Day 8 part 2 (Gdynia ferry terminal – warmshower host in Gdynia)

What a wonderful day we have had today. First a light breakfast with another interesting discussion with Paula and Sten and then we cycled the 10 km in sunshine and -5 degrees to the ferry terminal. The sailing time from Karlskrona to Gdynia is 11 hours, pretty much the same time it takes to fly to Bangkok…

We arrived Gdynia when it was completely dark. We set our GPS on our hosts address but the GPS then wanted us to return to Karlskrona, then go to Denmark and Germany before going to the right place.

A true cyclist home with a bike on the wall and panniers on the floor.
A true cyclist home with a bike on the wall and panniers on the floor.

Arriving to a new city when it is dark is never easy. This time we had to find our way out from the port area together with a hundred trucks that came with our ferry. Our GPS continued to tell us to turn back at every intersection. Really annoying, but we ignored it’s instructions and only followed the map. It was cold, dark and super windy when we tried to negotiate the streets of Gdynia and we are proud to tell that we went pretty much straight on target. When we approached the correct building our hosts waved to us from their balcony and came down to greet us.

Studying our intended route through Poland and getting good advices
Studying our intended route through Poland and getting good advices

Our hosts, Ania and Slawek are very nice people, and they immediately asked some friends to come and and meet us and share some wine. We had lots of interesting discussions that for obvious reasons centred around traveling, and especially traveling by bike. It turned out that Ania and Slawek had made almost the same tour through the Baltics as we did a couple of years ago so we had plenty to talk about.

It was a very funny night with lots of laughter and smiles and we are so happy we could come and stay with Ania and Slawek and meet their nice friends. Thanks a lot for hosing us.

Cycling day 8 – part 2 statistics

Distance:             11.1  km
Traveling time     01.25 hours
Cycling time        00.52 hours
Average speed   12.8   km/h
Top speed           24.1   km/h
Altitude gained     150  m
Altitude lost            69  m

Day 9 (Gdynia – Starogard Gdanski)

I subconsciously noticed that Slawek left early in the morning. Two hours later we woke up and had breakfast together with Ania who asked if we would like to stay another night. When we met yesterday we immediately felt that we were on the same wavelength with Ania and Slawek and we got along very well. Ania told us that we could do some fun things together if we stayed the Friday night too. We declined and she said that it was OK if we later changed our minds. Afte we had left her we discussed for a long while if we should stay another night and we both wanted to, but at the same time we strongly felt that it was time to move on. We really like Ania and Slawek but we decided to decline their offer to stay one more night, but we are determined to go and see them once we are back from this trip. Gdynia is after all not that far away from Sweden.

The issue of staying another night or not made me think about the purpose of this trip. It is to cycle from Göteborg to Bangkok, but it is as much to discover what there is between our two homes and meet interesting people. Here we met some very nice people so why shouldn’t we stay? I don’t really know the answer! We want to get to know people but we also strongly feel that we are on the move, and since we have been moving too little the last week we feel a bit restless. It is strange because once we started our trip there is an underlying desire to move forward. I guess we have to find a reasonable balance between the urge to move on and to get to know the people along the way.

Anyway – thanks a million times Ania and Slawek. Welcome anytime to visit us in Sweden or Thailand.

When we left Ania around 10 in the morning, we rolled down to Sopot city and went out to the nice beach. There we took a number of photos which we have sent to our sponsor Klättermusen. Below you find two of those photos.

Wej at Sopot beach
Wej at Sopot beach
Beach cycling???
Beach cycling???

I am very fatalistic when it comes to rain, headwind, tailwind, flat tyres and all those kind of problems. I think good and bad luck evens out in the long run. If you have a really good day with the wind on your back, downhill and sunshine, then you will sooner or later have to pay it back with uphill, rain and a flat tyre.

Today we had a nice sunshine, a mild temperature and a steady wind on our backs. Cycling is rarely as easy as it was today. Does this mean that we in a few days can look forward to headwind with rain and 10 flat tyres? I would say no, because today’s experience was prepaid by cycling in sub-zero temperatures, rain, snow and on icy roads last week. Today was simply pay back for the 7 cycling days in Sweden.

