Nowhere2far have been both off the beaten track and side-tracked by a few technical issues and so it is about time to bring you right up to date with our adventures since crossing into Poland.
We are currently in the historical town of Gyula on the eastern border of Hungary, famous for the thermal spa's which swell up from a depth of more than 2000metres below the ground and reach temperatures of 71 degrees celsius. We have been soaking our muscles in the warm pools, which have clinically proven medicinal properties, to recover from our 800km sprint from Łublin, Poland where we were shacked up with a fabulous British couple Mary & Joe for an unexpected 5 nights
whilst we deconstructed and fixed up our bikes and added some new touring features. Every morning for 5 days we packed our panniers and prepared to leave and every evening unpacked again and worked on the bikes into the night until we got it right. We can not thank these two enough, Mary for her cheerful and kindred spirit and super healthy, super delicious cooking and Joe for so many web links that Gmail is on the verge of crashing, couldn't be more helpful though all the same! For those of you interested in the technicalities, we will eventually write up everything we have learnt regards the bikes and kit in general and review all our snazzy bits and pieces in separate articles.
So what happened before Łublin?
Passing through what we thought was a sleepy, age-old village, I waved to a guy standing in his boxer shorts and to my surprise he returned a huge smile and shouted after me asking where we were from in perfect English, this was Micheal.
April swung me around and darted over to greet the guy properly. 'Oh bloody hell' his response was, with a proper Australian twang, he could not quite believe the absurdness of our massive adventure and was eager for us to come and join his family for a beer and BBQ. Never shy to turn down such a great offer, we went in to meet his grandmother, wife and baby girl. Within minutes, we were offered a place on the lawn to pitch our tent and gently persuaded to stay the evening as Monika and Micheal had friends arriving shortly. One beer turned into more and as the sun went down, the sausages kept getting thrown on the BBQ, the laughter and banter was flowing and the Polish folk decided it was about that time to introduce the vodka. Slightly terrified of this inevitable moment, we nervously obliged with a twisted upper lip. In Poland, vodka is power, vodka is strength and they seem to be born with the inhuman ability to drink the stuff like it is water. After the second round of shots, I firmly opted out of this game of roulette (I could get away with it because Monika was minding their daughter and so not participating) but David on the other hand, did not have much of a choice. He is a man and he must prove it!!
When the first bottle was complete, David and I caught each other's glance and shared a sigh of relief, it was over! Think again sunshine, here comes the second bottle.. We had a great evening with new friends but the wind was dissipating from David's sails and it was time to turn in. The night ahead and following day were going to be very ugly..
All things considered, the day following the night before turned out to be a packed and fun day. Our encounter with the Belarusian patrol, meeting Anita, visiting the Holy Mount of Grabarka (above) and cycling through glorious farmland and countryside. The plants in the middle picture below are from a tobacco plantation. Along with grains, corn and potatoes, tobacco is one of Poland's most important crops and is grown in the rich soils of central and southern Poland. Yep, we were surprised too!!
When David first started travelling he began using a website called WAYN. The website is designed for travellers to share information, photos and recommendations about different locations. David and Iwona and been talking via this website for over a year and Iwona was very excited to finally meet us and welcome us to her family home. When we arrived in Iwona's home town of Łukow, she informed of a special annual event that was taking place outside her apartment the very next day. The event was a religious festival and attracted 1000's of people every year. They come to the cemetery and fill the resting place with beautiful and colourful displays of flowers and small lanterns on every stone. In the daytime this is a spectacular sight and then at night they light all the little candles inside the lanterns and it is magnificent. There is an outdoor service throughout the morning that resonated across the area and the adjacent streets were rammed with market stalls selling not just flowers and lanterns, but tonnes and tonnes of Chinese tac and candy. We were also warned by Iwona that we would be woken up in the early hours by the alarming noise of firecrackers being let off left, right and centre and that the thunderous noise would continue throughout the day and night. I am not quite sure what the relevance of this is to the religious focus of the day and Iwona and Grzesiek were not able to tell us either. With all this happening around us, we wouldn't have been able to go anywhere even if we had wanted to, so we were more than happy to spend a fantastic weekend with Iwona and Grzesiek and boy did these guys look after us!! We ate like kings for three days and Iwona went to extra lengths to cook us traditional dishes of Poland and even made her daughter pick this awesome bucket of raspberries just so we could have her finest raspberry cake! Iwona has in fact inspired a little idea in me; When we eventually get our idyllic cafe up and running in the future, I hope to use all the favourite recipes from all the wonderful cooks that we have met on our travels and have a dish of the day from each of the countries!!
Grzesiek made phone calls and even went to different peoples houses trying to locate us some lithium batteries for our dead SPOT device and tried to do what ever they could to help us organise our bits and pieces. We had a lovely evening at a bar with Iwona's girl friends Saturday night, the girls managed to get us onto the dance floor but there was no budging us on the refusal of the vodka on this occasion!
We had a very special weekend and can not thank you both enough and we are so happy that we finally got to meet you!