Posts Tagged With: Slovakia

Day 34: Hengko to Szomathely – 58k

2,822km down: 3,403km to go.

Yes that’s right only 58k and mostly flat, what a gift, we were at the camp site by midday, so we had an unexpected half day to ourselves. For a change I rode with Walli, seeming it was a very short day.

We had the option of making a packed lunch or buying our own, I decided I could easily do without another sandwich. When we got to the camp site we organized a cabin instead of tenting. Then Walli, David, John and I headed off for a restaurant lunch. I enjoyed it twice as much as it was unanticipated. I had a very nice Hungarian chicken soup.

After lunch we went for a walk around the town. I also wanted to find a post office to send some stuff home. I have been trying not to accumulate stuff but I pick up a bit here and there, and it is so much cheaper to post than pay excess luggage at the airport.

I don’t think I would have achieved this simple sounding task without Walli because I had not thought of the Customs Forms and the fact I wanted to buy a box to put it all in (in Krakow the Post Office had them on display so I made the assumption this would be the case here). Luckily Walli is fluent in German, which is a widely spoken language here, so she was able to request a box the size I wanted, explain why our address was Topart Kemping (the campsite) and ask for the cheap option. Phew, the stuff we take for granted that we can do with such ease at home.

We had a look around and saw an amazing building of a ex-synagogue (it’s now a music school ). We went through some pretty cool little towns on the way here including one called Szakony, it had really old buildings and churches. Once again the houses opened up straight onto the street.

The Ex-Synagogue (Sadly the camera “does something weird” to make the photos blurry . . . )

The Synagogue sign (apparently the camera only decides to be blurry sometimes)

I have been asked what we talk about in camp, anybody who thinks we may be having deep and philosophical discussions maybe disappointed to know one of our favourite conversations is designing the perfect camp site:
1. It would have a downhill gradient whichever way you entered it, and downhill again when you left.
2. You would be given a care pack as soon as you entered which had cold beer, washing powder etc.
3. We also talk about the stuff that you would be able to buy at the campsite
Some ideas are really good, some can be a bit out there, but it’s hard to explain, I guess you really need to be here, but is fun to talk about.

A week or so back we discussed how if you wore your bike shorts inside out your butt would resemble a baboon! So this morning we had baboon ride with all the riders putting their shorts on the wrong way and riding around the camp. Some rode all the way to the next campsite like that!

The Troop of Baboons

Another thing we talk about is doing a stand up skit of your most funny or embarrassing moment on tour:
1. Danya and Jan are going to do their experience in the Russian restaurant where they were trying to order food and tried to explain what they wanted by pointing to another diner’s meal what they wanted, the waitperson was horrified and thought they wanted the other diner’s meal.
2. Gen of course would have to do a laundry skit (she ended up at yet another drycleaners in Bratislava).
That got us onto the conversation of playing pranks. The locals still turn up at the lunch truck and wander around picking up lids, looking at what’s on offer etc . We thought we could get someone who spoke the language – like Walli – to enlist a couple of the locals to really wind up the tour guide on lunch.

So now you know what we talk about – nothing deep and meaningful, but all light hearted and fun.

Once we got to Slovakia, and so far though Hungary, we have been riding past field after field of sunflowers. Unfortunately we have missed them at their best, their heads are drooping and the centres of the heads are now dark. But the sheer sizes of the fields are still breathtaking. There are still fields of corn and sugar beets but not the numerous fruit trees dropping fruit everywhere.

This is a field of sunflowers, can’t you tell?

As soon as we crossed the border from Austria to Hungary the standard of the roads and bike paths deteriorated! There are also a number of really old cars that I have not seen in New Zealand for years. Of course I am not great on the names of cars (I could tell you the colours) but I did recognize a really old Humbar and a Fiat, like early 70s style. There also of course a lot of new cars.

Once again the translation of campsite information for campers from Hungarian to English caused a few smiles.

Interesting translation (there was another photo but you couldn’t read any of it)

Tomorrow we have a few hills including one the tour guides refer to as challenging.

I have now been away 6 weeks today (11/08/12) and in 6 weeks today I will be home. In some ways it seems I have been over here a very long time, in other ways it has gone so very quickly. I am enjoying the simplicity and the ability to stay in the moment and enjoy it, rather than having to focus on stuff you haven’t done or still have to do.

