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Poland & Slovakia

Oncești, 01.06.2023




I've been living in my car for a week now and I'm slowly getting used to the fact that this is my new life. 7 days, 1 500 km, 5 countries, not bad I'd say. I've arrived in Romania, everything is chirping around me, and I'm about to fry up a pile of yellow mushrooms from a random tree for dinner. But I guess I'd better start from the beginning.


Poland:


Bolesławiec, Wrocław, Oświęcim and Zakopane were my first stops of the trip. Originally I wanted to drive directly to Wrocław on the first day, but the construction sites along the route were numerous and I started a bit too late. But: home is where you park it, so my home was in Bolesławiec, a small, beautiful town in western Poland. Wrocław was also nice, but not too eventful. Lots of driving and podcasts, good pierogies, sun and a bit of work.


I decided to stop in Oświęcim as well. After Buchenwald, Auschwitz-Birkenau was the second concentration camp I looked at on site, and my head rattled as I walked on those grounds, which by now seem strangely peaceful. In my diary I noted:


"The barracks are oppressive and the thought that this ground must be seeping with blood gives me goose bumps. [...] I'm wondering about many things, but I find no answers, thoughts just come and go. It seems to me that I have nothing more to say, just a queasy feeling in my stomach."

After Oświęcim, I drove to Zakopane to pick up Philipp, with whom I had the privilege of sharing the last few days. During this same night, near the High Tatras, we met Brendon, a Brazilian who tried to talk to us in the car. He came back from the mountains far too late and wanted to walk through the forest back to the place we came from: within a 30 minute drive. While I plugged in his cell phone to charge, we got to talking and eventually he managed to organize a cab there. In the meantime, from his backpack he pulled out his Polaroid camera, a Pokeball and two Magic Cubes. I'm glad he took those, probably instead of a flashlight and water.


I spent my last day in Poland in the mountains by the so-called Five Polish Ponds. The landscape is incredible, and so was the path to get there. We were out in the fresh air all day between intense discussions, near-bullshit humor and pleasant silence. There's nothing I love more than those days when you fall into bed in the evening in complete exhaustion.


Slovakia:


We spent the next few days in and around Poprad on the Slovak side of the Tatra. The valley on our second big hike from Starý Smokovec to Téryho Chata was one of the most beautiful places I've ever been. Moreover, the hut is incredibly cozy and whoever cooks there: putting cheese cubes into lentil soup must be the best idea of our time.


Since yesterday, I'm on my own again. I'm on the road, there's coffee in the air after a stop at the gas station, and dark clouds loom ahead: Clouds of smoke from the next car's exhaust. The roads are getting rougher, I already know this from my Balkan tour two years ago: Here we go, let the pothole slalom begin!



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