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chapter 2: poland

Day 20 (4 October): Chelm Slaski – Miedzyrzecze (19 Km / 699 Km)

I’m feeling a bit better after this huge dose of medicines from yesterday. I’m still not entirely healthy but it looks like I’m getting better. But I was still happy about the lenght of my today’s ride which was.. 18 Km! And it took me exactly 1 hour and 2 minutes!

Today was sponsored by the wind!

The first 20 Km of the ride are usually the the most difficult (becasue you need to catch a rythm). It’s usually the first stop I make, when I reach 20 Km. It’s usually the first 20 Km when I start forgetting what’s happened and start focusing on what’s ahead.

Today I have not managed to reached all of that. I finished earlier than I started (as we say in Poland). But biking on Sunday is really cool becasue of a very little traffic. And it’s so awesome to watch the beautiful Polish autumn on the way. I really like it!

Ps. I’m cycling to the Czech Republic quite soon – I’m really curious how it’s going to be over there! And I already know, where I’m going to stay in Brno, yay! And probably in Olomouc as well – yay yay! I’m still looking for a place to stay in Ostrava and Breclav (or somewhere around). Anyone?

Ps 2. There is a girl named Frederika, she comes from Sweden and she is also currently on The Bike Ramble. I’ve been following her ride for a while – it’s one of three bike rides I’ve been following. She wrote yesterday on FB: “You guys have no idea how good (and surreal) it feels to say this. My name is Fredrika, and I rode my bicycle to China.” It got me really inspired. I just thought how good (and surreal) it’s going to feel, when I will be able to say one day: “My name is Kasia and I rode my bicycle from Warsaw to Istanbul”. When I thought about it, I also thought about Martyna Wiercinska from Tomaszow Mazowiecki who did such a poster for me with such a slogan. Fits perfectly, doesn’t it?

Miedzyrzecze, 4 October 2015

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Days 17-19 (1-3 October): Chelm Slaski. Kasperki: A patience and joy lesson (90 Km/ 680 Km)

I already know Where are Kasperki (Gdzie sa Kasperki). Kasperki are where you need to be patient. Where you don’t need to hurry up anymore and be happy about here and now. Kasperki are where they are needed:

  • at the door welcoming you the moment you just arrive and feel such a relief that’s it’s already here (with a mixture of feelings: thanks god / surprise surprise!)
  • in the kitchen when they make a pizza or cook green curry for you. Or make a coffee for everyone. Or when you want to bake a cake. Or when all of you just want to spend hours sitting around the table, sipping tee and chatting;
  • in your room when you’re almost asleep but at the same time you really need to discuss nothing (meaning everything that is important and needs to be discussed right now);
  • on a hill with the best sunset view which you totally don’t expect and you are just amazed by what you see;
  • on your bike way when you think “yeah, it would be cool to cycle around here and see what’s there” but you have no idea where to cycle to.. So you just do it together;
  • in Pszczyna, when you decide that after two weeks of trying to fight your sickness with honey and garlic with no specatular results, you come to a conclusion that it’s probably not going to work.. So you decide for the next step which is a chemical fight against bacterias and you need a pharmacy here and now to do it – they are there with you, driving you to the nearest pharmacy, which is only.. 25 Km away;
  • at the hill when you decide to take a cool photo and you just do it – all four of you;
  • at the table when they pretend that they REALLY like the cookies you baked even though they are dry as hell (and you just hope that the apple pie you baked the next day will make them forget how dry the cookies were, please please!);
  • in the park in Pszczyna when you read together on Wikipedia, why actually Pszczyna is called the Pearl of Upper Silesia.. (and you didn’t know that before – shame on you!);
  • in the supermarkets (plural) when you make a tournee to find tahini (to cook hummus). Which finishes in not finding it in any supermarket, so you get wodzionka for dinner and you can taste traditional Silesian meal (which additionally happens to be a part of your curation because you still deeply believe that FOR SURE you’ll get better if you eat half of garlic’s loaf..).

You get it now? You know already what’s the coolest about Kasperki? That they are so joyful!