Cycling day 9 statistics 

Distance:             65.3  km
Traveling time     06.56 hours
Cycling time        04.00 hours
Average speed   16.3   km/h
Top speed           37.6   km/h
Altitude gained     406  m
Altitude lost          436  m

Day 10 (Starogard Gdanski – Chelmno)

When I pulled open the curtains this morning I got the sunshine straight into my eyes. Blue sky and winds from the northwest promised us a nice day in our saddles.

Although mostly brown fields, trees without leaves and a broken snow cover, we enjoyed the scenery. The landscape had no real hills and whenever the road was not flat it was only slowly bringing us up or down the hills. The Saturday morning also meant significantly less traffic.

First time we had to stop for a train
First time we had to stop for a train

When we set out in the morning we didn’t know really where to go. Ania, our host in Gdynia, had recommended to visit the old town of Chelmno which was some 60-70 km away. Since it was so good conditions I had my eyes on Torun which was 120 km away.

At an intersection just after the little town of Skorcz we had to make up our minds and we decided to go for Chelmno. That meant we could avoid the more busy road 214 and go on a smaller road. The road we chose immediately turned out to have a rough surface and it would get worse.

When we studied the map at the next intersection in the middle of a forest, a sausage on four legs from a nearby house ran out to sniff at us. It barked and wagged its tail and let us say hello to it. It then ran after us for more than 2 km – imagine how far that is if you have legs that are only 15 cm long….

The bad road before it got a lot worse. I was so mad I wouldn't bother to make a photo of it.
The bad road before it got a lot worse. I was so mad I wouldn’t bother to make a photo of it.

All of a sudden the dog stopped and stood still looking at us as we pedaled on. It was then that the road changed from really bad and bumpy to almost completely unridable. From having had bad asphalt it now got a surface of large round stones. Those stones were covered by snow and ice and we couldn’t figure out what was worst. The slippery snow or the bumpy stones where there was little snow. This section lasted for about 10 km and we slipped, fell, yelled and cursed our map that included this road on a national road map. Eventually we got out but we had been seriously delayed.
We wondered why the dog stopped running after us in the matter of a second – we now know why…. 😉

When we got to the first village after the forest road we went straight to the nearest gas station to get some coffee which we had with some slices of bread that Ulrika in Bräkne Hoby had provided us with. It still tastes great Ulrika – thanks a lot for today’s lunch 🙂

Having a sandwich from the bread Ulrika gave us
Having a sandwich from the bread Ulrika gave us

While we sat on our sleeping mat outside the gas station we decided that Torun was completely out of reach today. It had to be Chelmno and I contacted our friend Ania to ask her to help out to make a reservation for a room. 20 minutes later I got the confirmation and we started to head for Chelmno.

Chelmno is an medival town on a big hill and the last part up to the hotel was really tough. We followed the GPS and it told us to take the shorter way up some pedestrian stairs. It was indeed shorter, but it was steep and tough work.

The old city hall in Chelmno
The old city hall in Chelmno

The accomodation that Aina booked for us was a little cute and nice hotel. In the evening we went out to have some Polish dinner and my dish was very similar to ”Kåldolmar” which we in Sweden claim to be ”our” dish. It reminded us of when we in Lithuania ordered a dish that was promised to be typical lithuanian and got ”kroppkakor” which the people in the southeast of Sweden claim to be theirs….. All this just show that cultural boundaries are felxible.

Cycling day 10 statistics 

Distance:             85.4  km
Traveling time     07.18 hours
Cycling time        05.18 hours
Average speed   16.1   km/h
Top speed           37.6   km/h
Altitude gained     397  m
Altitude lost          401  m

Day 11 (Chelmno – Wloclawek)

Today we haven’t cycled anywhere.
Today we have sailed 103 km from Chelmno to Wlocawek 🙂

Yesterdays weather forecast promised strong winds from northwest which turned out to be completely true. Today we were going southeast and it is true to say that we have not worked hard today. We have been cycling around 25-28 km/h for long periods and that is exceptionally fast with a loaded touring bike.

