2712 km so far.
We got up and ready quickly, having unpacked pretty much nothing last night. Still, by the time we were on the bikes, the rain had started falling again. The views across this high mountain valley were stunning, with bright green hills shrouded in mist as far as we could see. We have no idea what the tops of the Tatras look like, and we don’t expect to see them before we’re out of the range. Maybe next time.
Maestro, Play Us Out
As we passed through the town, some canned Slovakian folk music started to play. We assumed it was coming from the church, since we’ve heard churches in other towns play strange electronic music from time to time.
As we rode, we realised the music seemed to be following us. Had we finally got our very own cycling theme? Or was it some creepy ‘cyclists leaving town’ warning tune? Were we being stalked by a twisted ice cream van man?
Nope. Turns out there are loudspeakers set up on streetlamp posts throughout the town and, we assume, every morning around 8am they play very loud Slovakian folk music to ensure that none of the townspeople are able to sleep in.
Goodbye Tatras, Our Old Friends
Despite the sleety rain and near-freezing temperature, we had a beautiful ride through the valley. We passed by a road crew fixing potholes and felt lucky to be riding instead of working in this weather. We saw a woman jogging across the valley floor and felt comforted to see someone else as crazy as we are.
The relatively flat terrain was a nice start to the day, since we were anticipating our third big mountain climb in three days. When I had looked at the elevation profile yesterday, I had thought it was only about a 200 m climb, but Stephen insisted it was closer to 500. Hrmph. I assumed he was probably right, since he tends to memorise these things better than I do.
When we got to what was clearly the bottom of the main climb, we took off layers, put on music, and took a deep breath. We pedalled off and less than 10 minutes later we were at the top. What? Could this really be the end of the Tatras?
It certainly seemed so, as we coasted down and down and down, not needing to pedal for 20 or 30 km. Finally, I had to call a stop to this damp downhill madness so we could make our lunch in a dirty bus shelter.
No Fences Make Good Neighbours
In the last town in Slovakia, the humorously named Sucha Hora, we spent the last of our Euros on chocolate bars and cookies. Then we crossed into Poland. There was a derelict border crossing on the Slovak side and a big “Welcome To Poland Here Are Our Speed Limits” sign 50 m later. That was all the fanfare we got on entering our 7th country.
Despite the border crossing being nothing but an invisible line, almost immediately the area seemed to be more affluent. We saw huge modern houses, tidy villages, and shops and cafes that were actually open. There were people out and about and much fancier cars splashing rainwater on us as they zipped on by.
After 60 km I had had enough. I think Stephen was keen to keep riding all afternoon and try to get to Krakow, but I nipped that plan in the bud. We are in no hurry, and I didn’t feel up to a 120 km day for no reason. So we stopped in Rabnak. Stephen knocked on a few doors of guesthouses until we finally found a place that would have us, bedraggled as we were.
This is a pretty little town with a huge brand new park, complete with skate park, tennis courts, kids’ play area, and Pope John Paul II monument. Everything a town park should have.
We were too lazy to cook, even though our guest house had a small kitchen area, so we went to the local pizzeria, where I made the mistake of telling Stephen to order for both of us. We ended up with enough food for four people, including a huge plate of perogies, which we are excited to see on every single menu here.
And then we ate it all. I swear, I’m going to be the first person in history to gain weight while cycle touring.
We must do our best not to eat like this when we are sitting on our butts in Krakow for the next week.
Soundtrack: The Tragically Hip, Trouble At The Henhouse | Queens Of The Stone Age, …Like Clockwork | The National, Trouble Will Find Me ♥