The source of joy at Kasperki is the youngest one of them – Maja. The one that laughs the most (and the loudest), the one that has brought me flowers from her walk, the one that has introduced me to Mr Kangaroo and Lala and demonstrated how she had danced at the concert, but most of all – the one that has welcomed me on Friday evening with a loud scream “Kaaaaaaaasia!” and a huuuge smile, which turned into one of the most beautiful moments in my life becasue I don’t remember when someone was so truly (and openly) happy about seeing me knowing me for one day only. She stayed in my shoulders for looong minutes and hugs.

This is Maja (
This is Maja (“mynameismayakaspelek”) (photo: Lucas Kasperek)

Asia, Lucas – thank you so much for hosting me! For those awesome four days together! For sharing with me everything you had, but most of all – your joy! (And honey.. I promise to be healthy the next time I come to visit and not to eat almost whole honey you have..). Thank you for all our conversations – about love and patience. About family stories. About happiness and how it actually really looks like. About travels and dreams. And whether three/four months are a lot of time or not.

Asia told me that home is a place from childhood – a place in which you could play as much as you wanted. And Lucas said that home is where hearth is. Both of them confessed to a dream about having the fireplace at home.

Guys, I keep my fingers crossed for a beautiful time in the Azores and I’m looking forward to hearing about it! Becasue Kasperki are flying over there already this Tuesday and you can follow their travel just in here. And! They are also going to travel with me – all my way long:

Kasperki are travelling with me!
Kasperki are travelling with me!

Międzyrzecze, 4 October 2015

Day 16 (30 September): Cracow – Chelm Slaski (57 Km / 590 Km)

This day of my travel was sponsored by clouds, blue houses and escape from the rain that didn’t eventually rain.

After such a long break in Cracow it was a bit difficult to ride again. The first 20 K were not the easiest. Additionally it was quite chilly, sprinkled a bit and I was stressed it was going to suddenly pour down. And becasue I caught cold 10 days ago and still couldn’t find it, I didn’t want to get even sicker.

Still!

  • I was really happy about the meeting with the kids from Siemacha the evening before, where I had a chance to talk about my travel and answer their looooots of questions!
Meeting with the kids at Siemacha
Meeting with the kids at Siemacha
  • I was happy about the rest of the evening before spent with Asia & Witek (no picture, buuuh!) – who – above all – are my friends but at the same time they are the people who organize the Bike Day (Swieto Cykliczne) in Krakow and who:
    • made the bike check for me (Witek, thank you!!);
    • have gifted me with looots of cycling gadgets, including two favourite of mine: cowl which I wear every day now and szprychowka (anyone speaking Polish know the English word for that?) with the slogan: “Freedom” – which reminds me about what matters;
    • cooked amazing pearl barley with vegetables that I took with me;
    • gave me so so so much energy that it was much easier to cycle the next day!
  • I was happy about the first 20 K with Kasia, who took a day off to cycle with me! And despite the fact that it was not the most pleasant ride ever I think it will be quite cool to remember our break at the gas station, when the guys from the service didn’t want to believe my route (quote: “whaaaaat?”) and where Kasia has gifted me with ropes that are one of the most important parts of my bike right now. Thank you, Kasia!
Me & Kasia on the way from Cracow to Chelm Slaski
Me & Kasia on the way from Cracow to Chelm Slaski
  • I was happy that the next 40 K I could watch those amazing clouds and couldn’t stop being amazed that they are so low above the groud that I could touch them if only I stood on tip-toe
  • I was the most happy when I saw the sign “Silesia” and I knew it was over for today!
Silesia, welcome back!
Silesia, welcome back!

Such was the day 16 of my travel with 621 Km done altogether (and I think I will start taking photos every day with the number of kilometres done – what do you think?).

Chelm Slaski, 30 September 2015

My Cracow

Cracow is one of those places to which I’m coming back. The city of my past dreams. A fulfiled dream. Do you know what a fulfield dream is? It’s a dream that opens a new dream.

I have dreamt about living in Cracow SINCE EVER (or at least since I ever remember). I always thought that there is nothing better that could happen to me than living in that city. Cracow turned out to be a stage. A life stage. A long one and an important one. A winderful one. A stage.