When touring on a bicycle the prefered roads are small backroads on the countryside. We have been on those for a few days but sadly to say, we have been scared by how little respect for a cyclist some local drivers have. They have overtaken us far too close and it has made us scared and upset.

Wej overtaking me on an empty E75.
Wej overtaking me on an empty E75.

Today we had to go out on the big E75 road for a while. With our recent experience from the small roads, we did expected the worst, but we were completely wrong. The E75 has a good quality surface and a wide shoulder for us to ride on but it might be a bit dull to cycle on unless you like to cycle fast and far from overtaking cars. The road was very straight and was leveled out so there were neither any tough uphill sections, nor any steep downhill parts. It feels like it has been made for cyclists who want to press on to quickly get south and meet the spring. And we have had no car coming up too close to us today. We will continue on the E75 tomorrow, that’s for sure.

This picture is for my Dad :-)
This picture is for my Dad 🙂

Yesterday the landscape was dominated by snow. As we moved south today, the snow disappeared. We have had sunshine in our faces, a strong wind on our backs, no snow around us and we have moved 102 km in a less time than it usually takes to ride 75. We are happy today and look forward to ride to Lodz tomorrow.

Cycling day 11 statistics 

Distance:           102.8  km
Traveling time      06.39 hours
Cycling time         05.10 hours
Average speed    19.9   km/h
Top speed           46.8   km/h
Altitude gained     458  m
Altitude lost          497  m

Day 12 (Wloclawek – Lodz)

Riverside in Wroclawek is the most expensive hotel we have stayed at so far. It is strange that we chose that hotel since we arrived early and would have plenty of time to go around and look for cheaper accomodation. We motivated our expensive choice by saying that soon there will be a lot of camping nights, so we are allowed to treat ourselves to something better.

Having a luxury breakfast. This won't be any habit ;-)
Having a luxury breakfast. This won’t be any habit 😉

Today we managed something we’d never done so far on this time. We managed to start on time, or actually 7 minutes ahead of schedule. Finding the routines on a trip like this takes some time and when having 8 bags that all look the same (almost) you need to be a bit organized about where the stuff is packed. Packing also needs to be balanced according to weight, but now we think we have found the routines. Everything is supposed to be packed before we go to bed, and then there is very little to pack in the morning prior to departure.

Our bikes were parked inside the hotel door and outside our room and this led to us being very quick in the morning. It was sunny and not cold so we didn’t even wear thick clothes for the warm up session, i.e. the first 20 minutes. Finding our way out of Wloclawek was easy – we only needed to stick to our old friend the E75.

Bikes also had a nice rest at the Riverside
Bikes also had a nice rest at the Riverside

When arriving to Wloclawek we jumped into the first (and most expensive) hotel we found. But before that we had discussed going to a hotel some 15-20 km south which the GPS said would be there. For good reasons we don’t trust the GPS so we stopped early. Today when riding past the hotel it turned out to be a large motel so maybe the GPS is correct sometimes.  As we continued along the E75 we found plenty of motels so accomodation won’t be an issue as long as we stick to that road.

After a first break at a gas station we had another break at a second gas station. Both gas stations had an open wifi connection so we could make an unplanned status update on the Facebook. When will Swedish gas stations have free wifi?

Enjoying a nap in the sun outside a gas station
Enjoying a nap in the sun outside a gas station

The reason for the second pit stop was to kill some time since we understood we would make it to our hosts in Lodz too early. We used that time to do the first chain exchange. We carry two chains each that we will switch between every 800 km. Next time will be in Romania.

Arriving into Lodz was a bit hard. It is a big city and the shoulder we had ridden on the entire day all of a sudden disappeared and we were once again riding too close to the cars. When getting into the city we immediately switched to the cycling paths which feels a lot more safe. The GPS made a great job in bringing us to our hosts, so we shouldn’t complain too much about it.