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Day 33: Bratisalva to Hengko – 95k

2,764km down: 3,461km to go.

So I was up early today. I slept badly but had my bags out by the required 6:30am.

Today we were in three countries, amazing. We left Slovakia after 8k and crossed into Austria, and then it was about 60k before crossing the border in Hungary. We left the city in the usual convoy but it did not take long as there were only two sets of lights to get through. Once we got out of the convoy I was enjoying riding, looking at the views.

I went through a town for about 5k into a headwind and was wishing I was going the other way, well you know what they say about being careful what you wish for. Yep, I had missed a turn so I got my wish, cycling 5k back. With the wind behind me it was not so bad, I got up to about 45k an hour on the flat. Thankfully the turn that I had missed went the other direction so even though the wind was not behind me it was not coming straight at me.

Austria, or at least the bit I saw, is quite a pretty country. There were huge wind farms which made ours look like play farms. The houses looked newer and of better quality material than the Slovakian houses.

We spent the whole time in Austria on a bike path (it was often a road but we had 20k that was just bikes). There were an amazing amount of bikers, the most I have ever seen, and whole families as well.

Just after the border into Hungary, in Fertod, there was a castle called Esterhazy Castle, with the most amazing gardens. Here is a link to it: There is also a you tube of the castle on the link.

The flags had been removed from 8k onwards to where we were staying, so I had to back track a couple of times checking I was going in the right direction – especially before I went down a large hill.

We are staying at a place called Termal Kemping. Today was meant to be 95k but for me it ended up being 110k. Tomorrow is a very short day only 60k, so will be almost like a rest day, but after that there are four more days until the next rest day and very, very hilly!

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Day 32: Rest day in Bratislava

Haha we had planned a sleep in today and here I was, wide awake at 5am! I had woken up a few times during the night as the Danube River is quite busy with boats going up and down. It is used not just for leisure boats, but also the transport of goods etc so there is a never ending stream of traffic.

Breakast was not until 7am so I mucked around until then. I had organized to go on the usual city tour with Walli, in this town instead of buses or golf carts they had little wagons that look a little bit like small trams (but are not on tracks).

Tram for our city tour

The main points of interest of the tour were:
HRAD Castle
The Church of St Elisabeth – also know as The Blue Church
Presidential Palace
Primatial Palace
The Main Square – Hlavné námestie
Hviezdoslavovo square
The solovak radio building – built like an upside down pyramid
The UFO building – built as part of the construct of the Novy Most (new bridge). It has a restaurant up the top of it plus two mock aliens (green of course) sitting on the outside looking down.

In the Town Square

On the tour we met a couple from Egypt and Denmark, called Mobil and Vicky. They live mostly in Egypt but spend the hottest part of summer in Denmark to escape the heat. They were interesting to talk to. After the tour we said goodbye and then they and Walli and I made our way independently and ended up in the same restaurant for lunch. We had a very nice pizza.

I have been a bit stiff between the shoulders so I booked myself in for a Thai massage and unbelievable, but as I walked out after the massage they were the next customers! By this time I expected to see them walk into the restaurant tonight.

The massage was great. A couple of weeks ago I had a spill off my bike and had jarred my shoulder. Well this must have been something she could feel because she spent ages on this area. At times it was very uncomfortable but she seemed to know what she was doing. Certainly afterwards I have better movement than I had before. I was pummelled and prodded for about an hour including her kneeling on my back and pushing down as hard as she could.

I had a look around the shops, not seriously looking but keeping an eye out for the right gift for any of my children. I found quite a fun toy shop that I spent awhile in.

A sculpture in town

Another sculpture in town

Tonight for dinner Gen, Walli and I went to the HRAD restauracia up by HRAD Castle. We had fantastic views, especially as the city changed from day to night. Gen looks up something called the Travellers Advisor to get the name of the top spots to eat. Certainly it was the nicest meal I have had since I have been away. I had a spicy fish soup and trout. The trout was so tender it melted in your mouth.

View from HRAD Castle

Tomorrow we are on the road again, this time for a six day stretch before the next rest day. We are cycling 95k tomorrow and for the only time on the tour we are going to be in three countries in one day – Slovakia, Austria and Hungary.