I started my studies in there exactly 12 years ago, on 1st October 2003. The combination od Cracow + Jagiellonian University seemed a top of everything. Unattainable. Iza wrote on my bike bag recently “If you can dream it, you can do it”. True, again.

My sister started studies this year. It’s amazing to watch her and observe how is is making the same choices like me, but she is making them in a completely different way. And she surprises me all the time – by her maturity and wisdom. I’m so proud of her.

In here I want to tell you about the places that make Cracow “mine”:

  • Kino Pod Baranami – a cinema that took care of my film education. Which made me discover that movies are not only those in the TV but much more. The cinema that made me decided to write my Master thesis about movies and start a PhD in film studies (one of those many unfinished projects). A cinema I can write so much about and which is always a very first place I think about visiting when planning my travel to Krakow.
Kino Pod Baranami - at the entrance; with Marynia (on the left side) and Ola (on the right side) and Peggy at the back of us!
Kino Pod Baranami – at the entrance; with Marynia (on the left side) and Ola (on the right side) and Peggy at the back of us!
  • Kino Mikro – another cinema with a cute tiny room with a dozen or so seats called “Mikroffala”
  • Kino Agrafka – which was born right before my eyes, literally. I happened to be there during the renovations and on the first screening. I still happen to visit, from time to time, recently on the pre-release of “Amy” in July.
  • Chimera Salad Bar – if you wanna eat around the market square, then usually there. A lot of choice and a lot of fresh, vegetarian food (what matters). I just like it!
  • KoKo – with Polish food and a half-lunch to buy!
  • MOCAK (The Museum of Contemporary Art in Krakow) – which opened just after I moved out of Cracow, but became a place I visit every time I am there.
  • Schindler’s Factory and the exhibition “Cracow under occupation” – very very good
  • MCK (International Cultural Center) – I don’t visit often, but I do from time to time and I think it’s really great that there is such a place at the market square. There have been a few really good exhibitions I have visitied in there. I remember the one about Bauhaus the most.
  • Yoga Studio by Katarzyna Pilorz – I found myself in there by accident, but I stayed for a looong while to discover my body in a way I had no idea about. Katarzyna Pilorz was my very first yoga teacher and I could not imagine a better one. I remember the lessons with her very very well. Especially the one about folding the blankets. Still today, when I’m practicing yoga, I think about those first times on Sw. Gertrudy Street.
  • Canteen on Jablonowskich Street – they also offered half-lunches and they had extremely good pancakes
  • Forum Przestrzenie – a bar which opened recently in Cracow (recently means within the last five years when I was not living in the city anymore) and made me feel very very happy that someone eventually made something about this ugly Hotel Forum. A cool postindutrial atmosphere, sunbeds. I always enjoy my time in there!
Forum Przestrzenie (photo from Forum Przestrzenie's FB fanpage)
Forum Przestrzenie (photo from Forum Przestrzenie’s FB fanpage)
  • Momo – one of my favourite places to eat in Cracow with Tybetan / Indian food and the best apple pie in the world, made of the apples and roasted sunflower seeds only. I always eat it!
  • Mleczarnia – a cafe with a very very typical Cracowian atmosphere. In the Jewish district –  Kazimi. Pure love.
Mleczarnia (photo from krakowlife.pl)
Mleczarnia (photo from krakowlife.pl)
  • Kraina Szeptow – I haven’t been there for quite a long time, but I used to be there quite regularly. Also in the Jewish district and also with a very typical (lovely) atmosphere.
  • Nowa Prowincja – a cafe at the market square that offers the best hot chocolate in the city – that maybe tastes so good becasue it’s flavoured with a sentiment. This is the place where I have tried the hot chocolate for the very first time in my life. And I really remember how good it tasted!
Nowa Prowincja (photo from Nowa Prowincja's FB fanpage)
Nowa Prowincja (photo from Nowa Prowincja’s FB fanpage)
  • Bunkier Sztuki – a place which made me discover that art is also for people and I am also allowed to visit the exhibitions like World Press Photo. After I discovered it, I started to visit regularly.