Agatha and Radek offered us traditional Bigos stew, some cold cut dishes and a few beers. We had a fun evening with lively discussions about everything from choice of route (always on the agenda) to heating systems. Meeting people like them is the purpose of traveling and we hope we will see them again some time. So Agatha and Radek, thanks a lot for your kind hospitality. Hope you will make it out on the roads soon too 🙂

Cycling day 12 statistics

Distance:           110.7  km
Traveling time      09.23 hours
Cycling time         06.01 hours
Average speed    18.4   km/h
Top speed           33.9   km/h
Altitude gained     475  m
Altitude lost          318  m

Day 13 (Lodz – Piotrkow Trybunalski)

I knew it would happen sooner or later. Yesterday it was Wej and today it was my turn to have a day of complete lack of motivation. We expect to get days like these and hopefully we won’t have them on the same day. Yesteday Wej was riding behind me, staying silent and not commenting much on anything. Today I was behind Wej almost all the day and when I didn’t stare straight into her bright yellow vest, I looked at my cycle computer that kept showing that we had moved too short distance 🙁 .

We spent the morning hours riding around in downtown Lodz and even went into a shopping mall. That felt like a short relief to the hard work on E75.

After a few days of tailwind we today had headwind for the first time which probably had a part in me being a bit unmotivated. I know there will later be both headwind, rain, uphill and flat tyres on the same day, but that didn’t leave me any comfort today.

After a while we decided to cut the day short. We asked our almighty GPS where the closest hotel is. It turned out to be 671 meters away and we kindly asked the GPS to guide us there. While Wej was inside to check in I was waiting with the bikes outside the reception when two ladies came out. They started to point at our bikes and asked me many questions in Polish. Our conversation got nowhere beyond that they understood that we were on our way from Sweden to Thailand by bike. Then one of them took up here phone and called someone, talked for a minute and then handed over the phone to me.

The guy in the other end of the line spoke excellent english and presented himself as Mike. He said that he is a member of a local cycling club who will have a meeting at a pub today at 8 PM and he asked if we wanted to join in. I guess you readers by now know that we really want to meet people along the way, so we instantly said “thanks, we will join in” and now we will soon be on our way to meet the local riders of Piotrkow Tryb.

Cycling day 13 statistics

Distance:              56.8  km
Traveling time      07.22 hours
Cycling time         03.53 hours
Average speed    14.7   km/h
Top speed           32.0   km/h
Altitude gained    220  m
Altitude lost         216  m

Coincidence in Piotrkow Tryb.

I guess you all have thought about the interesting coincidences in life when you are at the right spot and at the right time. Yesterday when I was waiting for Wej to check us in at the hotel was such an occasion.

The lady I mentioned I met outside the hotel yesterday is called Lucie. She came and picked us up in her orange Fiat at 8 PM and brought us to a pub in central Piotrkow where we met about 15 other cyclist. I thought it was the local race or MTB cycling team we would see, but it wasn’t. It was Piotrkowska Grupa Rowerowa which is a local group for touring cyclists, i.e. just the same kind of people like we are.

Having beer, pizza and interesting discussions.
Having beer, pizza and interesting discussions.

The cycling group meet regularly at this pub and yesterday they invited us. We had many interesting discussions about our present trip, trips that they have done together and trips they plan to do. Everyone in the group engaged in helping us to plan our route for the coming days when we ride towards Krakow. After having some pizza, beer and a really good time togehter Lucie drove us home in her orange Fiat.

The critical mass movement is active here too
The critical mass movement is active here too

Lucie works as a receptionist at the hotel and was on her way home when we met her. If we had come 5 minutes later we would have missed her and also this night out with the cycling group. Sometimes it is necessary to be on the right spot at the right time – we will try to do that in the future to.

Time to say good bye to new friends
Time to say good bye to new friends

Day 14 (Piotrkow Tryb. – Wloszczowa)

Last night our bikes got their best accomodation this far during this trip. We were allowed to park them in the hotel’s conference room. The bikes didn’t say if they liked it or not, but they are indeed very silent creatures. Wej’s bike is a lot older and wiser than mine and has stayed in conference rooms before, so we intepreted the silence simply as lack of excitement.