Oh, I have just looked at the time – 11:50pm – and we have to have our bags packed and be out by 6:30am, and I have not yet packed. Plus I have to go though my permanent bag to find my spare brake pads.

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Day 31: Jelenec to Bratislava – 120k

2,669km down: 3,556km to go.

Highways 75, 562, 62, 572

I was hoping for a shorter ride today, and the information “It’s like yesterday afternoon” did not actually help, considering I was lost in the middle of nowhere yesterday.

Not sure why but I was one of the last out of camp today. The first 20k was up and down hills, but not rollers – in my definition a roller you can get two thirds of the way up it from the downhill beforehand. These were not rollers. Lots of ups and three big towns to navigate through before Bratislava: Nitra, Šaľa, and Galanta.

Lunch stop was at 70k, there was a boring 15k before it that was flat / slight gradient uphill and a cross wind, I was nearly blown out onto the road a couple of times. At 60k Michele came up beside me, he had made a wrong turn in the previous town, and we rode into lunch together. The 10k of highway was like it had been poured in 10 metre segments at time, each one allowed to dry before the next segment was poured as there was a lumpy crack between each of them, it was uneven and unpleasant to ride – but as I kept telling myself, it was still way better than a 12% hill.

After lunch Michele and I rode the rest of the way to Bratislava together. It was hot and windy, slightly uphill and I just concentrated on keeping up with him. There was nothing of great significance to see during the day until we got to Bratislava.

We are in Bratislava for two nights, with a rest day tomorrow. We are staying in a Botel (hotel on water) called Botel Gracia! Thankfully the boat is firmly fixed to the bank so it’s not a sailing sensation (thankfully as I get seasick as well as carsick) unless of course you look out the windows and see the Danube River flowing past!

Botel Gracia

Once we had unpacked and cleaned up we met up the top in the bar for a cold beer. A group of us went out for dinner to a local place, but for the first time we chose badly. The food was fatty, cold and unpleasant, but the company was fun. I had an early night, and I was looking forward to sleeping in.

I was talking to Ciran who had been the sweep yesterday when I got lost and it turned out he had also gotten lost where I did. He only found his way because his phone was working and he was able to ring, which made me feel a bit better.

Only a short time now before over half the group leave us. We have six more riding days then another rest day and then three more riding days till we arrive in Venice. Walli, Daphne, Shirley, Gen, Rob, Brian, Louise, Gareth and Ciran all leave in Venice. This leaves Jan and Danya, Brett, Scott, Daniel, Michele and I going all the way to Lisbon, and David and John who go until Barcelona.

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Day 30: Banska Stiavnica to Jelenec – 78k

2,549km down: 3,676km to go.

Before lunch up 1,110 metres and down 1,393 metres.

Thankfully I woke up with only a very slight inner ear issue, which I only noticed when looking down! We started off the day with a nice breakfast. As it was a short riding day I decided to ride around town to have a look, plus then I could take my time getting up the hill. Straight off 6k uphill, arrggh! My legs like to wake up slowly and this was at least as steep as Makara, but longer.

I had told Ciran, who was the being the sweep today, that I was going to look around and he said he would wait at the top of the hill. We arranged that if I got there before him that I would text him. So after looking around I got to the top of the hill, no Ciran. I went to text him and my phone went flat – I forgot to charge it last night. Damn. (I didn’t know at this point the impact this would have on my day). So I sat at the top and waited and he arrived soon after, so far so good.

After that we had 13k downhill, some of it was pretty steep so once again I got sore hands from braking. We went through a small village called Brehy and there was a broadcast going through the town. At first I thought it was radio from someone’s house but then it was still going about a kilometre later so I looked around and saw there were megaphones up on the power lines. It kept going the whole way through the town but none of the locals seemed to be taking any notice of it.

Just out of the town was an old train carriage that had been turned into a beehive, rows and stacks of trays. I cycled very quickly when I noticed that. Coming through Hronský Beňadik there was a beautiful monastery.

Monastery at Hronský Beňadik (photo from Slovakia Travel)

Lunch was at 49.5k but because I had ridden around at the top of the hill my speedo was out and the last couple of turns there had been no flags, so I was pleased to get to the right place for lunch.