  • Bunkier Cafe – just nearby, just next to Planty, so if I happen to meet around the market square, then usually there.
  • Planty – it was really cool to watch them in very different day and year times. In the sun and in the street light during the night. In the snow and in the rain. With falling chestnuts or full of Autumn leaves. You can walk over there, you can ride your bike over there (although it’s a bit crowded, it’s still much much better than at the market square itself!). I used to live once with a window view to Plany. It was a beautiful time!
  • Zakrzowek – I used to live also 10 minutes from Zakrzowek. I once gathered all my courage and I decided to swim in this crystal-clean water. I couldn’t see the bottom as it was some 40 meters deep. But I liked going there and showing it to everyone who came to visit to Krakow and never heard about – just like me before I moved around.
Zakrzowek (photo from klubpodroznikow.com)
Zakrzowek (photo from klubpodroznikow.com)
  • Debniki – there are sometimes city districts, which you just like for no particular reason. This district in Krakow is Debniki. I come there from time to time to walk around and I think then that it would be so cool to live in there. And then I leave.
  • Plac Centralny – a very special place from a year, which I’ve spent living in Nowa Huta district. We’ve never especially liked each other, maybe a bit, but not too much. Maybe if we were given some more time than one year? But I liked Plac. And the A, B, C, D and E housing surrounding it as well.
Plac Centralny (photo from Wikipedia)
Plac Centralny (photo from Wikipedia)
  • Book Fair – I used to visit every year. I especially remember those when the Publishing House called Karakter was exhibiting their very first two titles. I was too ashamed to come and see them becasue then I would have to speak with them and that was way too much. So I kind of watched them hidden a little bit. They became one of my two favourite pubslishing houses in Poland (just next to Czarne). And I started buying almost all books of them (secretely dreaming that I will have a chance to meet the owners in person one day. Ps. Damn it! Those lost chances that never repeat themselves!)
  • Lokator – a bookstore that was establish after I was gone, but I come and visit from time to time. To touch, watch, smell. And buy something from time to time.
Lokator (photo from Lokator's FB fanpage)
Lokator (photo from Lokator’s FB fanpage)
  • Matras bookstore at the market square – a bookstore, in which I bought most of my books!
  • Cafe Rekawka – discovered very very recently, in Podgorze district – both (the cafe and the district) are slowly getting more and more space in my heart. Added to my collection.
  • Kazimierz – a district (already mentioned), which at certain point took all my heart. And the moment I started living in it, was a moment of another dream fulfiled. I come back here every time I can. To watch, at least.
  • Zazie Bistro – amazing potatoe pies, yummy!
  • Bomba Na Placu – I used to come there, when Adas used to work there. Now I don’t. Becasue this place is not the same without him. But I liked it. A lot!
  • Cafe Szafe – there is no other place like that in the world – a cafe, in which instead of on a chair you sit inside a closet! And it’s located outside of the market place, yay!
The entrance to Cafe Szafe (photo fom Cafe Szafe facebook's fanpage)
The entrance to Cafe Szafe (photo fom Cafe Szafe’s FB fanpage)
  • Massolit Books & Cafe – cafe & bookstore combined, a neighbour of Cafe Szafe. With a fantastic choice of non-Polish books. One of a kind.
Massolit Book & Cafe (photo from Massolit's FB fanpage)
Massolit Book & Cafe (photo from Massolit’s FB fanpage)
  • Nie lubie poniedzialkow (I don’t like Mondays) Tee Club – discovered in July this year. A cafe at Szlak Street, which made me completely fall in love. Now I’m meeting everyone I can right in there!
Always look at the bike's side of life! (phot from Nie lubie poniedzialkow's FB fanpage)
Always look at the bike’s side of life! (phot from Nie lubie poniedzialkow’s FB fanpage)

Yeah, you might probably say that I love Cracow. And that’s kind of true. Fulfiled dream and seven years mean someting. Check those places becasue they are pretty cool. I’m tellin’ ya!