Luxury living for a bike?
Luxury living for a bike?

We got headwind today. It was tough and when we rode along over some flat areas with open fields on both sides, we felt the full power of the wind. We didn’t complain though, since we had the wind on our backs a few days ago, and we know it will come back our way later.

We are a bit ambivalent about the direction of the wind. If it comes from the north it is on our backs, but it means cold air is coming and spring is delayed. If it comes from the south it is straight into our faces and delays us instead, but it brings up warm air and spring. So we can’t decide what we want most, tailwind or spring.

We passed a local library today and we stick to our traditions of taking photos of Wej in front of libraries. Unfortunately there was no time for a visit this time either.

Wej outside a local library
Wej outside a local library

We usually have a coffee break in the afternoon at some gas station or cafe. When we felt it was time for coffee we almost rode past a little place with the sign BAR on it. We quickly turned around, Wej went in to buy coffee while I watched the bikes outside. Soon I understood what kind of visitors that frequented this place – the local drinking team.

One of the guys was trying to talk to me non-stop and I must say that I admire his willingness to never give up his attempts to make me understand. Another man in the group showed how to run a conversation with a foreigner whom you have no common language with. He walked up to Wej, pointed at her and their conversation was as follows:

Man:  – Japan?
Wej: – Thailand
Man:  – Bangkok?
Wej:  – Tak (yes in Polish)

Map out of the village
Map out of the village

When it was time to go, the guy who first talked to me disappeared into the shop and came back with a piece of paper and a pen. I think he tried to make a map for us how to get out of the village. We knew the way but let him make his map anyway. He seemed to be a nice guy and it is a pity we coudln’t figure out what he was trying to say.

Later in the afternoon Wej’s bike broke the silence. It started to make a clicking sound for every turn of her cranks. We tried to eliminate all possible sources, but the sound was still there. Then I suspected that the crank arms could be loose and tightened the bolt even further. The crankset is tight so it couldn’t be that and I have removed the pedal and re-attached it again, but the sound is still there. There is no play anywhere and we can’t understand where the sound comes from so there is nothing to do other than tolerate a click for every rotation and then have a professional mechanic in Krakow have a look at it when we get there.

Cycling day 14 statistics

Distance:              83.7  km
Traveling time      07.56 hours
Cycling time         05.11 hours
Average speed    16.1   km/h
Top speed           29.3   km/h
Altitude gained    365  m
Altitude lost         324  m

Day 15 (Wloszczowa – Krakow)

I have read many cycling blogs that tell about what roads the writer has cycled and how the cycling itself was and although very interesting for a cyclist who plan to follow that route, it can be rather boring for a non-cyclist. We know we have more friends who are non-cyclist than cyclists who follow us on this blog and therefore we try to tell tales from the road rather than tales about the road.

In this post I will allow myself to make an exception and tell the hard facts about yesterday’s cycling. I am now sitting comfortably in a guesthouse in Krakow and yesterday there was simply no strength left to pull myself together and write a post about day 15.

Yesterday was the toughest day so far. Wej’s problem with her bike the day before yesterday (Day 14) made us stop 25 km short of plan so the distance to Krakow had all of a sudden grown with another 25 km. We wanted to make it to Krakow and we thought it could be achieved by starting earlier.

We woke up at 6.45, had breakfast at the bakery below the hotel at 7 and started to cycle at 8.10. About 15 minutes later we got the first drops of rain. We didn’t worry about the rain though since the forecast promised only very small amounts. Apparently the forecast was wrong and it continued to rain. Once we reached the village where we had intended to stay the day before, we had to stop to look at the map and decide if we should go for the smaller or bigger roads.

Since it was raining we thought we would miss no nice views if we took the big roads and besides this we have a well founded distrust for what sort of roads our map can bring us to.

