Leaving: Krakow to Zakopane: The Long Way - Lookin For John Fairweather - CycleBlaze

October 22, 2013

Leaving: Krakow to Zakopane: The Long Way

I would like to stay. Krakow is nice; good beer and gorgeous women; what more do I want. Suppose there's other things too. I have been here just shy of three weeks, and would've left last week if it hadn't been for the rain. Now the warm sunny days are back, so I'll leave.

I should have got to bed early last night. Instead, Jonas was leaving too and was having a party; then, when they all went out to a bar around one o'clock, I remained in the hostel and wasn't feeling like bed yet, so I watched a Youtube video: Pink Floyd Live At Pompeii, which was one and a half hours long. Though Is up at breakfast for eight, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.

I say goodbye to Sebastian, then wheel my bike down the steps to street level and begin cycling. I have a new cassette and chain so, the drive-train is running smoothly, even though I forgot to oil the chain; but, the waxy grease will do for the time being.

I make for the bridge and once on the other side, I come to a junction where, I follow the sign for Zakopane. I lost my map of Poland the first day in Krakow, so I'm kind of navigating with the sun which is easy today, as there isn't a cloud in the sky and the sun is glaring.

Good weather. It would be really sticky by noon.
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I see a Tesco's and know I'll be needing food at some stage. There's days like today that I'd rather go hungry than walk round the aisles in a supermarket. This one is a hypermarket, so its real big and there's a lot of walking looking for what I want which, isn't much. I put a bag of pasta twists, a jar of pasta sauce, a small bottle of yogurt and a bottle of sprite in the basket. On the way out, I stop in the bakery and buy a ham sandwich and some sweet pastries.

Then outside, I put it all in the panniers and the bike is suddenly heavy and I think, why have I done this. I'm not hungry today. Though I think that is down to eating so well for so long in Krakow.

The E77 eventually passes the last of the urban sprawl to the south of Krakow and soon the terrain is hilly. I feel the weakness in my legs and it becomes warm and sticky so, I've to take of the fleece and from then on I'm riding bare-armed and in shorts, which would be unheard of back in Ireland this time of year.

The road had been a narrow single carriageway with deformed surface and heavy traffic, but now I'm on a smooth divided highway with a high wooden barrier in places on the outside to shield the traffic noise. It's looking very much like a motorway. I saw a bus-stop a little way back which would say it isn't. The terrain is even hillier now with the road looping round the edge of slopes and going through big cuttings. There's a two metre wide shoulder and I can see a service road to the side. It may be better riding there, but I cannot get onto it because of the concrete barrier on my right. I then pass an exit slip and see a blue sign with a red stroke through a car at the exit. It is a motorway.

Just then as I pause, intending to ride off on the exit-slip, a red Fiat Panda stops. The woman driver sees me looking lost and beckons me to follow. I follow to the roundabout where she stops again and waits until I'm level. She speaks in Polish, but when I say "Zakopane?" and say nothing else, she speaks in broken English, saying the service road is better and listing the towns on the way to Zakopane.

A little further, I pushed the bike into woodland at the side and lunch sitting against a tree. After I've eaten, I stretch out and soon fall asleep.

Three o'clock and still warm blue sky.
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In the afternoon, I am on a secondary road numbered 968. Its a narrow single-carriageway with constant traffic, lots of trucks and the surface is badly deformed, pushed up in a big round furrow at the edge, making it hard cycling in a straight line. The green sign has Nowy Sac 55km. How can that be as it was sixty kilometres on a sign I passed about noon. Then I look at my big map for the whole of Europe, and realise the mistake. The town I should be heading for is Nowy Targ, just north of Zakopane, not Nowy Sac which is way to the east. I turn around and cycle back to a town I've just cycled through, in which, I turn left onto a narrow byroad.

I had wanted to stop at four as It gets dark about six, but there is continuous village and houses all along this single vehicle width road through a valley with small farms and brown wooded hills on both sides. Every corner I turn reveals the pointy gable-ends and steep roofs of yet more houses. The road climbs and there are houses up on the hill too. I descend into the next valley and spot a plot of woodland big enough to hide in.

With the tent up, I'm too tire to bother cooking, so eat two ricotta fill pastries and drink what's left of the sprite, then climb into the sleeping-bag to sleep.

Lunchtime on the second day to Zakopane, I'd to get up quickly as the sheep approached.
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Nowy Targ.
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Road toward Zakopane with the Tatra mountains ahead enveloped in cloud.
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Today's ride: 147 km (91 miles)
Total: 7,193 km (4,467 miles)

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