About : Europe

There are 3 very different parts to the ride. In Portugal, Spain, France, Switzerland and Germany you’re in modern western civilization all kinds of amenities and support – fine dining and **** hotels to budget inns. You ride on nice, paved secondary streets, and especially in Germany, on a lot of spectacular bike paths. Crossing into eastern Europe, (Czech Republic and Poland) the roads are about the same, but the seleciton of accoodations goes down outside of the major cities. In Belarus and Russia the road selection and hotel selection outside of major cities goes way down – get support or bring camping gear.

Nysa, PL 107k/66m**

europe2003 PII, Day 15
27June03, 107k/66m**
Nysa, Poland

At 7AM went for the usual free continental breakfast at the U Baranka Hotel in Nachod and then started preparing for what would be the hilliest day of riding on the trip. This first photo is Lisa, Sylvie, Susie and Steve in the courtyard in front of the hotel getting ready for the ride. The glare is from the hotel window – the long shadows from the early morning sun.

It was a short 10km ride to the Czech-Polish border, where we exchanged some Czech Korun for Polish Zloty, had our passports thoroughly checked and stamped, and crossed into Poland. This is Bob, Susie and Steve waiting for Sylvie and the van to get checked through, and then the last picture of Susie on a bike. Two upcoming mountain ranges were enough to bring her to her senses.

Steve, Lisa and Bob rode on on freshly paved roads into the heavily forested hills. A few kilometers into Poland Bob expressed the wish that he could have been riding through the area 100 years ago. Around a corner later a large old stone arch with two horse drawn carts appeared in front of us.

If we were on the unpaved road toward the left, instead of the newly paved road, and Steve and Lisa were not behind the carts, it could easily have been a century ago. In all of the 2,200 miles plus of riding through Europe so far, we saw a horse drawn cart in Portugal, and some people riding donkeys up a dirt road around Guadalupe, Spain, but that was about it for functional use of animals until we got to Poland. Here every hour or so you see animals doing work. This next shot is of a horse drawn hay turner-overer (to dry it out). The guy riding got water from some lady who walked over it, but the horse got nothing. Check out more about equestrian arena groundworks at https://horsemenageconstruction.co.uk/equestrian-arena-groundworks/.

You can’t really see the hills here because of all the trees, but there were numerous long, slow climbs. They didn’t dampen Lisa’s spirits.

She did, however, decide to bail out in Klodzko after the first mountain/hill range at the first break 41km into the day. This left Steve and Bob as the last two riders. Sylvie, Susie and Lisa took a picture of us as they drove away to our planned lunch stop in Poland in Nysa.

About 65km into the day we finally broke through the hills and out onto some (relatively) flat road. Unlike most of the rest of Europe, it seemed like a large portion of the countryside was not under current cultivation.

Steve and I set a rapid pace trying to make lunch by 1PM. As we approached Nysa, the road quality deteriorated (patches on top of patches) and the level of traffic increased, making for a challenging ride. We made it though and stopped for lunch in the shadow of a large, centuries old tower in a round about just east of the river.

The second shot is Lisa and Sylvie watching us eat. At this point Steve decided to call it quits on the riding, and Lisa decided to get back on a bike. Just after the van departed, a fortiori, Bob decided that it would be better to bail too. For a place we never heard of before, Nysa had numerous (maybe 20) significant historical buildings. We checked out a few and then headed for the train station.

This is a medieval church in Nysa, right next to an early Renaissance one (unverified info).

The train ride into Krakow would entail 3 changes of trains and almost four hours to cover about 100 miles. The vintage WWII or thereabouts trains don’t go above 60, slower on the old joined (clickty clack) rails. But Bob loves trains, so you get four pictures of the ride.

That’s Bob taking pictures through the wood famed window of the train. Among the things he saw was a) the train crossing over and joining other tracks heading into Katowice, b) a dog at a smaller train station along the way, and c) this hulk of a no longer used industrial building.

Two Polish girls sat with us in our compartment on one of the train rides. They were coming back from school for the summer. Monica spoke English. She was proud and sanguine about her country, curious about what the rest of the world thought of Poland (“The Germans don’t like us.”), and realistic about how “behind” her Poland is.

When we got to Krakow we washed up and headed over to the Jewish district for dinner at the Ariel Restaurant. The area was, of course, wiped out in WWII by the Germans and has just started recovering over the past decade or so. In spite of bad reviews in a tourist publication, the restaurant was beautiful and packed. At dinner a sullen little boy came by selling postcards for 1 Zloty (about 27 cents) each. We bought some, but couldn’t get the litle guy to smile.

No more riding now. We need to find a bike shop to store Charlie and Bob’s bikes until we return in 2 months to complete the ride to Poland, and to pack up Susie, Lisa and Steve’s bikes for the trip back to the US. We also hope to visit Auschwitz and see more of Krakow (Cracow, Krakau – you pick the spelling).

n.b. This day is titled Nysa, because that’s where part II of the europe2003 ride ended, and where part III will begin. For those of you keeping track, part II was 13 days of riding covering 1,046 miles. That is an 80 miles per day average. (At this point the update for June 21, Ulm, Germany has not been posted. It will be up soon.)

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