A Travellerspoint blog

Krakow & Wieliczka Salt Mine

sunny 25 °C

From Hungary we made our way into Poland. We set up camp in Krakow and headed straight into the town centre for some traditional Polish dumplings, which went down very well. We spent the rest of the day exploring the beautiful city (with a charitable rose) and tried some of the local beverages. During the day Krakow is a traditional city rich in history and legends. At night time, it is transformed into an atmospheric and hip party town with funky bars in the most unusual places and cocktails galore.

Some sights:
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Our rose:
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The next day we visited the Wieliczka Salt Mine, a few kilometres outside of Krakow. This fascinating place has been mined for 700 years and brought great fortune and prosperity to the area during this time as salt used to be a highly valuable commodity (it's where the word 'salary' derives from). The tour took us through several kilometres of salt tunnels and 20 of the mine's chambers, just 1% of its total which has over 300km of galleries. Besides the supporting wooden beams, everything was from salt: sculptures, walls, floors, ceilings and even the lights.

Unfortunately it was difficult to get good pictures due to the lighting, but here are a few of the better ones:
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A visit to Krakow and the surrounding area is well worth it!

Posted by The Minion 09:30 Archived in Poland Tagged poland rose salt mine krakow wieliczka Comments (0)

Slovakia

Hot, hot, hot

sunny 36 °C

Road from Hungary to Slovakia, roads are good, my map doesnt have this country on it so we just winged it. Followed some signs to a castle hidden in the trees. It was was secluded and the gate was locked but we had a look around it anyways.P1060207.jpgP1060209.jpg
Nice little find and we had it all to ourselves.
Next we found a campsite in Bojnice, there are some springs here. So the first night we just stayed at the campsite and had a braai and some drinks until about midnight. The weather had been hot all day, around 36 degrees and in the evening it did not cool down much at all. Next morning we were up at 8 and the weather was cooking. By 10 am it was already 29 degrees, so we followed the locals down to the pool and and spent the morning there. At about 2pm we got on the bike and headed into the mountains to try cool down. The views were good and we found some ski runs.
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We have just had another evening braai of pork rashers, toasted sandwiches and Camembert and then a cold shower as it is still very hot. The plan is to head to Poland tomorrow morning, early before it heats up. Oh ja we also checked out the castle in Bojnice.
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Feeling knackered from 2 long hot days, so heading to bed now. Knowing that when I wake up Monday morning I will not be heading to work ;-)

Posted by XJR1300 12:22 Archived in Slovakia Tagged castle motorbike motorcycle Comments (0)

Hungary, the short version

sunny

I just spent ages typing up a nice blog and adding pictures. Then the internet went down and it was all lost, so here's a short version of our Hungarian adventure:

We left Romania and found a random campsite. We got lucky as the campsite was part of a swimming pool/natural spa/welness centre complex and we got free entry to the pools (see site for more info). We took and evening dip and spent the evening chatting and laughing about 2,5 months of touring.

The next day we spent chilling at the park: swimming before breakfast, lunch and dinner, soaking up the goodness of the natural healing spa, braaing for lunch and dinner, ect. It was super relaxing, especially as everything was of high standards, something we haven't always found in the Balkans.

Friday, after a morning swim, we made and early exit for the capital, Budapest. As we arrived at midday it was cooking. Luckily the hotel was well cooled and a shower made us feel refreshed. However, as we set off for an afternoon and evening of sightseeing, we concluded it was way too hot to do everything and kept the walking to a minimum and kept cool on the terraces. In the evening we had a traditional goulash which was lovely but is probably better suited to a cold winter's day rather than a scorching summer's day.

This morning we had a champagne breakfast (Greg declined the champers before setting off for Slovakia. As we kitted up and loaded the bike we were told it was going to be even hotter today than yesterday. As we were riding out of Budapest at 11 this morning, the LED thermometers were already showing 40'!

Happy as Larry with the campsite
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Some sights of Budapest
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Chatting up/snorting up some lovely ladies
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Enjoying traditional goulash
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Posted by The Minion 11:22 Archived in Hungary Tagged budapest hungary spa thermal babushka goulash babooshka oroshaza Comments (0)

Celebrations in Belgrade

Djoković broj 1!

As we arrived in Serbia's capital on sunday, we knew something special was going on: people were cheering, cars were hooting and bikers were pulling wheelies galore down the main street. As we got closer to our hotel we realized why: Djoković was being crowned the 2011 Wimbledon champion! We were in for 2 very cool nights in Belgrade... To get an idea of the madness, see Clip 1, Clip 2 (we saw all the people in clip 2!) and Clip 3.

Belgrade is a beautiful city with lots of impressive history to explore and wonderful architecture. The city is a vibrant mix of new and old, and has an atmospheric cafe culture which is great for people watching and/or camel-toe spotting (the latter was around in abundance!).

The main square, getting ready to party
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Basilica by night
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Belgrade Skyline from citadel
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Taking a walk on the wild side
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Belgrade citadel
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Fun military exhibition in the citadel
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Shooting blanks while the security guard wasn't looking
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Belgrade is an awesome city, well worth a visit. Our Belgrade experience was made even better by the Djokovic celebrations, how proud the nation is of 'their hero'. We didn't tell anybody we don't care much for tennis...

Posted by The Minion 12:31 Archived in Serbia Tagged military tennis serbia belgrade citadel djokovic Comments (0)

Romania

Too big to ride in one go! This place is huge

sunny 23 °C

Left Belgrade and rode to Romania, the road was fine, until the border crossing, then it went bad, then good, then pretty bad again. Met an Austrian biker while we were waiting for a bridge to be repaired, he had a nail in his tyre, tried to help but my repair kit is for tubeless tyres only, so he was shit out of luck. It then started raining pretty hard, poor chap had a slow ride of about 40km to the nearest town!
We rode along the Danube river for about 150km with Romania on our side and Serbia on the other, here is a view of a Serbian castle on the other side.
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Some views of the river:
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A weird face carved into the rock, random!

After that we headed in land up to Bail Hurceulles? It was getting late and we had been delayed because of bad roads, mud slides into the roads, no road, just dirt etc All along the river people lived rurally, tending the land and raising horses, cows, pigs and chickens which were often in the road!
We headed up a gorge past the town and into the national park, found the first campsite and setup. People seem to be wild camping all along the river in plastic sheets and homemade tents. We paid our 2 euros and camped. It was pretty rough, I didnt swim, the locals were doing their washing in the river and burning all sorts of plastic and the placed had a reek of pooh, they seemed to be pumping it into the river! Maybe it was a squatter camp we pitched our tent at, I dunno, but the locals were friendly and showed a lot of interest in the bike. So it was cool, although we did leave first thing the next morning and explored the gorge some more...
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the countryside in Romania is beautiful, except for some litter and there are many caves and and roads to explore. Often we headed down a road towards some forgotten monastery only to turn back as the road conditions were too bad for an XJR!

We bought some local wine in a town that we rode through, Recas. We did see some cool churches and architecture that was very different from anywhere we have been. I also managed to get stung by a bee on my neck while doing a hundred and plenty down the only good road, it swelled up a bit but otherwise not too bad.
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Shortly after this photo of the church a funeral procession came to it...but the bike stole the limelight as most of the young boys were all looking at it instead of the departed!P1060182.jpg
We then spent the rest of the day riding to Hungary, so ended up being in the saddle for about 8 or so hours. We managed to find a nice camp site at a thermal spring....

Posted by XJR1300 11:42 Archived in Romania Tagged romania recas Comments (0)

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