24.08.2012 - 26.08.2012
At the time of writing it is now Sunday 26th and it's now my third day in Krakow. It's been a great time so far and that has been largely down to the place that I'm staying in. The 4Friends hostel here in Krakow has to be one of the most relaxed hostels I've ever experienced with exceptionally friendly staff. I've also met a lot of very cool people all with cool stories to tell. But you must be wondering what have I done? Well the truth is not a lot but I'm on holiday aren't I?
Friday was my first full day here and despite saying I wasn't going to go out on my bike the lure of the road was too much to resist. It was great to be out in a city with so many people of so many different ages all riding bikes. I really think this is the way forward, you're out there getting fit and doing zero all damage to the environment, everyone's a winner.
I've been in desperate need of some new socks for some time now and prior to coming to Poland I knew that they had the sports store Decathlon here. It was another gloriously sunny day so I thought I'd pop on down there. As usual when I visit this store there are so many things I want to buy but obviously with my limited space it's not possible. My inner padding of my shorts has taken a battering the last 6 months so I decided to splash out on some new padded Lycra (very fetching) cycling shorts. In addition I bought something I should have done a long time ago for my lovely Brooks saddle that is a rain cover and how of course could I forget the socks; wonderful, cotton, breathable, cushioned socks. It was only when I got back to the hostel later that evening and after taking my second shower of the day, yes I'm spoiling myself I slipped on the socks only to find that they were in fact children's socks and didn't even come over my heel. I know, I should have checked longer at the store and I did but the UK 9-11.5 was clearly stated on the packet. Oh well......new socks will have to wait a little longer and I certainly wasn't going to ride the 25km there and back just to change them. They will simply become my new rag for cleaning my chain!
That evening myself, Ivana, Adam and two Japanese guys Masa and Yoshi prepared a full on barbecue. I say we prepared, Ivana for the most part put the burgers together. I would challenge anybody in the world to make a better burger that these, they were quite simply outstanding and expertly grilled by the combination team of gents in charge of the grill.
The evening passed with stories of travel, ways to improve the world and future destinations. Yoshi is a particularly interesting guy who has been travelling the world on his motorbike for the past two years. I continue to have massive respect for all those people motorbiking their way around the world.
Yesterday (Saturday) I was up early, in fact once again the first in the whole place to awake. I put this down to the fact that when I'm on the road I'm usually up at the crack of dawn what with going to bed so early. Here it's also a combination of the fact that I switched to yet another time zone; okay it's only one hour difference but that still makes a difference.
I decided that I should head into the city centre and take a walk around. As I stated I've been to Krakow before and walking round brought back memories of a road trip with some fellow teachers from back in the days when I taught in the Czech Republic.
Krakow is another of these stunningly beautiful Eastern European cities and despite the onslaught of rampant tourism it still manages to retain it's old world charm. I wandered around for a good few hours and as it was still fairly early in the morning most of the shops and museums had yet to open so consequently many tourists were still one guesses sleeping or enjoy their breakfasts.
I made my way back to the hostel in the early afternoon making sure that I passed the football stadium of the 'other' team in Krakow, Cracovia. I knew from looking on the net that they had a game on later that evening and I was keen to go the stadium to see what the deal was with tickets. There didn't appear to be anyone selling tickets just some posters outside of the stadium advertising the game and what seemed to be ludicrously cheap prices.
Once back at the hostel I enquired about how to buy tickets but was told that in order to watch Polish football one must have a special identification card issued by the club. These aren't difficult to get but the only problem is that the club office that issues them is only open from Monday to Friday, 9 to 5.
My plans to go and watch the football shelved I instead decided to cook up a massive bowl of vegetables and pasta for myself, Masa and Yoshi. I could learn a lot from these two guys in the art of relaxation which both of them seem to have down to a tee. They seem quite content to while away the hours lounging in the living room of the hostel stretched out on the comfy sofa's with little care for time or the need to do anything. Yoshi echoed my thoughts that in travelling by motorbike or as in my case bicycle we're are excused from the normal practices of travellers. He stressed to me the importance of recharging ones batteries and half an hour spent with him had any feelings of guilt at not doing anything complete extinguished.
That's not to say I've not done anything, I did give the bike a top to toe wash which I think she really needed. It's amazing how inseparably linked I am to the bike now. It sounds strange but in some respects we are almost like one. Wherever I go she goes, where I sleep she sleeps and therefore she deserves the pampering I give her from time to time. She's been an absolute rock in getting me this far and of course we've shared highs and lows but this has only made us more steadfast in our determination to keep going forward. That's my sentimental piece out of the way then!
There really isn't that much else to report from here; as I mentioned it's now Sunday and it's been raining on and off for the last two days. I'm leaving tomorrow morning and heading for Ostrava in the Czech Republic where I will meet my old friend Kauli who is coming to ride with me. I'm really looking forward to the prospect of having some company to ride with and especially someone who speaks the language as I remember very little Czech from my days of living in Mlada Boleslav.
The blogs keep coming and once again thanks to all those who give me positive feedback on them. I don't find writing them easy so it's really nice to know that some people enjoy stepping into my world for a few minutes of their day. I hope that my riding and of course the exploits of all the British Olympic cyclists over the summer have meant that some of you have dusted off your old two wheeler and are now riding the streets wherever you may be.
Pedal on my friends and ride safe.