6.17.09 Hungary thru Slovakia to Poland

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6.17.09 Hungary thru Slovakia to Poland

 

Beautiful drive through Slovakia today! 

 

We had a difficulty exiting the campground as we ended up at an entry-only point at the highway and had to turn around in a tight space.  Really, there should be signs for the convoluted exit.  The redeeming qualities to that declining campground were the trees and Tomas (who is new there).  Camping Romai (in Budapest) could take notes from Camping Roma (in Rome) on running a campground.

  Of course, we didn’t pay that much for it, so…

 

The mountains in Slovakia are green and gorgeous, rising to about 4000 feet, I believe.  The highway is just 2-lane, hilly, and curvy so it took the long time we expected.  But the countryside was lovely and we traversed many small towns.  Many people were out and about, smiling and talking with each other, going into the stores. 

 

We were struck by the progressive feeling of Slovakia compared to Hungary.  The only crumbling buildings in Slovakia are in the process of being actively repaired.  There are roses and flowers blooming at the houses, everything is neat and tidy, the people seem relaxed and at peace in Slovakia.

  While we don’t know the details of their situation, I would think that Slovakia would be a neat place to live.

 

The border into Poland surprised us, as most of them do as they are very sudden and ghostly empty.  Jazy leapt out and asked at the little mini-market if we needed a vignette, but being 3500kg or less, we do not.  We did not however make the connection with the “exchange” signs at that store and so did not get Polish Zlotych, which is their money, not the Euro (1E to 227 PLN, or about 4 PLN to 1 E).

 

Lots of road construction going on in Poland!  I know they have to get it done in the summer and it was a gorgeous day.  Jazy and I thought the Air Conditioner was still on in the cab, but the outside air was so chilly that it fooled us!  But we alternated with lights at little one-lane sections on one of the only highways from Slovakia, along with the trucks for a loooong time.

 

Polish drivers must have been trained by the Italians!  They are a bit free with their rules, passing on the right (with no lane), passing 3 cars at once near blind curves, weaving into my lane, driving with complete disregard for the too-low speed limit (too low even for me!), etc.  I wouldn’t say they’re quite as interesting as the Italian techniques, but you don’t want your teenager learning to drive here either!

 

We arrived at our Krakow campground- it is Zlotych-only (no credit cards).  It was 6pm and they were kind enough to change 50E so we can at least get into town via bus to get more money from the ATM.  Anaetta at Reception speaks English very well and was very kind in helping us with bus info.

 

We think the Czech Republic will be our last country without Euros or Pounds (which we have stashed).  Switzerland, Hungary, Poland and CZ are, I think, the only countries not using Euros (but are part of the EU).

 

We passed by a UNESCO site today without stopping: a village of 45 houses with traditional colors and a name that starts with Vl in Slovakia, if feel like looking it up).  I told Jazy that I felt like it was a mistake to turn right to head on instead of left into the city to find the village when we were SO close.  "Are you nuts?!" Jazy exclaimed.  "Let me read to you AGAIN what the description says," and she proceeded to read about the "inaccessibilty" on the "high cliffs" and the "mountain tops" etc until I agreed and vowed to return to Europe next time in a 4-wheel drive, stealth-mobile RV that can drive and park anywhere in Europe without detection as a camping vehicle- I think that would be perfect (along with brief stays in luxury hotels, of course).  Then we can explore those difficult places to access.

 

Tomorrow is Lia’ 10th birthday and she is beyond excited!  Double digits- Wow!  She’s been counting down for weeks.  We are going to explore Krakow and hopefully see the salt statues at the salt mines nearby, which I hope will be fun.  I think we’ll stay 2 nights, although we are really pushing it and will have to drive a long time to Prague rather than see another Polish city, like I’d wanted.  We’ll also try to find some ice cream and cake-like stuff to celebrate.  J

 

We are not going to visit Auschawitz Concentration Camp, which we will be driving right by on our way to Prague.  My kids would be crying before setting foot in the gate.  They would add that to their therapy list ("Things My Mom Did Which Cause Me to Need Therapy" list), which is plenty long enough.  Honestly, I've read enough to become physically ill at the horror of it all.  Seeing piles of hair, luggage, shoes, etc of innocent victims is heart-crushing and depressing to think that humans can do that to each other (and not that many years ago).  We'll skip Auschawitz at their (and my) age. 

 

Will let you know whether we go to the Krakow Jewish Ghetto, which has another appalling history (which I read in the campground office), as that too might be adult-only. 

 

Poland is really beautiful in the summer with lots of flowers and trees, silver spruce trees, tiled roofs, quaint villages on the rolling hills, women out raking and loading hay onto wagons with pitchforks while the men are doing roadwork (I’m sure every male is working on all that construction!).  We are hoping to find out what part of Poland Grandpa Hill's relatives are from and we look to see if the men here have handsome babyfaces like our Ned, who will always look 18.

 

Speaking of Ned, he reported via email that the Behans headed out yesterday on their adventure- he loved them, of course, and enjoyed playing host (although I think he is a bit worn out from all the Ciao preparations and hosting), and I think he is the cat’s meow.  Do not yet know if their luggage arrived from the airport, but can’t wait to hear more on their adventure. 

 

Just 3 weeks left and we are tiring, while trying to appreciate every opportunity.  Thoughts of home get us excited and we will be very happy when we return.  We really miss Ned and the dogs (yes, in that order). 

 

Hope to catch up on email.  Thrilled when I get internet, but it’s hard not to be on the computer all the time when I do finally get it.  Will try to upload some pics too.

TessaHill says:
Thanks, Grandpa! Happy Birthday to you too tomorrow! :)
Posted on: Jun 18, 2009
alanhill says:
Happy birthday Lia!!!!!!! I hope you are having a great time in Poland today.
Posted on: Jun 18, 2009
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