The comment I made in yesterday’s blog about not having any significant navigation errors, well I obviously did not touch wood and clearly tempted fate! After lunch I went the wrong way by going straight, but when there was no turn in 2k I realized I was going the wrong way and doubled back. I then reread my notes – or should I say misread my notes – and read second turn past the gas station as turn straight after the gas station. I have no idea why. Murphy’s law there was of course a turn at a T intersection at the right time and I had gone quite awhile before I realized I was lost. I did not realize until much later that I was in the completely wrong place.

I asked a local and showed him where I was trying to go, he told me to go right so I did and rode for 5k, up until I came to a dead end so then went 5k back. I circled around looking for a flag but saw nothing. I assumed locals and/or street cleaners had removed them again.

I would have rung one of the tour guides but of course my phone was flat, and the maps are on my phone, the charger was not with me, I did not have my paper map with me, and nobody I asked spoke English. I then did the worst thing you can do when you are lost, I chose not to ride back up the big hill I had just ridden down, which would have taken me back to the point I got lost, so I got more lost.

I thought “I just need to find a bigger place or a gas station where there they will have a map” so I rode off, and after about 10k I came to a petrol station. First I spoke to the couple of young lads outside, and asked if they spoke English. Well, they did speak a little, but unfortunately my writing is messy and they couldn’t understand what I wanted or where I wanted to go. I went inside and showed the people behind the counter my notebook, but they did not speak English. A customer came and wrote down directions for me, luckily I clicked that the last destination on her instructions was Banska Stiavninka – which is where I left this morning! Of course I would have picked this up if the instructions took me back the way I came, but imagine if they directed me to a different route and then I turned up back at the start location of the day!!

Then I managed to convey that I wanted to ring someone, but the man rang and I am not sure if he dialled wrong or I had the numbers for the tour guides from Poland instead of Slovakia but the phones would not connect. Another couple of customers came in and everyone spoke to each other in Slovakian, then finally a young lady who could speak English came in. After a lot of discussion with her and the owner looking at the map and much waving of hands, she said she would show me the way. So off she drove with me cycling frantically behind her. After about 2k (I was exhausted but did not want to lose her) she obviously got frustrated with my slow pace and pulled over, opened the back of her hatchback and said “You and bike, in”. I had my bike apart and was in the car quicker than a rat up a drain pipe.

Berta was born in Slovakia, she is a PA and thankfully learned English at school. Berta kept asking me why and how I got lost, which was hard to explain, but she then got diverted by the fact that she had gotten lost. So we drove to a store and got directions, and then ten minutes later we arrived back at the same store! By this point I was starting to wonder if we are distant relatives!

After another four or five stops for directions, and about 50k of driving, we arrived at Jelence and I saw a flag. Berta was nice enough to take me right to camp. Berta would not accept any money for petrol, as she said God watches what we do, to which I said God must have sent her to help me, which she was pleased about.

After all this adventure, I arrived a camp with four riders still to come in and no alarm about me missing. My total riding for the day was 74k, only 4k less than I was meant to do! I have no idea how far away I actually was as we took a very long circular and backtracking route in the car.

Lessons learnt from this
1. Always charge the phone (this was the one and only time I forgot to)
2. A paper copy of a map is no good to you if you do not have it with you
3. If you know the way back to the last point that you were on the right track, go back – even if it is up a massive big hill
4. Write neater
5. Put which country the tour guide’s numbers are for next to them

However, it was nice that so many people tried to help me. I have even forgiven the lad who sent me the wrong way up a 5k dead-end, as I am sure he was genuine in his wish to help.

Anyway, I got to the camp, it was quite a nice setting. There was horse wandering around with a small kitten wandering around after it.

Once again Walli and I got a room, for 10 Euro each, with an inside toilet. We had a bunk room with a bunk and 3 single beds. It was difficult to convey to the manager that I wanted this just for two of us, and that even though there were five beds, I wanted another separate room for Shirley and Daphne. We got there in the end and they got a separate bunk room also with 5 beds.

One more riding day this leg then the next is a rest day. Tomorrow I was hoping was another shorter day but it is 120k and is apparently like this afternoon’s riding – but of course I do not know what that is like as my afternoon was totally different to every one else’s but, YAHOO at the moment we are clear of mountains!

