Browsed by
Tag: katowice

A New Adventure: Home to Athens (via the Marathon)

A New Adventure: Home to Athens (via the Marathon)

After a great adventure by kayak across the whole of Poland last summer, I am itching to get back on my bike for a new adventure. The bike allows for a much faster speed and easily accessible hot food along the route!

I have always wanted to go to Marathon, Greece and run the original 25 mile route from Marathon to Athens that was taken by an ancient greek messenger. From where I currently call home (Katowice, Poland), there is a very interesting route, passing (albeit briefly in some) through 11 different countries (Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, Albania, Macedonia and finally Greece).

Katowice to AthensThis new adventure is approximately 2200km, just like the London to Auschwitz bike ride. However, this new journey appears more hilly, especially the second half. London to Auschwitz took 25 days, but I did stop off at a lot of sites to explore and I didn’t push the cycling too much.

Now the question is “when?” As a freelance software developer, I live in project work, and I am hoping to forge a gap in the projects within the next few months of winter.

Why do it in Winter? Why not? Adventure!

The cold of winter can be overcome with more layers – and actually, extreme minus temperatures are too cold to snow or rain, saving you from becoming damp. The difficulty with winter comes when you only have 8 hours of sunlight as you do here in Poland now. Fortunately I will be heading southwards and so the days will be getting longer as I go – in Athens right now there are almost 2 hours more sunlight a day and the temperatures are in the teens – warm enough for tee shirt and shorts!

I am looking for people (who might know people) along the route who I could stay with or at least meet for company. If you know anyone directly, or friends of friends, please do put me in contact with them! Failing that, I was planning on finding hostels/hotels that will no doubt be relatively cheap in this part of Europe. I haven’t brought myself to the idea of camping wild in winter on a cycling trip yet!

Similarly, if you have visited this part of the world before and have some recommendations, I would appreciate advice! The UK Government website suggests that all of these countries need NO visas and are all perfectly safe, apart from a few countries that might still have active landmines.

Adventures in Poland

Adventures in Poland

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.

Great cycling

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.

42 Auschwitz Memorial

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.

Hiking View

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