Kilometers cycled: 83 Km / 533 Km

Cracow, 29 September 2015

Day 6: Olkusz – Krakow (50 Km / 450 Km)

I got up, as usually, at 6.45 in the morning, in order to have enough time to get ready for the road. I’ve already learnt that getting ready in the morning takes me around three hours. It’s that long becasue I still want to spend time with the family that is hosting me, becasue I need to pack all the stuff, becasue I need to decide how to dress and becasue I need to decide which road I’m going to cycle. Eventually also because it’s usually in the mornings when I’m writing posts for the blog, working with the pictures or answering e-mails – early morning gives me the clearity of mind and time – most of my hosts still usually sleep then.

That morning was different. I woke up already extremely tired and even though I tried to get myself motivated to stay awake, I came back to bed at 7.30 and.. slept until 10.00 o’clock! Yeah, we can call it lazy Sunday…

I eventually got up and discivered that Pawel decided to cycle with me the whole way from Olkusz to Krakow, what made me feel really really happy becasue he knew where to cycle to, so I didn’t have to worry about taking the right direction. That was really a huge help and such a relief for me! We both also knew that it was not going to be such a long ride, becasue the distance between Olkusz and Krakow is less than 40 k in the shortest way, so we could allow ourselves to leave quite late and to make loooong breaks on the way.

What we also knew was that there was going to be one massive uphill waiting for us near the town Skala and after that it’s going to be.. only down the hill! All the way to Krakow! And that was true! Which turned also into reaching my maximum speed on Peggy so far, which was 47.2 Km/h. I didn’t feel safe enough to cycle even faster – it was already enough for me!

Only down the hill! Krakow on the horizon
Only down the hill! Krakow on the horizon

We made the first stop near the castle in Pieskowa Skala. But it was not the only castle on the way. There have been plenty of them! Really! And the same like the previous day – the whole route was just amazingly beautiful – as we’ve been still cycling through Jura Krakowsko-Czestochowska.

But it got really chilly and windy. And the head-scarf from Pawel helped me a lot not the get sick! I was also wearing much warmer clothes and I’ve learnt my lesson that I have to buy some more warm stuff in Krakow.

After the eventually-not-that-monstural uphill – the one we’ve been waiting for, we reached Skala and we decided for another break, in the city center. Pawel decided to buy us coffee and he was really patient with checking every single open place around. Impossible! There is no coffee to buy in Skala on Sunday afternoon! Luckily, we had still warm strawberry kompot (stewed fruit!) and leavened crumble, so it was a really yummy break!

With Pawel during our crumble & kompot break in Skala
With Pawel during our crumble & kompot break in Skala

And after that – only downhills! Krakow appeared earlier than expected. And it was quite fun to cycle across the city with this huge bike and all the bike bags attached.

Some summaries to come soon!

Krakow, 20 September 2015

Day 5: Czestochowa – Olkusz (93 Km / 400 Km)

Day five was full of absolutely amazing adventures:

  1. Leaving Czestochowa was hard as I was really really warmly welcomed in there by Beata and her parents:

2. I fell in love with Jura Krakowsko-Czestochowska. I don’t know why I have not been here before but the day has been full of stunning views! Check a few of them here:

3. I met dozens of other cyclists and have a few reflections and few stories to say:

  • it’s sad that I didn’t meet any single girl on bike. I know about girls that are cycling, becasue I myself follow at least a couple of them on FB or on their blogs. I also have a few cycling female friends. But during the whole day I have not seen any single one. And now I’m wondering what to do to make cycling more popular amongst girls and women.
  • the worst moment of meeting the other cyclist is when you I’m riding up the hill (panting..) and they just bypass you like a flash of lightning, in those super pro shiny lycra clothes.. Sigh…
  • there were two massive uphills:
    • the first one (in Biskupice) made me cry of effort – I literally had tears flowing on my cheeks. So the break at the church in Biskupice was really needed. And I have to admit that the nameplate I saw on the church’s fence made me smile. During that break I also wrote the bike story number three – to be published very soon!
Cerberus protects the object
Cerberus protects the object
  • the second one was after the next 20 k. It’s been quite an interesting one becasue I decided to make a break after 2/3 of the hill, becasue there was a curve afterwards and I really wanted to take a picture of what I’ve seen in my rear view mirror (I really liked that view!). So I stopped next to a beautiful, white tiny roadside shrine and decided also to eat lunch (mushroom risotto and kompot (stewed fruit) from Beata!) as it was already lunch time. While sitting and eating I first heard some panting, after which came a solid shout “O kurwa!” (“Oh fuck!”) expressing the uphill effort. Only then I saw two super pro, dressed in shiny lycra clothes cyclists. We waved to each other and I continued eating satisfied that I was not the only one to ride that hill up with an effort (yay!).

