Cycling to Krakow from Katowice
A few weekends ago we (my girlfriend Basia and I), spent the Saturday on a fairly flat 80km cycle from our flat in Katowice to Krakow. The weather was perfect blue skies and not too hot at about 16 degrees. Having not done too much cycling since the big ride out here, almost 6 months ago now, where I averaged 100km a day for 22 days cycling, I was still in a good place to do a casual 80km. Basia however, had never gone more than 35km in one day!
We decided to set off early to give ourselves a good buffer should we need it. Not a great start though, just 100m down the road we had to stop though to put on a jumper (a sweater for my American friends, or ‘sweter’ for the Poles!). But on we pressed and hit 25km before we knew it.
I am helping to organise a charity ride in June which takes place in the same area of Poland: Silesia, where we will be riding from Auschwitz to the Jewish Community Centre (JCC) in Krakow. The ride is called “Ride for the Living”, the purpose is not just to remember the past horrors of Nazi controlled Poland, but also to look at the present and future Jewish Community in Krakow. See the website for more information of the 65km ride in June.
Pushing onwards, the sun was shining bright and we were cruising the Polish country roads. However, we were soon reminded of the history of the land when coming across a memorial for 42 people who had died in a work camp that was associated with Auschwitz. The plaque calls them Hitler’s victims. A solemn reminder of the history of a place that I have recently called home.
Finally we did make it; a great achievement. Taking the slow train back home over 2 hours for a ride that was not much longer!
Hiking in the Bielsko Biała Forests
This past weekend we also spent most of the day hiking in the nearest hills, about an hour drive south from Katowice.
My first time properly using walking sticks actually proved quite easy. It takes a lot of weight off your knees when walking downhill, and as a friend mentioned to me, it is as if it takes the stress of a rucksack away.
A great day walking, but my mind still wanders to the people of this area, in the hills and in the forests during the Nazi occupation. The potential stories are unimaginable, but whilst taking on a recreational walk in these forests you can’t help but feel grateful for life and freedom.
Seder night in Krakow
Leading on from the theme of “Freedom” comes the story of Passover and the festival of Pesach in the Jewish religion. On Monday night we joined the community in Krakow for the Seder dinner to remember the exodus from Egypt and slavery. My first year not with my family, but with over 160 other people there I felt a great love from a different kind of family.
The moral of the story, is that no matter the hardship, in this case slavery, we have to keep pressing on and keep going. Even more poignant in Poland; but today we celebrate with 160 people strong at the JCC and many more in Krakow and the rest of Poland; still here, still moving forward. Very inspiring.
Join our bike ride to experience similar aventures – here