No more time to Rzest(cow)??????? Time to Krak(ow)on!!!!.......... I know that's bad.
I had one of those incredibly uncomfortable nights camping last night. I set up the tent a little bit late and thus had little in terms of options as to where to camp. It was also a little bit dark too so I didn't see exactly where I was placing my tent. Unfortunately at some point in the night I must have rolled over and moved my sleeping mat slightly onto some thorns which pierced through my base layer of the tent and into my mat. All of which meant that I awoke in the middle of the night lying at a slight angle on my now deflated sleeping mat. It was really kind of Yuri to give it to me in Kiev and while it's light and compact on the plus side I wondered at the time how robust it would prove to be.
Despite it being a cold evening when I went to sleep I also woke up later in the night boiling hot and quickly had to manoeuvre myself out of the sleeping bag and unzip the top to let some air in. All of these tasks sound simple enough but carried out in darkness and half asleep often prove more difficult in practice.
It wasn't therefore the least bit hard for me get up in the morning. If I hadn't had the prospect of arriving in Krakow later on in the day packing up might have taken a lot longer but it was carried out with it's usual military like precision and I was on the road again in no time.
For the majority of the trip I've really enjoyed wild camping and like I've stated before I find that I usually sleep better when camping than actually in a bed. However when you get it wrong it's not a pleasurable experience. We've all done camping at one point or another and there is nothing worse than having to pack up slightly damp tents and rolling up sleeping bags after a less than satisfactory nights sleep. As you can probably tell I'm very much looking forward to the prospect of a bed in Krakow.
The ride itself was much the same as yesterday. I stopped just outside of Rzsecow at McDonalds once again. It probably seems like I eat there all the time but it's the perfect place to go while on the road as they have WiFi. I needed to get online to send the hostel in Krakow an email telling them that I would be arriving a day earlier and whether they would have a bed for me.
LPY taking a well earned rest
Two hundred kilometres is a long way and cycling these kind of distances is not something I like to do that often. I now find that I'm most comfortable around the 150/160km mark per day but it's often the case that I'll do a little more. I'm looking forward to taking it down a notch when I meet up with my friends in the Czech Republic. This kind of distance isn't too hard though if you just break it down into little sections, fifty here, fifty there and before you know it you're not so far from your final destination.
From what I've seen so far of Poland it seems to be the most developed of the countries that I've seen so far;certainly it looks more prosperous in terms of the house people live in and the cars they drive. Many of the small villages I passed in my previous countries were a little run down but here the houses look very well maintained, it just feels for want of a better word less 'Soviet'
I stuck to the same E40 road that I rode the previous day but at around 35 kilometres from Krakow there starts a motorway the A4 which I believe takes you directly into Krakow. I didn't really fancy the prospect of riding into the centre of the city and as the hostel I booked is on the outskirts of the city I noticed on the map another couple of roads namely route 75 and 79 which would take me around outskirts of Krakow.
The second of only two photos today. You can always tell when I ride a long way in one day as there are less snaps.
It proved to be a good choice and while the road wasn't as smooth as earlier in the day it was certainly less congested. It wasn't long before I was in Krakow and it was immediately apparent that this is a city for cyclists. It was great to see designated cycle paths and even better to see so many locals using them.
The easy part for me is always covering the distance to the city but the hard part then comes in locating the specific address of the place you are supposed to be staying. I keep saying it and I know people did it in the past but how on earth did we find places back in the day without the use of GPS and especially when you don't speak the local lingo? This part of the ride I always find to be quite drawn out. On the one hand I'm excited to be in a new city but on the other hand I'm tired and want to find the place as quickly as possible so I can get off the bike.
I knew the address of where I was staying but the battery on my phone (which also doubles as my GPS) was now in the red zone. I was beginning to wonder whether I had the right area as I found myself in a very leafy and what seemed to be quite affluent suburb of the city. Then with my GPS telling me I was 1.6km from the hostel my battery died, I suddenly felt a little bit helpless I would now have to revert to the tried and tested method of simply asking someone for directions. As luck would have it though a car pulled up on the other side of the road and a guy rolled down his window and asked if I needed any help. I told him I was looking for 28 Lipca 1943 street and he said it was nearby and that I should just simply follow him, aren't people so kind? A few minutes later I arrived outside the very nice large house which has been converted into a hostel.
I read some great reviews online about this place and my first impressions have been that I'm really impressed by it. It's outside of the city but only 10 minutes by bus and this was one of the major reasons why I chose to come and stay here. It's modern, clean, has a garden and most importantly it's CHEAP; the name of it is 4Friends hostel.
I checked in and was shown around by the very attentive and friendly member of staff. I also got to meet a few of the people sharing my room; a Norwegian guy named Egger and a couple Adam from the States and Ivana from Slovakia.
I was pretty tired by the time I'd unpacked but was lured out to the back of the hostel by the smell of a burning barbecue. The hostel has this amazing iron grill which you can lower over a fire and Adam and Ivana where grilling up some food out the back. I'd made a couple of sandwiches earlier but they didn't really prove to be adequate and perhaps it was my constant licking of my lips that told them I was also hungry. They had extra food and kindly cooked me up a lovely juicy barbecued hunk of chicken.
It's really nice to be amongst other other people again and it's at times like this that I remember back to the quite often lonely days of riding and camping through places in China and Kazakhstan. When I started out on this trip I thought that solitude was something I'd enjoy and to a certain extent it is but I've really come to realise the human interaction is an integral part of our lives and that is one of the beauties of travel is that you get to hear other people's experiences. People are excited by my own journey but more often that not all I want to do is hear about other people's trips, I feel like I've recounted my numerous stories many times along the way already.
So this will be my base for the next few days. I've been to Krakow before way back many years ago so I'll go and do the tourist thing on one day but for the most part it will once again be all about rest and renewal. Signing off for now..............