4. There was a lady that shouted at me opening the car’s window. Luckily I couldn’t hear her becasue I had my music on, but she didn’t seem happy about her life.

5. In the morning, still in Czestochowa, I received a message from Slawek asking me about my route for that day. After he got to know that I will be cycling through Zawiercie he had offered to join me for a few kilometers, so it was much easier for me to cycle when I had my whole day’s route shared into smaller pieces. He picked me up before Zawiercie, cycled with me a few kilometres and then continued with me until the road leading to Ogrodzieniec. Do you know what else Slawek did? He brought me chocolates! Two!! And since I’m crazy about any sugar-full food after all those efforts, I was supper happy about it! Thank you, Slawek!

With Slawek who cycled with me around Zawiercie
With Slawek who cycled with me around Zawiercie

5. Already on my way to Ogrodzieniec, I was cycling up another hill (yes, it was the most hilly day ever!) and at the end of the road I was stopped by.. the police! They asked me why I was not cycling on the bike lane and were not really satisfied with my answer that the bike lane is full of holes which makes it really uncomfortable to ride on an over 40 kg heavy bike.

After they have threatened me with a ticket I promised to use the bike lanes since then on always when possible!

The interesting part happened when we started a conversation:

P(olice): Where are you cycling from?

K(asia): From Warsaw.

P. Where from???

K: Well, today from Czestochowa, but I started in Warsaw five days ago.

P: Mhm. And where are you cycling to?

K: Today to Olkusz. And then to Istanbul.

P: …

I gave them my Girl on Bike’s sticker and they promised to check my blog! Mr Policeman, if you are reading it: I’m using the bike lanes (although they have aweful holes, really, believe me!), thank you for not giving me a ticket and I send warm greetings & big hugs from Krakow!

6. Pawel picked me up just after Ogrodzieniec. He was the best motivator in the world! He kept me busy during all the hills to cycle up (and there were still a few of them!), so that I could not concentrate on how tired I was but on his stories (and he had many of them!). After we reached Olkusz eventually, I met almost whole Pawel’s family: mum, dad, granpa, two brothers: Piotr and Wojtek, a cousin Maciek and cousin’s girlfriend Gosia. It was super super lovely and very very homey evening. Thank you, guys! it was just amazing to be hosted by you!!

With Pawel's family (from the left): Wojtek (older brother), me, mum, dad and Pawel. Piotr was still sleeping when taking the photo!
With Pawel’s family (from the left): Wojtek (older brother), me, mum, dad and Pawel. Piotr was still sleeping when taking the photo!

Ps. Gosia recently posted on my fanpage a quote:

“Don’t count steps or look around. Redundant luggage leave in the nearby ditch and forget. Not everything is needed while travelling. Everything what indispensable will appear on its own, becasue miracles are quite ordinary and encountered people are the right ones when on the way.” (a quote from the book “Pochlaniacz” by K. Bonda.

That day was really windy and it winnowed my ears. Then Pawel said that he had recently bought three head-scarfs, the special one under the bike helmet, becasue there was a mistake in the on-line system, so he bought them almost for free. And he is very happy to present me one becasue he doesn’t need three. And I have one now, you know? Something I needed at exactly that moment.

Pawel also said that home is a place where you can lie down everywhere and you are not disturbing anyone. And you know it’s ok to lie down there because it’s home.