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Day 29: Turany to Banska Stiavnica – 110k

2,471km down: 3,754km to go.

Highways 50,65 51/525 plus back roads, 1,500 metres up and down

The past couple of nights I have had a return of my inner ear problem (Labyrinthitis) but by the morning it had been gone. Not this morning. I woke up at 2:30am to go to the bathroom; I lurched there and back like I was drunk. I lay down and hoped it would settle by the morning. The medication is yet another thing I forgot to bring, and it is of course a prescription medicine. It has been a couple of years since the last bout, but no excuse as I have had it on and off for years.

Unfortunately it had not gone by the morning, and the rain had arrived. I thought about riding in the truck for the day but I suffer from car sickness at the best of times, the thought of going in the truck through the back roads, winding up and down, was an even worse option than riding. As long as I did not look down, by the time I set off I was not too bad, but had rotten nausea. I felt I was safe to ride, and if at any time I didn’t I would have stopped and organized to be picked up. Even with the light dizziness I was not the rider that managed to just ride off the road into a ditch – more about this later.

We had been told by the tour guys that this was going to be a tough riding day, and they were not exaggerating. The 70k morning ride to lunch was just about constantly up 12 and 14 percent hills, just climbing. The rain cleared and then it got hot. I was starting to feel better but felt dizzy if I had to look into my panniers (side bags) and for some reason going up steep hills I look down. No idea why but it resulted in me having to get off and walk most of the way up a couple of them.

At 42k I made a wrong turn but thankfully I realized after a couple of kilometres and no flags. So far – touch wood – my wrong turns have resulted in only a few extra kilometres. The record for the tour so far is 50k – pleased it was not me! I started to feel a bit better, and the nausea started to settle a bit as well.

The climb into lunch was 6k and started in a cobble paved street but thankfully soon was just paved road. The road went up and up – a great view but very pleased to see the lunch truck.

After lunch we rode up another couple of kilometres of slight climb, then a 12k downhill. Because I was not sure what was coming around the corner, and some of it was uneven with pot holes, and there were cars, walkers and then in middle of it all a bus, I was constantly braking, so my hands were sore at the end of it.

There are lots of fruit trees all along the sides of the roads, laden with fruit which is dropping all over the ground – apples, plums and a purple berry. The cows here wear bells around their necks. There are still bus routes just about every road we take, but the bus shelters are not as nice, they are often rusty (not as inviting for a quick lie down). There are cobblestone streets galore, and churches of course, but I have not seen before the narrow streets with the houses opening straight onto them with no front yard.

After the downhill there was flat road for about 2k then it was back to climbing and the heat and the wind were back. The wind had lost track of us when we crossed the border, but now it was back. At one point I resorted to sitting in a rusty bus stop and pouring water over my head. I was riding behind Brian when I thought he was pulling off the road, next thing I know he had ridden into a ditch! He said he was just thinking “I wonder what’s in the ditch” and he lost attention for a moment and in he went.

At this stage the climb was getting steeper, it was really hot, and I had run out of water. We went through two small towns that had shops like dairies, but they were shut, must be because it is Sunday? I walked part of the way up one hill, then rode another bit, then I hit the wall, the nausea was back and with less than 4k to go I decided to walk up the final hill. I got to the top of the hill with a numbers of stops (cleats are not great for walking, as well as being stuffed).

The final bit to the rest stop was downhill (12 percent gradient down, thankfully not up!) then cobblestones again but steep! I had a degree of difficulty trying to ride down rough steep cobblestones!

Yay, I arrived at the hotel. I was not able to look down to take off bags or lock my bike but thankfully Ciran was around and he did it for me. I am pleased to be staying in a hotel tonight even though it is not a rest day. I got up to the room and lay down for awhile. Gen who is a Doctor had told me antihistamine pills have a similar effect to Stemetil, so I took one and had a sleep. When I woke up I felt a lot better, just so long as I didn’t do any sudden head movements.

The town we are staying at is a UNESCO site due to the old streets and buildings. I have not had a look it today apart from what I saw on the way in. Tomorrow is a shorter day about 75k, with hills still – especially the first third, but not as bad as today. So depending on how I feel in the morning I might have a look around before I leave.