When we reached the town of Jedrzejow we were quite wet and decided to change to our rain clothes at a gas station. It felt like a relief and after a cup of coffee and with dry clothes we pedalled on. The road was good with the same wide shoulder as the good old E75.

After a while I felt my power was deterioating and we stopped at a bus stop to have our sandwiches. With new strength we went on, but only a short while later we discovered what the local cyclists in Piotrkow had described to us as ”a little hilly”.

Altitude profile of Day 15
Altitude profile of Day 15

The hills were not steep, but very long. When climbing up the hills, the shoulder of the road was gone to make room for a climbing lane for the trucks. Once on top of a hill, it soon turned into to a downhill slope. Unfortunately there seemed to be no flat section between the hill topss or in the valleys between and since the downhill parts took so short time we had little time to recover betwen the uphill climbs. We only used two gears, our lowest and our highest. Up the hills the speed was about 7-9 km/h and downhill it was often +50 km/h.

The kilometers went by far too slow and for a while I seriously doubted that we would make it to Krakow. None of us wanted to stay at a motel some 20-30  km from Krakow so we kept going. We rode 3 hours non-stop and Wej was mostly behind me. When I was tired I thought she might be so too and evertime I asked her ”are you OK?” I only got the answer ”keep going and don’t stop”. I must say that she might be a tiny little lady, but she really has a strong mind and strong legs to be able to keep going up and down that rollercoaster in the rain hour after hour.

Finally in Krakow
Finally in Krakow

When we finally reached Krakow we went to a wellknown hostel that was full. We then continued to the hostel where I and Araya (thai sister) stayed when we visited Krakow last summer and we even got the same room.

Araya and I went to a restaurant nearby the hostel and they served traditional dishes in huge portions. We then ordered a ”huge meat selection” for two and couldn’t finish even half of it. I thought that maybe after cycling 122 km up and down hills in the rain  would make it possible to finish that dish, so we went there to order it.

Wej and the monster dish
Wej and the monster dish

As mentioned, Wej is not the biggest person on the planet, but when it comes to cycling and eating she possesses more resources than anyone would expect. She can cycle and eat for ages. Today’s cycling was no problem, but she failed to finish that monster dish. If two hungry cyclists can’t finish it, then I think it is time for the restaurant management to reconsider the size of that dish.

Size do matter after a long day in the saddle :-)
Size do matter after a long day in the saddle 🙂

If somebody had too many of those giant beers, or if somebody some day would be able to finish the monster dish, then this device in the men’s restroom maybe would come in handy.

Instructive sign on the wall
Instructive sign on the wall

Cycling day 15 statistics

Distance:             121.7  km
Traveling time      09.30 hours
Cycling time         07.08 hours
Average speed    17.0   km/h
Top speed           52.3   km/h
Altitude gained    795  m
Altitude lost         832  m

Resting and doing nothing in Krakow

The last few days of cycling took a heavy toll on us and yesterday we didn’t do much at all. We ate, slept, read and regained our strengths so there is not much to tell.

Well, there might be one thing to tell after all. We think we have solved the problem with the clicking sound from Wej’s bike. We read some articles on the internet about strange sounds on bicycles that indicated that the seatpost could be the culprit. When my friend Robin made a comment to a previous post on this blog about him solving the same problem on his bike by greasing the seatpost, then we thought that it would be worth to try. It took me 5 minutes to remove the seatpost, grease it a bit and then put it back, and voila…. the sound is gone.
Big thanks to Robin for that advice… 🙂 🙂

Now we will go out to spend the day to take in everything Krakow has to offer.

Photos from Krakow

Today we have walked around in Krakow. We have been to the Wawel hill which used to be the centre of power in old times. Then we walked through the Kazimierz which used to be the jewish area before the tragedies of the holocaust. In the afternoon we paid a visit to museum of Schindler’s factory and after resting at our room for a while we finished the day with a walk through the old town.