Olkusz, 19 September 2015

Day 4: Gidle – Czestochowa (52.5 Km / 307 Km)

How to let the huge track to bypass you and survive: a-ten-steps-guide:

  1. Once you smell a track coming towards you, get ready. Mentally.
  2. Once the truck comes closer, grasp the handlebar strong and keep it with all your might.
  3. Once the truck will be just next to you, take a deep breath and keep the air inside you (not to distract yourself with breathing).
  4. Keep the air inside, keep the handlebar, survive the first part of the bypass.
  5. After the truck will be gone, keep keeping the air inside and keep keeping your hands on the handlebar – after the truck comes the gust (following the truck).
  6. It might try to blow you. Don’t let it do that!
  7. Only after the gust will be gone, you can breath a sigh of relief and slacken your hands.
  8. Congratulations. You just survived!
  9. Get ready – the next one is coming!
  10. Don’t know what to do? Go back to point 1.

Trucks are the nightmare! And even thought today was the day with the smallest number of trucks bypassing me, I keep thinking about them all the time!

Today was also the quietest day since I’ve left Warsaw. The day that started with… pancakes! Piotr made them for me and these were the first pancakes he made in life. Three. Thick. Yummy. Pancakes. I ate them all and licked my lips after I finished eating. It was 7 o’clock in the morning and we’ve been sitting at the wooden table outside. It was still a bit chilly, like a regular September morning. Pancakes steamed because they came to me straight from the pan. With a strawberry jam from Łowicz, but not from this Łowicz near Gidle, but from the other one. And we had a coffee together as well. We talked and laughed. A nice morning, huh?

After the breakfast we went to school, where Piotr teaches sport. 7 Km on bicycle, a cool short morning ride. It’s been however quite a challenge to speak to the firstgraders and their a bit older school friends. The biggest attractions from the meeting:

  • measuring the bike helmet
  • measuring the bike gloves
  • lifting up the bike (oooh, it’s really heavy!)
  • a photo with a bike.

I managed! And I’m proud of myself!

After the meeting we hit the road together with Piotr. There was a hummus break (yes, Ala, the one from you!) and after 25 Km of cycling together we hugged each other goodbye, Piotr cycled back to train his pupils football and I kept cycling towards Czestochowa, along the quite hilly road.

Once I saw this, I knew that the voievodships must have changed on the way and that I’ve been already in Silesia:

Now I’m with Beata. We chat, we work, we write. I got freshly fragrant bedclothes again. Which means I’m home again. Piotr said that home is a place with atmosphere, the one you want to go back to. And that when you feel that you want to go back, it’s home.

Częstochowa, 18 September 2015

Day 3: Tomaszow Mazowiecki – Gidle (109,5 Km / 254.5 Km)

Yesterday was definitely the longest day since I started my journey (well, I know, it’s been only three days so far!). It started with apple pancakes prepared by Ala. Do you know how apple pancakes smell like? Awesome! Ala also cooked for me the stewed fruit. Becasue Ala, besides being mu cousing (not seen by at least 15 years), feminist and a person that belives that dreams are to make them true, is a classical Polish mother as well, who will feed you to death with all she has and all you like and will take such a good care of you that you simply won’t like to leave her place. Luckily she left first, which made my departure a bit easier.

Ala (my cousin) and me
Ala (my cousin) and me

My first stop was a school Tomek, which Ala is a director of. She asked me to meet her pupils and I did it with pleasure, becasue I really wanted to see the place she had created and she had told me so much about and also meet her pupils, whom she is so proud of. And you know what? I’ve never met so open-minded and interested kids. They were really asking maaany questions, very good questions. But I must admit that the best question I’ve been asked was: “Are you not sad when cycling alone?”. Becasue I keep talking all the time that I’m afraid of being lonely, Marta asked me some time ago how I’m going to survive so many hours without cycling and I think now that esentially all we talk about (but are afraid to say it straight), is whether I’ll not be sad. And this girl asked me that question just like that. And when I thought about it, whether I am or not sad, I felt immediatelly that so much is going on that I even don’t have time to think about being sad (so far). Ala, thank you so much for inviting me! ❤

A friend of mine from the Congress of Women also came to meet me in the school. Agnieszka is a local journalist and politician and I always keep my fingers crossed for her. This time as well. It was good to see her again!

