To continue with the common theme, we had not made the previous days goal of reaching the Czech/Polish Border. Not due to any specific problem as such, the miles just took longer than we had hoped due to a road accident and the associated heavy traffic. Having learned from the previous weeks, we had noted a ‘plan B’ campsite 60km west of the border in Olomouc just in case. Good thing we did! We parked up at Morava Camp at around 6pm and were greeted with blank stares from the maintenance men and a glum reception from the check-in desk despite our smiles and obvious relief when they had space for our tent. It seemed the further east we went, the less friendly and disinterested people became!
On the site, we were pleased to see a few other touring bikes camped nearby as well as a group (heard? gaggle? peloton?) of 8+ retro bikes, BMW, Triumph, Honda pull up to the cabins later that evening.
We got chatting with the couple camped closest to us. In their early 30’s they had taken a two year break from work and driven around Europe and Africa in their 4×4. On month 23 of the journey, they were on their way back home to Belgium. They told us how their route had changed dramatically from their round the world plan due to border closures and also because they had adopted a rapidly growing Alsatian puppy in Spain! One gem they did pass on to us was an App called Maps.me. Unlike google maps and the apple maps app, it works completely offline. You have to download your desired area map while on wifi but the files are small meaning you can download a whole country in just a few minutes. Great if you are on cafe wifi or have a broken connection. The maps are also extremely detailed and it can route, calculate distances and also locate anything you search for (campsites, atm, petrol stations, public toilets, points of interest etc) all offline! It was encouraging to meet other people doing what we’re doing and having a great time too!
The weather was once again threatening a downpour so I got to test out my new and improved rain gear on the 3 hour ride to Krakow! My six year old pack-a-mac just couldn’t hack the European weather. Just when I realised it was no longer in any way waterproof, I realised the plastic liner had also disintegrated and stuck, in little white clumps, all over my black leather jacket… so, it was adios horrible baggy pac-a-mac and it went in the bin!
Now jacket-less, we came across two outdoor shops Prague both stocking only branded clothing (Northface etc.). We found some great rain jackets but the problem was the price. They were around 3-4 times the price they are in the UK for the same jacket! The cheapest one was around 400EUR! So, when we came across this (choice of one) waterproof jacket with zip our fleece liner for just 25 EUR in Lidl, we thought, why not? Unfortunately they didn’t do gloves… well except these washing-up marigolds!
They served me well on the three hour ride to Prague. We took the A1 ‘motorway’ which was a slow-moving duel track road with traffic lights and farm vehicles for most of the way. I really wanted to get a picture of the Border sign as we crossed into Poland so we came off the motorway onto a side road crossing but ended up driving around every loop of this road. Czech Republic, Poland, back to Czech Republic and eventually back into Poland without ever getting a picture of the sign! I must have also missed the sign that can only have said ‘Welcome to Poland, please drive like a nutter!”.
Around the border and beyond, the A1 became a proper motorway. There were two toll booths to funnel through and the charge was around one Euro per bike. Even with the insane drivers once we entered Poland, I really enjoyed the ride and couldn’t help but notice how my confidence had grown since the first few days of the trip. We were making good progress at around 75-80mph on the toll roads and the bike just powered on; 80mph, 85mph, 90mph, 95mph and it could have kept going. That was plenty for me but a little bird told me that on the same stretch, Rich clocked 111 mph, fully loaded! Bonnevilles for the win.