The hotel is really nice, Hotel Kerling. We had dinner in a restaurant, first a nice meat and noodle broth and then a kind of chicken schnitzel with salad and chips, and an endless jug of cold water. Plus the hotel has Wifi so have been able to send through updates for past two days and today.

Not all the riders are riding all the days, or if they do they get a lift with the lunch truck to lunch stop and ride from there, or ride to the lunch stop and then go in the truck to camp. Although I came in at the back of the field today, there were four riders ahead of me, and of the remaining 12: 1 did not ride today, 2 got a lift to the lunch stop (one then caught the lunch truck again as it went past because it was so hot), 2 that were behind me got a lift the final bit. So overall although it was a slow day, I am still pleased with it.

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Day 28: Oravice to Turany- 85k

2,361km down: 3,864km to go.

I slept fitfully as it was hot and I had to get up a number of times. I looked at my phone in the morning and thought it said 6:20am so I woke Walli up and told her we were late and that we had 10 minutes to get dressed and get our bags over to the truck. I went outside to check the weather, all the tents were still up. “Hmm, strange” I thought and went back and checked the phone, 5:25am – oops. I told Walli that she actually had another hour of sleep. Amazingly she hopped back into bed, turned over, and was out to it again, man she has a gift. As said previously she lies down at night, shuts her eyes, and is gone until the morning.

It was nice and cool in the morning; I wore arm warmers for the first time for awhile. After breakfast I set off straight away to try and get as much done as possible before the day got hot!

I rode straight out of camp into a hill that was about 4ks up, my legs were not happy but I just took my time. At the top there was a field with about 100 storks in it, this was in a clearing in the forest, they must come to it to get frogs etc. It was misty but streaks of sun and really was very pretty looking down into the valley.

After a short down gradient we went along what I thought was nearly the top, then we started to climb again, there was a sign “4% gradient” which I did not think too much about as I can get up much steeper hills. All I can say is either someone has a sense of humour or there was a 1 missing from before the 4, because oh my god was it steep! I got halfway up it and it leveled off for a short bit so I took the chance to unclip my cleats and get off and walk. The bit just before it leveled off I was not sure I would get up and also knew I was going so slowly that would not be able to unclip the cleats either.

After this there was another small downhill, then along another ridge, then once again climbing up for 5k approximately, steady grinding, followed by 6k downhill. However this was steep and my hands were very sore from braking at the end of it. On this hill I was passed by Brian and Scott on the way up and John on the way down. I did get up to 52k on the way down at times, but to give you an example of other riders speed downhill, Michele clocked 84k.

After that the ride to lunch was rollers, I managed to get to the lunch truck first (for the first – and no doubt last – time). After lunch it was good riding – some up but nothing significant, 3k on a dirt road that I got off and walked a bit as it was steep and uneven on the down bits, back roads around a town and then onto the E50 highway for the last 15k, which was mostly downhill gradient and small hills.

By the time I got to the turn off to camp no one had passed me so with only 1.4k to go I booted it. I got to camp first, once again no doubt the first and only time. I certainly had comments from a number of other riders such as did you have rocket fuel for breakfast.

Once again I got a cabin, very basic and small, just two beds and a small table but with an outside porch and just across from toilet – although outside but close with a concrete path.

We are in Slovakia now and the big difference is that the level of English spoken is less, neither of the owners of the last two camps spoke any English, to get a cabin is quite a mission. Today the lady owner was convinced I wanted to pay for my space in the camp site, but we got there in the end. I had to fill in a guest form but had forgotten to take my glasses and could not see it enough to fill in, so was thinking “Blast, I will have to go and get them” (I can ride my bike for hours but hate having to walk an extra 3 or so minutes!). Luckily the owners husband noticed I was having trouble and gave me his to use and even more lucky – they worked.

Also, none of the hotels we have stayed at have had a laundry but this place does, so I was able to get my washing done. To aid communication I took the bag full of washing and soap powder to the office and pointed. She did try to give me instructions but gave up and came over and started the machine for me. This was lucky as the washer had a steel container that you had to clip and unclip which could have caused me some problems.