With Agnieszka - a friend from the Congress of Women that lives in Tomaszów as well
With Agnieszka – a friend from the Congress of Women that lives in Tomaszów as well

Eventually, high noon I departured. Fully loaded! With hummus, buns, stewed fruit, rice with vegetables.. Everything! (Remember that sentence about Ala as a Polish mother? Right..)

The wethear was amazing, 30 degrees all the time! Ok, it was also pretty windy, but the temperature was definitely the one I like the most. And you know, when you cycle the road, you see how much the landscape is changing. First section (from Warsaw to Grójec) it was mainly villages, one after another. The second day was dominated by orchards in the first half of the day and later forests (near Tomaszów Mazowiecki). Yestedray eventually were fields. Boundless spaces around, kilometres long. Space and emptiness. And tiny villages from time to time. I know it’s not an amazing discovery or so, but I feel good with dicovering Poland I didn’t know about every day.

Yesterday also happened Piotr, whom I sent an desperate message from Gorzkowice, asking if by any chance he was not fancy to cycle my direction.. I had such a crisis in Gorzkowice. It was just after I cycled 70 K, everything hurt and I knew that there are still many kilometres to go. And I thought: knowing that someone is cycling towards my direction, it will be much easier for me. And you know what? Piotr wrote that obviously, not a problem! He took a bike and started cycling towards me. So I also took my bike and started cycling towards him (ok, I forgot to mention that before that happened there was one roughly sixty years old bachelor who invited me for a date in Piotrków Trybunalski the next day. But I chose to keep cycling, sigh…). We eventually met with Piotr in Dmenin, after cycling 20 K each of us. And we exchanged bikes. It was so so so helpful! So the last 20 K I cycled on Piotr’s bike and he cycled on Peggy. I would have never belived that I am able to cycle 109,5 K one day. But I did. And everything hurt: my legs, my ass, my hands especially (but there is this patent I invented – and I cycle with dishcloth inside my bike glove!).

109.5 K at the end of the day
109.5 K at the end of the day

And I think that all is good. And I could not imagine all of that any better!

Gidle, 17 September 2015

Day 2: Grojec – Tomaszow Mazowiecki (90 Km / 145 Km)

Today was tough. Google maps showed 82 Km, eventually it turned out to be 90 Km. It was super windy today, which wasn’t really helpful. And I had a little crisis around 60th k.., but after a short break I overcame it somehow. And I’m in Tomaszów with Ala. That feels really good..

What I want to remember after today?

  • when it’s downthehill, it’s going to be upthehill as well, so don’t be too happy about it 😉
  • asking people about the way makes sense!
  • big trucks are nothing but a nightmare
  • compote is good for everything (like a chocolate! but there was no chocolate today)
  • I’m hungry every two hours.. (not every three hours, well..)
  • apples, apples, apples! That’s what I’ve seen today. Apples everywhere!
  • getting ready in the morning took me three hours. I should probably excersice it a bit more to make it at least a little shorter

I’ve learnt from Agata about Grójec that it was a half-Jewish city before the war. And now there is only a Jewish cementary and the memory about the places: here was a synagoge, here was a rabbi’s house etc. Another thing about Grójec is that Piotr Skarga was from here. And there is a local legend that says that they wanted to make him saint (he is blessed right now), but after they exhumed his body, they noticed that the coffin was scratched, which made them unsure whethere he had maybe disowned God (after being burried alive). So they left him blessed, not saint. Well..

It was a tough day, but a good one. Do you remembert he smell of the soil in the morning after it was raining the whole night? That’s how my morning looked like. And the smell of apples lying on the ground in the sun in granny’s garden? That was the first half of today. I keep the memory of those beautiful moments. Of the change of surroundings after crossing the border between the region. Of the forests in Lodzkie Voievodship with magical mist and trees standing deep down in the green water. Of the man that stopped me in Spala and invitated me for cake and juice that gave me the energy for the last kilometers. Tomorrow is going to be a tough day as well (90 k again), but I’m going to manage it as well. Just please, keep your fingers crossed!

Tomaszow Mazowiecki, 16 September 2015

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