We left our rural retreat in hot and humid conditions for our 60km stint into Kraków where we had booked an apartment for 4 nights. The first 30km ride was in lovely lush countyside on quiet roads, but that changed as we got nearer the city, as did the weather. We got caught in one huge downpour where we had to take refuge in a bus stop, but it didn’t last long and were on our way again. Navigating into the city was a nightmare but we made it to destination, locked up our bikes in the basement and have spent the last 4 days relaxing and chilling out – as well as taking in some local history and sights.
Our accommodation is a lovely flat about a mile from the main square….with only one slight issue. An elderly man who lives in the same building is an avid lover of pigeons and feeds them with bag-loads of seeds just outside our bedroom window around 6am every morning. It’s like a scene from the Hitchcock film “The Birds” …and then off he goes up the street pushing his seed-filled cart.. with every pigeon in the neighbourhood following him. Not the nicest wake-up call!
Kraków is a really bautiful city and a reminder of how pretty many other parts of Europe could be if they hadn’t been bombed in WW2. But despite the beauty, we weren’t quite prepared for the touts and tourist-pitching that we seem to have escaped in the other cities we visited on our trip – so that has sort of tainted the experience for us, as it was much more in-your-face than we had expected. However, we ARE tourists so we did a really enjoyable guided walking tour of the city and have enjoyed beers, cakes and ice creams in busy tourist spots while people-watching.
We had one lady take our photo at the castle….don’t think she is going to win any awards for her photography skills, but at least it’s evidence we were there!
We also took a trip to Auschwitz, which was both emotional and informative. One of the memorable quotes on a wall at the camp read “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” – George Santayana. Says it all.
Thinking about our trip while we have been here has made us realise that we want to learn more about the countries that we are going through; this has always even the plan – we just didn’t know how we would go about it. But we have now gotten to a point where we realise that for us that there’s a fine line between learning about normal life (which we do on our bikes) and knowing about the history and culture of a country. And to do this second part we need help in educating ourselves. This can be research we do ourselves beforehand on the internet and/or guided tours when we get somewhere. They might be touristy but they help bring history and culture to life for us, give us a better lie of the land and put some kind of context around the culture. We can’t expect to learn everything about where we are, but we want to leave knowing that we’ve at least learned something. We won’t do this just meandering along as we have been, but equally, give me too much information and I know I will completely switch off. So getting the balance right is our goal to becomimg proper lifecyclers!