Stomaches full, tents cleared, bags and bikes packed, goodbyes were said and we managed to resist kidnapping their little puppy; we were ready for departure. However, not before the man had shoved our hands full with cans of warthog meat. He had caught and canned it himself. With a smile, we left the house and made way to the centre of the city, knowing we would not make a lot of distance on this day. In Wroclaw, a blessing showed in the sky, a sun shining bright and strong, making for a lovely day – until the wind started acting up late in the afternoon. The day was spent enjoying this weather, writing letters (which took a decade to arrive), pimpin’ my ride, wandering the city and avoiding the annoying beggars that do not take ‘no’ for an answer.
Time flew by and when we got out the crowded city, after a guy, under influence of god-knows-what, insulted us by thinking Quasimodo to be from Beauty and the Beast, getting back on the smaller roads, it was already time to find a place. Not having found an ideal camping place, we rang a bell in a small village. A man with bare legs came out. “No Polski”, we explain and only a little later the son is outside as well, the translator. I must admit, I had small hopes of this family letting us in. They proved me otherwise, as only a few minutes later we seated ourselves inside while the man cleared a room. Soup and tea was placed in front of us by the eldest son (14), whom had translated for us as well. It was a family of three with only sons. The one of 10 spoke surpisingly good English and even the other, half his age, was able to introduce himself to us. I noticed how well they behaved, cleaning up after we finished, politely shaking hands and they acted very decent. The three siblings kept asking us questions about the Netherlands. A phone call to the wife however, ended our stay there prematurely. Sandwiches and tea was prepared for us to take with us and the oldest son was coming along to point us to the next village, where a youth hostel was located – the man even offered to pay for it! All four of them lead us out with puppy eyes and a face of guilt. I told him we understand and that it was no problem, yet he just looked to the ground with a sad face.
Walking the streets of Baków (thing under A, sorry) we could not find the hostel the man spoke off and as both of us were about to give up and put up our tents in the woods, a woman started asking us questions in her native language. Weirldy enough, we understood and managed to explain. A moment later, we had a cup of tea and some food again. Here we, the lady, her three teenage children -forced into translating- and us, talked for a bit with help of Google Translate and the few words we know. Then the subject of ‘Place to sleep’ came up. “No idea!” That’s when it all got quick, without a clue of what was going on, we followed the major of the village whom had joined and guided us to a shed in an open field. His wife, the nephew and the rest had come with as well. The major had started a fire and a few seconds later left, to return with two big bags of grocery. All of us together enjoyed the comfort of the fire, while roasting some sausages and marshmallows. I hadn’t expected the evening to go like this and even though it rained a little I had an awesome evening with great people! For the next day, they had given us two dozen apples, 2l apple juice and a lot of bread.
The morning after we took off early, which didn’t show in distance as we cycled in the wrong direction for the first hour or so – also had to go back. But luckily after returning, the wind was in our back. Making our way to Syców, which is a good city, a man on a motorcycle stopped and tried to start a conversation to then take off due to the barriere. Funny, when the first and only house we tried turned out to be his. Marek, was this bold man’s name. He had a big smile on his face and started the grill almost right after pointing us to the garden. Our tents were up, the sausages ready and the rest of the family had joined. Madeleine, the lady of the house and their two sons. We combined English and German and got quite far this way. Marek works as a bakery delivery getting up at 4:00 six days a week and his wife works at the hospital.
I liked this stay, as it was so confusing and hilarious. Almost finished with my meal, we had been asked to bring the dirty laundry (which needed a wash). Inside, half the laundry in, Madeleine pointed to the shower and we thought she meant now, until Marek guided us to the car for a drive. I was handed a coat of theirs, when mine was still outside, hanging on a chair, thinking we’d continue dinner when all of a sudden we took off. Maarten and I, confused, had to hold our laugh as Marek, with a beer or two gone, kept fighting with Madeleine for the speed and music’s volume. With every good song, he’d point to the radio and shout “Iron Maiden” in his Polish accent. Gotta love that man. Apparantly, they wanted to show us a lake, one absolutely stunning with a gorgeous forest surrounding it.
Back at their home, after a shower now occupied by Maarten, I sat down with the family. “Herbata scheisse”, Marek told me, “Piwo Dobre”. Madeleine seemed to not agree with him. A rescue to avoid this argument, when one of the brothers came with a basket of the most adorable kittens ever! They were so tiny and cute! We then made our way into the living room, just before we were off to bed. I pointed to the wedding picture, asking how long ago. Marek rubs his head in answer and says: “9 years”, followed by “Catastrofe”. The lady agrees, repeating the same word, pointing to Marek. I can’t help but smile, such a funny and likeable family.
Don’t ask me how, but I managed to do it! Our already full panniers and backpacks, somehow had space for the 2x2l 7up bottles, the two bags of both extra’s and sweet bakery and some chicken and boiled eggs, given to us by Madeleine and Marek. Our bikes were crazy heavy now and we decided that tonight, because of the amazing custom of giving food in Poland, we had to camp somewhere. This was in Wola Rudlicka, a field near the road, after another day of great sunshine and wind in the right direction.
Awakened by a small deer shouting, I got up. Whilst clearing our stuff, my tent went for a run. I didn’t really mind having to run after my tent, I did not like the fact that the wind was going into the opposite direction of us however. It was a struggle, to bike against this strong wind.
Most of these days had been without any expenses, as food was often provided by our hosts with extra’s. This, until we entered Zduńska Wola, where we came upon the best deal ever; 5 scoops of ice cream for €1,60! One must be crazy or against glorious ice cream (crazy) to let such a deal go! Then our plan for the rest of the afternoon was to cycle a few dozens kilometres further, until we got distracted by two stray dogs. We gave them some food and water and spent the late afternoon with one. Almost, had we had another travelling companion, yet after said time, the dog went on. We should too.
The people listening to our usual story, thought it to be a joke at first. Nonetheless, the couple opened the door for us and welcomed us in, where we waited for the translators. A friend, the two children and their English teacher had all stopped by to bombard us with questions. The couple had decided we could stay in the travelling daughter’s room, a Scooby-Doo fan. I knew, that we were in the house of great people when I saw the man’s enthusiasm towards Quasimodo, as the man grabbed him by the hand and swinged him, making his way inside. Tired, we fought to stay awake as it was great meeting more people. The daughter had stayed til the later hours to be the tolk of the evening and we had spent another night with lovely people.
These are the amazing things you can’t plan. This; amongst the locals, without a plan and using simple transportation, is how you really get to know a country.
Marek is cool (didn’t had beer) and
Zduńska Wola is cool too.*