Thursday, August 14, 2008

A New Day, a New Country, and a New Map

Day 323
Zakopane, Poland to Dolny Kublin, Slovakia
Time: 4:41:00
Distance: 76.4 km
Avg Speed: 16.9 kph
Terrain: Rolling with One Big Climb
Location: N° 49 12’ 18.2”, 19°16'4.1"E

It was a good thing that we crossed into Slovakia today because our map for southern Poland was just about to disintegrate. It had been folded and refolded several times. It was invaluable and I hope we can find similar maps for this country.
We tried to get up early today so that we could avoid some of the heavy traffic into the resort center of Zakopane. I had forgotten that we require about two hours when we are camping. We still managed to roll out onto the street at 8am – not bad.
The Poland/Slovakia border crossing came about two hours into the day. It was the first time we have actually ridden across a border. No need to rush into things you know. The moment was fairly uneventful – we took a picture with a generic sign.
As we pedaled through the first small town I noticed two things immediately. The architecture has a strong influence from the days of communism and there are definitely less people around. Slovakia has 1/7 of the people in Poland (and is also 1/6 the size).
Luckily, we found ourselves in a river valley most of the day and had some very pleasant downhill riding. About 15 km out of Dolny Kublin, our stop for the day, we passed our first castle. It was quite spectacular, even from the freeway. I’ve read that we have more on the way – certainly something to look forward to.

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