Neither of the past two places have had Wifi either, so I have been doing this and saving to the outbox, I am hoping the emails will not disappear when I close it, and also wishing I had tried this when I had only done the first day!

I have had a lazy afternoon, and am looking forward to dinner which is another hour away. When I got to the lunch truck I was not very hungry and did not make a takeaway sandwich as camp was only 30k from lunch . However I have since found out I got to the lunch truck at 10am so it’s quite a long time from then until dinner around 6pm. I could ride the 1.4k into the village and back but will wait as only an hour to go now.

I am pleased that I got to the camp at 11:40am, that was good going with some significant climbs in there.

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Day 27: Krakow to Oravice – 128k

2,276km down: 3,949km to go.

Up 1,700 meters today, along highways 964, 28, 95, 47, 958, 959, 520.

This day was hot! I was already dripping hot and sweaty before even leaving the hotel! No doubt it did not help that my phone took the only opportunity it had had all trip to mask a pocket call. Usually it is kept in my pannier on riding days and in my walk around bag on rest days. However I had put it my back pocket today as wanted to ring my friend Pat to wish her happy birthday before starting (due to 10 hour time difference).

Due to the peculiar way the travel sim works, when I ring someone it says they are ringing me, but – it also says this if they ARE ringing me. The phone seized its opportunity today and dialled my daughter Lizzy – so I see she is ringing me and I try to pick up the call, but nothing happens. Lizzy is 34 weeks pregnant and is going to ring me when she goes into labour, so then I started to worry “Oh no, it’s too soon, but at least well within viability etc etc”. I try a few times to ring Lizzy back but can’t get through, by which point I’m a bit worried. I finally get through and ask her what is wrong and Lizzy is like “Um you rang me, and I couldn’t talk to you before because I’m at work with a patient”. Oops! Then my friend the phone considers its work is done for the day and refuses to connect me to Pat! It keeps telling me it is not an option etc. I finally left a message for Pat for a mutual friend to pass on.

We set off from Krakow in a convoy for 19k, it took ages as the group kept being separated by lights etc. At the end of the convoy we were just by the salt mines from last night! The first bit was up a really steep hill with uneven paving stones so I took the cautious approach and walked up it.

It was really, really hot so once again I resorted to pouring cold water over my head at regular intervals and drinking heaps of water. There were some significant climbs (no wonder with climbing 1,700 meters today) we had been told it was easier after lunch. After Dan and I spent two hours post lunch steadily climbing and up a hill that went on for about 5k (we called it the hill that just kept on giving) we decided the person who said it was so easy should have to come and ride it. Thankfully we reached the top eventually and had a couple of kilometres down and then flat for awhile.

I must tense up my shoulders going uphill as I had to stop a few times to stretch them, including at one point lying on the ground outside a dairy (there wasn’t a convenient bus stop handy).

Just before the border we went through town called Chocholow, it had a shrine with a Maori figurine in it in full cloak and dress, certainly not what I expected to see in Poland. Sadly my camera was flat so I do not have a photo but I will google it and see if I can find anything. The houses here were different than I have seen anywhere else, they were four stories high with really steep roofs. We joked that the snow must get really deep and maybe they can only get out of the fourth floor in the middle of winter (I will see if anyone took a photo).

Once again it was not a real, formal border crossing. There were two police down the road from it that laughed as I went past, why I don’t know. We had been told there was very big hill just after the border (oh joy, 100k into the ride ) but turned out that although it was 12 percent it had a good descent just before it so I got a good run up and was three quarters of the way up it before having to do any work.

I arrived weary but happy to be there at the auto camp in Oravice at 5 pm, making it a 10hour day – 1 hour in breaks and 9 hours riding – I was stuffed! Walli and I once again have a room, very basic just two beds and a table and two chairs but inside and across the hall from the toilet.

I had time to clean the bike and have a shower etc, then the riders meeting was delayed as not all the riders had arrived. While we were waiting, and during tea, there was a thunder and lightning storm and lots of rain.

At 7:15pm I headed for bed, the late night in Krakow and the big riding day had caught up with me. Being a Friday night and school holidays, a number of campers had music blaring and there was laughter, loud voices and camp sing songs so I put on the earphones and music, and then had no more background noise worries.

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