Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia

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Yes, three countries in just a few days. Its been an eventful few days from when we decided to go to a bike meeting in Italy. We left Lithuania that morning and entered Poland. We continued swapping battteries to keep my bike going. We got to Ostrow Mazowiecka and checked into the hotel Slowiaka. Unfortunatly Clair came off her bike just as we arrived. She was a little banged up, it was the end of a long day and we were both very tired. Thats the price you pay sometimes.

Clair is really good at finding places to stay and Poland was so cheap that we could get a room for only a few pounds more than it cost to camp. The hotel Slowiaka was a huge room with a corner bath and the restaurant meals for two of us was only £23 for two courses and two teas each.

I wanted to visit Treblinka, the site of 800,000 deaths of mainly Jews, Poles and Roma’s during World War 2. We didn’t take photo’s, it seems so disrespectful. There were bus loads of tourists when we got there and they were getting a guided tour. The site is split into sections, there’s a small museum with a model layout of how it’s thought the camps were built and used. A lot is unknown because records were destroyed and the site was partly buried and then overgrown. However, the main area you’ll see in photos if you do look is the monuments next to the museum and adjacent to the old station platform where the victims were trained in and murdered. Treblinka was actually two camps. a concentration camp, Treblinka 1 where a rolling population of 2000 people were worked to death, assuming they weren’t murdered in the woods for just about any reason. Treblinka 2 was the site of the gas chambers. All that is left of Treblinka 1 is the grounds of about half of the camp. We walked to it, about 2km down a cobbled path built by the prisoners, each building was signed with descriptions of what it was used for and quotes from some of the very few survivors. The site of Treblinka 2 is simply a monument now with hundreds of crosses marking just a few of the dead.

What really shocked us was that we walked down there, read every sign and walked to end of the crosses at the death camp and we saw not one other visitor. We were completely alone. There were hundreds of visitors at the main monument but not one went to the actual site of the unbelievable suffering and death.

It would be an understatement to say we were very moved by the whole place. It is a very sobering experience.

As we had spent so much time at Treblinka we didn’t go far before camping at Warka. The less said the better. Good food, poor campsite. We were the only ones on the site, main season having finished. The toilets were ok, the kitchens were disgusting. On the bright side though we found a great restaurant in the town. For us Poland has proven a bit tricky with the language. At the restaurant we had to use google translate. Clair ordered our starters and her main meal. I ordered my main meal. This was taken to be understood that Clair had ordered three meals! Her first starter arrived with my main meal, then her second starter arrived followed a bit later by her main meal. As you have to in these circumstances, we just laughed it off as an easy mistake to make.

Our next overnight stop was a cottage in a back garden of a house in Lapczyca. £22 a night for a complete cottage!! We had a couple of nights to rest up as we often do and I treated Clair to my cooking for a the two days. She survived. Hurrah! I can do fish and stir fry pretty well. No-one has died as a result. One thing worth mentioning is that Poland loves dogs and every where we stopped, at about dusk, they started and they went at it for a couple of hours as they have at each place we stopped.

That said, the cottage was lovely, it was a converted stable I think, The chap who gave us the key seemed to have done all the woodwork inside. The only really tricky parts was the stairs, very steep, so steep in fact that we both went down them backwards. I did spend a bit of relax time in the hammock at the top of the stairs. As always when we stop for a couple of nights I also got to spend a few hours maintaining the bikes which in my case meant removing some of the broken tech gear. That was our last night in Poland and we headed south again. Our only quick stop on the way was for new gloves, mine have fallen to bits inside.

Slovakia Baby! We crossed the border and happily the standard of driving improved somewhat. Polish drivers have no time for bikers from what we were told. On the way through we found a fantastic castle at Oravsky Podzamok: Orava Castle. A guided tour is mandatory but it was all in Slovakian which actually made it fun in some unexpected ways as we just wondered around ignoring the guide. We were not supposed to take photos in some parts……

Our only night there was at the hotel Luna in Zia Nad Hronom. Again Clair pulled a blinder. £21 including breakfast for both of us. When we stop in a hotel we get the chance get on the road early so we did just that and headed through very heavy rain onwards to Hungary. At one point we entered a valley and lightning was flashing down onto the hills and valley ahead.

We didn’t see a lot of Hungary though as we mostly stuck to motorways to make sure we can get to our destination in Italy for Thursday. That said, Hungary’s motorway are superb and so new, they haven’t finished them yet.

So that’s it. We have stopped the night in Austria. Country 16 of our 13 country tour. Its like a bonus line on our country bingo card. Tomorrow we hope to get to Italy where the temperature is in the high twenties.

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