting up the sandy road. Once you get over about 15k per hour, they leave you alone – apart from flying into you.
We stopped for a drink break but we still arrived at 10am with two hours to kill. There was a lake over the road so Walli and I went for a swim. The water was a bit murky but there were lots of families swimming and life guards etc, plus I figured if the water was unsafe, Poland is not a third world country – they have public health etc – so it would be closed.
The water was great for itchy skin. When we got out we sat on the bank for awhile, but then I felt like I was being bitten. I couldn’t see anything, then it went around my front and starting burning. Turned out I was being attacked by ants that bite! Walli picked them off me and put anti-itch on. Poor Dan had a worse experience – he ate a piece of watermelon and thought “That’s strange, there is something crunchy on it” and he had eaten a wasp which stung him on the tongue! His tongue swelled up a bit and it was a bit painful but lucky he was otherwise fine. The wasps are a bit of a problem, they follow you around and after one just flew up and bit my foot with no provocation, I am a bit wary of them. I tend to jump and twitch around trying to avoid them. They are persistent though and keep coming back.
The tour guy was a few minutes late, and when he arrived he spent a couple of minutes getting organised. A member of the group started getting a bit impatient, saying “Come on, let’s go, we have been here for hours”. I thought to myself – well you rocketed past us this morning like you were going to a fire and didn’t stop anywhere on the way, what did you think would happen with over three hours to do 37k?
The guide took us into the city by going along a canal and then a bike route. It was a longer route than the planned 25k so we did more than the 65k plan for the day, but not much, and it was certainly nicer than previous experiences of coming into a big city independently, watching the traffic, looking for flags and trying not to get run over or lost. We only spent about five minutes in total in the traffic before arriving at the hotel. We are staying at an Ibis Hotel, the rooms are really nice. It is nice to have a shower and not have to cover yourself in bug spray immediately.
One of the interesting bits of this trip is the changing landscape – in a day we can go through forest, farm land, uphill, through small towns – and the differences in accommodation. From one night to the next – a nice hotel, then a tent with bugs, then a cabin with an indoor toliet. The hotels have gone from being really basic with a single sagging bed and no ventilation to a modern ventilated hotel with double beds and a nice shower.
One of the problems we constantly face is laundry – getting our stuff washed and dried and we always hope to do this on the rest day. The past couple of places have had no laundromats in the town that we could discover. Even if we wanted to pay the rates at the hotels, they have not offered laundry services on a weekend. At the last two towns, armed with info from Google and the hotel we have all arrived at a dry cleaner and tried to explain to someone with little English that we did not want dry cleaning, we just wanted washing. Yesterday Gen, Rob, Walli and I set off to the local mall – about a 20 minute walk – to go to what we had been told was Laundromat. After hunting through this enormous mall, we asked for help at the information desk, but he gave us directions to the toilet. We finally found it and it was another drycleaner.
While we were there, Brett came past and told us that Brian, Daphne and Shirley had also been there. Daphne and Shirley had gone as far as finding an English speaker to write what they wanted and took it to the dry cleaner and then took the response back to the English speaker. We got no hint of this from the staff at the Laundromat, faced with the same question and people with bags of clothes within about 20 minutes. Would be interesting to get someone who spoke Polish to talk to them to find out what they thought was going on, maybe they thought it was a hoax?
So it was back to the old method of washing in the shower and hanging clothes lines around the bathroom.
While we were out we had dinner, Gen and I shared a mix of Bravilan Sausages, sauerkraut and mustard and a mixed platter of dumplings . They have a name for it that starts with a p but I can’t spell it well enough to give the iPad an idea of what I want to write. The autocorrect on this is a real pain, if a word has a letter wrong it changes it to what it thinks it should be – often no relation to what you were trying to say. Kelly (who has the patience of a saint and highly developed deductive skills) knows all about this, she has to try and interpret the ones I miss. For example I want to spell Laundromat. Look at what happens when I try it all together, it turns laundro mat into laundro AT&T!!.
After dinner we went back to the hotel to do our washing, and to catch up on the blog. On the way back to the hotel we came across a line where the ghettos had been in the Second World War. First there were two and they were really big – thousands of acres – so it was not such a problem but then all the Jews were forced into the smaller ghetto and many starved to death. Many more were killed when they revolted and the ghettos were set on fire, others were sent to extermination camps. Approximately 300,000 Polish, Jews lost their lives there.
As mentioned before, on Thursday my iPad decided to go on strike. I tried charging it, and Yarn tried to get it going on his charger but there was no response. However when we got to the hotel I thought before going to the iPad store I would try once again and for about an hour nothing happened then it came up with “battery low needs charging” then it must have worked out actually it was on a charger and had been for the past hour, and started happily charging itself. So I have decided not to take it to the store here as we are only here for one day, the next rest day we are in a town and have two days so will do it then.