Wawel hill by night. Our hostel is 200 m from here.
Wawel hill by night. Our hostel is 200 m from here.
Padlocks with name of sweethearts and keys on the riverbed
Padlocks with name of sweethearts and keys on the riverbed
First Thai tourists we have met so far. We met them outside the Wawel cathedral
First Thai tourists we have met so far. We met them outside the Wawel cathedral
Krakow has a legend of a Dragon. This statue breathes fire every 5 minutes.
Krakow has a legend of a Dragon. This statue breathes fire every 5 minutes.
Krakow Ghetto and deportation memorial
Krakow Ghetto and deportation memorial

Colourful bikes :-)
Colourful bikes 🙂
Hungry after a long walk
Hungry after a long walk
Krakow square (Rynek) by night
Krakow square (Rynek) by night

Exceptions for bicycles. When will we have this in Göteborg?
Exceptions for bicycles. When will we have this in Göteborg?


The winter is back! Which way to go?

Today is our third and last day in Krakow. We didn’t do much during the first day except resting. Yesterday we went sightseeing and visited a museum and today we think will go to visit the salt mines south of town.

Tomorrow it is time to start riding again. We had decided to go southeast of town and cross the Tatra mountains south of Nowy Sacz. When looking at the weather forecast it doesn’t look good. We had nice spring sunshine a few days ago but now it looks like winter will be back again. We don’t like that and it has made us reconsider the route and now we have two options. The one we planned to take is the eastern route through Kosice, but it looks like it will be colder there. If going via Budapest instead it will less cold, but longer.

What are your opinions – should we go the eastern or western routes????

Route options.  Eastern route through Kosice and western through Budapest
Route options.
Eastern route through Kosice and western through Budapest
Forecast for Kosice (eastern route)
Forecast for Kosice (eastern route)
Forecast for Budapest (western route)
Forecast for Budapest (western route)

Day 16 (Krakow – Limanowa)

When we pulled open the curtains in the morning Wej exclaimed ”look at the street, it’s dry”. It stayed dry for the time it took for us to get ready to cycle and about 10 more minutes. At first the rain was not even annoying, but the rain drops got less and less tiny and after a while it was raining heavily. We quickly changed to rain gear.

The terrain around Krakow is hilly to say the least. We went up, down, up, down and up again and soon we were in Wieliczka on the outskirts of Krakow where the salt mines are. My gloves were completely wet and my hands were freezing so we had to find somewhere to rest where we at the same time can keep an eye on the bikes. It happened to be at the local kebab shop.

In the afternoon my gloves got wet again and we wanted to stop somewhere. All of a sudden we passed a parking lot where a guy had a barbecue going and was selling freshly grilled sausages. Without saying a word to each other, we turned around and parked our bikes beside his van.

Wej and Sausage man!
Wej and Sausage man!

We don’t know the man’s name so let’s just call him the sausage man. He was a very funny and happy guy who knew a bit of German and Russian and since he had had seasonal work in Sweden he also knew a lot of Swedish words too. It is wrong to say we could communicate freely with eachother, but the guy was so joyful and joking all the time and it wasn’t hard to really like his easy going attitude. When I was eating my sausage he was grilling more sausages speaking to himself in Polish, when he suddenly shouted:


Anyone who grew up in the late 70:s and watched the Muppet Show would immediately have made the same association as I did. The Swedish Chef exists for real and sells grilled sausages at parking lot on a countryside road in southern Poland….. 🙂 🙂 🙂

We had a great time with the Sausage Man when another customer came by. It was a young lady and when she ordered her sausage I understood that the Sausage Man told her that we were riding our bikes from Sweden to Bangkok. She then turned to us and asked in perfect English where we were going to stay tonight. Since we had given up the plan to reach Nowy Sacz we said Limanova and she replied that it was her home town. She presented herself as Lidia and soon we were invited to stay at her house. Lidia had to go back to work first and we agreed that we would call her once we got the town.

Nice evening in Lidia's father's house
Nice evening in Lidia’s father’s house

The road to Limanova had a giant climb and when riding up it started to snow. It was a pity because I believe it would have been a very beautiful landscape with rolling hills and great views. Now we couldn’t see further than 300 meters.

