Cycling the length of Poland
I thought it was about time for a trip update. Tonight I write this one from a cabin somewhere in the mountains, in western Slovakia. After what both Kirsty and I both agreed was the most difficult day of the journey, we decided to ditch the tent idea and grab a room for the night instead.
Last time I wrote, we had just finished cycling across the 3 Baltic countries (Estonia, Latvia & Lithuania). Since then we’ve progressed south through the length of Poland and crossed most of Slovakia. Here’s my thoughts on cycling Poland…
Cycling across Poland was somewhat interesting, and came with a quite a few ups and downs. Road conditions were not the best, and we knew that entering. But finding out in reality is an entire another thing. However, the scenery in both the north and the south was unexpectedly more beautiful than we originally thought, and this definitely more than made up for some of the road conditions we experienced.
We found much of the time, getting from A to B required large stints on the highways. These often left very little room for us to move (sometimes with only a few inches of ridable road, and sometimes none). Imagine a skinny two-way highway in which two cars and a bike just don’t fit alongside one another, yet there is a constant flow of trucks zooming passed at 100km/h in both directions, swerving at the last minute to avoid us. At the same time we’re trying to dodge the never ending stream of smashed glass on the side of the road. One mistake from either us or the car/truck drivers, is fatal. A common scene we found in much of the country. On a positive note, when we had the opportunity to take a backroad, we took it, and this often rewarded us with some pretty countryside scenery and gorgeous country-side villages. Though it was slow moving forward due to much patch work, it was worth it.
I don’t want this to sound like we didn’t enjoy cycling across Poland, as we did, and here’s why… Poland has some seriously great stuff to offer, and it very much had to do with several key the locations we passed through. City/town wise, mainly Warsaw and Krakow (touristy of us, I know). However, those who haven’t had the fortune of experiencing these gems, definitely put it on your list if you find yourself in this neck of the woods. Old medi-evil architecture that’s surrounded by a labyrinth of cobbled streets, makes both walking and photographing these places, a pleasure. Not to mention all various types of food on offer. Entering Poland was also a treat. In the north-east, green rolling pastures, and dozens of lakes to cycle past (water always makes us happy!). Some of the little towns were also pretty and quaint. A couple of times, we even found ourselves bailing on the idea of camping for the night, so we could spend more time in the towns we discovered. Augustow, I’m definitely thinking of you.
The highlight of Poland definitely came from the south. The steep foothills and mountains may have given our quad muscles a new definition of what “working out” means, but witnessing the constant stream scenery definitely made that pain absolutely worth it. Spending my birthday hiking in the Tatra Mountain range just outside of Zakopane (in the south, bordering Slovakia) was in one word, “awesome”! Snow capped peaks towering above beautiful forest covered mountains and blue lagoons. Very impressive! Zakopane itself is quite a nice an quaint town and great to walk the streets.
Shortly after out time there, we departed Poland and headed into Slovakia. One look at Google Maps gives you a good idea of what to expect there… Mountains!
This article continues on to Cycling Slovakia.
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