Sunday 25 September 2011

Old friends

Castle in Slovakia

I haven't seen my once good buddy Andy Gillian for the best part of a decade and a half but thats nothing a good night out untill 6.30 in the morning did not fix. High five for Polish pop music. I pulled into the Polish border as the light from the day was quickly receeding and the fog so indicitive of winter started rolling off the mountain tops and into the valleys. I went to the first people that I saw who were standing in their driveway and asked in my best charade if I could pitch my tent on their lawn. No worries was generally the reply I got and this was no exception. Within moments of my tent hiting the dewy lawn before the poles were even snapped into position I was asked if I wanted to come into the house to sleep. Of course I accepted and after a lengthy introduction period consisting of dinner and beers with them we sat in front of google translater and had an almost normal conversation. I think. The following day to Andy's place in Katowice was much longer than I expected and it wasn't until the lovely attendant at a petrol station made a call for me, gave me a coffee and let me chill out in the store with Doris that I was collected by Andy's lovely wife and we headed for the city.

Not a good road to be heading down
Its fair to say the roads in Poland, certainly in the south are very difficult to negotiate. Perhaps when I get further north I will have a better time staying off the large roads and on the rural roads where the trucks and cars aren't allowed to scream by at 140kph. Needless to say we made it without too many dramas and I have been here for a couple of days. A very welcome relief for my poor ass which seems to be getting worse, not tougher and more resistant to soreness.

Slovakia was generally speaking a beautiful place and filled with lots and lots of contrasting communist concrete buildings and very old churches and castles of which I am not too concerned if I never see another one.

William shatner look alike
Leaving a small town the morning I was trying to get to the border, I went into a pub at 9am to fill my water  bottles. Its become apparant that these are really the only places open at that hour, not only that but there are usually plenty of people entertaining themselves there. This one however only had a couple of patrons who were very curious why someone was in a helmet and a bright yellow high vis vest ordering a water in their local. As happens I left the bar at 1pm and was just a little wobbly on my bike. It seems that I am similar to a circus in that people enjoy the company of the exotic animals as much as wanting to see them perform. In my case they want maps and photos and then when they need to leave they call their friends who buy more rounds and take the place of the original patron. Its like a relay where I always play catch up but cat pull out of the race.

Hello to you too Poland
It feels like the winter is on the doorstep. I have twice now had to fill a water bottle in the middle of the night with hot water to keep my self from a restless cold shivering night. There are plans to get some better gear in the next few weeks but it will not be too much longer until there are frosts and the first snow falls of the winter months. Heres hoping that doris loves the cold as much as she like throwing me off onto the pavement. I was riding along quite happily on a very busy road that had just been sealed. The problem being the new seal was an inch higher and an inch narrower than the old seal so once I slipped off the new sometimes the tires wouldn't grip the surface as I tried to come back to the new road. This time my weight went over but the wheels stayed and I skidded out sprawling over the lane of traffic fortunately between cars. Dodged a bullet there but Doris suffered an interesting injury. Instead of breaking her chain completely which by all accounts although messy is easy enough to fix she bent a link in half. Much tricker to fix and twice as greasy.

In a great little tid bit, the German ladies I mentioned last story time wrote to me and said the bike was no better and no worse for the time I put into fixing it. However they came up with the name bobby for the bike as I kept calling it bobby when I was tinkering and they confessed they couldn't understand why. I racked my brain and it dawned on me that I was calling parts of the bike I didn't know the name of 'thing-a-me-bobbys' so one of the gals is now travelling on her bobby.

Some dude showing off in Krakow
Heading to the Cz Rep next then north to where the real expedition will kick off. Here to warm fingers and toes.

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