Lidia and her husband Benedykt are really sporty people. They do rock climbing and have a climbing wall on their house. They go kayaking and Benedykt is definately more crazy about cycling than we are. In the evening Lidia’s parents and another friend came by and we shared a bottle of wine while discussing adventures. Lidia’s father appeared to be an experienced mountaineer who has climbed big peaks in the Himalayas so there were plenty of topics to discuss.

Benedykt on their private climbing wall :-)
Benedykt on their private climbing wall 🙂

It once again strikes me how fortunate we are to meet all these nice people. Apart from being openminded ourselves, the key to all the interesting meetings is that we travel slowly on our bicycles. If we came by car, people would probably not have been as interested in us and we would have missed many opportunities to get to know the locals, which after all is the purpose of this journey. Sightseeing is fun but can basically be done from the computer at home. What counts is the meetings, or as Benedykt said tonight.

”You can take a photo of a nice sight, but never of our conversation.”

So thank you Sausage Man for the good sausages and giving us some good laughters and thank you Lidia and Benedykt and your parents for inviting us to your lovely house. When visiting Sweden you now where you need to go, and there are even places to rock climb around Göteborg 🙂

Saying good bye to Lidia and Benedykt
Saying good bye to Lidia and Benedykt

Cycling day 16 statistics

Distance:           69.1   km
Traveling time    09.12 hours
Cycling time       05.00 hours
Average speed  13.8   km/h
Top speed          52.6  km/h
Altitude gained  1061 m
Altitude lost         835 m

Day 17 (Limanowa – Czech border)

A few days we understood that a cold spell was approaching central Europe and that it would be more severe in the eastern part of Slovakia and Hungary. I put the question to all you readers to give us an advice which route to select and as some of you may have understood we chose the eastern route. We appreciate all your advices and we had a lengthy discussion before we set off from Krakow. The reason for choosing this route is that it is the route we planned from the beginning. After having struggled with ice, snow and subzero temperatures in Sweden, we thought that we might as well do it for a few days here too. We are now in the Slovakian part of the Tatra mountains and we can already now feel the temperatures dropping so we will se how things work out.

This morning our bikes got a proper shower. Benedykt and I used a water hose to clean both bikes. It was -3 outside and scrubbing the bikes in running cold water made my fingers numb, but the bikes got clean. If it had been a little warmer, then our chains would have got a proper cleansing too, but will do that as soon as the temperature is above zero.

One good thing with staying with local people who are cyclists is that they know the routes in their area. Lidia and Benedykt told us to go another route than the one we had planned to go and thereby saving us 10 km AND a giant climb. Thanks a lot for that advice.

Today there has been no rain, but it has been rather cold. In the morning it was below zero and foggy. In the afternoon the temperature raised slightly to about 0 or maybe +1.

Wej back in winter
Wej back in winter

We reached the border to Slovakia about 2.30 PM. The border was completely empty, no border guard or anything similar. The only thing was some signs informing about we just passed a border. I bet we will have much more complicated border passing procedures later during this trip.

Wej in no-man's-land between Poland and Slovakia
Wej in no-man’s-land between Poland and Slovakia

Slovakia greated us with a marathon climb. It wasn’t steep, but we had to slowly gain 400 meters of altitude. Now, a couple of hours lalter, we both have “spagetti legs”… 😉

Everytime we need to make one of those long climbs I get the feeling that I don’t want to go down once I have reached the pass. Going down is fun, fast and easy, but it takes a lot shorter time than going up. When fighting uphill for an hour at least I don’t think the quick descent is worth the effort and I rather want to stay at the altitude I have struggled to reach. Pretty much like when beating against the wind when sailing – you don’t want to loose what you just have gained.

Cycling day 17 statistics (part 1, Polish side of the border)

Distance: 52.4 km
Traveling time 04.25 hours
Cycling time 02.59 hours
Average speed 17.4 km/h
Top speed 46.6 km/h
Altitude gained 373 m
Altitude lost 431 m