Having made the decision to get a move on to Romania to give ourselves time to travel the country properly we exited Cottbus in Germany on a major road heading straight into Poland.
To make up for the day lost our stop for the night was to be Krakow which meant a motorway day, something we usually avoided. We knew we had arrived in Poland, not so much by the usual sign at the side of the road, blink and you would miss it, but by the sudden deterioration in the road surface. Oddly the road surface on the carriageway going in the opposite direction seemed in much better condition. Jim reckoned that the orthodontic sector probably pay the road ministry to leave it like that as it was enough to rattle your fillings out. Riding on the main motorway to Krakow was an experience we have no wish to repeat. Suffice to say if you are not travelling at at least 85 mph get off the road because they will eat you up and spit you out. Our small hotel on the outskirts of Krakow provided us with somewhere to recover from the shakes and a fantastic meal and breakfast at a fraction of the price of the rest of Europe we had so far ridden through. We were ready to brave the next day.
Once off the motorway and out of the urban areas the local driving speed slowed a bit but the style of driving left a bit to be desired. Heading South towards Slovakia the road wends through a more mountainous region, the Tatra mountains and here there is evidence of the winter ski resorts with many Alpine lodges.
Quite a number of people about going walking which must prolong the tourist season and bring much needed money into the area. Beautiful as it was it had quite a false, contrived feel about it. On the Slovakian side it had a more rustic feel to it and made for pleasant riding towards our destination of Kosice. It was a little disconcerting that 2 road signs had Kosice crossed out but we carried on regardless. It would all be fine. Why on earth would they cross out the name of the most major town in the area. Then we found out why. The bridge across the river had been demolished and was being rebuilt. Okay, to turn back would mean a very long detour. Vehicles seemed to be coming from the other direction on a very narrow road alongside the river. We would follow that. At a junction declaring nothing over 2 tons should use the road, a quick calculation, and we figured we could use the road. There were still cars coming the other way, often on our road space but Jim reckoned it had to be a locals diversion only they knew about as there were no diversion signs and it would be okay. He was right.
Kosice is another historic town with a lovely square, where we counted no less than 5 weddings taking place in the cathedral and accompanying chapel. One after the other, with wedding parties walking through the streets. Not sure if they all ended up at the right receptions but it was a happy sight.
By the cathedral there is the musical fountain which is lit up at night, all very attractive, although I am sure I heard an ABBA song being played which seemed a bit odd.
One more day and we would make Romania, only Hungary to cross. Looking at the map the roads seem to follow very straight lines and it all looked a tad boring. Let the sat nav pick a route avoiding motorways or roads we needed to pay a toll and let’s see what happens (select ‘adventurous routing’ from the Garmin menu). Not the usual way we go but it may pick something more interesting than I could see on the map and would save us having to stop in a town to find some local currency for the day.
The sat nav decided to get its own back on us for all the times we have ignored it and done our own thing leaving it desperately ‘recalculating’ as it tries to figure out what we’re up to. It took us along all the narrow lanes and farm tracks it could find, where tarmac was not even known about and where after a night of heavy rain you could only guess at what lay beneath the surface of the water in any particular hole.
A mini adventure topped off by arriving at a river which had a little cable drawn ferry to get you across. Which of course you had to pay for!!! Jim went to the hut to try and decipher the costs and whether they would take euros (we have no Hungarian money). Answer … no. He spent some time chatting to a chap called Harcos who was in the van in front of us who, bless him, spoke to the ferry man and then offered to pay our fare. I offered to take his picture and he was thrilled with that, so we were all happy. The kindness of strangers.